Saturday, January 12, 2013

CHARACTER CLOSE-UP : Ultra Magnus - Generation 1

Despite his incredible fighting skills, courage and unmatched talent for improvisation on the battlefield, Ultra Magnus is most comfortable when carrying out orders, and is naturally uncomfortable if the Matrix of Leadership should ever find itself placed upon him.
In Ultra Magnus' mind, he is a follower, not a commander, and his reluctance to change that will see to it that he expends all options before accepting the idea that he is required to lead. As a leader, Magnus would be resolute, fair and courageous, ever-ready to sacrifice himself for the greater good of his companions and mission, and unyielding in preparation for protection of those under his command. Although not interested in overall command, Ultra Magnus was the City Commander for Autobot City in Transformers The Movie, and his toy also featured him in the role of City Commander (a title also held by his original opposite number, the Decepticon leader Galvatron), which indicates that he at least is willing to accept a leadership role in a smaller capacity rather than as supreme commander, a role filled by both Optimus Prime and later Rodimus Prime.
Ultra Magnus is armed with missile launchers capable of hitting a target 30 miles away, and transforms into a car carrier able to transport his fellow Autobot troops.

Animated series
From the secret files of Teletraan II: Ultra Magnus is the most mature spokesman for the Autobot cause. As a soldier, he is always practical and serious. And he so is loved by his fellow Autobots that Wheelie and Daniel traveled millions of miles to the Autobot records asteroid, just so they could find out Ultra Magnus's birthday. In his vehicle mode, Ultra Magnus is an armored transport truck, a machine with magnificent fighting skills. His enemies, the Decepticons, respect his courage, but most of all, they fear Ultra Magnus's spirit of self-sacrifice. He always thinks first of the welfare of his fellow Autobots and his mission.
Ultra Magnus first appeared in Japan in the episode Scramble City. This episode never made it to the U.S.A. so Americans didn't see him until Transformers: the Movie. Ultra Magnus made his first continuity appearance in the Earth year 2005 as commander of Autobot City on Earth. Leading the defense of the city when it came under Decepticon attack, Magnus suddenly found himself commanding the entire Autobot army when Optimus Prime died in battle and passed the Matrix of Leadership to him despite his protestations. Subsequently, in a confrontation with the Decepticons on the planet of Junk, Magnus was blown apart and lost the Matrix to Galvatron, but was reassembled and reactivated by the Junkions. When Hot Rod recovered the Matrix from Galvatron and became Rodimus Prime, Ultra Magnus decided to step down as leader to give the role to Rodimus, but continued to act as his friend and advisor, keeping him on the straight and narrow and always reassuring him, attempting to urge him out of the shadow of Optimus Prime.

Magnus had his share of personal adventures in 2006, such as when he was captured by a Quintesson scientist for study, along with Wreck-Gar, Marissa Faireborn and the Decepticon, Cyclonus; he and Cyclonus developed a mutual, grudging respect for each other as warriors during the ensuing events, as they worked together to escape a negative universe on the other side of a black hole.
Magnus would later fall afoul of an unrepentant Cyclonus when he went to the aid of Wheelie and Daniel Witwicky when they stumbled into trouble while attempting to discover Magnus's birthday. In addition to these and other battles with Cyclonus, Magnus also found himself facing Galvatron on several occasions - the deranged Decepticon would even occasionally focus his rage more upon Magnus than Rodimus Prime; such a notion is not inappropriate, since Magnus was the being he was originally dispatched to destroy, and who thwarted him in varying ways, certainly enough to permanently earn the deranged Galvatron's ire.
In the Episode "Only Human", Ultra Magnus, Springer, Rodimus Prime and Arcee found their minds transferred into human-mimicking "synthoid" bodies by the human crime lord Victor Drath.
In Episode 78, "Madman's Paradise", Spike and Carly hosted a banquet for a visiting ambassador. Daniel got bored and wandered off. Grimlock followed him, and they fell into a lost chamber where Quintessons banished their criminals to other dimensions. They slipped through to the sorcerous other-dimensional realm of Menonia, and were tricked into fighting on the Red Wizard's side, only to find out that he was the Quintesson criminal, who overthrew the Golden One. Ultra Magnus, Blaster, Eject, Rewind, Ramhorn, and Steeljaw followed, and using Blaster's amplification, they help the Golden One defeat the Red Wizard. With the help of Perceptor, the Autobots and Daniel are returned to Cybertron.
When the galaxy became infected by the Hate Plague, Ultra Magnus was one of the first victims, and his calm, restrained soldier attitude was stripped away, leaving behind a raving, battle-hungry maniac who had particular interest in destroying Rodimus Prime. After the plague was cured by the resurrected Optimus Prime, Magnus led the defense of Cybertron during the battle for the power of the Plasma Energy Chamber in 2007.
In The Transformers: The Movie, Ultra Magnus was voiced by Robert Stack. For the subsequent episodes of the animated series, he was voiced by Jack Angel, who had previously portrayed characters such as Astrotrain, Ramjet, and Omega Supreme. His character was most famous for uttering the line "I can't deal with that now" whenever things got bad.

