Dumb Christmas issue alert! Jetfire comes to talk to Buster, his confidence hurting after his crap command job during the Galvatron affair. Jetfire relates that he acts well when humans are in danger, but is slower when it comes to his fellow Autobots, and cannot always relate to them, as he is not from Cybertron. Buster tells him that this is okay and he should be proud of his heritage, and that Prime appreciates his unique perspective. And everyone is happy ‘cos its Christmas. Humbug!
Issue
093
Writer
James Hill
Pencils
Martin Griffiths
Inks
Tim Perkins
Colours
Steve White
Release date
27/12/1986
Autobots featured
Optimus Prime, Jetfire, Prowl, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, Jazz
Decepticons featured
Dirge, Kickback, Soundwave, Bombshell, Thrust
Humans featured
Buster Witwicky, G B Blackrock
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Locations featured
Mount St Hilary and Portland, Oregon, USA
Story synopsis
It’s the festive season, and on a snowy night in Portland, Buster Witwicky revises for his end of term exam. He then hears a tapping on his window, and looks up to see Jetfire outside.

Jetfire tells Buster that he needs his advice. When the human asks why he doesn’t seek help from his fellow Autobots, Jetfire gets upset and says that they’re part of the problem – they’re from Cybertron, and he was created on Earth. So Buster sits back and lets Jetfire tell him what’s wrong…

Jetfire tells him of how the Decepticons took over a NASA facility, and that Prowl and Trailbreaker went on a mission to infiltrate the base whilst Jetfire provided back up. When he was called to the scene he saw the two Autobots in pitched battle with Dirge and Kickback, whilst Soundwave attempted to send a signal to Cybertron via a radar dish. Prowl ordered Jetfire to stop Soundwave, but Jetfire ignored him and flew straight at Kickback. But the Insecticon transformed to insect mode, effectively vanishing from sight. Whilst Jetfire was stunned by this, Dirge wrestled Trailbreaker to the ground, transformed, grabbed Soundwave and flew off. This led to Prowl giving Jetfire a severe telling off for his ineptitude.

Buster tries to console Jetfire by telling him Prowl can just be cranky sometimes, but Jetfire is still hurt by it, and in frustration he starts headbutting Buster’s house! Buster tells him to calm down, and Jetfire then explains that he can be more effective in combat situations sometimes, and goes on to tell his next story…

Jetfire and Jazz were picking up the next shipment of fuel from Blackrock’s chemical plant when suddenly there was a surprise attack by Bombshell and Thrust. Jazz was rendered inoperative from a shot from Bombshell, whilst Thrust kicked Jetfire to the ground. The fire started to spread to a load of oil drums, and Blackrock shouted a warning, explaining that if they ignited it would cause a chain reaction that could kill thousands. Jetfire instantly reacted to this, and swiftly punched Thrust in the face, and then shot Bombshell down. Next he transformed, flew to a nearby big water tank, hurled it at the fire and then shot it in mid air, putting the fumes out in the process.

Buster cheers upon hearing the conclusion to Jetfire’s tale, but that’s when Jetfire tells Buster his predicament: when humans are in danger he reacts effectively, because he was created on Earth, but when Autobots are threatened he lacks the same degree of personal involvement and his responses are sometimes not so great. So what if he ever had to choose between saving a group of humans or a bunch of Autobots? Jetfire fears he would be forced to betray his colleagues.

Buster responds by telling Jetfire that its not a question of betrayal – Optimus Prime knows where Jetfire’s first loyalty lies, and values his outlook on life, not just his firepower. He’s the first of a new generation of Transformers on Earth – it’s his home planet and he should be proud of it! Buster finishes by saying his words can be his Christmas present to Jetfire, and insists he has to now get back to revising for his test.

After Buster has shut his window, Jetfire sits outside in the winter night for awhile, thinking about what’s just been said. Eventually a smile comes to his face, and he transforms and flies away…
Remarks
Well, its Christmas time again, which means the UK team once more wheel out a cheesy (I prefer the term ‘feel-good’) Yuletide tale to match the festive mood. Obviously Furman had better things to do (like work on the fantastic upcoming Prime and Megatron saga, plus the return of Galvatron) and so James Hill is on script duties. Thankfully, Hill’s contributions to Transformers at this point have already been impressive: the previous year’s Christmas tale, a co-write on the excellent Crisis of Command, as well as the text story State Games, one of the most influential pieces of fiction created for the UK Transformers mythos. So Hill gets all festive once more, and writes a pleasant character piece for Jetfire, which includes a belated return for Buster (don’t all cheer at once). The result does its job, but it’s possibly the most disposable of the 5 Marvel UK Christmas stories that spanned 1986 to 1990.

The formula of having Jetfire tell his troubles to Buster is a winning one – no doubt readers at the time would’ve loved it if they could have had a chat with their favourite Transformer outside their bedroom window! Jetfire’s characterisation isn’t quite what we’re used to – the tough nut we saw in previous issues is replaced by a bit of a whiner. However, Jetfire’s insecurities make a lot of sense, bearing in mind his origins. The ending is quite sweet – Buster’s words strike a chord, and it’s not too mushy.

Buster is still wearing that pink T-shirt of his though. Doesn’t it ever get stinky? And wouldn’t he get a bit cold, considering he’s got his window wide open on a winter’s night? I’m also surprised that no one else in the neighbourhood notices the big inconspicuous robot that jets in, hangs around for a bit and then rockets away. You’d expect RAAT, or at least the police to turn up at some point. No matter though, when in the Christmas spirit I can forgive such things.

