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Review: Transformers: The Manga Vol. 3

Cover of Transformers: The Manga, vol. 3Transformers: The Manga Vol. 3
Writer: Masumi Kaneda
Artists: Ban Magami
Viz Media; $24.99

The third and final volume of the never-before collected Transformers: The Manga series is by far the most exotic, as it is furthest removed from the “Generation 1” Transformers that starred in the first volume of the series (and the original, American cartoon series and comics). It is instead based mostly on a pair of Japanese-only cartoons that never made it across the Pacific (1989’s Transformers: Victory and 1990’s Transformers: Zone).

The result is that these characters and their adventures feel much more Japanese than some of the previous incarnations of the Transformers in almost every way, from their names to their dialogue to the natures of their conflicts, even when compared to the earlier volumes of this series.

This volume comprises three loosely connected storylines featuring the eternal clash between alien super-robots that can turn into vehicles.

The longest is “Victory,” in which new Autobot commander Starsaber leads the fight against the Decepticons, with a special focus on the human boys that he and Decepticon commander Deszaras each adopt, and who function as point-of-view characters. This particularly light and sometimes silly storyline is pretty unique for its happy ending, which involves a twist reveal about why the Decepticons are fighting so hard for energy in the first place, and a truce between the two eternally warring factions of robots.

That’s followed by the very short “Zone,” which is the only one of the Transformers: The Manga stories printed left-to-right, wherein we see the Autobot/Decepticon peace couldn’t last forever, or else we wouldn’t have a conflict for the franchise to revolve around.

The final story is “Battle Stars,” which involves the reappearance of Gen 1 characters Optimus Prime and Megatron, now powered-up and dubbed Star Convoy and Super Megatron, respectively (Optimus’ Japanese name was Convoy).

As in the previous volumes, this one includes an incredible amount of artwork after each story, including color images from the magazines the manga was originally printed in, images from the anime and even some packaging art.

While certainly not the best Transformers comics ever produced, this series—and this volume in particular—are fairly invaluable for restoring a “lost” bit of Transformers lore for super-fans and presenting the American comics stalwarts in a whole new light.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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