"Transformers '84" changes everything you thought you knew about the first fateful flight of the Ark
Updated: Aug 23, 2019
Writer: Simon Furman, Artist: Guido Guidi, Colours: John-Paul Bove, Letters: Tom A. Long.
"Transformers '84 #0" cover by Guido Guidi
In an all-new prequel to celebrate 35 years since the release of the original Marvel Transformers comic book series, "Transformers '84 #0" takes us back more than four million years to a Cybertron, where the war between the Autobots and Decepticons is at its very peak.
As the Transformers home planet - having been dislodged from its own orbit - hurtles through space towards a deadly asteroid field that threatens its very existence, Autobot leader Optimus Prime is completing final preparations and assembling his most loyal and capable troops for the maiden voyage of the largest Cybertronian space vessel ever constructed - the Ark - in order to intercept and neutralize the threat.
However, as the opinions of several esteemed Autobot astrophysicists seem to reliably suggest that a controlled explosion of sufficient magnitude will be enough to slow Cybertron and allow it to come safely to rest in the orbit of a nearby sun, the Autobot Council of Leaders are forced to question the necessity of pouring so many of their meager resources into the Ark in the first place, and it seems clear that Prime has other hidden motivations for wanting to proceed.
What terrible secret is Optimus Prime carrying, and how does it relate to a mystery buried deep beneath a medieval castle in eleventh century England that will not be discovered until aeons later?
Prior to launch we meet some of the Ark's famous crew and are treated to a glimpse of their previously undeclared motivations for volunteering for the mission: Jazz is keen to explore the unknown. Bumblebee is excited to be a pioneer. Mirage was sold as soon as he was informed the mission would be a covert one. Windcharger signed up on impulse. Bluestreak meanwhile is simply sick of fighting. It's an interesting little look at what makes each of them tick of the kind that was rarely afforded by the high character turnover of the original Hasbro-mandated series. We also get a glimpse of several Transformers who never appeared in the original Marvel comic series, some that are retrospectively established as having existed during this time period despite their toys having not been created when this story was first told back in 1984, as well as what appears to be a conclusive confirmation of a long-held fan theory that the original members of the Ark's crew were not the only Autobots on board, but simply the only Autobots to survive the crash that brought them to Earth.
It's several of these retroactively added Transformers around which the bulk of the story revolves, as fan favourite Autobot double-agent Punch acts as narrator and makes it apparent from the onset that there is more than meets the eye to a story that most fans probably felt they knew inside out by this point.
Then there's the Autobot clones, Fastlane and Cloudbreaker who, millions of years after the Ark first disappeared, travel to medieval England in their shuttle "The Mantlo" (undoubtedly named after famous writer Bill Mantlo who plotted the first two issues of the original Transformers series) on a covert mission in search of the missing craft, and who - despite strict instructions to remain incognito and not interact with the indigenous life forms - cannot resist the opportunity to get involved in an act that will make these Men of Iron the subject of folk lore for centuries to come!
Meanwhile, the Decepticons Wingspan, Flywheels, and Battletrap, as well as Punch (surreptitiously entrenched in their ranks as his Decepticon alter ego Counterpunch) are in hot pursuit of them. But why would a loyal Autobot want to stop his own allies from discovering the whereabouts of more than a dozen of their mightiest warriors so strongly that he is willing to do so by any means necessary?
The answer is a pivotal one that will reverberate across both Cybertron and Earth, completely rewrites Transformers comic book history as we know it, and will redefine EVERYTHING you ever thought you knew about Optimus Prime and that first, fateful flight of The Ark!
Whilst there are perhaps a couple of continuity errors that may irritate those who are especially meticulous about such things, Transformers '84 #0 pulls off a retroactive sleight-of-hand of incredible magnitude, that seamlessly segues into the earliest original written Transformers UK material, whilst providing plenty of Generation 1 fan service, and packed with delightfully vintage art.
It's definitely one not to be missed!
Transformers (US series) #1 (reprinted in UK #1-2)
Transformers (UK series) #9-12 (reprinted in US series #33-34)