TransFormers Marvel Read Along

Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by Grimlock528, Sep 1, 2019.

  1. Haywired

    Haywired Hakunamatatacon

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    Well, going by Budiansky's story... Landmine and Cloudburst didn't want to save their comrades at the expense of someone's else life.

    I don't think Decepticons would have any second thoughts about taking the microchips needed for their fallen. Whatever was their off-panel source for the spare parts.
     
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  2. YukatanJack

    YukatanJack Well-Known Member

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    You can tell that the Primus mythology is more satisfying than the Quintesson story, because it's been more or less the basis for every continuity's mythology going forward (see also: the "Spark" concept from Beast Wars), and for sure when I first read The Primal Scream, I instantly adopted it as The Truth. But looking back I will say that there's something interestingly dark about the cartoon origin. The Transformers were created by a heroic god to fight an evil dark god = fun for an epic space opera for kids. The Transformers are sentient machines built to be a slave race for the universe's biggest assholes = nihilistic, existentially horrifying sci-fi, that resonates in a pleasingly unsettling way with the brand's genesis as an exploitation of marketing deregulation to sell toys.

    That said, the cartoon origin for Unicron utterly blows, which is a big point in Furman's favor.

    I also wonder how this issue read for UK readers who were getting a rehash of the story (first told in Legacy of Unicron, which I as an American read much later). Senior's illustration of the tale is definitely superior -- a real treat -- but the UK version felt a little more organic in how it fit into the story, without the need of this clunky "Keeper" character/exposition device.
     
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  3. MattDallas

    MattDallas Well-Known Member

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    The strange thing was, when the origin was revealed in the UK comic (in Legacy If Unicron) it was almost like the Transformers themselves were unaware of it all. Unicron only revealed it to Deaths Head who was then lost through time (off to Doctor Who and the Marvel universe) never to be seen again.
    Until it popped up again in Primal Scream, I was always content with Transformers not knowing their true origins - be it Primus (the religious one) or Quintesson (the more scientific one).
     
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  4. Max Rawhide

    Max Rawhide Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' ... uh, never mind

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    # 61 Primal Scream


    Following up from last issue, our heroes have indeed ended in the Holiest of the holiest and with their God, Primus. After Grimlock is rebellious and questioning, the guardian of Primus shows them (and us) the origin history of the Transformers. They’re a race of warriors created to fight Unicron, a dark God and the enemy of Primus. A battle that is postponed because of the civil war, but a battle that will come should Primus awaken. Once attacked by the Decepticons, the Autobots initially offer little resistance out of fear they will awaken Primus, but now it’s Bumblebee who questions the situation. He’s not willing to just sacrifice themselves for their creator and the Autobots fight back using their brains. They succeed but at the end a ricochet awakens Primus mere seconds before they’re teleported to Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth Scorponok faces a rebellion because his troops are unhappy that Starscream is again part of the Decepticon army. And while Scorponok claims that he has Starscream on a leash, Starscream is listening in and planning his take over.


    Art... This was a huge, huge shock to me back in the 80’s. I liked Delbo’s clean lines and consistency (while not blind to his art being static), but this was something completely different. And I didn’t like it. Lots of black, what looked like wobbly, unrefined lines, and everything very angular without any apparent surface details. I hated it with a passion, although would learn to like and even love it. Reading the comic again, I absolutely love what Geoff sr. does here and it looks so alive and gritty. It was exactly what the series needed. Nevertheless, although it’s far more detailed than I gave it credit back then (his apparent unrefined lines consist of shadows and fine lines), Mindwipe’s injury is a rather bland silver-grey surface where I imagined Delbo would draw much interior detail (of too big tubes).

    Story. As they say, you can never go back to your first impression. Primus, the creation story as the TF being the defence again Unicron, the whole mystifying and introducing a religion (with a physical, proven God) and living Transformer having what is described as a lifeglow... it’s all so common now. (Disliked even due to overexposure.) But back then, this complete 180 on the Transformers was so utterly mind blowing and such an incredible enrichment of the TF mythos, that 40+ (50-) me simply cannot fathom what reading this issue for the first time did to me. Even as a non-religious person (and an atheist when I first read it), this so enlarged and enriched the fiction. (And still, perhaps due to over exposure in late fiction of the Primus element, I found new appreciation of Budiansky’s approach of machines alive due to very advanced AI and nothing more. But that something for after #80.)

