Thursday, 19 February 2009

Transformers UK Comics - Fallen Angel

So we continue this whistlestop tour of some of the best Transformers collections with one of my favourites - Fallen Angel, which collects the return of Galvatron and the Fire On High storyline. And of course, the introduction of Death's Head!
Fallen Angel
On a similar note, I absolutely love the cover art for this trade paperback. Remember, these things are larger than usual graphic novels because in the UK comics were A4 sized, so it looks really really nice.

Galvatron, at the end of Transformers the Movie, is hurled into space by Rodimus Prime. And thats where the comic and the cartoon diverge (the UK never really got the third season, you see). In the comic, he has kept his time travel device from Target: 2006 and uses it to travel back in time to present day Earth (and crash landing at high speed).

There are some vague religious parallels you can draw here as well, signpointed by the title of the story. Galvatron is created by a God (in this case Unicron), rebells against him, and is cast down (by Rodimus Prime, the Transformer's messiah). Or perhaps thats just me. Whatever, Galvatron extrudes a satanic quality, from his sly cunning to his raw power to the fact some artists draw his crown as having definite horns!

The first thing Galvatron does in his reentry-induced rage and confusion is to destroy the mechanoid Centurion. Perhaps not the best thing to do since that was one of Grimlock's best friends (and I love the art of Grimlock picking up Centurion's head). And at the end of the issue as Grimlock takes his Dinobots to kill Galvatron in revenge, the first thing he does is to throw Centurion's head AT Galvatron!
Soon Shockwave and his Decepticons arrive at the scene, and not wanting Galvatron to wrest control of his forced from him, Shockwave joins the attack. What is great in the entire run of the UK comic is how consistantly Galvatron is written. He doesn't follow the usual formula of being invincible on his first appearance, easily taken down on his next. Thoughout the hundreds of issues he appears, he is an unbeatable killing machine, and you know when he appears something special is going on.

But what is happening in the future? The story picks up in a bar with the introduction of one of Furman's most loved characters, Death's Head. Death's Head (who isn't a Transformer, just a mechanoid) who is both evil yet utterly lovable at the same time finds out about the bounty Rodimus Prime has put on Galvatron's head.

We find out that Prime was unable to rest with Galvatron missing after being hurled into space, and so expended all his effort into finding him. Which left the Decepticon leader Shockwave free to regroup his forces and invade Cybertron again.

Death's Head proves himself to be utterly psychopathic, and after tracking down and almost killing Cyclonus and Scourge, discovers Galvatron had travelled back in time, so follows him. Oh dear.
Now, a word on Rodimus Prime. Prime in the cartoon was whiny, but here he is very powerful and in command, with a ruthless edge. This is the guy we should have got after the movie - you don't doubt that he is one of the most powerful Autobots of them all - but also fallible, and having realised his mistake in letting the most deranged bounty hunter in existance go tearing up 20th century Earth in search of Galvatron, decides to follow him.

And the very first thing Death's Head does when he arrives on Earth? He fulfils everyones dream and kills Bumblebee.

And here is where the fun begins. See, Ultra Magnus is busy enjoying a well deserved rest on Earth. Enjoying the forests, the peace and quiet, the... insane future Decepticon leader Galvatron? Well, bummer, poor guy never gets a break, doesn't he.

Galvatron drags Magnus to the summit of a nearby volcano, where he has constructed a gigantic siphon to drain power from the Earth and turn himself into a god. Luckily the future Autobots arrive to stop Galvatron from flinging Magnus into the volcano. And then unluckily Death's Head arrives to claim the bounty.

Magnus's attempts to take down Galvatron end in defeat.

So does Prime's.

Again, I say this. Galvatron's portrayal is very, very consistent. He can't be defeated, he is a very real, very dangerous threat. Even Death's Head, the badass character created especially for this story doesn't fare well.

And then, as a fantastic twist, the future Autobots manage to achieve their goal and reverse Galvatron's time travel apparatus, sending everyone, Death's Head and Galvatron included back to the future. Only Galvatron has forseen this and tampered with it leaving him behind with only Goldbug and Magnus to stop him.

But Magnus is shattered from defeat after defeat and gives up. (of course, he comes back to fight Galvatron, he's a hero after all. Even though he knows he can't win).

Goddamn, I read the end of this tale, 'Vicious Circle', again and again when I was little, and it still makes me teary-eyed.

Anyway, if you've never read any Tranformers, Fallen Angel would be a great place to start, the art is more consistant than the earlier trades, and it has some fantastic moments. But hell, they're all great really.

Death's Head won the Amazing Fantasy vote, and Simon Furman wrote the new story, but sadly it wasn't the original Death's Head, who really does deserve a return (and a Marvel Legends figure, hint hint hint...)


  1. That seems like a totally bitchin' TF comic. I'll have to keep my eyes open for a copy!

  2. One of my all time favorate Transformers story arcs, and not least for the introduction of the most awesome freelance peacekeeping agent in the universe, yes? Its a weird coincidence that I was at my parents house on wednesday and stumbled upon a box full of graphic novels in the loft, one of which was my beloved, very worn and overly read Deaths Head Graphic Novel. Bliss! I will now spend the rest of the day re-reading this several times... Now if only I could find my Deaths Head issues of Dragons Claws, then my world would be complete...

  3. Excellent Graphic Novel. This was the first Transformers Graphic Novel I ever got, my parents bought it too me as a present back in 2004....hooked on the comics ever since.

  4. Cracking stuff, and Furman deftly avoids a tedious Rodimus vs Galvatron affair.

    Also that cover by Geoff Senior kicks serious arse.

  5. I would hardly call the art consistent. Dan Reed and Geoff Senior are like as night and day (both are good, but their art styles are utterly different).