Transformers UK: Issue #111
Story: King of the Hill! (Part 1)
Back-up strip: The Inhumanoids
Cover date: May 2nd, 1987
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Don Perlin (story) Lee Sullivan (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Trypticon, Rachel Becker, Professor Robert Paaswell
By Omega Steve
Grimlock stakes his claim to lead the Autobots, but only succeeds in alienating his would-be followers!
It is not unusual for Professor Robert Paaswell to bring his students to Oregon's cascade range. Being a professor of paleontology at Pacific Northwest University, he has led students in search of fossil remains for over a decade. But today, a student named Rachel Becker is leading him, because while exploring earlier she found something he has to see - dinosaur footprints! As they gather around one of the many large indentations, Rachel is sure that it could belong to a long extinct Stegasaurus or Triceratops. But the Professor is not so sure, he notes that the outlines of the print are straight, perhaps even mechanically carved, and no animal alive or dead could have made these tracks. Rachel is disheartened to have fallen for an elaborate hoax, but she, the Professor and his assistant make their way back they see something that defies explanation - a pterodactyl soaring in the skies above! The group decides to set up camp and investigate.
At a diner 158 miles away a waitress pours a tired trucker some coffee. Something outside distracts her and she is gapes in fear at a giant bird-like dinosaur that swoops down, seizes the drum of the fuel tanker, and flies away with it! The creature is in reality the Dinobot Swoop and he now carries precious fuel back to his comrades. The group feeds well and afterwards their leader Grimlock plans his next move. Word has reached him that Optimus Prime is dead and the Autobots have need of a new commander - Grimlock intends to stake his claim.
Beneath a small island off the Florida Keys lies the Decepticon's new base. Shockwave once again commands and is about to get some bad news from Cybertron. The Decepticon Fuel Auditor Ratbat contacts him to say that the Space Bridge has not been pulling its weight and will be shutdown. Shockwave protests that the bridge is needed to transport much needed resources to Earth, and besides what about the captured fuel that the Decepticons regularly send to Cybertron? Ratbat informs him that the stocks received so far hasn't even equalled that which was expended powering the bridge - in short it is simply not economical. Shockwave tells him that any previous inefficiency was due to Megatron's faulty leadership and things will now improve, but it is clear that Ratbat is unmoved. So Shockwave requests that the bridge be used one last time, to transport the strongest Decepticon available for a final push on the Ark. If the Autobot headquarters can be captured then the Earth bound contingent will have all the resources it needs. Ratbat reluctantly agrees to the plan.
At the Ark, Perceptor has convened a meeting of the senior Autobots to discuss a matter of great importance. With Optimus Prime sent to his final resting place the time has arrived to choose a successor. Each Autobot praises the great qualities that Prime possessed - strength, wisdom, leadership, compassion and generosity - and it becomes more evident that he will be a very tough act to follow. The gathering is rudely interrupted by Grimlock, who insists that strength is the only factor that should decide the Autobot leadership, and adds that he is prepared to take what he wants. The other Autobots are horrified and point out that this would not be Prime's way, besides a true leader is given power by his followers - he doesn't seize it! Grimlock tells them that Prime's way was weak and led to his destruction - his way will be better. And with that he storms out, an outcast once more.
Back at the Human camp Rachel is having trouble sleeping. While she tries to stop thinking about the creature she saw earlier, a sudden bright light startles her. She follows it into the forest. It is the space bridge and it brings to Earth unspeakable terror. Rachel screams as she comes face to face with the biggest and deadliest Decepticon ever to walk the Earth - Trypticon!
An election was underway in Britain when this issue was published making the story quite topical. Was Grimlock scarier than Margaret Thatcher? Who could say. The gathering of key Autobots is significant, especially as it is chaired by Perceptor. He's not been around long but already seems to be in a high ranking position and may even be acting leader this issue. I'm slightly surprised not to see Prowl seeing as we know he is active again, and he always was Prime's deputy. Grimlock wouldn't know the concept of a charm offensive if it bit him and there's little wonder the Autobots don't warm to him. For US readers this will be the first time they've seen the Dinobots in a major way since their debut two years ago. They appeared in the 1986 story Command Performances but only to stomp off in a huff. The lack of character development means that Grimlock can be portrayed as the dumb Dino with a speech problem (similar to his cartoon persona) because US readers will not know different. But is at odds with the UK continuity and it would not be the last time. Ratbat seems to be asserting his authority on Cybertron following the demise of Straxus, and is able to dictate to Shockwave what resources will be available and what he expects in return. Just a thought, we know from the early days that Transformers couldn't ingest Earth fuels, but somehow the Dinobots are able to feast on the contents of a fuel tanker!