Top 5 Marvel Comics Decepticon Leaders

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Top 5 Marvel Comics Decepticon Leaders

Postby Kurona » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:47 am

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Every two weeks, Seibertron.com brings you a Top 5 list related to all things Transformers, written by a fellow Seibertronian. These are our personal opinions (just like movie or game reviews hosted by sites are still just the opinion of one person) so what matters most is what you guys think of the topic or list, and I hope to see your own lists or comments on omissions and ranking. Let's have fun! All previous lists can be found here.


Top 5 Marvel Comics Decepticon Leaders

When it comes to Transformers, leadership is usually fairly straightforward. Optimus Prime leads the Autobots, and Megatron leads the Decepticons. On rare ocassions someone might have to temporarily fill the role for them like Ultra Magnus or Starscream; and back in the 80s cartoon Rodimus Prime and Galvatron got a very long run of it. But in the original Transformers comics by Marvel, straightforward is the last word you could use to describe the seat of command -- deaths, power struggles and plotting behind the scenes were aplenty in both factions; leading to a much more varied and ever-changing selection of faction Leaders for avid fans of the comic. And so today, we're going to count down the Top 5 Leaders of the Decepticons in the Marvel comics. Focusing on the US side of things with only a tinge of UK material, let's dig right in and see on whose shoulder Laserbeak deserves to sit most.


5. Bludgeon

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Bludgeon, admittedly, doesn't get a lot of time in the driver's seat. With the post of Decepticon Leader left an open vacancy after the thrilling epic Edge of Extinction, the new leader only has a handful of issues to prove his worth before the comic's unfortunate end at Issue 80 -- and it's impressive to see how easily Bludgeon throws himself into the role. Immediately appointing a second-in-command and usurping the Autobots' attempts at peace before sneakily taking all the working shuttles off-world, he successfully leads an invasion of an innocent planet and personally chopping down a handful of Grimlock-led Autobots himself. His limited panel-time as leader is what lands him so low on the list, but what he does with that time still impresses me enough to give him a spot.

4. Ratbat

It's very difficult to leave this guy off the table when talking about unique Decepticon Leaders. While usually we see a powerhouse like Straxus or Galvatron take control, it's certainly different to see a small Cassette take command of the main Decepticon forces. Not content with just being unique in stature, Ratbat sees fit to employ a unique command structure as well; focusing all his efforts on saving and conserving energy after deeming the earth-bound Decepticons' fuel consumption to be inefficient. While he usually had to share the role with Shockwave or Scorponok and only got the spotlight to himself for a short time, he nevertheless struck an impact with his unique approach and his characterisation would prove to be inspiring enough to get echoed in the likes of IDW and the Aligned continuity.

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3. Thunderwing

Marvel saw fit to go all-out when it came to unique styles of leadership. From Grimlock's ruthlessness to Ratbat's fuel conservation... to Thunderwing's addiction. While he only steals a small squad of Decepticons rather than assuming control of the entire faction, Thunderwing still proved to be probably the most terrifying Decepticon leader in the comics since Galvatron. Driven by his obsession for the Autobots' sacred Creation Matrix, having the power to back it up and not caring a jot for the units under his command other than a means to an end, the Mega Pretender fought as a one-man army against everyone in his way and winning every time - and actually succeeded where Megatron continually fails in obtaining his coveted Creation Matrix. How better can it be put than the High Councillors who named him leader in the UK comic -- "You exhibited single-mindedness, ruthlessness and fighting prowess! The perfect qualities for leadership!"

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2. Scorponok

On the face of things, Scorponok might seem fairly basic for a Decepticon leader. He's big, he's powerful, he's mean, he's shouty; everything you'd expect from your standard 'con in control. And, in fact, he does start off like that when we first see him on Cybertron - but then we introduce the human factor.

