I’d like to dedicate this unusual review to Aaron who is the biggest Boss fan I know.
THE TRANSFORMERS – “Rock and Roll-Out!” (Marvel comics, issue #14, March 1986)
Written by Bob Budianski
Remember that one outdoor Bruce Springsteen concert back in March of ’86, when the Autobots saved the day?…No?
Well, clearly you weren’t reading Marvel’s original Transformers comic series back then. Issue #14, March 1986, featured just such a mash-up, only with a slightly different twist. While some real-life people, most notably Richard Branson, had appeared on the pages as themselves, Bruce appeared as the similar-monikered Brick Springstern (also spelled “Springhorn” on one page!), with his Tenth Avenue Band. The band came complete with an afro-sporting Max Weinberg, and Clarence Clemons himself, going by his nickname the Big Man.
Brick’s songs included the smash hits:
- “Dancing in the Night”
- “Born in America”
- Something referencing Margarita
…and presumably many more familiar sounding tunes!
In this issue’s tale, the Autobots are replenishing their ranks after the devastating events of issue #12. Optimus Prime has revived “memory engrams” of five Autobots: Hoist, Tracks, Skids, Smokescreen, and Grapple, and puts them in new bodies. Optimus sends four of the five (holding Grapple behind, in order to build Omega Supreme, who appears in issue #19) out with Bumblebee on a training mission.
It is while getting gas on this mission that Skids discovers that he loves the music of Brick Springstern/Bruce Springsteen! “This Springstern produces a most intriguing sound,” says Skids, as he sets his radio to the correct “coordinates”. Soon, however, the Autobots discover that Decepticon commander Shockwave plans on harvesting the sound energy from that night’s Springsteen…err, Springstern concert for his own evil uses! This unlikely plot serves to bring the Autobots closer to Springstern, by attending the concert themselves, in the parking lot!
Shockwave’s “energy siphon” actually removes the sound from the concert, converting it into “energon cubes”! The audience isn’t happy! Hoist disconnects the siphon, triggering a Decepticon attack!
The autobots transform into robot mode to protect the audience from Decepticons Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker. Luckily the audience (improbably) thinks it’s all part of the show. Hoist instructs Bruce…err, Brick, to keep playing music to keep the audience from panicking! Brick and the Big Man launch into the next song, and the ploy works to keep the crowd enthralled and distracted from the missiles exploding over their heads. Even the arrival of Shockwave, in the form of a friggin’ 40 foot long laser gun, doesn’t seem to alarm the crowd. The Autobots defeat the bad ‘bots, and leave Brick to finish the concert. The show must go on…
The plot is loaded with massive holes. Earlier in the story, Autobot medic Ratchet is complaining that he doesn’t have enough spare parts, even gaskets, to keep the wounded ‘Bots from leaking to death. Then, a page or two later, there’s five brand new bodies built for the new Autobots, aka new toys that Hasbro had to sell. Then there’s the siphoning of the music from the concert to create energon, when the Decepticons could have just stolen the electricity itself.
Not a great issue, but since it introduced five new toys, as a kid I was happy with it.
The comic has been reissued several times, notably by IDW As Transformers Generations #3, and again in the collection Transformers Classics #2.