On the metallic planet of Cybertron a race of intelligent robots exist. The planet was at peace for a time until an army was formed called the Decepticons. Lead by a powerful robot named Megatron, they began a war with another faction called the Autobots, who were lead by another powerful robot named Optimus Prime. The two armies battled in a very brutal war using advanced weaponry, but their greatest asset was their ability to change into vehicles and weapons. They would soon call themselves Transformers.
The war had become so fierce that the planet was knocked out of its orbit, and it was heading for an asteroid belt which would spell doom for its inhabitants. Optimus Prime lead a team of his best warriors on the ship called the Ark, to clear the asteroid belt for Cybertron to pass through. Megatron learns of their plan, and realized it was the perfect time to strike and destroy Optimus Prime, thus, breaking the morale of the Autobots. The Decepticons attacked their ship and it crash landed on Earth. The two armies remained dormant for four million years. Now, they have awakened to continue their war with the planet being the prize.
The Autobots and Decepticons are in great danger and at the moment only Optimus Prime is aware. It appears that the Transformers creator Primus, had a powerful enemy by the name of Unicron, a giant Transformer who devours worlds. Unicron has located the place his ancient enemy has been hiding, and that place is Cybertron. The only hope to battle against this threat is with the Creation Matrix, but it's lost somewhere in deep space. Prime dispatches multiple search parties to retrieve the Matrix in order to prevent their extinction. -summary
Classic Transformers Volume Five begins the best storyline to take place in Transformers: Generation One. This batch of stories written by Simon Furman explores territory examined in the animated series with far more depth. The focus is on the Creation Matrix, which is a computer talisman passed on to new Autobot leaders; its purpose is to give life to Transformers. It's revealed to be even more important than that. This overall storyline provides some background on the Matrix, Primus, and Unicron, and what brings them together. The book collects Transformers 62 - 74.
The first batch of stories deals with several Autobot search parties as they end up on different worlds the Matrix may be on. Eventually, the Decepticon leader on Cybertron, Thunderwing, learns what Prime is after when he ambushes one of the groups. He then seeks the Matrix for himself completely unaware of the threat Unicron represents. These events run through the five part story The Matrix Quest, and although there are some very interesting story elements to take place along with a variety of homages to be found, with Mobey Dick and The Maltese Falcon being quite obvious, I found the subplots to be very boring. Furman seems to have trouble carrying the plot, and he resorts to very weak devices with intentions on stretching things out and then wrapping up a portion of the main plot in very little time. The Autobots run into a variety of trouble consisting of shape-shifters to alien gangsters, but they play no factor into the main plot.
These stories probably would have been easier to get through had the characters being focused on been better developed. For one thing, they all seem to be very one dimensional and even think a like. They are clearly meant to fill up a head count as once and done characters. In fact, some of them disappear from the storyline altogether. Unless you're a diehard Transformers fan, you won't remember any of their names despite them being said at least ten times. The only character that raises any level of interest during this particular story arc is Thunderwing, as he becomes obsessed with finding the Matrix, in which he later becomes possessed by it. The side story taking place here with the Matrix is completely unexpected and it works in enhancing the story.
Once you make it to issue 66, this is when the book becomes near impossible to put down. Optimus Prime realizes that they have only one hope to survive as a race, and that is for the Autobots to surrender to Scorponok and the Decepticons in order to prepare for Unicron. This part of the book is too good, as another Decepticon civil war breaks out, characters who were thought to be dead return with a vengeance, and Unicron reaches into a possible future to retrieve one of the most dangerous Decepticons of all time to keep both armies divided. The writing is engaging, full of suspense and plot twist, plus the cliffhanger ends the book on a high note.
Jose Delbo's artwork still isn't anything to brag about nor is Geoff Senior's, even for that time in 1990. Some of the designs appear too simple and lacking detail. The action really isn't all that good until issue 66, but from that point you're treated to some good robot destruction; such as a dead Transformer body crucified with wires hanging from his mouth. Heads knocked off and fist shoved straight through bodies. The action can be brutal, and the artwork becomes much better by issue 70, when Andrew Wildman takes over. The damage to the robots is fairly consistent, as you still see some of Soundwave's face hanging in later panels after Prime slams him head first into a steel wall. The dialog has gotten better by this point, with a bit more wit and less cheesier lines.
Classic Transformers Volume 5 is the strongest volume since the second one. The action is better and the story runs smoother once it catches a stride. Serious Transformer fans will get a kick out of this. Casual fans won't be lost here, yet I can imagine the beginning putting them off. However, if they can power through the first part, they may be interested enough to either continue forward or backtrack.
Pros: -Middle portion and ending are very good
Cons: -Slow start and many uninteresting portions in the beginning
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