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The Headmaster gimmick is something that is always criticised as being very confusing in both toys and the G1 cartoon, but I will always applaud how the Marvel comics handled it; clearly showing a distinct bond and melding of minds that when focused upon can make for some truly compelling characterisation, especially when Marvel was so good at characterising its humans. And it is Zarak - Scorponok's Headmaster - that really makes this Decepticon Leader work. As the comics go on, we keep seeing subtle little hints that Scorponok's bloodthirstiness is being quelled and reined in by Zarak's more calm and intellectual mind. Forging truces; eventually coming round to seeing Optimus Prime's concerns about Unicron -- and even, finally, making the ultimate sacrifice near the end of the comic. Scorponok is an entertaining Decepticon Leader on his own, but it's the binary bonding that truly lands him a spot so high on this list.

1. Megatron

Megatron, much like Scorponok, seems like just your standard Decepticon leader at first sight. Much like early Scorponok, all the bullet points are there -- he's a lot more ruthless and intelligent than his cartoon counterpart to be sure, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's an incredible character on its own.

So what makes this one stand out from the rest? What nets Megatron the Number 1 spot? His burgeoning insanity. It's clear right from the start, but with each issue we see more and more of Megatron's sick, twisted mind and every major loss and event drives him further and further into a pit of despair. Constant power struggles with Shockwave and blows to his dignity and power in battles with the Autobots contribute to a shattered psyche that finally culminates when his eternal foe, Optimus Prime; dies -- and not at his hands. In Gone But Not Forgotten - a story this user considers to be one of the best of Marvel's Transformers stories - we see the end result of this madness as a space bridge catastrophe orchestrated by Shockwave finally brings death to the babbling madman, brought about by his own crippling insanity.

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Honourable mentions:

Shockwave is usually the one that most minds drift to when someone thinks of alternate Decepticon Leaders in the Marvel comics, so his not being on the list may be surprising. It is, quite simply, because this reader found the 5 on the list to be more entertaining characters -- but that's not to say Shockwave doesn't deserve a mention, far from it. When he takes over from Megatron it turns the Decepticons into a very intimidating and formidable fighting force; a logical, well-oiled and efficient machine committed purely to expanding their forces and their fuel resources before moving on to domination. While later issues wouldn't portray him as solidly, Shockwave's original Decepticon Leadership was still pretty damn impressive.

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Soundwave is a very interesting character when it concerns Decepticon leadership, though moreso when he's pulling the strings and mediating between power struggles rather than assuming full command. He's a constant presence all throughout the comic; always somehow surviving and always taking up a main role among the Decepticons. And, rest assured, he does get his own run of the place in a few UK future timeline stories -- which are absolutely glorious. Soundwave superior!

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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby william-james88 » Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:46 pm

Amazing list Kurona! And kudos for finding such crisp illustrations !
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby KVO Prime » Sat Oct 21, 2017 3:37 pm

I have a prediction, that as a matrix-bearer at one point, Thunderwing will get a new toy in the Power of The Primes line. It would make perfect sense having his inner robot be the smaller one and jet and then combine to form the larger jet and classic shell look. I'd be really excited if :HASBRO: is planning this. MARK MY WORDS! I call it!!!

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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby Optimutt » Sat Oct 21, 2017 4:09 pm

Motto: "If it's not fun and you can't win, it's not worth doing."
Nice list!

I would disagree with Megatron's victory, however.

While I do agree that Shockwave's descent into single-minded logic towards the end of the book's run pulls him out of the command role, he does manage a pretty formidable - if hilariously out-staffed - rebellion against Scorponok. Because of that, and of his remarkable ability to endure, I would absolutely say that Shockers needs to be on this list.

Megatron also deserves a place - don't get me wrong. I'm just not saying he should be at the top. Indeed, after his apparent suicide back in issue 26, his return was glorious. Indeed, if we take the whole Regeneration One continuity into account, then, yes, I would give him this title. But in the original 80 (plus Headmasters and TF/GIJoe), nope. He doesn't deserve it. He did some good, sure, but most everything he did was belligerent, almost klutzy, and though we could see a measure of the method to the madness, it raised the question of whether he was drinking dumb luck or if he actually had an idea of what the hell was going on. Lacking a real coordination of all his faculties pulls him from the top spot. But before I move on, I will also point out that throughout the entire Marvel's G1 series, his real nemesis was not Optimus Prime, nor even himself. It was Ratchet. A medic. Who knew how to out-think Megatron every single time. The best leader should be able to use more than just their two fists and fusion cannon. Megs absolutely did not.

