Shiny Shelf

Transformers: City of Fear

By Mark Clapham on 28 October 2003

Having finished collecting the time travel arcs Simon Furman wrote for the weekly UK ‘Transformers’ comic, Titan are now going back to fill in some of the gaps. First up is this collection of Furman’s stories set on Cybertron, the transforming-robots home planet. These dart around the stories collected in the previous collections, with tales from an eighty-issue span of the book.

The trilogy of linked two-parters ‘City of Fear’, ‘Legion of the Lost’ and ‘Meltdown’ kick-off the collection, and represent the most substantial part of the book. While there’s something unimaginably stupid and self-contradictory about the concept – zombie robots! – it’s a well executed story, and demonstrates just how much Furman was allowed to get away with at this point. It’s all very nasty by kids comics standards, and comes pretty close to flat-out horror. There’s something deeply odd about a comic that’s a) heavily influenced by George Romero and b) features characters called ‘Sparkler Mini-bots’.

‘Deadly Game’ is your bog-standard gladiatorial combat story, but has a few funny jokes to carry it through. The one-off ‘Firebug’ works surprisingly well for a story scripted by Dan Abnett, probably because of Furman’s sure hand guiding the plot. ‘The Fall and Rise of the Decepticon Empire’ stars Megatron and looks at the situation on Cybertron from the enemy’s viewpoint. While a good story, as the only Decepticon-led tale here it feels like a fragment from something else, isolated from related stories both before and after.

Finally, ‘Kup’s Story’ is one of the most popular one-issue stories from Furman’s entire run, and takes place sometime after the present day and before the future of ‘Transformers: The Movie’. While it doesn’t relate very closely to the other stories in the book, it ends the collection on a high note, and with a warm glow that the more action-orientated stories lack.

Titan are now well on the way to collecting all of Furman’s ‘Transformers’ strips. While there are still notable gaps – where’s ‘Distant Thunder’, or the Straxis in a bottle story? – ‘City of Fear’ provides a substantial overview of the Cybertron-based stories from the UK comic. Even in the current glut of ‘Transformers’ related comics, it’s still a worthwhile purchase.

Buy ‘City of Fear’ at Amazon.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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