You know, I never really clicked how different this was compared to all other issues of the Marvel run. I knew as a kid it was inherently British, and its resolutely darker tone, but also as a small Slag I let it wash over me (Oo-er!).
I mean, straight after this was 'The Enemy Within', the colour palette and stark artwork of that and 'Man of Iron' just signalled ultra seriousness and a more grown up slant to the comic and I was dead happy with that.
Also bearing in mind on kids TV at that time were a lot of dark and somewhat spooky kids TV programmes like Chocky and The Clock Tower.
But yeah, I didn't blink an eyelid at Jazz's seediness in this story, but I loved loved loved the art style; Mirage peering through a panelled English bedroom window reminded me of the feeling of 'The Snowman', but in a much more sinister tone.
Jazz actually seemed to show remorse at blowing up the ship, and the patience of the Navigator... well...
I enjoyed this story a lot, but I never once gave it the credit or the reverence of your summary here, and it's worth that. Spooky, and grounded in the reality of Stansham, where rough woolen army jumpers and yorkshire puddings abound!
Damn, I said 'The Clock Tower' but I mean to say 'The Book Tower', and it was also around the time of Tom Baker reading 'The Iron Man' on Jack-a-nory. Plenty of freak-out British stuff doing the rounds at the time, Man of Iron was par for the course!
You've reminded me that I'd meant to point out that even if the title wasn't supposed to evoke The Iron Man on purpose that most of the kids reading would have. I think the entire country regardless of age remembers Tom Baker Jackonorying that book, it seems to have seeped into our cultural DNA.
I don't think I'd ever realised how dark this gets before I read it one week at a time. The more twee playing in the woods opening skewers things a bit when read in one go.
The Man of Iron, well... the last part of the story was my very first Transformers comic (you mentioned that you started with 'Space Pirates'), so I never got to see the whole story until I picked up the Collected Comics edition which of course republished everything in full colour.
With reference to your comment on John Ridgeway's art, it was probably because I started with this story that I have a soft spot for Toy-accurate renditions. Nothing screams Transformers to me more than a toy accurate Mirage head, or Ravage dragging his broken food in the desert. Great images only bettered for me by Senior's Galvatron v. Magnus fight in issue '86, or the excellent art in Warrior School. I think from Man of Iron onwards I was forever annoyed that Jazz was never drawn with his doors in robot mode. The Datsun's always got the treatment...
Sorry, a weird error made that post twice!
I've deleted the duplicate post, but not the apology for it. Just to make you look crazy.
I think the original character models are just wired into my brain, Jazz just looks wrong with the doors...
Stuart Webb. Who knows everything about nothing and not a lot about that.
Action Force/G.I. Joe