So that's two.

Scorponok is another that I wouldn't rank high. His pathos and story arc was fantastic. So fantastic, in fact, that when I read 75, I actually cried. Furman wrote him so well. So, so well. But he was a slaggy leader. Shockwave's rebellion would not be able to get as much traction as it did had Scorponok not brought STARSCREAM (the traitorous murderer of dozens of Decepticons) into his fold. This fomented the mutiny in his ranks that Shockwave was able to exploit. Prior to Scorpy's welcoming of Starscream, yes, he was a damn fine commander. Big, ruthless, dangerous, and terrifying. But his latter years were questionable. Important, but extremely suspect.

Thunderwing. Yup. I wholly agree. His obsession is the thing that stops him from being a good leader. That said, he had the potential for some impressive leadership. Too bad he was a nutter through and through. I'd actually put him as an Honorable Mention.

Ratbat. Second spot. I love what was said about him. It's a good description. If anything, his greatest weakness was the fact that he wasn't a heavy-hitter. Which, ironically, was also his greatest strength. He commanded through brains (Car Wash of Doom excused), something that even the biggest, most powerful Decepticon - Trypticon - respected. Indeed, if you were on a planet where fuel was in major shortage, you'd want to listen to the one who knew not just where and how to get it, but also how best to manage it. If only he were a little more powerful... Indeed, for someone as physically weak as him, you'd think he'd surround himself at all times with bodyguards.

So who would I say is Number One? If not Shockwave, Megatron, Scorponok, Ratbat then who could I possibly give this to?

Straxus. He ruled Cybertron - or at least a part of it - for a looooooong time. That's no easy feat. In fact, he managed to drive the remaining Autobots nearly to extinction, which is pretty awesome. Honestly, though we only saw him in two (American) issues, he showed he had greater chops than just about every other Decepticon commander.

My list:
5. Megatron
4. Shockwave
3. Scorponok
2. Ratbat
1. Straxus

Thanks for the awesome list! :CON: :CON:
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby Rodimus Prime » Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:09 pm

Not bad. I just can't believe Shockwave only rates an honorable mention. My list:

5. Ratbat
4. Thunderwing
3. Megatron
2. Shockwave
1. Scorponok

Honorable mention: Bludgeon
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby TheForgottenTaxi » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:05 pm

"There's not THAT many of them," I thought. "This is going to be pretty straightforward," I thought.

And then you went and left Shockwave off the list.
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby Randomhero » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:07 pm

Megatron shouldn’t even be an honorable mention let alone on this list. He was leader for 5 minutes and then Shockwave stepped in, beat him then proceeded to string up almost all the autobots and decapitate Optimus and he just gets an honorable mention?

In the words of Prowl, “pfft”
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby Randomhero » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:12 pm

TheForgottenTaxi wrote:"There's not THAT many of them," I thought. "This is going to be pretty straightforward," I thought.

And then you went and left Shockwave off the list.



Exactly. Sounds more like a “I’ll just scroll through the marvel sections of these characters on tfwiki instead of reading the comics” especially since Thunderwing wasn’t actually leader of the decepticons in marvel. More like a megalomaniac who went off on his own with a squad. Straxus was more of a leader than Thunderwing...mostly becuase he actually was in the hierarchy of the decepticons.
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby Carnivius_Prime » Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:34 pm

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Cool though would prefer more of the (usually superior) UK stories be taken into account too. :P

At first I wondered why Galvatron was in the news image but not the list but realised he barely appeared in the US run and while he was a superb, menacing genuine threat in the UK comics he never really spent much time leading the Decepticons. Mostly because he didn't need them. And in the case of Time War is even fighting against both factions anyways.
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby fenrir72 » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:04 pm

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Megatron was NEVER insane! Obsessed maybe post TF#25 where his PTSD of sorts was taken advantaged of by Shockwave (Honorable mention? Really?) who staged the "bridge" incident.

