Transformers UK: Issue #125
Story: Ancient Relics (part 1)
Back-up strip: Iron Man
Cover date: August 8th, 1987
Script: Simon Furman
Artwork: Geoff Senior (story) Jeff Anderson (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Susan Hoffman, Flint, Barbecue, Scarlett, Bazooka, Airtight
By Omega Steve
Blades is tired, fed-up and now attacked by Action Force! Can things get any worse? Yep!
London - deep beneath the city streets lay tunnels hidden since Roman times. Now a group of archaeologists is about to become the first people to set eyes on them for centuries. Among them, a dedicated young woman named Susan Hoffman, is looking forward to uncovering many fascinating relics to take back to the Heritage Society. Her two elder companions share the enthusiasm, while the potholer accompanying them just wishes they'd get a move on. As he glances down a darkened tunnel his helmet's flashlight catches a glimpse of something metallic. It could be a building of some kind but doesn't look like it - especially the damaged mid-section which looks almost like battle damage! The others come to look and shine their lights to the top of the structure, illuminating a terrifying robotic face! Suddenly the creature reacts and a huge fist batters the wall behind the humans. All four run for their lives as the ceiling collapses showering them with rocks and debris. Only Susan Hoffman gets clear - and turning to face the huge pile of debris - she realises that the others didn't make it.
Thousands of miles away in Oregon USA lays the crashed spacecraft that serves as home to the Earth-bound Autobots - the Ark. Within its inner sanctum the Autobot commander Grimlock is not happy - he called a meeting of all available warriors and no-one turned up! Wheeljack has the most likely explanation that there simply isn't anyone available. Those that Grimlock hasn't sent to track down the 'deserters' Blaster and Goldbug, are tied up with other pointless tasks. Wheeljack feels his current assignment - repairing the mechanoid Centurion - is exactly that, and his time would be better spent repairing Autobot casualties. But Grimlock tells him that Centurion is a personal friend and that is why he must be repaired ahead of the others. The silent mechanoid has no voice, but if he did he might agree with Wheeljack's appraisal of him as an antiquated heap of circuitry - an ancient relic! Meanwhile Blades has picked up a Transformer life signal in London and Grimlock is certain it must be Blaster or Goldbug. Blades doubts they would be 'so far out' but to Grimlock it makes perfect sense - the pair failed in their mission to capture the Mechanic and want to put as much distance as possible between them and him! He orders Wheeljack to prepare a shuttle and have Centurion placed aboard - Grimlock will go to London to attend to this piece of business personally!
Across the Atlantic Blades transforms and sets down on the bank of the Thames. The whole situation stinks - Autobots are supposed to be fighting Decepticons not hunting down their comrades! It's obvious to Blades that Grimlock doesn't have what it takes to be leader - and he wonders what he might do if he does find Blaster or Goldbug. Should he bring them in or join them? Below ground Susan Hoffman has returned to the Roman tunnels but this time accompanied by several heavily-armoured members of Action Force (the anti-terrorist squad). Scarlett doesn't care to be there and lets it be known that she think Susan Hoffman made the whole story up. Her commander Flint calms the situation and remind everyone that they have a job to do. That's no problem for operatives Bazooka, Airtight and Barbecue who are spoiling for a piece of the action. And here it is - Hoffman points to a huge robotic shape approaching from one of the tunnels. It is actually Blades who is still deep in thought as to where his loyalties lie. The fact that he has been ordered to venture into the sewer system has not improved his mood, and to really rub salt in the wounds, he now finds himself under attack from Action Force! Blades is enraged and fights back unleashing a burst of blinding light against his attackers. Grimlock always said that the only good human was a dead human and in that he and Blades can agree... or can they? The Autobot stops in his tracks and realises that his kind are sworn to protect the humans, and he lowers his weapon declaring that he bears Action Force no malice. Elsewhere the noise of the battle draws the mysterious transformer out of the shadows. He believes his enemies have found him, even here, and the sight of the hated Autobot insignia manifests a fury inside him. He unleashes a huge burst of fire, impacting in Blades' back and sending the humans scurrying as his gigantic body hits the ground! Hoffman instantly recognises the attacker as the one who killed her friends earlier - and Flint can only cry "But - but what is it?" The answer is Megatron!!
