In every installment of “If I Pass This Way Again,” we look at odd comic book plot points that were rarely (sometimes NEVER!) mentioned again after they were first introduced.
Today, we look at the brief point in time when the Transformers were part of the Marvel Universe! It went a whole lot further than just running into Spider-Man!
As you may or may not know, Marvel Comics actually played a major role in developing the background for the Transformers, just like they had done for G.I. Joe a couple of years earlier. They then launched them into their own comic book series. Marvel, at the time, had gotten into doing miniseries more often and so while they typically would have launched a licensed property like this right into their own ongoing comic book series, they decided to try a miniseries at first for the Transformers, but the sales were so strong that they just kept the series going from the planned ending of #4.
Typically speaking, when Marvel adapted a toy property, they had the toy characters integrated into the Marvel Universe. They notably did so for both the Micronauts and Rom the Spaceknight. It didn't really make sense for G.I. Joe to exist in a world of superheroes, so Marvel didn't integrate the Joes. When it came time to introduce the Transformers, Marvel decided that they WERE going to integrate the transforming robots into the Marvel Universe proper.
We saw this in Transformers #3, where the world reacted to the news of the Autobots and Decepticons popping up in Oregon. We see S.H.I.E.L.D. responding to the situation and we also see Robbie Robertson sending Peter Parker on assignment to Oregon for the Daily Bugle. Once there, Peter changes into Spider-Man (using his alien symbiote costume, which had recently been replaced with a cloth version of the black costume once Spider-Man realized that his new costume was a sentient being who was trying to merge with him).
Spidey quickly ends up teaming up with the Autobot known as Gears...
Spider-Man and Gears rescue one of the human friends of the Autobots from Megatron, but in the process, Gears seemingly falls to his death...
There's a great bit where Spider-Man is basically shocked at what he sees to be the callousness of the Autobots to the seeming death of Gears, but it turns out that Spider-Man just doesn't understand how the Autobots work exactly...
It was a strong issue by Jim Salicrup, Frank Springer, Mike Esposito and Kim DeMulder.
However, an even BIGGER tie in with the Marvel Universe occurred in the following issue!