Shockwave should be among the top.
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby Rodimus Prime » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:23 pm

Well, if you don't agree with the list, you're more than welcome to submit your own. :)

Kurona did say she made the list based on the characters' entertainment value to her, not on merit. That's totally based on personal opinion. I placed Shockwave and Scorponok #2 and #1 respectively, but they're really interchangeable for me. As a matter of fact, in their fight in Civil War 2, Shockwave all but won until the Neo-Knights interfered. I based my list on 3 things: success against the Autobots, success in achieving goals, standing in the Decepticon ranks. I left Straxus off the list only because he was in 2 issues of the U.S. comic. I don't know what he did in the U.K. version. But it is true, Thunderwing was never actually an overall leader of the Decepticon faction. He wasn't introduced until Primal Scream, and all he did was get a hard-on for the Matrix and went chasing after it. He was successful in acquiring it, beating the ever-loving crap out of Optimus Prime in the process. It was only Nightbeat's ingenuity that saved the fearless leader.
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby Kurona » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:54 pm

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Thanks for the kind comments! :D This list was written a fair few months ago not terribly long after I'd finished reading through the entirety of the Marvel UK run, so I admit since then I've had some time for reflection -- I'd probably lower Megatron's position on the list and chuck Shockwave in there; maybe in place of Bludgeon. It's still a pretty tough pick though, since all of these were really enjoyable as characters and leaders.

I do stick by my guns (Hah! Jokes) with Megatron though. Probably not #1 material as I put here, but I stick by everything I said -- his burgeoning insanity most especially highlighted in Gone but Not Forgotten (a story I still rank pretty highly; it was really good) just made him way too fun to watch. You'd usually think of Galvatron as the point in his life when he's absolutely bonkers... and that is true, Galvatron's more off his rocker than even Burn. But with Megatron you get to see the origin and development of that madness and it's a hell of a sight to behold.
That said, since I'm mentioning that story that much; it's another reason that I probably should have picked Shockwave over Galvatron as it's exemplary of just how friggin' good he is when the writers let him. I admit when reading through the whole run I was a bit disappointed with him as at many times he seemed to stray from logic to just seem like a slightly more successful Starscream in personality - I think that's why I relegated him to Honourable Mentions in the first place - but when he shines, goddamn does he shine.


Carnivius_Prime wrote:Cool though would prefer more of the (usually superior) UK stories be taken into account too. :P

At first I wondered why Galvatron was in the news image but not the list but realised he barely appeared in the US run and while he was a superb, menacing genuine threat in the UK comics he never really spent much time leading the Decepticons. Mostly because he didn't need them. And in the case of Time War is even fighting against both factions anyways.

Galvatron's in the news image because generally we try to put characters/toys there that didn't make it to the honourable mentions, and also in this specific case to highlight just how many Leaders the Marvel comics had -- it's one of the things I love about them.

As for the direct question of why he didn't make the list, it's because while Marvel Galvatron is freaking amazing; it's never quite as a leader. His best moments tend to be when he is as an individual pursuing his own agenda and obliterating everything in his way rather than his leadership skills. You could say that for a few characters on this list, admittedly - Thunderwing especially - but I feel their more enjoyable moments were still in some respects tied to leadership. A lot of Thunderwing's story arc, for instance, had the Decepticons under his command note that he was an utter lunatic and not leading the Decepticons as he should.
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby Carnivius_Prime » Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:28 am

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Kurona wrote:Marvel Galvatron is freaking amazing.


This is easily the most I've ever agreed with you. :)
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby Kurona » Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:13 am

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What can I say? I'm a sucker for a well-written villain entrenched in madness :D
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Re: TOP 5 MARVEL COMICS DECEPTICON LEADERS

Postby bluecatcinema » Sun Oct 22, 2017 6:45 am

Ratbat was smart, but his business-minded personality seemed like it didn't fit for a leader of the Decepticons. He seemed more like an accountant than a conqueror. And I'm surprised none of the more treacherous Decepticons didn't try to take him out, considering his relative weakness.