Ancient Relics (parts 2-5)
Source: Action Force #24-27
Script: Simon Furman
Artwork: Geoff Senior
Like any good commander Flint knows when to stand and fight and when to stage a strategic withdrawal - and this situation definitely calls for the latter!
The scene opens with Action Force running for their lives, pursued by Megatron, a monster unlike any they have ever faced. One blast from its cannon took out the Autobot Blades and they dare not find out what it could do to a human! Scaling the steps they soon emerge at ground level where Flint is confronted by two more of these robots - one humanoid shaped, and the other looking strangely like a Tyrannosaurus Rex! They are Centurion and the Autobot commander Grimlock. They have come here expecting to find Blaster or Goldbug, deserters from Grimlock's army, but instead Megatron bursts out of the ground! Catching sight of the Autobots he immediately forgets about his human quarry and dives headlong into battle. He has no idea how his enemies found him, but finding Megatron and stopping him are two different matters!
A fierce battle ensues and Scarlett fears that the whole of Dockside, and possibly Central London, might be destroyed at this rate. But Flint is way ahead of her, summoning reinforcements to contain and destroy Megatron. A unit of mauler tanks is on the way, and Wild Bill now flies in with a fleet of Dragonfly helicopters, who promptly open fire. Megatron reels in pain and curses the fleshlings who have dared to attack him. A blast from his fusion cannon narrowly misses destroying Wild Bill's chopper but does take out the rotors, and suddenly he's falling to the ground fast!
Meanwhile the still waters of the Thames are disturbed as Blades emerges and propels himself on to the peer. Unlike the rest of London he's no fan of these 'rust-inducing waters', but they were the only way to enter and exit the concealed Roman tunnels underground. While down there he had been mistaken for a mysterious transformer and attacked by Action Force - then the transformer in question had shown up and blasted him into unconsciousness. Now its time for Blades to see if much has happened in his absence - and what do you know - it has!
The scene that awaits Blades says it all - Megatron has returned from the dead and is in pitched battle with Grimlock and the humans! Tumbling from the sky is a helicopter containing the helpless Wild Bill. Blades reacts with lightening speed, transforming into his own helicopter mode and catching the human as he bails out.
Flint sees the destruction of Wild Bill's dragonfly and thinks his good friend is lost. Emotion gets the better of him and he orders an immediate ground attack. Mauler tanks move in and hit Megatron with everything they've got, saving Grimlock in the process. Blades and Wild Bill touch down (much to Flint's relief) and the human has a warning for his commander. It seems Blades has been filling him in on who they are up against, and Wild Bill recommends they call of the maulers fast. All they are going to do - is make Megatron mad!
Megatron remembers... the power and majesty that once made him the most feared Decepticon of all. He remembers the satisfying feeling of tearing an opponent apart with his bear hands - but most of all - he remembers what it's like to be unbeatable! The Dinobot is defeated, the human tanks are destroyed, and a scene of utter devastation surrounds the watching Autobots and Action Force.
Flint remembers how he'd let emotion cloud his judgement. In thinking Wild Bill was dead he'd hastily ordered the maulers to attack, and pretty soon that error of judgement could cost someone their life. Megatron hurls a flaming mauler into an Action Force buggy causing a huge explosion, and sending the humans scurrying. Flint doesn't know what to do next - maulers and dragonflies had no effect - and even the other Autobots seem powerless.
Centurion remembers... a city in flames and a fight to the finish between himself and Megatron. The Decepticon had beaten him effortlessly then and now, and even saving the life of Wild Bill had proved beyond him - Blades had to help. Wheeljack had called him an 'ancient relic' keeping him from repairing other, more worthwhile Autobots, and now Centurion believes it. If Grimlock couldn't beat Megatron then what chance does Centurion have?