    Outside of this mind-blowing new approach, the story is excellent in itself as well. Because we got characters, and lots of it. The Rescue Patrol get much more to do and much more development (albeit is meagre compared to later bios and there is little specifics), Grimlock doing a 180 (unbeliever at first, the one to be worried about Unicron at the end) and the Decepticons. But best of all is Bumblebee, so hated by me in the cartoon. Here we have Bumblebee questioning the very nature of existence. It is Bumblebee who puts his foot down and says that he’s not going to be the willing, obedient subject. Primus had this idea for them? Well, good for him. We’re not going to die because of it to safeguard this plan that might or might not exist. It’s one of the shining moments of Bumblebee during G1.

    Some points:
    - Who was the fourth Decepticon? These three Pretenders are all armed with melee weapons (in the comic) and Stranglehold is shown only just emerging from his shelf when they start the attack, so who shot the Guardian?
    - Seawatch takes Bludgeon for water skiing, but where to? Did he just go on and on until the teleport?
    - Why does Primus have the letter H on his chin?
    - yay, Soundwave is back. Uh, why was he repaired?
    - Back in the Meccanibals issue I already questioned if the reservations the Autobots had would slow the Decepticons down. It shouldn’t, but outside Soundwave we don’t see any other “old” Decepticons around.
    - Scorponok expects reinforcements to arrive. This is interesting since it suggests he knows Megatron is no longer around to undermine him and that he's been in contact with Decepticon command. (Still, do these reinforcements really arrive?)
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2020
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  5. Grimlock528

    Grimlock528 Well-Known Member

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    Transformers marvel us #62 is live to discuss!
    The Matrix Quest! Part 1 of 5!
    “Birds of Prey”
    Roll out!
     
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  6. dj_convoy II

    dj_convoy II Remix!

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    Just a dumb, fun homage to pulpy nonsense. The genre choices to come on the Matrix Quest make it a lot of fun.

    I must say this, tho'... the matrix being a physical object is obviously a retcon after the movie came out... but in retrospect, it sure makes the Autobots stupid.
     
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  7. Longitudinalwave

    Longitudinalwave A Big Fan of (Sound/Shock)wave

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    Transformers #61: "Bird of Prey"
    AKA Nightbeat: Private Eye
    • First things first: this is obviously a pastiche of private eye detective movies, and, more specifically, the movie Maltese Falcon.
    • Nightbeat gets his first prominent role in US fiction here, and it's great. He fits really well as the private eye of this story and plays off well against the much more nervous Siren. (Hosehead is also in the story, but he's not quite as strongly characterized.)
    • The atmosphere of the planet they're on, Pz-Zazz, is very well-handled and reminiscent of the noir city settings of the 1930s and 1940s. The aliens even wield what appear to be tommy guns!
    • A dying alien hands Siren a statuette of a bird (in a scene taken pretty directly from the Maltese Falcon). Nightbeat is very excited by the prospect of getting entangled in this mystery, which is both slightly unsettling and rather endearing.
    • Then there's two pages of Optimus Prime, Emirate Xaaron, and Hot Rod engaging in some infodumping, covering the events of the last two issues and also providing us with a retcon that makes the Matrix a physical object rather than a computer program. Optimus Prime was really stupid for not telling the Autobots the true nature of the Matrix before he died.
    • Nightbeat and friends continue to tick off all the private eye tropes as they go to a bar and run into a femme fatale, who, hilariously, calls herself Miss Fatale.
    • We also learn that the planet was originally safe, pleasant, and peace-loving, and Nightbeat speculates that the bird statue has something to do with the deteriorating state of the planet.
    • A conversation between Gutt, a ganglord, and his henchman forshadows the fact that there are Decepticons on the planet (Gutt calls them the robot mob, but it's not too hard to figure out who he's talking about).
    • Miss Fatale leads the Autobots to a sacred mountain; one which contained an object that restored health. (By this point, the reader can probably extrapolate the fact that the bird was the object. It's a fairly obvious plot point.)
    • The Autobots-or at least Siren- think this object might be the Matrix. This really makes no sense, though, as Optimus' body was launched into space only a couple of years ago. How could a civilization have sprung up and then decayed that quickly?
    • Miss Fatale claims that the bird was hers, and that, if they give it to her, she'll lead them to the "fountain of life". Nightbeat decides to work with her, although he clearly doesn't trust her. He tells Siren to keep an eye on her and goes to another bar, where he runs into another ganglord who claims he owns the statue. Nightbeat whacks him in the face with it instead, which is pretty awesome.
    • Also, while this is going on, we get a panel of a shadowed robot talking to someone who is clearly Thunderwing.
    • Siren, Hosehead, and Miss Fatale climb the mountain where they are met by Gutt, who thinks he's a Decepticon (or rather, part of the "robot mob").
    • Nightbeat shows up with the statue just in the nick of time, explaining that the statue was the object that could restore people's health. When it was stolen, the planet began to decay, and returning it to its original place on the mountain will heal the planet.
    • The Autobots and Miss Fatale then take out Gutt and his henchmen. Miss Fatale offers to split the bird with the Autobots, saying that they can use it to repair their teammates while she uses it to live eternally. Like Lord Zarak, Bumblebee, and Optimus, she's clearly uncomfortable with her own mortality. In fact, mortality is a running theme during Furman's time on the book. Ironically, though, she claims that the Transformers are not "finite", and, while Transformers are very hard to kill, the way the Autobots ponder their own mortality strongly suggests that she is wrong.
    • Nightbeat is tempted to take her up on her offer, but ultimately does the right thing and returns the bird, thereby restoring the planet to health...only for him and his comrades to promptly be captured by Thunderwing and his team-the "robot mob"! It's a great cliffhanger.
     