That said, I enjoyed Scorponok/Zarak's growing struggles with morality. Even in his final moments, all he could ask Optimus was "Did I.. do good?". It truly was a heartbreaking scene.
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Re: Top 5 Marvel Comics Decepticon Leaders

Postby Ultra Markus » Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:16 pm

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of course megatron is No1
Starscream- "everyone has a weakness Rumble"
Rumble- "Yeah! well not Megatron he's tough he cant be beaten and you'll never be our leader"
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Re: Top 5 Marvel Comics Decepticon Leaders

Postby ScottyP » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:02 am

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Great list, but disappointed you couldn't somehow work in both "Galvatron" and "Time Displaced TFTM Galvatron" ;)
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Re: Top 5 Marvel Comics Decepticon Leaders

Postby D-Maximus_Prime » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:13 am

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Great list! but Megatron definitely shouldn't have been #1. I would put him farther back. And Straxus was a great villain and leader, and an enjoyable one at that given his ruthlessness (and he and Blaster were fun opposing each other)

My list would have gone:

5) Bludgeon
4) Megatron
3) Shockwave
2) Straxus
1) Scorponok
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Re: Top 5 Marvel Comics Decepticon Leaders

Postby Quint » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:24 pm

A very good effort, a nice read and awesome pics. Any particular arcs stand out for you seeing as you went back and read the whole run? Any clangers? Other than Carwash of Doom, obviously :lol:

It's perhaps a *little* prosaic choice for number one, no offence, particularly if basing it on the G1 comics but each to their own of course. I think my opinion is very much weighted by the UK run which saw him as a (often vegetative) paranoid schizophrenic.

Though whether written by Budiansky or Furman, Megatron was undoubtedly incompetent and mentally vulnerable, frequently being outfoxed by the likes of Straxus, Soundwave, Shockwave; even being brainwashed and used as cannon fodder by the latter in the UK continuity.

For me it'd have to indeed be Shockwave. His introduction in the Marvel pages was exceptional and that inaugural year-long arc was rather mature for a kids' comic narrative. The good guys were under the cosh right until the end of issue 12 thanks to him. Can you imagine seeing Optimus Prime in the cartoon, loving him, getting the toy then when opening the comic for the very first time, finding a Decepticon supervillain had removed his head from his body? Amazing.

In particular, the image of the entire Earth-based Autobot army strung up like slabs of meat, for later use as raw materials, was haunting stuff.

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Re: Top 5 Marvel Comics Decepticon Leaders

Postby cruizerdave » Wed Oct 25, 2017 4:54 pm

Why no Galvatron?

Because he never really led the Decepticons in the comics. Maybe briefly in an alternate future, but in the main timeline, he was his own thing. He was pretty much a force of nature that was going to kill everyone.

So, good job on not including him.
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Re: Top 5 Marvel Comics Decepticon Leaders

Postby cruizerdave » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:01 pm

D-Maximus_Prime wrote:Great list! but Megatron definitely shouldn't have been #1. I would put him farther back. And Straxus was a great villain and leader, and an enjoyable one at that given his ruthlessness (and he and Blaster were fun opposing each other)

My list would have gone:

5) Bludgeon
4) Megatron
3) Shockwave
2) Straxus
1) Scorponok

I'd probably rank them similar, but Straxus was basically a one and done guy.
I'd go with the following:
5. Ratbat — for his bean counter administrator approach for nothing else.
4. Megatron - Because he's the man from the get go, and made some noise toward the end of the series. Plus it was disturbing for him and Ratchet to be merged.
3. Bludgeon - I liked that this guy picked up the pieces after the end of the world and decided "the hell with it, let's go pillaging."
2. Shockwave - He decimated the Autobots early on ... them kinda became boring.
1. Scorponok — He went on a journey. One of the few who actually learned anything.
cruizerdave
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Joined: Thu May 27, 2004 8:50 am


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Transformers Podcast: Twincast / Podcast #188 - Mutinous Intent
Twincast / Podcast #188:
"Mutinous Intent"
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Posted: Monday, November 13th, 2017