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|Marvel U.S. > 33–34|
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|Marvel UK > Issue #9–12|
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The Autobots travel to England to track down the source of a coded Cybertronian signal... but the Decepticons aren't far behind.
The Decepticon jets attack the English castle at Stansham and plant an underground probe before leaving. Not far away, Sammy Harker, the son of the castle's curator is playing in the woods when he comes face-to-face with Jazz. Terrified, he runs home, only to be followed by Jazz in his car mode.
Arriving home in shock, Sammy tells his tale, which makes his father think of the old legend of the Man of Iron. In the 11th Century, the Man of Iron, a giant metal man was seen in the vicinity of Stansham castle on three occasions. He did battle with an attacking force using a "javelin of flame" before disappearing again. Sammy's father then shows him a 900-year-old picture showing the Man of Iron, which Sammy thinks looks like the robot he saw.
That night, Sammy is troubled by strange dreams of robots and jet fighters. Unknown to him, his dreams echo reality as Mirage visits his house and steals the picture of the Man of Iron.
The following day, Sammy is intrigued to see a white Porsche parked outside his house. The Man of Iron picture is on the back seat. The door opens and Sammy gets inside, but as Sammy's mother comes out the door closes and Jazz drives off with Sammy.
Jazz manages to calm Sammy and convince him that he will come to no harm. He is taking him to Optimus Prime. Along the way, Mirage, Trailbreaker and Bluestreak join them. Then they are attacked by Thundercracker, who badly injures Trailbreaker, before being shot down himself by Bluestreak.
They eventually reach the shuttle ship where Prime is waiting. He explains to Sammy that they have been tracking a signal from an ancient Autobot ship. He believes that the Autobots on Cybertron sent a rescue ship for them after they crashed on Earth only for the ship to crash itself. The Man of Iron is an Autobot who occasionally reactivates in an attempt to complete its mission. The Decepticons want to destroy the ship and its occupants and the Autobots are trying to stop them.
The army investigate the Decepticon attack on the castle and dig at the point where their probe landed. Suddenly the ground shakes and the Man of Iron appears from a hidden door in the ground. Then the Decepticons attack and the Man of Iron is destroyed.
Jazz and the Autobots arrive and drive the Decepticons away, returning Sammy to his family as well. Prime decides that given the Decepticon menace, they can't possibly consider returning to Cybertron and abandoning the Earth. He is equally unwilling to leave the rescue ship intact and orders Jazz to destroy it.
Deep within the ship, Navigator lays unconscious waiting for the time when his attendant, the Man of Iron, will awaken him to complete his mission. That time will never arrive as above Jazz — not knowing Navigator is in there — fires a missile that completely vaporises the ship and its occupant.
Sammy would never again see Jazz — but the Man of Iron would haunt his dreams...
- Originally published: 12 January – 23 February 1985 (UK); October–November 1987 (U.S.)
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
- The cover to the U.S. reprint in issue #33 featured a mis-colored Megatron (complete with Decepticon faction symbol) being attacked by medieval knights. Megatron does not feature in the story and the 'Man of Iron' only bears a passing resemblance to him.
Items of note
- This is the first UK-originated story. "Man of Iron", "The Enemy Within!" and "Raiders of the Last Ark" were used to fill the gap while waiting for new US material after the initial four-issue miniseries. This leaves the story's place in continuity open to question: The miniseries ends with all the Autobots and Decepticons deactivated, and it takes eight more US issues for all the characters in "Man of Iron" to return to action. (Even more confusingly, the story would be reprinted in the US run as #33 and #34, long after many of the characters had been again deactivated.) Keeping as close as possible to the original printing's place in the series, these events could be worked somewhere into the latter half of the miniseries, during/between "Prisoner of War!" and "The Last Stand".
- The story's sensibility is markedly different from most Transformers fiction, no doubt due to it being written while the brand was still in its infancy. Its battles are shockingly brutal and devoid of banter (in fact, the Decepticons are never heard to speak). A single shot from an average Transformer weapon can reduce an enemy to a ball of flaming wreckage. It's unclear how many of these casualties are actually fatal, but the Man of Iron does seem to be utterly destroyed by a mere two Seeker missiles.
- Prime's order to destroy the rescue craft and its potential crew is uncharacteristically callous and poorly justified. As Jazz does the deed, the narration describes him as wholly ignorant of the craft's inhabitant and his knowledge of Cybertron's location. However, the Autobots' dialogue had established that they were fully aware of the ship's purpose, and Jazz himself had told Sammy that they expected to find multiple Autobots inside. In that same conversation, Prime had said that the Decepticons might wipe out the entire area just to destroy the ship, which may be why the Autobots did it first: Better to cleanly eliminate the target than let the surrounding humans suffer. But the obvious other option of enlisting the ship and its crew in the fight against the Decepticons is at no point ever mentioned. Even if we assume the ship to be inexcavable, the Autobots' lethal failure to check it for crew members first is curiously cold-hearted.
- When Jazz remotely reports to Optimus Prime, he calls himself 'Autobot codename Jazz'. Later, he tells Sammy to call him Jazz because his real name is unpronounceable.
- The Man of Iron's design seems to be based on a combination of Jazz and Megatron's body designs.
- This story was originally published in a mix of black & white and colour, and was subsequently fully colourised for the Collected Comics printing. An alternative colourisation was used for the US printing.
- The staggered colouring history makes the Man of Iron's killer difficult to identify. While the original art is black-and-white, the issue's cover is in colour, and it shows the Seeker in question to be Skywarp. This is supported by the in-story dialogue ('There's another one! It just seemed to appear from nowhere!'), suggesting use of his teleporting ability. When the story was reprinted in Collected Comics, however, the killer was coloured as Thundercracker, which resulted in a quiz question in a later UK annual that named him as the do'er of the deed (although the previous issue's cover showed that Thundercracker was the jet shot down by Bluestreak in the third instalment). And as if things weren't confused enough already, when the US reprint of the story was recoloured, the killer was depicted as Starscream!
- At the end of part two, when Sammy is 'kidnapped' by Jazz in his car mode, this is followed by a public-service warning against accepting lifts from strangers. This message is completely undone by the events of parts three and four, when Sammy meets the other Autobots and has an adventure with them.
- When reprinted in Collected Comics #3, each issue/chapter was given its own subtitle. These were:
- "First Encounter"
- "You've Got Friends?"
- "Battlefield Castle Stansham"
- US issue #33 reprints UK issues #9–10.
- The box at the top left of issue #33 also features a Union Flag behind the image of Grimlock.
- "Man of Iron" was reprinted in US issues #33 & #34.
- The cover to the US reprint in issue #33 contains the following melodramatic statement: You won't believe it! Your eyes will bug out!! An explosive saga from the house of ideas!!!
- US issue #34 reprints UK issues #11–12.
|Specifics: UK covers 9, 11, 12|
- UK issue 9 cover: Jazz and Sammy, by John Ridgway
- UK issue 10 cover: Mirage, by John Ridgway
- UK issue 11 cover: Thundercracker, by Mike Collins
- UK issue 12 cover: Jazz attacks a Seeker, by Mike Collins
- UK Collected Comics 3 cover: The Autobots disembark from their shuttle, by John Ridgeway. Originally used on UK issue 2.
- U.S. issue 33 cover: Badly miscolored Megatron vs medieval knights, by Charles Vess
- U.S. issue 34 cover: A Seeker attacks Optimus Prime, by Tom Morgan
- None yet identified.