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  8. TheUltimateBum

    TheUltimateBum Nautica Lover

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    Both Nightbeat and Siren are perfect in the story. With Siren being basically the one who is most verbal about what he thinks (which fits his loud persona).

    Poor Hosehead does get the short end of the stick in this one a bit because it's hard to top the banter between Nightbeat and Siren when you're just the nice, well-meaning guy of the team.
     
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  9. dj_convoy II

    dj_convoy II Remix!

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    Yeah, I suppose Hosehead does get short shrift. :) 

    Glad to see Thunderwing, who is one of the more interesting Decepticon bosses.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
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  10. Max Rawhide

    Max Rawhide Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' ... uh, never mind

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    # 62 Bird of Prey (Matrix Quest part 1)

    A conference between Optimus and Xaaron explains the situation: teams of Autobots have been sent out to search for the Matrix in order to stop Unicron. One of these teams are the new Autobot Headmasters (although never shown to actually be headmasters). The planet they’re sent to is in decay, ruled by gangs, and by accident the Autobots get possession of a bird statue. A statue that everybody seems to want. In the end Nightbeat figures it out that this bird is like the Matrix and he replaces it so restore the good to the world. But our heroes are shot and captured by the Thunderwing lead Decepticons.


    Art...back in the 80’s I was still in denial, lamenting the absence of Delbo and thoroughly hating Senior’s work. But holy hell does his art style fit the story. It’s gritty, it’s dark, shadows everywhere and decay coming from all direction. Senior no doubt had fun drawing this and I want to pick up the issue again to spot all the details. Fun details like the legs hanging from the ceiling (p8) or the legs sticking out of a garbage can (p2). On the negative side, the mountain changed shape...or was this intentional, because it’s very thin, steep and high when the Autobots climb it, but more gentle when the bird has been put back...

    Story, where Budiansky borrowed from B movies, Furman here is borrowing (blatantly) from detective novels and mixing it with sf. The major inspiration is hinted in the title (bird-falcon) and the story comes complete with the mandatory absurd cool names: Pz-Zazz for the planet, miss Fatale, and crime lord Gutt (a double reference). It’s brilliant in its cheesiness.

    Outside of the story we have major character development for Nightbeat (the star of this story – and still no updated Nightbeat toy) and Siren who contrary to his bio seems to talk on normal volume. Hosehead is there as well (but I didn't like his toy, so there).

    Some points:
    - shades of a different timeline, but Hot Rod is with Optimus when the matrix is discussed
    - regarding the matrix, Optimus comments that the Autobots who buried him didn’t know it was a physical object. Optimus screws up again.
    - This also means that Ratchet who repaired Optimus after he blew up, either missed it or didn’t realise this object wasn’t part of his body design (no wonder he failed to fix Optimus)
    - how did Gutt with his big belly get up the mountain? And why didn’t he just roll downhill afterward?
    - then again, miss Fatale her outfit wouldn’t help with mountain climbing (unless the boys offered to carry her)
    - considering Nightbeat drove up the mountain, why didn’t the others do likewise?
    - Nightbeat is a bit too happy for the despair the world is in. Guess this mission is right up his alley.
    - Then again, he also thinks as Autobots they should care. Should they really, at least more than can be expected?
    - And finally, does he break the 4th wall by calling it a family show? (note, in the Dutch translation he actually said it was a comic book)
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2020
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  11. YukatanJack

