- Marvel’s Transformers comics introduced iconic elements and haunting imagery to the franchise, including a disturbing fusion of Megatron and the Autobot Ratchet.
- The fusion, known as “Ratchetron,” goes on a berserker rampage, producing a moral dilemma for the Autobots.
- The story explores body horror and serves as a unique moment from the Transformers’ Marvel era.
Transformers is mostly known for cartoons, toys and movies, but the franchise has had its fair share of comic books, as well. The first iteration of these comics was published by Marvel, who saw considerable success in the 1980s with licensed titles. Marvel’s Transformers introduced several now iconic elements to the franchise, and supplied some of its most haunting and disturbing imagery.
Perhaps the most infamous of these pictures hails from an outright horror story involving the Robots in Disguise. A now iconic issue of Transformers saw the Decepticon’s leader Megatron forcibly fused with Autobot medic Ratchet. This was not only Transformers-based nightmare fuel, but also presented the Autobots with a disturbing moral dilemma.
Marvel Introduced the Creepiest Transformer
Building off the events of the previous issue, the story “The Pri¢e of Life!” from Transformers #70 (by Simon Furman and Andy Wildman) shocks Autobot leader Optimus Prime and his allies with a truly horrendous sight. Recovered by a probe sent out by Nightbeat is a Cybertronian monstrosity combining the visages of both Megatron and the Autobot Ratchet. The two had gone missing long before, and an apparent mishap involving a transdimensional portal violently combined the two into an asymmetrical mish-mash of robots. Unfortunately for the Autobots, the fused creature isn’t in its right mind, although this could arguably be leftover traits from Megatron’s personality.
Attacking the Autobots, “Ratchetron” lashes out and causes immense damage to the Ark, all while grievously wounding the Targetmaster Sureshot. Many of Optimus Prime’s allies feel that the bizarre fusion should be put down, even with its having part of Ratchet’s body. Kup is convinced that Ratchet’s own wishes might be to end the creature, as he’d hate to live on in such a gruesome form. Optimus Prime finally relents and goes off to face the horrifying creature. Not only is the fusion lost in a berserker rage, but it’s likewise in constant pain and agony from being meshed together in such a haphazard way. Seeing his old friend and even his eternal enemy undone in such a manner keeps Prime from being able to pull the trigger on his blaster, but Ratchet seeming takes control of the beast’s body and pulls said gun closer.
Thankfully, the Autobot Fixit is able to run a diagnostic on the fusion, noting that the problem can be reversed. Unfortunately, doing so would result in both Ratchet and Megatron being restored, something that causes Fixit’s allies immense worry. Optimus agrees to have both of the Transformers restored to health, which makes the team’s situation even more precarious. After all, they were on their way to surrender to new Decepticon Headmaster leader Scorponok, with Megatron’s revival only making things worse.
Marvel’s Transformers #70 is the Franchise’s Most Haunting Story
The grisly nature of the Megatron-Ratchet fusion was a level of body horror that has rarely been explored in the series. Said horror was further emphasized by the gritty art of Andy Wildman. Many of the robots under Wildman’s pencils had looks that combined the blockier aesthetics of the franchise’s early toys with more explicitly robots features. Thus, they were able to push the boundaries in terms of gore and battle damage.
It’s also obvious that, for as much of a terror as he is himself, even Megatron was fearful and undone by this predicament. Neither Megatron nor Ratchet were fully in control, with their minds as fractured as their united bodies. Add in the constant pain they felt, and their entire existence at that time was a desperate cry for help. It also showcased how dark the series was at times, especially considering the fact that the franchise was still considered a “kids property.” Sadly, there’s been no official toy of the fusion, although fans have taken it upon themselves to create some over the years. Likewise, the brand as a whole has explored similar themes in a variety of horrifying ways.
Transformers Has Explored Body Horror In Several Ways
As the Transformers franchise has continued and evolved, it’s explored horror (particularly body horror) in various ways. For one, the character Rattrap from the series Beast Wars: Transformers was originally going to have a much different design on the show. This was a result of his transformation being defective, leaving him on life support and giving his robot mode a mish-mashed appearance (thus explaining the “exposed brain” that was already a part of the toy’s design). This idea was scrapped due to the expensive show’s budget, but a similar concept was used in the episode “Transmutate.”
Said episode also explored the idea of euthanasia, with the Maximals debating the moral implications of killing a flawed, damaged protoform (all while the violent Predacon Rampage ironically befriended her). Rattrap did experience a similar story to his intended arc in the sequel series Beast Machines: Transformers. There, he initially struggled to transform, with his robot mode being particularly lacking and weak. Beast Wars as a whole added a biomechanical edge to the series, with the Maximal Cheetor infamous having a “gut gun” that seemingly was powered by organic innards. This aesthetic was actually inspired by Japanese body horror manga such as The Guyver.
The Predacon Blackarachnia was reinterpreted as a Decepticon in the cartoon Transformers: Animated. There, her techno organic spider alternate mode was the result of her being attacked by organic spider aliens as she used her ability to emulate the powers of others. This gave her a freakish new body that actually gave her old friend Sentinel Prime a reaction of disgust. Conversely, Transformers: Prime had a story arc in which Megatron mentally possessed/shared the body of an Autobot, though this time, it was the fan favorite Bumblebee instead of Ratchet. Given that the nature of the series is transforming, it’s no surprise that misshapen bodies and other elements of malformed horror are easy ways to make fear into something much more than meets the eye.
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