Hachette Partworks have rolled out their Definitive Transformers G1 Collection, and the first four hardback books are now out in the wild.
The idea behind the books is solid, aiming for a fairly chronological reprinting of the Marvel, Dreamwave and IDW Generation 1 Transformer books. The Marvel US and Marvel UK stories have been extensively reprinted over the years, but never in intended(ish) reading order, with black and white stories newly coloured, so that’s a definite plus. It’s a good chance to collect together some of the lesser known Dreamwave books, although the more contemporary IDW books feel less of a draw as there are so many other volumes of that work reprinted in various works.
One thing that is a draw is the production quality – the hardback books feel substantial, with good printing, excellent paper quality, hefty… you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. The initial subscriber free gifts have been good toy, with some nice quality keyrings, and a fairly good wallet (although I have my doubts that the printing of the graphics on the wallet will last more than a few weeks).
There’s some nice extra materials in each volume too, artist spotlights, bonus artwork, trivia, cover galleries etc, which help add value to otherwise old content. The bonuses themselves lack the sheer comprehensiveness of James Robert’s excellent contextual essays contained in the IDW G1 UK collections, but that is an exceptionally high bar to match.
Unfortunately, there are some glaring errors and some baffling creative choices held within this collection. The newly coloured UK strips try to visually match the ‘dotted’ style of the old US comics – but the old US comics printed in these collections are themselves recoloured versions from IDW’s collections, so no longer display the dot-colouring. This then makes the newly coloured strips look immediately out of place with the original coloured UK strips AND the US material. There are also several typos sprinkled throughout the volumes, which could have been easily remedied after feedback from the trial versions, or with some more careful proof-reading. Hopefully this will improve for future editions – although I’ve a horrible feeling I’ll end up credited as Chris Carter for my minimal contributions to the franchise! I’ve also had a wee bit of trouble getting Hachette to accept my payment details, but that’s seems to be sorted out now. I think.
Still, overall, I feel the collection is worth investing in, at least for my own purposes. I have very little of the Dreamwave and IDW material in a decent collection, and I look forward to more recoloured vintage content. I’m less looking forward to the series likely being extended into infinity but… yeah.
If anyone wants to subscribe or get more info, here’s the main site for the books: http://www.transformerscollection.com/