    YukatanJack Well-Known Member

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    As a kid, I remember being sort of confused by Matrix Quest. A 5-part story called "Matrix Quest" sounded epic, like maybe it would be Transformers' version of "Phoenix Saga" or "Dark Phoenix Saga" (X-Men cartoon version), but then we got these weird kinda unconnected stories. And after the grandiose mythmaking of "The Primal Scream," the shift to this little mystery story is a bit jarring. Still, I convinced myself I loved it, because it was Transformers and it was called Matrix quest. It seemed sort of weird to me that they would shoot Prime's body into space with the Matrix still in his chest, but the object-in-chest Matrix was clearly 1,000 times cooler than the program-in-head version, so I went with it.

    In hindsight, it all reads to me like Furman finding a way to try things that amused him in his nonsense toy comic, and the results are so bizarre that I love the whole thing. When Budianski indulged impulses like this, it sometimes felt like he wished he didn't have to put Transformers in his Transformer comic,* but not Furman. Furman understood that if you wanted to do a Transformers private eye story, you just put a damn robot in a trenchcoat.


    *at least to kid-me. Adult me can absolutely see how something like "Carwash of Doom" or "Toy Soldiers" would feel like natural stories to do with the property, indeed, stories you could ONLY do with this property. But kid-me wanted to see Autobots fight Decepticons, and would actually say things like "Budianski's issues have too many fleshlings."
     
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  12. Grimlock528

    Grimlock528 Well-Known Member

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    Transformers Marvel US #63 is live to discuss!
    “The Matrix Quest” Part 2 of 5!
    “Kings of the Wild Frontier”
    Roll out!
     
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  13. dj_convoy II

    dj_convoy II Remix!

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    As always, someone else will come by and break it down better than I can, so I'll talk more about actually being around and buying this at the time.

    And this issue? I didn't. Not on purpose, of course.

    The thing was, if you were collecting comics on the newsstand, you weren't always guaranteed to get your favorite comics. Maybe you didn't go to the right place, maybe you didn't go at the right time. Sometimes you'd just miss an issue, and I missed this one.

    So, at my elementary school, we had a substitute teacher come in. He was a sub that we would get semi often, in that he would fill in for various teachers at our school. I seem to remember him being kind of a prick.

    At any rate, and time has obscured a bit of this for me, for some reason he had some kind of giveaway for our class with candy and comics. I assume he just stopped at the 7-11 or whatever and grabbed a handful of stuff. Maybe it was a quiz and he was giving out prizes? As I say, time has obscured this a bit for me... but the important thing was that this issue of Transformers, that I had missed, was one of the prizes. I was the only kid in my class that collected Transformers, and probably the only kid that collected comics.

    Somehow, I won something (again, don't remember if it was a quiz or what), and I got something, some kind of prize. I said "thanks," but pointed out (I recall being polite, but who knows) that I collected Transformers, so could I please have that instead, and was told "no." This changed my polite demeanor to one of debate. "What would it possibly matter if you give me the thing I want, that no one else cares about, instead of this?" I was probably being a presumptuous little creep, but getting that precious comic was all that mattered.

    Fortunately, someone else won the issue and traded with me.

    So, that's what this issue makes me think of, more than the weird western pastiche.
     
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  14. Grimlock528

    Grimlock528 Well-Known Member

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    I think I had that sub, too.
     
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  15. Max Rawhide

    Max Rawhide Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' ... uh, never mind

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    # 63 Kings of the Wild Frontier (Matrix Quest part 2)

    While on the Ark Optimus confronts his fears about the Matrix, Thunderwings learns about the search for the Matrix through the captured Headmasters from last issue. Meanwhile, the Matrix quest has brought the Triggerbots to the planet Cheyne, a frontier planet with clear western inspirations. Here, they come to the rescue of a child and fall into trap. Their hosts, a group of alien farmers, are psychic vampires and tap into the Autobots’ wish for peace. A confrontation with Thunderwing results in Dogfight getting his mind back, but the wish for peace ends in the Triggerbots killing the farmers/vampires.


    Art, Delbo’s back. I was so happy back then, but reading it now I really wish Senior had drawn this. Although not as dark a world as Pz-Zazz, the world of Cheyne’s ends up looking to clean for being a frontier, western town -- something I’m sure wouldn’t have happened with Senior. I also suspect that his Vampires would’ve been scarier. But then, the Triggerbots do look good, despite Dogfight his weird mouth (toy accurate, but still strange) and him and Override carrying their guns on their hips (either an art error or homage to the genre).

