Way back in early 2011, we reported on a fan campaign to try and bring Simon Furman, the writer who was really the first to bring a lot of depth and interesting storytelling to the Transformers back during the last 24 issues of Marvel's original Transfomrers ongoing series ending with issue #80, back to finish what he started. It looks like it worked, because CBR reports that on Free Comic Book Day in May of this year, IDW is releasing Transformers: Regeneration One #80.5, with Furman at the helm alongside fellow old-scool TF creator Andrew Wildman on art duties. Furman's plan is to pick up with #81 and build to a huge, more satisfying conclusion once it reaches issue #100.
"It's always felt like unfinished business," Furman says of how his run on the Marvel series ended. "Sure, we wrapped things up to a degree back in 1991, but a whole lot never got addressed. So this is our chance to do it again. And knowing we're building to a definite conclusion is liberating, because it means you can commit fearlessly to the character and story arcs, and make every issue count and mean something. If we kill someone off in this series, they're liable to stay dead. A rarity in comic books these days! It's also a pleasure and a privilege to be working with Andrew and Stephen [Baskerville, inker] again, on the series that kind of kick-started all our careers."
The #80.5 issue is set to recap what happened, as it's been over 20 years since Transformers #80 and those who aren't old-school TF geeks like me will need the refresher. Chances are you don't remember who G.B. Blackrock and the Neo-Knights are, and definitely not Hi-Q.
""In the run-up to #80, Cybertron (the Transformers' homeworld) is apparently tearing itself apart in the aftermath of the cataclysmic battle against Unicron," Furman recapped. "Optimus Prime is dead, a casualty of that battle, and a mass exodus is underway. But a group of human superhumans (the Neo-Knights) and HiQ (a Nebulan scientist who was the binary-bonded partner of 'Powermaster' Optimus Prime) uncover the truth by uncovering (literally) an ancient Transformer known only as the Last Autobot. Cybertron — it transpires — is actually re-making itself, having been bathed in Matrix energy. Optimus Prime returns from the dead, courtesy of HiQ and the Last Autobot, in time to defeat Bludgeon and his Decepticons, and Fortress Maximus neutralizes the threat of Galvatron on Earth. Now, at last, the Transformers can go home."
"But, as I mentioned, there are a lot of loose ends that never got picked up," he continued. "What happened to Megatron, Ratchet, Shockwave and Starscream after the Ark crash-landed on Earth? Was Galvatron destroyed? Did Grimlock ever restore his ability to transform, or is he still stuck in Action Master form? What about the original heads of the Headmasters, still on Nebulos? After the heat of battle abated, what was Optimus Prime's reaction to his wrenching 'back from the dead' moment? We're now aiming to answer all those questions and a whole lot more besides."
That's right. You're gonna need that #80.5 issue. Good thing it's free! With issue #81, Furman is going to acknowledge the 21 year gap between the events of #80 and #81, by putting it into his story as well.
"On Cybertron, not a lot has happened," he noted. "The planet is at peace for the first time in millions of years. That's not to say there hasn't been unrest and discontent (on both sides!) but nothing really significant has happened there. Then, in issue #80.5, it does. I can say no more. But though nothing significant has happened in those 21 years on Cybertron, a span of time that's a drop in the ocean for beings who've lived for millions of years, a whole LOT has happened on Earth and elsewhere. And the consequences will have truly terrifying and enduring repercussions."
Furman also mentioned the ease with which he's slipped back into working with Wildman. ""In the intervening years we've worked together on many different comics, on animated TV shows and even our own IP development company Wildfur. But I think both of us were a little concerned about recreating that particular creative synergy we had on G1 (that expired 21 years ago). We needn't have worried. The pages are great, and it feels like the old magic of our partnership on 'Transformers' is back with vengeance. I try and give Andrew just enough in a script without compromising his immense capacity for page and panel design. Every single page comes back with stuff that makes me go 'wow,' even though I think I know what to expect."
There is also the matter of Transformers: Generation 2, a 12-issue series that attempted to relaunch the property in the early 1990s. Furman has indicated that he might fold some of those concepts into this new retro initiative, and one of CBR's preview pages does sport the visage of Jhiaxus, so it looks like that's a go as well, which is pretty cool. There were some "90s" things about G2 that were iffy (and we try not to think of Manny Galan art), but Furman still had some great concepts to work with there.
So, in summation, this is a cool thing for TF nerds of old. 'Til all are one.