Transformers UK: Issue #132
Story: Kup's Story
Back-up strip: Headmasters: Ring of Hate (Part 3)
Cover date: September 26th, 1987
Script: Simon Furman/Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Dan Reed/Frank Springer (story) Dan Reed/John Burns (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Krunk
By Omega Steve
After centuries of fighting Kup has lost his fighting edge and accepted exile.
'Combat fatigue' the medics had called it. After millions of years in the firing line you begin to loose your edge and your confidence goes. You start making mistakes and eventually you become a liability to your fellow Autobots. Once it happens there's no cure and only the very strong willed can ever regain what they lost. Most war veterans are given a spacecraft and allowed to drift through their remaining years alone; Kup is one such old soldier and this is his story.
Several hundred years ago in deep space, Kup's lonely vessel wanders aimlessly through the cosmos. Behind him lies four million years of warfare and ahead lies only emptiness and death. Things were not always this way, once Kup was one of the best soldiers in the Autobot army. In his prime he'd accounted for more than his fair share of Decepticon casualties and was known as something of a hero - a reputation he did his best to live up to, whether in robot or vehicle mode. Eventually though his best ceased to be good enough and as the battles blurred one into the next, something snapped and Kup found that the stamina and commitment were simply no longer there. He had done the only honourable thing in the circumstances, accepted voluntary retirement and had left Cybertron forever. Now he can only hope that the end, whenever it comes, will be spectacular.
Suddenly Kup's ship is rocked by shockwaves eminating from a battle outside - it seems fate is not finished with him yet. He goes to the window and sees a small craft being pursued by two larger insect-like vessels. It is clear that they could pick him off at at time but are prolonging the fight out of sheer enjoyment, it reminds Kup of something the Decepticons might do. Although his 'crate' is nothing special, Kup knows it has speed, weapons and armour, and what's more he is the only hope the pilot of the small vessel has. Perhaps he should lend a hand? Before he can act all of the doubts return to haunt Kup. In his state he could just as easily miss and blow the fellow out of the sky himself, but if he does nothing the pilot is doomed for sure. Finally Kup resolves to act and opens fire on one of the pursuing ships. It's bridge explodes and the craft begins to slow. As Kup fires a second torpedo at the remaining pursuer the thrill of battle returns to him momentarily and his is exhilerated. But only for a moment and then the dizziness and panic attacks return! But Kup has no time for that now, the pilot he has just rescued radios him and requests that he come aboard. This is the last thing that the Autobot old-timer needs but he can hardly say no. The pilot begins to beam aboard and Kup is shocked to find that he is a fellow Autobot!
The youth introduces himself as Hot Rod, and tells Kup how he and Blurr had run into trouble from the Tyroxians, while on a scouting mission for their leader Fortress Maximus. Both Autobots had been captured but Hot Rod had managed to escape in a stolen shuttle and was hoping to make it to Cybertron to raise the alarm. Now that he has run into Kup perhaps they can mount a rescue together? Kup will hear none of it, in case Hot Rod hasn't noticed he is in retirement and long past thoughts of infiltrating an enemy world! Kup offers to drop Hot Rod off at Cybertron but that is the most he can do.
Shortly after, Kup is relaxing in a corner of the ship and thinking things over. Hot Rod is certainly a hot-headed young punk, but brave too, and he sort of reminds Kup of somebody. Suddenly an alarm sounds signaling that the ship has arrived in orbit. Kup thinks it's strange because there's no way they could have reached Cybertron so soon. He goes to a window and sees they have arrived at a strange planet which he guesses is Tyroxia. A landing pod is missing and that can only mean one thing - that Hot Rod has gone to rescue Blurr alone. Kup shrugs his shoulders, that has to be the stupidest thing he's ever seen, one Autobot against a whole planet! Stupid, but brave... it's like something that Kup might have done when he was younger! The it dawns on him who Hot Rod reminds him of.. himself.. and Kup realises that the struggle against impossible odds is how he'd rather live, not enduring his current living death.
