I agree that the Multiworld stuff is bonkers and fun. However, the act of Optimus blowing himself up worked for me at the time and also now and makes perfect sense in context. By this point, Optimus is mentally not a well chap. Note his behaviour in Christmas Breaker in particular as well as his mad trip into Limbo and shock at seeing how the Autobots coped without him ie not at all well. Then his arch foe Megatron goes tonto on his ass, he is sent to his homeworld which he was never likely to see again. His own people try to kill him. Then his mind snaps and he decides to kill Megatron in cold blood. Yet, Prime is a pacifist but by this point he is a pacifist that has arguably had a breakdown and has also been going against his own beliefs in how to conduct a war. So to him it makes perfect sense for him to take himself out of the picture. Is it because he sees the inhabitants of Multiworld as real as him because they live in a machine world? Possibly, but he is passing judgement on himself. He is doing what feels logically right to him. In his mind, he has no right to continue existing if he will lower himself to Megatron's level and perhaps he realises the Autobots will only improve if he really is out of the picture. He may not be conciously thinking of these things, but by this point Optimus Prime has a death wish. Remember, when he is revived as Floppy Disc Prime he seems the happiest we ever see him and when revived 'properly' as Powermaster Prime the first thing he does is ask to be killed again!
but what if we divorce all that UK backstory and just read thi sissue on its own ?
like most if not all tf fans did that did not had acces to the UK comics
on its own it doesnt stand up so wel the UK framework makes it work...kinda
but its still wildly uneven and totally out of whack
in the usa this would have come out of nowhere
and prime still kills himself over a bloody video game
Naked pink people though, who wouldn't find their life incomplete after playing that?
(I'm writing this in advance because I'm spending much of Friday in an election count or 21. Then another one on Sunday. Spare time will be limited. So I've written this in brief moments whilst travelling during the campaign.)
This was the very first issue of the series that I ever saw. My prep school used to run a weekend camp and we were encouraged to donate old comics for a reading tent. At the end these would be chucked out but I picked up a couple, this one and one from a different 1980s toy franchise/publisher.
At the time my reaction was one of horror, simply because they did the unexpected and killed off Optimus Prime. (And without knowledge of the first part the epilogue didn't offer a clear sign of hope.) Oddly I hadn't had this reaction with the Ladybird book of the Movie but perhaps even then I didn't consider it canon (or however my 7 year old self understood the concept - perhaps being set in the future helped). Otherwise there was a straightforward battle that showed off the new teams and their abilities quite well. Yes it was in a very surreal world populated by strange beings but that sort of thing happened in contemporary action cartoons all the time.
Looking back the issue probably made more of an impression than I realised, and by the time I started to get into the series properly I knew Prime was back because of the new toy.
But as for Prime's decision... I guess at the time I came to accept it as a violation of his principles in thought and there are certainly many in the real world who consider it as much if a sin to contemplate a forbidden action as to carry it out. It made Prime a man of staunch principles and perhaps made him the more noble for sticking to them.
But on a second level Prime is upset at having caused the deaths of beings created by a computer program. And what are the Transformers again? So for Prime the inhabitants of Metropipe may have been as real as the Protectobots and you can't simply reboot them from scratch and have the same beings. Perhaps this is another example of the different perspectives and values of the Transformers compared to humans.
(Of course it contradicts the shutdown and revival of the Aerialbots.)
Looking back a more radical idea would have been to invert Prime and Megatron's deaths. So Megatron would have been blown up but Prime would succumb to a nervous breakdown over whether the ends justified the means, and eventually he'd go out in a blaze of glory in a no escape situation caused by his stunted response. It would allow more time to explore the most controversial aspect and give greater character development. (It would also be a big problem for UK future continuity but realistically would it be any bigger than the one they'd have for the next 70 issues?)
On another note, something I've only just noticed is that Megatron appears to have the trigger on his fusion canon, though this could be an error by the UK colourist as it's not so obvious on the US version.
Yeah, I didn't have a problem with Prime's death either. Prime was the one who pushed the button in the Ark and brought the war to Earth in the first place. He's on a big guilt trip and he hates himself.
I also think this story is helped, rather than hindered, by 'Prey'. We now know the Autobots are a clueless shambles without Prime (see also Target: 2006), so it makes his death even more powerful: this isn't just the death of Prime, but the binding force that holds the Autobots together.
@Ralph; That's a fantastic bit of writing Sir, as elegant a piece of counter argument as I've ever seen.
Though I think it's telling that, whether for or against, when both you and I try to add subtext and layers to this we're reduced to using the UK stories as back up evidence. Whilst that's obviously the context we are reading it in, it does make me wonder even more how this must have come across to someone reading it just from the American series.
Indeed, it makes me wonder what Bob was thinking as he'd have been equally unaware of the British stories you use as context.
@Tim: Shame on you Sir, writing your response in advance! That's why you've ignored five pages of me telling people to vote UKIP.
@Ryan: I think that works both ways though, Prey may mean we're aware of what a shambles the Autobots would be without Prime... but it also means Prime knows this. At least as far as the American comic goes he has the assurance they did OK when he didn't have a head, UK Prime would be literally shitting bricks at the thought of leaving his troops alone for more than five minutes. He should probably be having panic attacks if Jetfire were left alone in a room that has sharp objects in it.
