DigestCast #12 – Transformers Comics Magazine #2

DigestCast is back! Shag and Rob cross the street over to Marvel to take a look at TRANSFORMERS COMICS MAGAZINE #2, featuring Spider-Man and two titanic tales that are more than meet the eye!

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36 responses to “DigestCast #12 – Transformers Comics Magazine #2

  1. “I remember the day I felt old. I mean really old. I said, ‘Shagg, do you remember when we started this podcast and our eyes still worked?'” – Rob Kelly, “Head Full of Steam: The Oral History of the Fire & Water Newtork”

      1. “I would read me saying things.” – Ryan Daly, “Letting Off Steam: TheRise and Fall of the Fire & Water Network – The Oral History”

  2. If I remember correctly, this was my first chance to read issues #1-4, or at least the highly sought after #3. Transformers #5 was the second comic I ever bought, but the back issues weren’t readily available for a price I could afford.

  3. The other members of our little cadre of junior high geeks were all pumped when Marvel announced the Transformers comic book. Bowing to peer pressure, I tried the first few issues. The other guys loved them but I just couldn’t get into them. I lasted until the Spider-Man issue and then I was out. I was already the outcast amongst the outcast since they were all Marvel-only and I liked DC, too.

    On to the comment sections…First, Rob, don’t say that Chris has a Jethro Bodine twang. Chris is an excellent podcaster and I really enjoy listening to him. Plus, you don’t take my Jethro-twang away from me, because when I have to call England for my job, lots of Brits tell me they like my accent. I promise you next to me, Chris sounds like that dude that hosted Masterpiece Theatre in the 70s.

    Speaking of Laura Gemser, Shag, I have personally made it my mission to make sure she gets mentioned on every show on the Fire and Water network. Oh, and Lovely Laura did not do porn. A few producers added hardcore inserts when her movies were exported to other countries, but Laura herself only did simulated software…sorry, softcore. (Damned, autocorrect, or maybe I zoned out thinking about Laura.) Why is it ok for you to watch an awful show to ogle …whomever she was on Powerless? I forget.

    Rob, make Shag watch a Laura movie with you for Film & Water. That’s what I want to hear.

    1. Shag’s response to the Laura comments are hilarious and never going to not just be fuel to the fire. It’s a perfect encapsulation of their dynamic that makes us keep coming back.

    2. I finally looked up a picture of this Laura lady, and she looks pleasant enough, but pretty generic, I can’t see what her USP is. I don’t think we need a Film and Water on her, I think a few cold showers are in order.

  4. What a great episode! You know, I had this digest! And my young, strong eyes struggled to read the poorly printed book! Nonetheless, I loved seeing Spidey hang out with the Transformners! And i have to admit, Circuit Breaker made a certain young David feel a little more…mature.

    And speaking of finding your joy, how about that Laura Gemser!

  5. I discussed TRANSFORMERS #3 with Delvin, Jon, and Pat on an episode of Transformers Chronicles over on the Longbox Crusade network, so I had already done a little research on Spider-Man’s appearance in the series.

    As I understand it, Jim Salicrup wanted to use a Marvel guest star to boost the sales of Transformers so it could extend beyond the four-issue limited series. He picked Spider-Man because, well, obviously, Spidey was the biggest thing at Marvel. But there was a problem with that…

    Hasbro had licensed The Transformers to Marvel to create the comics, but Marvel also had a licensing deal with Mattel to produce the Secret Wars toy line at the exact same time, and Spider-Man was part of that Mattel license. Salicrup (or possibly someone higher up) made the decision that Spider-Man would appear in his black costume in The Transformers to appease Hasbro, since Spidey was regularly appearing in black in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and other books, and because he was still wearing the classic red and blue in Secret Wars. Simple. Mattel could have the classic red Spider-Man and Hasbro the black; no problems… until SECRET WARS #8 came out three months later and Spider-Man got his black costume in that. Oh well. Nice try.

  6. Great episode. I was expecting more “boxes hitting boxes” jokes, but the commentary from one guy that liked this property back in the day and one guy that…didn’t was fun. A few thoughts.

    – Like Shag, I always wanted an Optimus Prime as a kid but those damn things were really expensive. I would eye the several Optimuses that lined the staircase to the basement of the Triangle Pharmacy in Mountain Top, which had a surprisingly well stocked toy section. Like, this isn’t the off brand GI JOE or super-hero remainder toys that you usually found at drug stores. I remember getting Colorforms from this place. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, these things were f***ing expensive, which meant my love for them had to stay in the television realm.

    – I bought one of the IDW trades that collected the Marvel Transformers series and instead of issue three you were given a text piece that explained what happened in the issue. It makes for a clunky read, but at least they gave us something. Given how ravenous Transformers fandom can be, I’m not surprised. Those people scare me sometimes, and I’m hip deep in the quasi-religious Superman fandom.