On the planet's surface Hot Rod has succeeded in retrieving the unconscious Blurr but soon runs in big trouble! A huge alien guard with four arms and five times as big as the Autobot now confronts him. In no time at all Hot Rod is bouncing off walls and looks set to be chopped into very small pieces. But Kup crashes through a window guns blazing and shouting with fury, as much against the doubts that have plagued him, as the current enemy. Finally Hot Rod stops him and points out the smouldering form of the guard, it looks like he got the message!
Later an upbeat Kup sets course for Cybertron. Hot Rod thanks him for the double rescue and teases him that he can soon return to his retirement, while he and Blurr get back to the serious work of winning the war. Kup is having none of it - he's coming with them - if the Autobots are letting young punks like Hot Rod fight these days - then they need all the help they can get!
Gort's girlfriend tries to defend the Autobots but the rulers of Nebulos seem to have made up their minds.
In the Nebulan captial of Koraja the planet's governing body meets to discuss a matter of the highest national urgency. The arrival of Fortress Maximus and the Autobots has triggered a panic. The accidental injury of the Nebulan youth Gort has provided the self-serving Lord Zarak with an opportunity to push his more militant views. He argues that the robots are a menace and must be wiped out, but Galen (leader of a traditionally peaceful faction called the World Watchers) disagrees. He reminds the others that Nebulos has maintained ten thousand years of peace and this is too important to throw away in a moment of hysteria. The council are swayed by his argument and it is agreed that they will receive the Autobot's envoy. Zarak however, has different ideas, and consorts with his followers to thwart Galen.
Sometime after, the Autobot Blurr cruises into the Nebulan capital to convey the peaceful intentions of his Commander Fortress Maximus. As he arrives at the site of an important Nebulan monument he transforms to robot mode in order to greet his hosts. Watching from a rooftop vantage point is Zarak's assistant Krunk who fires a magnetic polarizing gun at Blurr forcing his arm to jut out and knock the globe component from the fountain monument. It lands in the crowd and causes an outbreak of panic as Nebulans stampede for their lives. Gort's girlfriend is trampled along with others and Zarak wastes no time in ordering his personal militia to open fire. Blurr realises that there is no point in trying to reason with these beings and speeds away.
Back at the Autobot camp tensions are running high and some of Blurr's more gung-ho comrades suggest that if it's a fight the Nebulans want, it's a fight they shall have. Fortress Maximus will not tolerate such talk and reminds everyone that they are there to escape war. Elsewhere though, it seems that the decision is about to be taken out of his hands. A small craft makes it's way into a forbidding mountain range and comes to rest outside a great vault. Galen disembarks and carries out an unwanted duty. He activates the unlocking mechanism and steps inside a long forgotten chamber housing Nebulos' millennia-old machines of war. Later as the Autobots debate their next moves Highbrow picks up numerous readings approaching their position. Suddenly an armada of Nebulan tanks storm into view and start to attack!
Until now we've only ever seen Kup and Hot Rod and Blurr as part of the future Autobots, but with their inclusion in the Headmasters back-up strip and this issue, we are starting to see some of the back story. Kup is a washed-up old timer in this tale set hundreds of years ago, and is rescued from his misery by the example set by the youthful Hot Rod. The age gap between them is a constant difference but underneath it they respect each other. The Tyroxian's speech is presented as symbols to denote their alien language but by the end their words are translated. I think I see some Star Trek elements in the artwork, such as Kup seated in the captain's chair on his bridge, plus the space battle and * most obviously * Hot Rod beaming aboard! Interestingly Kup talks about living out his 'remaining years' in isolation, suggesting that Transformers do have a finite lifespan. James Roberts has the idea (in his TF novel Eugenesis) that brain modules eventually burn out and therefore it is possible for Transformers to naturally die.
It seems that Nebulans and humans have more in common than just appearance. In Ring of Hate, despite of their 10,000 years of peace it doesn't take much for them to slip back to their old ways of warfare. I'm surprised that their tanks are battle worthy after all that time though, and it doesn't say much for Duros' security precautions that Krunk is able to fire a weapon at Blurr without anyone noticing. Not a wonder that the crusty old politicians in the Nebulan senate didn't take Gort's girlfriend seriously when she turned up in the sexy outfit above.