The Transformers-Decepticons toy line and resulting media franchise represents one of the first successful examples of Japanese superheroes and supervillains adopted for an American audience. Transformers are intelligent robots (or large humanoids) with the capability to transform themselves, usually into inanimate objects (such as a fighter jet, car, or tank) or animals. The premise of the franchise relies on the age-old struggle between good and evil, with two main factions warring for control of their home planet, Cybertron. The heroic Autobots (called Cybertrons in the Japanese version) are led by Optimus Prime, and their opponents, the militaristic and brutal Decepticons (Destrons in the Japanese version), are led by Megatron. Megatron was responsible for beginning the Cybertronian Civil War, in which he exterminated Autobots by the millions and earned his claim to fame as the galaxy's most ruthless leader. Other potential world dominators have tried to usurp Megatron's power, including Astrotrain and Blitzwing, Shockwave, and Galvatron, a Decepticon created from Megatron himself. Hasbro began the toy line in 1984, which combined the Japanese toy company Takara's successful Diaclone and Micro Change toylines into a new brand for U.S. consumers. The basic backstory of the toy line and subsequent comic books and cartoons were developed by Marvel Comics writers Jim Shooter and Dennis O'Neil. Marvel published several series during the 1980s, even producing a four-issue miniseries, G.I. Joe and the Transformers in 1986, followed by later releases from the company in the 1990s. The animated TV series Transformers (1984–1987), created to support the toy franchise, focused on battle after battle as the domineering Decepticons attempted to destroy peace within the galaxy. Subsequent spin-offs, such as Beast Wars: Transformers (1996–1999), Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2001), and Transformers: Cybertron (2005) continued into the 1990s and 2000s. Capitalizing on these shows' high-action content and popularity, the now-defunct Dreamwave Studios published several Transformers comics between 2002 and 2004. A live-action Transformers movie boasts Dream- Works producer Steven Spielberg at the helm. With no less than four writers involved in the project at various points, fans eagerly await leaks regarding the film's development. In mid-2005 writer Alex Kurtzman acknowledged the challenge of developing a the storyline: “It's a movie franchise based on a toy line, so the first question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Well, what's the movie?'” In anticipation of the success of the film, IDW Publishing began publishing its line of Transformers comics in October 2005, led by the creative team of comics scribe Simon Furman and artist E. J. Su.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.