You may not remember it, but if you were a kid in the 1980s you probably heard of GoBots before you ever heard the word Transformers. The Tonka transforming machine toys hit the shelves in 1983, a year in advance of Transformers, although Tonka (the classic truck toy company) was unable to give its characters and toys the success Transformers would achieve. GoBots only were available as toys for a few years in the States, plus some book and animated series offerings. With the legal rights to the toy designs later reverting back to the Japanese toy company Bandai, the character names and stories were assumed by Hasbro, merging with the Transformers family after business consolidation in 1991.
The return of GoBots for the 35th anniversary of the release of the toys was announced by IDW Publishing executives at the retailer panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. IDW’s Transformers vs GI Joe writer-artist Tom Scioli has created a new five-issue series, and the first issue arrived Saturday for the annual Local Comic Shop Day. It will get a wider distribution everywhere this Wednesday. The new Go-Bots series (now with the hyphen) is both written and drawn in that “neo-Golden Age” style of comic books like those created by Matt Kindt and Ed Piskor. The artwork has that blend of retro styling that rejects the latest comic book capabilities, a de-evolution from modern artistic mainstays and tropes built over the past 50 years. It also reflects a bit of the style of the 1980s animated series.
As kids would see with Transformers, Go-Bots in the States were sentient robots, as opposed to the human-operated machines as seen in Japan. Familiar characters Cy-Kill, Turbo, Scooter, and Leader-1–and more–make a return in the new series. Go-Bots have some 1980s “cartoony” backstory bits to overcome, but in Issue #1 Scioli uses them to update the character origins and begin to forge a 21st century comeback for this 1980s franchise. For many, the vibe of the series will reflect their favorite Transformers and GI Joe animated series from the 1980s.
Take a look at some interior pages and variant covers from Scioli, Dash Shaw, Ben Marra, and Diego Jordan Pereira (and a blank sketch variant) for the first three issues:
Look for Issue #1 of Go-Bots from IDW Publishing at Elite Comics Wednesday, November 21, 2018, or your local comic book store.