Transformers UK: Issue #106

Story: Afterdeath! (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Inhumanoids
Cover date: March 28th, 1987
Price: 32p
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Don Perlin
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Adam Hogg

Despite Megatron's cheating, Prime insists he lost the game and should be put to death!

Optimus Prime and the Protectobots are up against Megatron and the Combaticons in a virtual reality showdown which will cost the losing leader his life. As the game begins, Prime prepares to lead his men across the unpredictable Multi-world landscape, although Protectobot leader Hotspot suggests his team split up and try to pick off any danger first. Prime agrees, but reminds his warriors that even though nothing is real, they must all remain true to their Autobot principles - it is their duty to avoid harming any of this worlds inhabitants. With this order clear the Protectobots disappear into the distance, while elsewhere in Multi-world, Megatron and the Combaticons are also preparing for the battle. Megatron shows much more tactical awareness than Prime did earlier as he ridicules Onslaught's suggestion that he lead - should Megatron die they all lose! Onslaught is then ordered to take his team of cowards ahead and try to destroy the Protectobots first - he will follow later.

Shortly, Streetwise and First Aid arrive in the appropriately named Vineland, soon finding a wall of vines blocking their path. First Aid is about to blast through when Streetwise stops him, instead deciding to move the vines carefully aside. As they pass through safely, they are suddenly bombarded with a volley of fire from Brawl and Swindle, who also take out many of the vines in the process. The two Combaticons then transform to finish them off, when suddenly they are both seized by the vines. First Aid recovers in time to crystallise the stunned Decepticons with his roof mounted gun, followed by Streetwise shattering them with a blast of compressed air. Puzzled as to who saved them, the vines then form into a creature who thanks the Protectobots for their consideration, and promising that the rest of their journey through this zone will go unhindered. Back in the real world, Ethan Zachary cheers the victory.

Meanwhile in the area called the Cloud-steppes, the Combaticons Blast Off and Vortex watch from high above as Grove finds the narrow cloud walkways to his liking. With cheerful pink Cloudsteppers all around, Blades reminds him to stay focussed on the mission, but is helpless to stop the Decepticons cutting the skyway support cables, sending Grove and many of the Cloudsteppers falling. Blades soars down to save his comrade, but is told to save the Cloudsteppers instead as Groove just manages to grab onto a ledge. Blades meanwhile catches the falling Cloudsteppers in mid-air, but leaves himself wide open as Vortex and Blast Off pummel him with laser blasts. Suddenly one of the Cloudsteppers inside him lets off a smoke bomb, blinding the two Decepticons who crash into each other while Grove finishes them off with his Photon Pistol. As the two Decepticons go down in smoke, Blades drops off the cheering Cloudsteppers while an ecstatic Ethan Zachary rates this as the best game he has ever seen!!

Elsewhere in the Slimepit region of Multi-world, a downbeat Hotspot realises that the boggy terrain will make any encounters difficult. Onslaught though begs to differ, and jumping out from the deep mud ambushes the Protectobot leader - with his random laser blasts decimating the homes of the local Slimepit people. Hotspot uses his body to shield the defenceless creatures, but a huge laser blast puts him on his back. Before Onslaught can finish him though, Hotspot is suddenly pulled under and quickly resurfaces behind him - hitting Onslaught with a powerful fire blast. Hotspot is victorious and Ethan Zachary applause's the win, all while Megatron screams to know what is going on.

With the Combaticons failing to return, Megatron decides to go searching for Prime himself - soon locating his great foe in the Metropipe region. As the pair stand either end of a bridge over a bottomless chasm, It would appear that the final battle now comes down to just the two leaders, but as Megatron approaches the ominous form of Defensor appears behind Prime! Megatron screams at his fellow Combaticons to aid him, but with all having been defeated he can only lash out at them blindly in the real world. Lifting Vortex off the ground by his neck, he swears that if he dies he will take them all with him. Vortex though explains of a way to cheat by inputting the word "Afterdeath" when you lose, enabling you to recreate yourself at any point in the game (Vortex learned this while spying on the plant last issue)! As Megatron realises that he might be able to pull off an unlikely victory, Ethan has to remind him that the game is not yet over. Megatron blasts continuously at Defensor's powerful forcefield without success, until the huge Autobot decides that it is his turn to attack - cue for Megatron to look terrified. Prime warns Defensor to be careful because Megatron is rarely beaten, but it is checkmate as Defensor simply brings the entire bridge down - sending himself and Megatron plunging to their doom. Defensor's death within the game is meaningless, and as Megatron's character screams in defeat, the word Afterdeath appears unnoticed on the small terminal screen....

Optimus Prime peers down the chasm in apparent Victory when suddenly he is blasted full force from behind by Megatron!! The now removed Protectobots are puzzled as to what is happening, and Prime seems just as confused as Ethan Zachary realises something is wrong. Back in the game, Prime now hangs off the edge by a single arm, with the other a mangled wreck. Megatron looks down at his helpless foe when suddenly with the last of his strength, Prime yanks at one of the support pipes with his mangled arm, toppling one of the towers above and knocking Megatron to his death a second time. This time there is no reprieve as Megatron and many of the small Metropipe inhabitants plunge to their doom. The game over message appears, with Prime the sole character left on screen, and the Protectobots hailing their leader as everyone's optics are switched back on.

Streetwise quickly tells Ethan Zachary to press Megatron's detonator before he can escape, but a far from happy Optimus Prime speaks out his disapproval of the win. In victory he deliberately caused the deaths of the innocent inhabitants of Metropipe zone, and in doing so violated his own sacred principle. Blades tells Prime that had no choice if he wanted to win, but Prime insists that they always have a choice - his choice was to cheat the Autobot code. Prime cannot accept this victory, and in doing so must accept defeat - insisting that Ethan Zachary press the button on his detonator. Prime explodes spectacularly as the Protectobots watch in shock!

After a few minutes of silence, Ethan Zachary only now realises what he has done. Megatron quickly pays his respects before telling his warriors to prepare the Hydrothermocline for transport (see last issue), while the Protectobots roundup the remains of their fallen leader before also departing - with not a word spoken during the long journey back to the Ark. Now alone, Ethan Zachary is also silenced by what he witnessed, Optimus Prime was the most noble being he had ever met in his entire life - or played in a computer game. As he writes the name Optimus Prime on a disk and files it away, he takes comfort in knowing that in Multi-world, for a character such as Optimus Prime there is always the Afterdeath!

******

Comments:

So where do I start? Optimus Prime is dead (just like in issue 78 and 97 of course), but this time he really is! So what will happen now for the Autobots, they have definitely had enough experience of it anyway. In the end I really enjoyed the video game scenario, but the way Prime insists on his own death at the end is really disturbing, and many people despise this issue for that single reason. The fact that Megatron cheated beforehand also just seems to rub it in, and the way this fact is unaddressed at the end leaves you feeling cheated.
The final scene where Ethan Zachary appears to save Optimus Prime's mind onto disk also brings up a lot of points. If a Transformers mind can apparently be backed up (as shown back in issue 53 using high density crystals), then why not all Transformers do this to ensure they are never killed, not to mention the fact you could potentially use this to create as many Optimus Primes as you wish. Lastly, it seems unlikely that Optimus Prime's vast personality and millions of years worth of memories could be backed up onto a single floppy disk, and even if you consider that it might not be the standard 5� inch disk of the day but instead a unique type, remember that in 1984 a gigabyte of data was practically unheard of, and you would expect Prime's memory to be far far in excess of even that.

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