I try to keep my politics out of this but I wouldn't have read all five pages anyway! ;-P
came as an out of the blue shocker that wasnt hinted or telegraphed at all if i recall correctly
i didnt start reading the UK series untill 2001
Actually responding properly to Tim rather than making cheap jokes:
That's a lovely story about your first issue, and I do think there's enough fun stuff in here to make it a decent first exposure to the comic even if the ending is flat.
Considering this was their first day out of the office I'd love to know how the Protectobots were greeted when they turned up back at the Ark with a corpse.
Apart from the frozen horror of Optimus' destruction - a bit like that Far Side 'Tethercat' cartoon - I was a bit indifferent to this story. I suppose its because my reading of Transformers was fractured and all out of order, so I never had the context into which this fit. Having seen the animated film before reading this, I also felt that -from my perspective - Optimus was just being bumped off because he was in the film. As I'd read the tail end of Bob's before getting to this point (Monstercon From Mars, The Road Jammers etc etc) , I just found it to be just another goofy story of the type the US comic did.
Really made 'The Smelting Pool' stand out when I fished that out of a back issue bin - this was by he same writer?!
So, all those fine points that Ralph, Tim and yourself made about how this comments on what the Transformers class as 'life' are totally lost on me and just came across as another stiff and less engaging work in comparison to the UK stuff.
I agree with Simon on this. It was mildly shocking to see Optimus getting blown up, but the Don Perlin pencils, Yomtov colouring and Budiasnsky script really diminished the effect. I didn't know or care about these people at the time, but I did know it was an episode of the more day-glo happy US style TF strip where things aren't quite as nasty as they could be, so a different set of rules apply.
And yeah, this opinion really doesn't square up considering I was a kid who had read the dark, harrowing plot of The Smelting Pool... but over time that felt like an saga existing on its own. Seeing the US issues since then it felt like we wouldn't reach those levels of horror again. So yes, Prime's death looks grisly, but it felt kinda safe too, consdiering the US storyline, computer world and its fluffy inhabitants filling most of the story... you know just to remind you that there weren't simply Transformers on a kids radar at the time, but also Care Bears, Wuzzles, The Get-Along-Gang, Kissyfur, Action Force, He-Man, The Shoe People, Jimbo & the Jet Set, Towser, Bertha, Peanuts etc.
If these two isses were still written by Budiansky, but drawn by say Will Simpson... then perhaps I would be more of a drooling wreck by now, not just rocking uneasily in the corner but anywhere.
On a pedantic point, in your write up you say:
"The other interesting thing is the morality on display- According to Optimus Prime (and presumably Bob as well) the reality of the situation doesn’t matter; you should always endeavour to live up to your principals".
It should be 'principles'. When you write 'principals' I'm imagining Headmasters, and they're not due for another 30 issues, arf!
Also, it really strikes me now how Pacific Rim is Inhumanoids.
this issue ...oh this issue
i got a lto to say about so much i could fill an essay or two about it an dnone of it good
but i wont
suffice to say that of the two send offs this is the weakest
divorced from the UK framework its awfull
even with the UK framework in place ti can barely hold its own
its preposterous and prime obviously had a mental break down of sorts thats the only explanantion
everybody is merley a cypher of themselves a cartoonis interpertation fo what they are which isnt helped by the ridicilous multi world scenario which blows everything up to even more ludicrous cartoonish scenario's
the only interesting thing this disaster brings tot he table is the idea of how transformers percieve life
and that they might subconciously rank electronic life forms higher because its closer to what they know and are familair with
but other then prime's mental breakdown and suicidal tendencies nothing is done with this
which is par de course for the american series it introduces interesting concepts and then drops them
I think out of all the things that pissed me off the most about this was the lost opportunity. Think of it: you've been responsible for writing Optimus Prime's storyline for nearly two years. Then, you're told the higher-ups at Hasbro want Prime retired...permanently. And there's nothing you can do about it.
So, what do you do? Do you maybe take the battle between Prime and Megs in the movie - and extend it to maybe a full issue - and give the fans a full-out, no-holds barred resolution to a rivalry that has stretched millions of years, but unlike the movie, try and have an ending where one side ends clean (e.g. not using Hot Rod as a shield)? Or... do you put it in a video game, where the final battle between Prime and Megs results in neither so much as laying a finger on one another.
There were dozens, perhaps hundreds of other scenarios. Better scenarios - where either Prime or Megs dies. This one was a horribly missed opportunity, and pretty much sank the Transformers down a black hole that Fuhrman was finally able to pull them out of.
and believe it or not
there were even worse stories to come ( monstercon from mars guess who the mechnibals are having for dinner ? cash and carnage that bloody wresteling thing )
budiansky did some great stories
some decent stories
and some stories that make you want to set the comic on fire and abandon them all together
this is one of the stories that fit in the third category
Stuart Webb. Who knows everything about nothing and not a lot about that.
Action Force/G.I. Joe