    Story...Honestly, I think this my least favourite issue of this arc. It’s probably because I’ve always liked Westerns (back then not so much in movies, but I read a lot of western novels) and as such I had read much better westerns, and this felt a bit too much like the weaker novels I had read. What also weakens the story for me is that we, as reader, thanks to dialogue and art already know something is wrong with the alien farmers. Likewise, Dogfight seems having fought his mind drain a bit too easy. Sure, being thrown back into his old life when confronting the Decepticons likely helped (though Thunderwing was very convinced of Dogfight being mentally controlled.

    I did like the Autobots being battle weary and longing for peace. The very same longing the vampires use to drain them. But at the same time they seem very docile and drained after a single night, so how long would they have lasted? And thus, how often do these aliens have to get new victims? The scene with Thunderwing interrogating the Headmasters is good and especially the first inkling that he’s reaching for something more than just destruction. Likewise Optimus Prime plunging mentally into the altar while admitting he was always ill at ease with the more mystical aspects of the matrix, does a little bit more of world building, showing the limits of this character. Perhaps showing that the matrix is tainted is a spoiler we could do without (especially since it conflicts a bit with the final issue).

    All in all, just a so-so issue for me. Maybe that’s the reason why this is the only bunch of original Dutch printing that I didn’t replace with the later TPB reprints.
     
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  16. dj_convoy II

    dj_convoy II Remix!

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    Are we on issue 64?
     
  17. Grimlock528

    Grimlock528 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry. Running behind.
    Transformers Marvel US #64 is live to discuss!
    To save longtooth from himself, and a race from extinction, the Autobots may just have to kill him!
    “The Matrix Quest” Part 3 of 5!
    “Deadly Obsession”
    Roll out!
     
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  18. dj_convoy II

    dj_convoy II Remix!

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    This is a weird one. Delbo and sometimes Transformers UK artist Dan Reed are an odd, dark fit. I misremembered; I thought this was Delbo's swan song, but I guess that will be #67. The grim art fits the tale, certainly... but even as a kid, I found this one a bit off putting (as I did when I found issues of TFUK Dan Reed did. I think better of his art now).

    Longtooth is an odd, unlikable... I hesitate to even say "protagonist." One has to wonder what occurred first; thinking of the Moby Dick homage or seeing a peg legged walrus man for Simon Furman. Refresh my memory... was Longtooth the one with the Matrix fragment in TFUK? I suppose the TFs could have met some sentient walrus people in their travels, and that's why you have a walrus-based Pretender... but how do you explain Doubleheader? Ugh, Pretenders.

    The antics of the Decepticons and most specifically Thunderwing are far more interesting, here than Longtooth's obsession or this portion of the quest. The first two parts were fun, if slight... this one... eh. But we get the powerhouse finale in the next two issues.
     
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  19. YukatanJack

    YukatanJack Well-Known Member

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    Matrix Quest as a whole was confusing to me as a kid, but #64 was definitely the MOST confusing and bizarre. As an adult I can see "ah, they made this ridiculous Pretender toy, and Furman was like, 'you know what, I'm gonna do a Moby Dick homage.'" But as a kid, I didn't even know about the toy. There was just this weird Walrus Autobot with these weird flowery captions.

    And despite that... I managed to love it (a recurring thing with any Transformers media that confused me), and I think it's somehow the most memorable of the "genre hopping" Matrix Quest chapters for me just because of how weird it was.

    I seem to recall this also being one of the most fun Matrix Quest issues to read aloud. For whatever reason, kid me decided to do a "comics on tape" project with Matrix Quest. You guys remember Books on Tape, right? You'd put in a cassette tape and it would read the story to you, making a little chime noise when it was time to turn the page? Well, I pulled out my tape recorder and recorded myself reading Matrix Quest the same way, doing different voices for all the characters and even making the little page-turn chime noise with my mouth. Heck, I even read the footnotes. And I remember having a really good time with Longtooth's weird overwrought narration and dialogue.
     
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  20. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Man, I've been here a LONG time Veteran

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    This is the one Longtooth issue from any Transformers media that I'm familiar with. I'm sure there are others that I've never read, but I appreciate this one time that this minor character gets to take the lead in a storyline. The story itself is obviously a Moby Dick homage as each of these Matrix Quest stories dives into a different genre, but if nothing else a character with a seafaring animal Pretender shell fits into the environment, no matter how bizarre he is. I've always had a soft spot for this story.
     
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