Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

So there’s a second Transformers movie, kind of. By second movie, I mean a semi-sequel to the old-school animated movie that is dear to so many fanboys' hearts.

What I’m writing about won’t surprise any of the hardcore Transformers fans, but a few of you might not have realized this. The finale to the often under-appreciated third season of the Transformers cartoon show featured a two-part episode in which a resurrected Optimus Prime returned to command the Autobot forces.

What strikes me about the episodes, however, is the animation and the soundtrack. The illustrations have a bit of a higher quality in a few of the shots that make it SEEM like the movie. There’s a little more shading and a little more fluidness in some (SOME) of the scenes.

And of course, in the climax of the story "You’ve Got The Touch" starts blasting in the background.

It really seems like the whole thing could have been initially pitched as a second Transformers movie. Maybe some movie execs weren’t keen on taking a second pass at the box office (the G.I. Joe movie was direct to video for the same reason) so the Transformers writers had no choice but to condense the thing into a two-part season finale.

Even the plot is, well, pretty epic as far as Transformers stories go. A creepy infection of spores starts spreading across earth like wildfire. Every living being affected--human AND Transformer--ends up disoriented and enraged. Things get chaotic pretty quickly. Autobots become reckless and aggressive, Decepticons blast everything in sight, riots break out around the globe.

It’s essentially the equivalent of Transformer zombies. Think about it: there’s some space-born virus spreading around the globe, leaving panic and devestation in every area that it affects. Sound familiar?

Actually, I have a latent memory of seeing these episodes when I was a kid. I had forgotten they existed until recently and I had forgotten how much they freaked me out. The idea that everybody--good guys and bad guys--could end up out of control and versatile lunatics just by being physically touched by another infected really disturbed me. There was almost nothing you could do to protect yourself; just one touch and you glowed red and were out of control.

It’s really a Transformers horror story, if that’s even possible. All sorts of plot threads from the old movie show up too: a lone Quintesson plays a role in bring Prime back from the dead after the Sharkticons succumb to infection and over-run their planet, the Autobots get a little bit of help from a human scientist who wears one of those human exo-suit things and Galvatron is the only Decepticon who manages to avoid being infected.

Prime leads a few of the survivors, whose ranks include Kup, Blur, Blaster, and yep, Galvatron himself, in an attempt to find a way to stop the infection. One by one, of course, they all succumb and become enraged Transformer-zombies until Prime is the only one left. Finally, Prime ends up in a showdown with an infected Rodimus Prime, banking that getting his hands on the Matrix might help cleanse the spores from the planet. So you get to see Optimus and Rodimus duke it out.

Doesn’t this sound like it could've been an hour and a half animated feature film? It would have been scary for kids, but hey, Transformers: The Animated Movie was scary for kids. The late 80s was a strange time where it wasn’t really clear whether animated features should be toned down or amped up with adult themes, so there wasn’t anyone telling you you couldn’t make a movie where the Autobots got blown to smithereens on camera.

I’ve never known of this piece of Transformers fiction to be revisited either. IDW has been good to Transformers fans, I think, and they have delved DEEP into Transformers lore to produce some solid stories. I wonder if this might emerge in comic form one day. But while we’re on the subject, what about the War For/Fall Of Cybertron series? Could you imagine a Transformers game, or at least downloadable campaign, that WFC/ FOC but felt like Left 4 Dead?