Transformers: The Headmasters
Although the American animated series ended with the three-parter "The Rebirth" storyline, it was decided in Japan to continue production of new episodes; to that end, "The Rebirth" was discarded, and in its place, a new 35-episode series, Transformers: The Headmasters was created.
Earlier Japanese-exclusive media such as Scramble City and TV Magazine's manga stories had previously detailed Ultra Magnus's earlier arrival on Earth and his role in the creation of Metroplex. In Headmasters, Magnus was a supporting character for the early part of the series, once again in charge of Autobot City on Earth, taking a proactive role in the defense of the planet against the Decepticons when they re-emerged in 2011. During the opening skirmish of the renewed conflict, Magnus crossed swords with the large and powerful Decepticon ninja, Sixshot, who went on to lead the villains' earth-based forces, leading to a smoldering enmity between the two. Their rivalry eventually came to a conclusive end when Sixshot and Magnus engaged in a one-on-one duel. Magnus was no match for the multiple powers of Sixshot's numerous transformations, and was felled by his seventh, secret mode. With his dying gasp, Magnus told the Autobots to protect the Earth. At Metroplex's request, the Autobots buried Magnus on Earth.
When Ultra Magnus died, his body did not turn white/grey, like all other Transformers who had died in the past (including those in the Headmasters series). Whether this is due to his body being composed of external armour over his truck-cab exoskeleton (like the original toy and Dreamwave comic) or simply because of animator error is open to fan-interpretation.

Marvel Comics
Ultra Magnus did not appear in Marvel Comics' American Transformers comic book series outside of a comic book adaptation of a third season episode of the animated Transformers series. However, its sister title in the U.K. did feature in the character extensively in its own original stories (particularly issues in and around the 100 mark); the American stories made no use of the new cast introduced in The Transformers: The Movie, and U.K. writer Simon Furman pounced on the opportunity to use them in his own ways. Whereas all the other movie characters who appeared in the stories — such as Galvatron, Hot Rod and Kup — appeared via the use of time travel, it was Ultra Magnus's present-day self who played a key role in many of the important UK storylines. As per the original intent of his character and toy, Magnus was presented as the arch-foe of Galvatron.
Ultra Magnus was first introduced — and, debatably, first constructed — in the Earth year 1986, as the underground Autobot resistance on Cybertron prepared to execute their daring "Operation: Volcano" plan, which would involve luring the Decepticons' crack troops to one location where Magnus and the Autobot commando squad, the Wreckers, would finish them off. However, when the Matrix Flame (a flame denoting the activity of the robot containing the Creation Matrix) suddenly extinguished, Magnus was dispatched to Earth to discover what had happened to Optimus Prime.
With time nipping at his heels, the launch of Operation: Volcano going ahead whether he returned or not, Magnus allied himself with the Earth Autobots and worked to discover what had caused Optimus Prime, Prowl and Ratchet to vanish from the middle of the Autobot base, while the other Autobots battled the threat posed by Galvatron, a Decepticon who had travelled back in time from the future. The appearance of three more Autobots from the future, Hot Rod, Kup and Blurr, gave Magnus his answer: the mass-displacement effect yielded by Galvatron's time travel had shunted Prime and the others into the limbo between dimensions. Ultra Magnus then engaged Galvatron in battle as Kup and the others set up a scheme to force Galvatron back into the future, and even though Magnus was severely beaten by the more-powerful Decepticon, the plan succeeded and the future Decepticon returned to his own time. Magnus, however, was too late to return for Operation: Volcano, but the plan was nullified when the intended Decepticon victims were called away by Megatron, but a parting shot took the life of the Wreckers' leader, Impactor.
In 1987, when Optimus Prime was transported to Cybertron, Ultra Magnus and the Wreckers nearly killed him due to deliberate Decepticon misinformation that claimed he was a masquerading Decepticon agent which was disproved by Emirate Xaaron. Prime and Magnus then fought side-by-side on Cybertron for a period, until Ratbat cleverly deployed the Spacebridge to displace Magnus, Prime, and an insane Megatron to Earth. As Magnus adjusted to his temporary new home, he stumbled across Galvatron, who had returned from the future with a new scheme to harness the power of the Earth's core. Continuing their deeply bitter feud, Galvatron battled Ultra Magnus with help from the future Autobots, but in the end, the two leaders were entombed in volcanic lava.
Galvatron was eventually able to effect his own release, and the Sparkler Mini-Bots (also known as the Sparkabots) extricated Ultra Magnus, who, by this stage, having suffered repeated defeats at Galvatron's hands, had developed a paralysing fear of confronting the Decepticon. Galvatron, to his own amusement, set about pulverizing the Sparklers, with the intention of further tormenting the temporarily quiescent Ultra Magnus. With his comrades' lives at risk, Magnus overcame his demons to defeat Galvatron.
The present-day Ultra Magnus would not have to face Galvatron again, but more terrifying threats were in store when he and the Sparklers returned to Cybertron and discovered that the city of Kalis had been overridden by hordes of zombie Transformers, reactivated by the renegade Autobot mad scientist, Flame. Ultra Magnus joined forces with the Wreckers and their allies to defeat Flame's plan to fire Cybertron's subterranean planetary engines and complete Megatron's ancient plan to turn the world into a huge battleship.
Soon after, Magnus found himself involved in a grotesque illegal gladiatorial game, and although he defeated his monstrous opponent and delivered a stirring speech to the crowd decrying their spectation of such a sport, his words failed to get through.
Although that was the last appearance of the present-day Ultra Magnus, the future version of Ultra Magnus (from the same era as Rodimus Prime) made further appearances. He was present when Rodimus Prime, Kup, and Blurr went back in time to confront Galvatron and Death's Head, stating his doubts about the mission, teamed up with Soundwave's Decepticons to defeat the Quintessons, and was part of Rodimus Prime's team in the Time Wars. He did not get his final confrontation with Galvatron, however, as Galvatron used Decepticon leader Scorponok as a living shield against Magnus' fire, prompting Scorponok's troops to attack him.
The U.K. Transformers continuity records that Magnus and the other future Autobots returned find to their own time-stream changed to a different, darker future, where Galvatron was alive and ruling most of Cybertron.

