Transformers UK: Issue #130
Story: Worlds Apart (part 1)
Back-up strip: Headmasters: Ring of Hate (Part 1)
Cover date: September 12th, 1987
Script: Simon Furman, Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Will Simpson/Frank Springer (story) Geoff Senior/John Burns (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Fortress Maximus, Scorponok, Brainstorm, Highbrow, Hardhead, Chromedome, Apeface, Snapdragon, Weirdwolf, Skullcruncher, Mindwipe, Sureshot, Pointblank, Crosshairs, Misfire, Slugslinger, Triggerhappy, Gort, Stylor, Galen, Arcana, Duros
By Omega Steve
Chromedome tries not to lose his head as Snapdragon pounces!
Nebulos: A lush beautiful world whose inhabitants knew only peace, happiness and prosperity. At least they did until the Transformers arrived! Now the unfamiliar sound of an age-old conflict shatters the calm, as the four Autobot Headmasters - Hardhead, Chromedome, Brainstorm and Highbrow - flee from a Decepticon ambush.
Chromedome notes that their so-called 'simple rescue mission' has gone disastrously wrong and Highbrow can scarcely disagree, as he ducks missiles fired by the triple changing Horrorcons Apeface and Snapdragon. On the ground the vicious animal forms of Wierdwolf and Skullcruncher close on Chromedome and Hardhead, while the bat-like Decepticon Mindwipe unleashes his hypnotic gaze on Brainstorm. The airborne Autobot is powerless to resist and plummets to the ground colliding with Hardhead. As things start to look bleak, Chromedome transforms and shoots down Apeface. Snapdragon lands and reverts to dragon mode (intending to tear the Autobot apart) but is put out of commission by some expert shooting from Highbrow. Pretty soon the Autobots have got their pursuers on the run and are able to relax and wonder how they were able to score such an unlikely victory. Highbrow thinks the Decepticons may be fooling them but Hardhead reckons they are simply better than their opponents. Brainstorm cuts in and reminds everyone that they still have a mission to accomplish, their Targetmaster comrades Sureshot, Pointblank and Crosshairs are captives of the Decepticons and are probably being dissected as they speak. It seems the Decepticons have been having trouble perfecting the Targetmaster process (by which Nebulans transform to become an Autobot or Decepticon's weapon) and they wish to study live Autobot specimens to perfect the process.
Highbrow is interrupted in mid sentence as his Nebulan partner Gort reasserts himself. The Autobots head detaches from his body and transforms into the exo-suited Nebulan Gort. Chromedome's head, Stylor does the same, and the Nebulans discuss their own take on the situation. We see a flashback to the Autobot's early days on Nebulos when these four had surrendered their heads as a peace gesture to the planet's rulers. One of them, Galen, had feared the arrival of the Decepticons, and proposed that the Autobots bond with Nebulan partners in order to meet the threat together. Four recruits and Galen himself had undergone the binary-bonding process and become the heads of the Autobots - Transformer and Nebulan had become one and the resulting being had become more powerful as a result. The Decepticons had been quick to follow suit, recruiting their own Nebulan companions. Highbrow suspects that something must have gone wrong in his case because he and Gort are literally world's apart in their thinking and sometimes it seems they can barely function together.
Soon the convoy arrives at the Decepticon's notorious Fortress of Despair. They find the doors open and the power off - on the face of it, it looks like the structure has been abandoned - on the other hand it could be a trap. As the Autobots cautiously enter a main chamber they see the bodies of their Targetmaster comrades suspended above. Sureshot shouts at them to get out of there - it's not the Targetmaster process the Decepticons are having trouble with - it's their Headmaster conversion. These three are simply the bait to draw the others to the fortress. Sure enough right on cue a bulkhead is blown apart and the Decepticon Targetmasters file in accompanied by the leader - the merciless Scorponok!!
Scorponok and his warriors are forced to make an embarrasing retreat!
In a real treat for readers we get a double helping of Transformers action this issue as Headmasters takes over the back-up strip. The story begins as ever on the Transformers home world of Cybertron, where the brutal Scorponok is presiding over a precession of Autobot prisoners. Any stragglers will feel the pain of his sting but this is as nothing compared to the slow death that they will receive when they are recycled in the Smelting Pool.
Luckily for these Autobots help is at hand in the shape of the resistance leader Fortress Maximus and his army! He gives the order to 'roll out' and a fierce fighting sends Scorponok and his gang of bullies into a swift retreat. The jubilent Autobots return to their secret base in the Manganese Mountains to celebrate victory. But Fortress Maximus refuses to be part of any festivities, pointing out that the victory won today means nothing. It is just one in countless millions since the war began some 50,000 vorns (four million years) ago. Max believes the Transformers are locked in an unending circle of violence and the only way to break this ring of hate is for one side to leave. He has given it a lot of thought and has found the ideal place for the Autobots to make a new home - the peaceful planet Nebulos!
This issue is rightly billed as a turning point in the saga of the Transformers, and introduces the biggest influx of new characters since the Special Teams. In addition to the Headmasters and Target Masters we have the new leaders Fortress Maximus and Scorponok. I always enjoy stories that feature new looks at the war on Cybertron and this one doesn't disappoint. Though Worlds Apart is pretty good I actually prefer the back-up story this issue - but in any event it's great to have Transformers action from cover to cover - a first for the comic. Around this time the US comic printed the UK story Man of Iron, probably to give its staff a breather while they were all busy on the Headmasters spin off.
For continuity reasons, Ring of Hate actually begins long before the first return to Cybertron story "The Smelting Pool" (UK#66-67), but the entire Headmasters saga is spread out to eventually catch up with the present day around UK#157). The Autobots here have clearly not learned of the Transformers on Earth, and still believe Optimus Prime and company where lost all those years ago (Grimlock confirms all this on a future letters page too).
I defy anyone to identify half the characters in the opening scene and battle sequence, they just seem to be a jumble of random character designs and non-entities. The Decepticon prisoners seem to include some Throttlebots, Highbrow and Brainstorm (who of course are among Fort Max's rescue team), some resemble Technobots in vehicle modes but I am sure it isn't actually them, and one even uses Gort's body design (Highbrow's Headmaster, the nearest one on the first page).