Grimlock remembers... a time not long ago when he'd have happily left the humans to their fate. To him they'd been weak, helpless creatures, undeserving of his aid. But Action Force gave him cause to reconsider. Time and time again they'd attacked a creature they couldn't possibly hope to defeat and on the last occasion they saved his life. Such debt Grimlock doesn't take lightly! Picking himself up he launches himself against Megatron again with savage fury, snatching away the Decepticon's fusion cannon. The unarmed combat tumbles over into a gas works plant, where huge volatile tanks could be made to explode at any minute! While circling overhead within Blades is Flint and Wild Bill.
The latter remembers... piloting a chopper in South East Asia on a last-ditch rescue mission. They'd pulled six men out and he'd wanted to go back for the seventh. His commanding officer had said no, they'd never make it, it was one life for eight and they had to withdraw. Now as Flint gives the order to blow the gas tanks, Wild Bill knows the blast will kill Grimlock as well as Megatron, and he can't help remembering .. about that seventh man.
In the air above London sky strikers jet zoom towards their target. On the ground Wild Bill protests to his leader Flint. The plan to blow the gas tankers will destroy Grimlock as well as Megatron. Once before Wild Bill sat back and did nothing as one man's life was sacrificed for the greater good - this time he's going to do something. Flint tells him that the best thing he can do is get clear - a course of action which Scarlett has no objections to. Centurion seems frozen to the spot, probably out of fear, and so Wild Bill and Blades set off to help Grimlock alone. Flint protests, that if they pull Grimlock out Megatron will follow. Only by keeping him near the gas tanks do they have a chance to stop him. Centurion has a plan.
Moments later, Grimlock is once again beaten and Megatron prepares to deal the fatal blows. But he is attacked by a drop-kick from Centurion, whom Blades drops from above. Centurion orders his comrade to get Grimlock clear while he and Megatron attend to unfinished business. Blades does so as the sky strikers arrive and unleash their missiles. Centurion grins as a gigantic explosion engulfs the pair of them. As Flint shields his eyes he thinks he sees two figures falling into the Thames on fire - but he dismisses it as a trick of the eye. Nothing could have survived that blast.
Later Blades, Flint and Wild Bill gather at the water's edge, with the fires still raging behind them. Blades explains that it was more than just friendship that made Centurion take Grimlock's place - Wheeljack had called him an ancient relic - an outdated robot that was preventing him from repairing injured Autobots. Centurion saw this as a chance to make amends and go out in a blaze of glory. Flint tells them that Centurion wasn't an ancient relic - more an old soldier - and as such Action Force salutes him.
I'm not a big fan of Action Force (or crossovers in general) but I did find the characters likeable and interesting and both series integrate seamlessly. Looking at the Action Force comic I must say it is kind of confusing - everyone knows they are GI Joe stateside and are supposed to be a US anti-terrorist outfit. Likewise Cobra is terror organisation which targets the US - but in the UK story Action Force are presented as a British/European outfit, which just seems conflicting. Especially when you have characters like Wild Bill present who is quite clearly a cowboy type - what on Earth would he be doing signing up for a European squad?
Anyway nice to see a change of scene from Oregon etc, and familiar landmarks like the Thames and London. Also good to see rarely used characters like Blades and Centurion - and of course Megatron back in action. We're told that Megs was deposited to London after his near-fatal trip across the Space Bridge, but this is totally at odds with the later US story Back From The Dead, in which he turns up on Cybertron after the said incident. Simon Furman tried to clear things up in the Two Megatrons story but really only succeeds in digging a bigger hole for himself. His explanation is that Straxus sent a body double of Megatron to Earth in case his attempts to take over Megatron's mind failed. In the event the Megatron copy in London overwhelmed the Straxus' part of its mind and became a Megatron clone. But that doesn't explain why the London Megatron is clearly adorning the scars that the real Megatron picked up in his battle with the Predacons (ie the ripped face and side). It's unlikely that Straxus would have built a copy complete with wounds that the real Megatron wouldn't pick up for several more issues. It just seems a bit sloppy to me.