Dreamwave Productions
Ultra Magnus from Dreamwave Productions' 21st century re-imagining of the Generation One universe took the opportunity to indulge two contentious aspects of Ultra Magnus previously resigned to fan speculation: here, he was revealed to be Optimus Prime's "brother" in the Dreamwave continuity, and also hinted to be Dion, a childhood friend of Optimus Prime from the animated series, due to the name of a strike force he led.
Magnus first chronological appearance was in The War Within: Age of Wrath miniseries, where he had united the splintered Autobot factions such as the Wreckers and Lightning Strike Coalition (who had struck out on their own following Optimus Prime and Megatron's disappearance in a Space Bridge accident) and managed to negotiate a settlement with the Decepticons and Ultracons. The plan was derailed first by Starscream's Predacons and then by Megatron's return with an army of Seeker clones, with Grimlock taking a fatal shot meant for Magnus. After being beaten into submission by Megatron, Magnus was amongst those captured by the Decepticons. The closure of Dreamwave prevented the completion of the series.
Following the disappearance of Optimus Prime and Megatron's troops four million years ago, Ultra Magnus and Fortress Maximus took fluctuating joint leadership of the Autobots, until Maximus abandoned the war.
Ultra Magnus appeared in as a major character in Dreamwave Productions Micromasters mini-series. In issue #1, "Destined For Nothing", Countdown and Groundshaker return from space to find the Autobot base largely abandoned. The first Autobots they encounter, Topspin and Twin Twist seem surprised to see them, and more surprised that Optimus Prime isn't with them. Countdown and Groundshaker are equally surprised that Optimus has not returned to Cybertron before they did. Countdown confronts Ultra Magnus and Fortress Maximus and informs them that Operation: Containment, an attempt to prevent the Decepticon threat from spreading beyond Cybertron, has failed. Countdown explains that the Decepticon Skystalker and his forces ravaged the peaceful planet, Paradron, and that the Autobots need to mount an intergalactic patrol force to prevent the same fate from befalling other worlds. Ultra Magnus and Fortress Maximus disagree, stating that Autobot forces are already underpowered and spread thin as it is. Groundshaker interrupts, belligerently demanding the Autobot command take action, before he is pulled from the room by Countdown. As Countdown and Groundshaker leave the command center, they overhear Big Daddy and his patrol griping about the day's events, which interests Countdown greatly. Big Daddy and company then confront Magnus and Maximus, upset that Crunch lost his life defending Roadbuster. The argument grows more heated, before Fortress Maximus orders the Hot Rod Patrol to turn in their weapons and dismisses them.
100,000 years later, the Transformers, their war, and the entire planet of Cybertron itself ground to a halt when the world's energy supplies completely ran out, sending Cybertron into a period of reconstructive hibernation, during which the entire population was sent into stasis.
Three thousand years ago, Shockwave was the first Transformer to be reactivated, and set about restoring the planet and its populace, quietly working towards his own sinister ends. Unifying the Autobot and Decepticon factions, he appointed Ultra Magnus as his second-in-command, who led the attack on the Ark when they travelled to Earth and arrested Optimus Prime and Megatron as war criminals. (In reference to the theory that Ultra Magnus was formerly Dion, the name of the team Ultra Magnus led to take the Autobots into custody was team Dion.)
When Optimus Prime then led a rebel attack on Iacon, Shockwave turned on Magnus, apparently deactivating him. Ultra Magnus survived, however, and his inner robot emerged from his damaged larger form, teaming with Prime to stop Shockwave's plan to use the Matrix to access Vector Sigma.
Ultra Magnus came away from the encounter with less damage than Prime, and soon had his systems repaired. He was seen in his familiar blue outer shell assisting Prowl when the burden of leadership threatened to become too much for him, and headed a mission to one of Cybertron's moons to fortify it against attack. Dreamwave's bankruptcy and subsequent closure, however, meant that any further stories of Ultra Magnus went untold.