    – Rob and Shag commented on how the Transformers Universe entries gave you a little personality for the character. This was a carry over from the file cards that appeared on the back of GI JOE and TRANSFORMERS toys. They appeared on the blister card or box and were designed to give you an idea of who this character was and how they relate to the world. The Transformers cards also included a line of dialogue for the character. This is why the line, “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings,” was included in the first Bay Transformers movie. If I am remembering correctly, there was some kind of online contest where fans got to choose a line for Optimus to say in the film and this was the winner, though I could be misremembering that.

    – Another fun fact I uncovered about the Transformers Universe entries. Bob Budiansky would, who had a B.S. in Civil Engineering, include pseudo-scientific, cool sounding jargon in the descriptions to make them pop more.

    Again, great episode. And Shag, stop telling people to go buy readers. I realize healthcare in America is terrible, it is better for people to go to an optometrist to get their eyes checked than to go to the drugstore or Staples to buy readers, which can end up making their vision worse. I realize your eye doctor told you to buy them, but that would make me want to find a different doctor. Welcome to the progressive lenses club. They took some getting used to but now I can read my digests without holding them under the machine we have that magnifies things.

    1. As a long-time member of the Transformers fandom (scared of me? I’m the nicest possible person… Okay, that’s pretty much a lie, and yes, there are indeed some scary aspects of this group), I can expand a bit on the Universe profiles.

      Giving the Transformers characters on-package personalities was a decision made fairly early on to differentiate the line from others on the market. Other lines either features non-sapient mecha (as, indeed, did the lines the actual toys originated in, such as Diaclone in Japan) or (like Go-Bots) failed to promote the personalities on-package.

      The profiles were all written by Bob Budiansky, who became the main Transformers scribe starting with issue #5, and who went on more-or-less all the way through until Simon Furman took over in the mid-50s. Each Transformer had an “expanded” profile, which is what became the Universe-style entries, which was edited down to became what was put on the packages as Tech Specs bios.

      Of potential interest to readers here. Jim Shooter’s original treatment for the concept. Not everything he wrote made it to the franchise when it was released, but you can see the roots here: https://blackrockstoybox.blogspot.com/2010/06/jim-shooter-original-transformers.html

    2. Quick note, the latest wave of IDW collections of the Marvel Transformers run do in fact reprint issue #3 in its entirety now.

  7. Y’alls cover-age of them thar robots whut change into cars was purty fun. Unlike y’all, my momma done bought me that thar tractor-trailer guy, Opie Prime. Cuz my Momma love me. He wuz my fav’rit. These here tiny books wer hard’r to read than a joke carved in the out house wall with my Daddy’s pocket nife.

    I don’t reckon jokes about that thar Laura lady is any worse than Shaggy’s dumb jokes about that ninja banana stand that he ain’t likely to ever quit flappin’ his gums ’bout.

    Chris (Jethro) Franklin

  8. Cool pod cast as always. Ah I only read a few of the comics. Sorry to hear this one wasn’t good. I liked the Cartoons. That had some great stories. At lest for a child to watch. Like how Prime became prime. And his girl friend RC. Well Peter was sent to Germany to get photos when he teamed with Wolverine ware Ned Leds was killed. nd we thought he was Hobgoblin. So Portland… not that big of a stretch. As cheep as JJJ is he seems to like air lines. Either he has the miles thing or JJ owns an airline. They had a lot cool charcters in the comic. Mirage was well singular to how he is here, but not to this extent. Prime was awesome. Iron Hide was…well good old boy cow boy. Is how he kind of was.

    tough heart of gold. Southern. Loyal. Weird in the comic Spidey isn’t teamed with Bumble Bee. In the cartoona they were voiced by the same guy. Er Transformers season one and Spider Man and his amazing friends. Seeing Spark plugs history in Vietnam was interesting. Or was it Korea? Not sure I thumbed threw this issue once. My Cousin had it. I remember the one ware Shockwave took over and killed a bunch of Auto bots. And one issue ware a looser criminal finds Megaton stuck in gun form and became a big time criminal based on how good a shot Megatron was.

    t The end Meg gets free and plans to kill him, but the mans ok with it. Since he now lived as the man he wanted to be and would be ok with dyeing as the man he wanted to be. So Megtron thinks a sec and lets him live and leaves. I had a ton of these toys as a kid. The toys were fun. I never had Prime, but my cousin did. I had Iron side. Side swipe and Jazz. Jazz was fine as a character, and with Scat Msn Scothers as his voice actor he was defiantly a memorable character. I liked the cartoons up till the late 90s.

    I even got Ultra Magnus (Mostly cuse the simi that came with him was a re painted( Optimus Prime)

    The toys were great they even had robots that turned into a giant robots. They were fun to collect. Sorry to hear this comic wasn’t fun.

