Transformers UK: Issue #121
Story: Mechanical Difficulties (part 1)
Back-up strip: Iron Man of 2020
Cover date: July 11th, 1987
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Perlin/Atkin/Garvey/Yomtov (story) Jeff Anderson (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Detective Greco, Detective Altman
Synopsis:By Adam Hogg
The Mechanic is still in possession of stolen Autobot weapons, but Blaster and Goldbug are on his trail.
Late one evening at the Portland International Airport, the control tower personnel watch in amazement as a lone figure walks off carrying one of the many huge radar dishes below. A truck then crashes through the nearby perimeter fence, and the rogue figure revealed as the Mechanic (see UK#110) loads the radar dish aboard. The Power Booster Rod stolen from the Autobots takes the strain when lifting huge and heavy objects, making them feel almost weightless. Suddenly the airport security approach, but using the cryogenic spray and laser scalpel he also stole stops them in their tracks. He quickly joins his partner Juan in the cab before the pair take off at speed - another successful operation for the master criminal known as "The Mechanic"!
Several miles away at a run down Industrial section of Portland, the Autobot Goldbug waits patiently outside the Mechanic's garage, while the cassette deck form of Blaster sits on his dashboard. The pair have been waiting for days but it now seems unlikely that the Mechanic will return to his garage. As Blaster tunes into a rock station to cheer them both up, he catches the attention of two passing deadheads. A quick wrench with a crowbar flips open Goldbug's passenger door, which he promptly slams shut. Again it is opened but slammed shut before the pair decide to just break the window with a brick - with Goldbug speeding forward a few metres to avoid contact. The spooked kids take off at speed only to bump into two detectives also on the Mechanics case - perhaps they can answer some questions down at the station!
A short while later back at the Ark, the two Autobots report to commander Grimlock - who is busy choosing which crown suits him the best (this leadership business seems to have gone to his head). The news is not good, and Grimlock furiously crushes the crowns to the news that the Mechanic failed to return. The mechanic must be punished for stealing valuable tools, and he doesn't care if humans were interfering with the surveillance - destroy them next time (so much for the lessons he learned back in UK#112)!!! The pair are dismissed until Wheeljack completes a device to track the Power Booster Rod.
Elsewhere at the Portland Police department, Detective Greco chats to his boss about the two kids he hauled in earlier - apparently they ran into a car that drove off by itself! Greco seems unconvinced, but his chief mentions the reports suggesting that the robots can convert into everyday vehicles. Up until recently the Mechanic was just a small time car thief, but in recent weeks has been stealing all kinds of hi-tech equipment in incredible fashion. The only explanation is that the Mechanic is being helped by these robots - and these two kid's story only seems to strengthen that possibility. The chief then reveals a trap - leaked information that a high-tech computer will be on a truck tomorrow, and the Mechanic will surely jump to the bait. Greco and his partner Altman have been put on the case, but the important thing to remember is that if any robots show up, then they become the Prime target!
On the outskirts of Portland in an abandoned canning factory, the elusive Mechanic addresses one of Portland's many gangsters over his new franchise. The customer Mr Bigalow seems unconvinced about the Mechanic's car modifications, and at 50,000 dollars a time would rather just take his car and leave. Juan sends his car down using an electromagnet, but then activates some nifty robot arms to strip the car down to its chassis in seconds. Mr Bigalow is then placed on what little remains and thrown out the front door using the Power Booster Rod - the Mechanic doesn't like time wasters!! Immediately back at the Ark, Wheeljack locks onto the Power Booster Rod's location, and Blaster and Goldbug are promptly sent to retrieve it by Grimlock - but warned that failure a second time means punishment!!
Later on a lonely country road, Goldbug and Blaster have traced the Power Booster Rod to this vicinity, but as a truck appears in the distance there is no sign of the Mechanic. Suddenly a huge tree is felled onto the road, forcing the truck to halt as the Mechanic's henchman Juan holds up the drivers. Meanwhile the Mechanic tears off the rear doors of the truck, while Goldbug and Blaster rush towards the scene. The two Autobots confront he Mechanic, and as a squadron of Police and armoured vehicles appear in the distance it would appear the Mechanic is trapped! As with their orders though, it is the two Autobots who come under heavy fire from the police, allowing the Mechanic to plan his escape in the distraction....
With Goldbug only recently being introduced in the US comics and here, the writer has decided to give him a little more time in the spotlight. Meanwhile Blaster has always been one of Budiansky's favourites (and mine) and needs no excuse to go centre stage. The partnership are sent to apprehend the annoying Mechanic, who has gotten more confident (and annoying) since his introduction and is putting the stolen weapons to even greater use. An amusing sequence at the start with the car thieves trying to break into Goldbug, and then its back to the Ark to see how Grimlock is coping with the pressures of leadership. A shame then that he's trying on crowns and behaving like a spoiled king, disappointing too, as it is a story thread with a wide potential and ought to be done with a bit more seriousness IMO.