Fun Publications
The Transformers: Classics story printed by Fun Publications is set in a continuation of the Marvel Comics Transformers series, ignoring the Marvel U.K. and Generation 2 comics. Since Ultra Magnus only appeared in the U.K. comics (baring the movie adaption), the Ultra Magnus appearing in these stories is a new character.
In Transformers: Timelines volume 2 #2, "Games of Deception" this series Ultra Magnus leads a team of Autobots, which includes Elita One, Huffer, Snarl, Springer, Strongarm, Swoop and Tryanotron in pursuit of the Decepticon Bug Bite and his forces to Earth. Once on Earth they contact Grimlock to aid them.

Devil's Due Publishing
Ultra Magnus would make another appearance in the second G. I Joe vs. the Transformers crossover from Devil's Due Publishing, again as one of the leaders of the Autobot resistance to Shockwave. He and Perceptor saved a group of G. I Joes and Cobras from Shockwave's Decepticons, erecting a forcefield to protect them while they worked to repair the damage caused by Teletran-3, powered by Magnus' own strength. The shield eventually gave out and Magnus was captured. However, they were all rescued when the Dinobots returned and routed Shockwave's forces.
He reappeared in the third crossover as part of the combined Autobot/G. I Joe force attempting to rescue Optimus Prime, and even held off Trypticon single-handedly at one point. In the fourth crossover, Magnus was left in charge of the Autobot forces on Cybertron when Optimus Prime journeyed to Earth.

IDW Publishing
In issue #3 of The Transformers: Megatron Origin, a white colored Transformer (resembling Magnus' Titanium War Within toy) is seen from behind at the funeral of Bumper and Fastback. Whether this is actually Magnus is unclear.
In the new IDW Publishing continuity Magnus is a feared Autobot law enforcement officer. Magnus tracked down all those who broke the accords - be they Autobot or Decepticon. After arresting the Decepticon weapons dealer Swindle, the unscrupulous Decepticon managed to talk his way out of it by offering Magnus an even more tempting prize - the whereabouts of Scorponok. Despite his own personal reservations about doing so, Magnus agreed (planting a tracker on Swindle in the process) and tracked Scorponok down on the planet Nebulos. There he discovered the Decepticon's plan - upgrading several of the Nebulans with Transformer technology. Magnus soon found Scorponok himself, and lost the subsequent fight. However, a shot from Scorponok's beast mode seemingly killed Scorponok's already upgraded partner Lord Zarak. Magnus managed to shoot Scorponok in the head, but the Decepticon escaped again. Much later, after apprehending Swindle (again), the Decepticon again attempted to deal his way out. He reappeared briefly again in the Spotlight issue on Arcee, where he tracked down, battled and defeated the deranged Arcee, not realising that the facility was in was actually being used by Jhiaxus for the expansion.
Ultra Magnus also appears in the IDW ongoing series. He comes to Earth some three years after the events of the All Hail Megatron series, once again tracking Swindle. As acting Autobot commander, Bumblebee attempts to persuade Ultra Magnus to abandon his law enforcement duties and take up the fight against the Decepticons that still remained on Earth.

In the altered chronology of the Binaltech saga, Optimus Prime is still alive, having never had the final showdown with Megatron at the Battle of Autobot City. When Ravage arranges for the Autobots to be alone in the battle against the threat of Unicron, Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus team up to take on the planet-eater, having discovered that the Matrix is the key to Unicron's destruction. Within Unicron's body, Optimus Prime is severely damaged, and although not fatally, he passes the Matrix to Ultra Magnus to complete the mission. Ultra Magnus sheds his outer armor and proceeds on, successfully opening the Matrix and initiating the destruction of Unicron. Magnus and Prime escape the exploding giant.
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