  9. I listened to the preamble where you talked about Rob’s new pad and the fun Buffy episode, but once you got to the Transformers shit I peaced out. Way too many punchy appliances on the Diesel & Coolant Network these days. You do you, though… just out of my earshot. Im’ma slink out the door with Ruth and Pakita again…

    -Hypocrite With Plans To Record Transformers Shit With DWC Later This Month

  10. So, you guys take credit for contributing to the creation of the recent (and glorious) Marvel digests, but I noticed that after you covered them in a few episodes, the line was discontinued. Maybe someone over at Marvel wasn’t pleased that their digests only got the “point-five” treatment instead of bona fide whole-numbered episodes… 😛

    1. Oh, yeah: about the digest covered in this episode. I think I’m reaching a Transformer saturation point with your shows. However, it is interesting to learn that Marvel did publish some – by all accounts not very well produced – digests in the 1980s. This is the first I’ve heard of them, so thanks for that new tidbit of information.

      Also, I have to add that I am *shocked* and *appalled* to hear that you guys are not actually reading the digests but rather digital versions of the stories, or using magnifying glasses or whatnot. I’m so upset by this fraud on your part that I’ll never listen to Digest Cast again … until the next episode drops…

  11. A great episode again, fellows! I was surprised to hear that there was old Marvel digests. I only ever saw DC, Archie, or Richie Rich digests as a kid. To me, Marvel was relegated to Little Big Books or those paperback novel sized books that reprinted old issues in a horizontal format ( I remember having a Thor one ).

    I have been enjoying all this Transformers coverage lately. Like many mentioned above, I loved the toys and cartoons as a kid, but I never got into the literature so it was neat to hear your views on this digest.

    But my only complaint is that you had the character entries, but no Hot Or Not judgments? I feel like the network needs to know whether you find Starscream hot…. or not! Personally, not. That voice pops into my head whenever I see him……..

      1. My wife and I will use this as ammo when we get to be on the Bwahaha Cast. “If only there were people you know who host Transformers-related podcasts that you could have asked about these things, Shagg.” 😀

  12. There was a brief period where the three humans that Optimus Prime had interacted with in any way were the Witwickys and Spider-Man. That must have been a weird couple of days when he hadn’t yet realized that Spider-Man was special. “Buster, could you crawl up that wall and grab that Cyberspanner for me?” “Prime, that’s 30 feet up, I can’t climb that far” “Well can you swing on your web line like you humans do?”

  13. A correction. The “Transformers Universe entries” as Shag is referring to them, were character profiles that were included in every issue as the book was coming out. So you were getting the character context and background information in a timely manner every issue as the characters were introduced. The Transformers Universe title itself just collected these, with updates to the profiles based on events that had occurred in the narrative since their original profile was published. It also included profiles that hadn’t run yet, but the bulk of the profiles were just updated reprints. So you were in fact getting these character details and context each issue as the series was coming out.

    With regards to the alternate ending, it was first scene in the UK Hardcover reprints which spanned 2 volumes to reprint the 4 issue mini, with the 2nd HC having the alternate ending to put a nice bow on the series. I covered that in a blogpost here:
    https://decepticonsretreat.blogspot.com/2019/07/marvel-uk-transformers-complete-works-hc.html

    The episode where you made the colossal blunder of attacking Soundwave was actually JL Bwahaha #11, when I was your guest host. I proceeded to chastise you right then and there in the episode, and then you got further BBQ’d in the comments. http://fireandwaterpodcast.com/podcast/jli-11/

    Note on Soundwave’s voice, he was voiced by Frank Welker, and the robotic tone was an after effect added in post-production. His recording voice pre-effect was actually his “Darkseid voice.” There are few episodes where they miss adding the effect in post-production, so you hear Soundwave talk like Darkseid. One example is in the opening battle scene of the Season 3 Episode “Webworld.”

    I’d like to also note that the storytelling definitely improves once Budiansky comes on board and starts running with the characters. He does a lot of great character development, great plots, and world building in his stories. That groundwork is then taken and expanded upon in the incredible work of Simon Furman, who was writing the Transformers comics for Marvel UK (it was a weekly title over there, so they have a ton of original Transformers comic content in addition to reprinting the US series). Furman was then tapped to come over and write the last 25 issues or so of the US Marvel Transformers run. I’d recommend tracking down the Marvel UK Transformers reprints, the stories are some of the best Transformers stories ever written.

    1. Gotta defend Shag here, as most of the information in the first paragraph above is factually incorrect. As already detailed in my own comments above, it is true that the profiles WERE written for the toys as they originally came out (and thus before most of the comics in which the characters appeared), and became the basis for the Tech Specs bios on the toy packages, but they did NOT appear in the pages of the Transformers comic UNTIL the Transformers Universe series. After the Transformer Universe series concluded, they started to have a few pages of profiles per issue in LATER issues of the main series, but Shag acknowledged that.

      I absolutely agree, however, that the series improved immensely with the coming of Bob Budiansky as writer (and, yes, Furman, although I’ve come to appreciate Budiansky more and more over the years, while Furman’s work… less so), starting with the very next story after the ones covered in this episode. It’s a pity you couldn’t have covered one of the Budiansky issues, although I certainly understand the draw of Spider-Man.

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