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Friday, June 15, 2007

Bludgeon: One of the best Transformers EVER

I said in my post about getting Transformers toys for the first time in a long while that my favorite Transformers character was Bumblebee (with Brawn a close second). There was another one that I almost mentioned, but didn't because I wasn't sure how many people would even vaguely remember: I mean, Bumblebee and Brawn were in practically all the episodes of the original cartoon. But since there's something of a "Transformers renaissance" going on leading up to the release of the Transformers movie a few weeks from now, I thought it would be fun (and enlightening) to recollect who I think was the greatest leader the Decepticons ever had...

The first time I'd heard of Bludgeon, it was in the pages of Transformers: Generation 2's issue #1 from Marvel Comics, way back in the early Nineties. There's a scene where Optimus Prime is reflecting on the Autobot-Decepticon war that raged in the original series. I'd only bought the issue on a lark, and I had no idea how the first comic line had wound down. But in this scene, Optimus is remembering all of the Decepticon warlords and other enemies (including Unicron) that the Autobots fought during the conflict.

One of them, shown in side-profile, was a skull-faced... thing... that Optimus identified as being "Bludgeon".

A few pages later Bludgeon was mentioned again, and there was considerable awe from Optimus at something that Bludgeon did: apparently he was far more successful at establishing a Decepticon empire than Megatron or Shockwave or anyone else had been. I didn't buy any more issues of Transformers: Generation 2, but that "geek" inside me always wondered about who this Bludgeon was, and why he should be remembered so fearfully.

A few years later once the Internet really got going, I inquired about Bludgeon. And I finally got my answers...

Bludgeon was one of the later Transformers from the franchise's first series, released in 1989 as the initial interest was finally waning. He was a Decepticon who was also a Pretender: a Transformer who not only could "morph" into a secondary vehicular mode, but also had an organic "outer shell" that he could hide within to diguise his very nature as a robot. Unfortunately for Bludgeon (the toy anyway) he came out at a time when Hasbro was "efficiently-resizing" all the Transformers, so instead of being box-worthy his toy was on a scale akin to the "mini-vehicles" that came bubble-carded (not that there's anything really wrong with that...).

But make no mistake: regardless of his size as a child's play-thing, Bludgeon was serious business! It would be Bludgeon, and not Megatron or Starscream or anyone else, who would be the absolute leader of the Decepticons into the twilight of the Transformers comics' first run. And for good reason: Bludgeon was a brilliant strategist, and a visionary in every sense of the word. He was also one of the deadliest warriors in personal combat that Cybertron ever spawned: Bludgeon's bodycount is beyond all reckoning. Whether it was by a shot from his cannon in army tank mode, or (more usually) at the point of his sword, Bludgeon rarely missed his target.

But what I found fascinating most of all about Bludgeon, was that he was the very first example we saw of the Transformers race having religion and a spiritual nature. Some have derided Bludgeon as being "a joke" who was "lost in weird superstitions and mysticobabble". I thought that Bludgeon was an earnest seeker of the truth (something of a "Berean-bot") who ultimately found that his faith had, sadly, been a product of warped teaching.

All in all, Bludgeon was a capable warrior with a commander's truest sense of perspective, and the fiercest sense of honor. No wonder he became something of a favorite among die-hard Transformers fans.

Bludgeon made a few appearances in Transformers: Generation 2, before he was usurped from leadership by a rebuilt Megatron (who showed no lack of great wisdom by hiring Cobra Commander to re-engineer him into a tank... don't ask). The last we saw of Bludgeon, his head was a trophy on Megatron's wall. I don't know what happened with Bludgeon in any of the other incarnations of Transformers comics. But hey, Transformers have endured just as bad if not worse and still come back (that sight of Optimus Prime in the final panel of Transformers #5 in the original Marvel series still wigs me out!). I like to think that Bludgeon is still out there in that continuity somewhere, waiting to be re-activated.

So that's my little tribute to Bludgeon: the finest commander the Decepticon legions ever had. If you'd like to know more about him, there's plenty of info (including lots of pics of his toy and his appearances in the comics) at The Bludgeon Home Page.

Hey who knows: maybe someday I'll track Bludgeon down on eBay and pose him on top of my computer, too :-)

EDIT 11:46 p.m. EST: Found two amazing pieces of computer-rendered artwork depicting Bludgeon. One shows him wielding his sword and the other shows Bludgeon's actual robot form emerging from the Pretender shell...

Click here for more renders of Bludgeon by Rainking!