Griffith’s art shows definite promise – he’s got the hang of the character models and draws energetic action sequences. It’s a bit plain though, and his close ups aren’t very good – drawing Transformers’ mouths full of circuitry may be logical, but that doesn’t mean it looks good. Still, there’s potential here, but Griffiths never got another chance to draw the robots in disguise so I guess we’ll never know. The artwork is topped off by some bland inks and colours.

This issue was reprinted in Collected Comics 11 and the Titan trade paperback ‘Second Generation.’
Character development
Jetfire has a problem, and the person he turns to for advice is not a fellow Autobot, but his human friend Buster Witwicky. Buster had a hand in Jetfire’s creation in a way, but more than that, Jetfire says the Autobots are part of the problem: “They’re from Cybertron and I’m… different!” It seems that in recent combat situations, when humans have been in peril he’s reacted much more effectively than when his fellow comrades have needed him. He feels that due to his creation on Earth, he feels more personally involved when humans are in danger, and worries if he may one day betray his comrades if he had to choose between saving them and saving humans. He’s obviously torn up and frustrated about it, and at one point repeatedly bangs his head on the wall of Buster’s house (Prowl’s words in particular appear to cut deep).

For instance, during the fight at the NASA base, Jetfire deliberately ignores Prowl’s orders and carelessly goes after the wrong Decepticon. His clumsy attack helps the Decepticons succeed in their mission. Afterwards he seems simply content that everyone’s still in one piece, and even lies to Prowl, saying his orders had been drowned out by the noise of laser fire. In contrast, Jetfire’s a real hero during the battle at the chemical plant, making short work of Bombshell and Thrust and putting out the fire to save the humans.

Jetfire seems quite apologetic to Buster at the start of this issue, not wanting to disturb him. He also admits to having made several errors of judgement during the Galvatron affair. At the end of the issue Buster puts Jetfire’s mind at rest, telling him to be proud of his heritage. Jetfire’s frustrations then disappear.

Prowl is the one who comes up with a plan to infiltrate the NASA base. When Jetfire messes up, Prowl is furious with him, and does not hesitate to give him a thorough telling off. “What in Cybertron’s name possessed you?” he shouts, “Your bungling gave Soundwave time enough to get his message to Cybertron! And after such gross incompetence what do you do? Nothing!” He finishes off by saying, “It’s not good enough… not good enough at all!” Buster (in an attempt to make Jetfire feel better afterwards) says it’s just Prowl being, “his usual cranky self.”

Jazz admits he’s, “only just back in the groove after what Galvatron did to me.” He’s quick to shield Blackrock from harm but doesn’t last long in his tussle with Bombshell.

Buster is feeling the pressure of exams, and isn’t exactly delighted when Jetfire first shows up. At first he gives the impression that he’s too busy for a chat, but soon lightens up, sensing Jetfire needs his help. In the end he proves a very good listener, and helps Jetfire with his troubles by giving him some sage advice: “You’re the first of a generation of terran Transformers. Earth is your home planet… don’t worry about that – be proud of it!” He then says that those words can be his Christmas gift to Jetfire (cheapskate!) and then he gets back to his studying.

G B Blackrock proves quite astute, picking up on the fact that the Autobot/Decepticon war is escalating as the number of warriors on both sides increases. When the plant erupts in fire Blackrock is horrified, fearing many will die, and he pleads Jetfire to help (he also initially assumes Jetfire is running away when in fact the Autobot is off to help).
Trivia
There is a NASA space monitoring facility located a short distance from Mount St Hilary. Soundwave is able to magnify the power of the radio telescope to contact Cybertron.

The fact that the Decepticons are still making calls to Cybertron suggests they could still be in contact with Lord Straxus, and are unaware of his recent brush with death (issue 69).

Trailbreaker has recovered from the serious injuries he suffered in Target 2006.

Prowl states that Jetfire can fly at Mach 4.2. Jetfire’s Universe profile also states this, but claims he can go even faster in certain situations: “Adding twin supersonic combustion ramjet (i.e. scramjet) engine modules along with twin liquid hydrogen fuel tanks allows Jetfire to achieve orbital velocities, or to even escape Earth’s gravity altogether. With this capability, he can launch like a missile, shoot up above the atmosphere, and, at a speed of Mach 29, dive down like a blazing meteor (hence his name) half a world away only 30 minutes later.”

This issue sees a rare glimpse of the chemical factory where Blackrock prepares his shipments of special chemically treated gasoline for the Autobots. On this occasion, Jazz and Jetfire are assigned to pick up the delivery. It seems the advent of the Special Teams is increasing demand. Blackrock could well be helping the Autobots at a loss - they don't seem to do a great deal in terms of defending his assets, as was the original agreement, but he has a whole refinery, or part of one, dedicated to their needs. It’s likely that this arrangement remains until the ‘bots leave Earth.

The Autobots use news reports to keep an eye on Decepticon activity.

Buster is studying the ‘Battle of Yorktown.’ This was the climax of the revolutionary war when the Americans and French saw off the Brits once and for all in 1781. Bah! At least our Transformers comic was better than theirs!

This issue’s front cover is a postcard from Galvatron. In Terminator style he states, “I’ll be back!” UK fans were clamouring for his return ever since the blockbusting Target 2006, so this image would prime them for his return in issue 101.
Good quotes
“Somehow I doubt that he’s come to sing carols!” Buster, as Jetfire stops by.

“You’re supposed to be able to fly at Mach 4.2 – but when Dirge takes off you almost break the world record… for standing still!” Prowl gives Jetfire a right bollocking.
Bad quotes
Mistakes
Soundwave’s cassette player mode is miscoloured.

His name also gets spelt ‘Sounwave’ at one point. Oops!
Story rating
5 star
Art rating
5 star
Media
Reviewed by
spiderfrommars

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