Transformers UK: Issue #135
Story: Grudge Match (part 1)
Back-up strip: Headmasters: Broken Glass (Part 2)
Cover date: October 17th, 1987
Script: Simon Furman/Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jeff Anderson/Frank Springer (story) Anderson/Baskerville/Bouttell (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Krunix
By Omega Steve
Headstrong makes a grand entrance at O'Connor's Circus!
The unstoppable force that is the Predacon Headstrong charges through O'Connor's Circus scattering performers and spectators alike. Close to the big top Razorclaw and Rampage pounce on to assembled funfair and trample the amusements underfoot. Rampage clamps his jaws around a Big Wheel and tosses it into the air, where the bull Tantrum locks horns with it and shatters the wheel to pieces. This is just the sort of mindless mayhem the four Decepticons have been needing, but strangely their fifth member, the airborne aerial warrior Divebomb, has sought no part in it. Razorclaw thinks he probably couldn't be bothered.
Nearby, Divebomb perches on an out of service rollercoaster in bird of prey mode. He considers that the other Predacons are welcome to do what they like, but putting the wind up a few lesser lifeforms is not what he joined the group to do. Back on Cybertron he had functioned to the full extent of his abilities hunting an endless supply of Autobots. On Earth he had hunted worthy prey such as Optimus Prime and Megatron - but since then nothing! Given the opportunity Divebomb would happily quit the Predacons and go back to Cybertron, but without him they would be unable to form Predaking. As he takes to the skies he starts thinking about 'the one that got away' the Autobot originally called Divebomb whose name he stole.
At the Ark that very same Autobot - now called Swoop - sees his old sparring partner on a monitor screen and nearly freaks out. Sludge is busy laughing at the Predacons' at first and doesn't notice his team mate's strange reaction. Finally he asks what's wrong and Swoop tells him that he's just seen the Decepticon who stole his name. Sludge is puzzled - didn't Swoop say that he'd killed that Decepticon and avenged the insult? Okay so he's not as dead as Swoop thought but even so, all of the Autobots have lost battles before and this one is ancient history.. isn't it? Swoop looks tormented and thoughtful, like he's about to confess to a dark secret he's bottled up for a long time, but all he says is "he's still usin' my name" and walks out.
Later, Divebomb circles over Florida swamp engrossed in thought. Suddenly a missile clips his wing and he spins around to see Swoop gunning for him - Divebomb is overjoyed! Swoop wastes no time in attacking his nemesis, demonstrating that the years have done little to cool his fury over past indignities. Divebomb is to at last have a battle worthy of him - although he's sure that he's still every inch Swoop's superior - then and now. As Divebomb batters Swoop with his wings, he wonders aloud whether the Dinobot had the guts to tell the truth about their last encounter, and who saved him? He guesses probably not, and forces Swoop into the mire. He transforms to robot mode and lands - this is where he should finish the Autobot once and for all - but why end it so soon just as he's starting to have fun? The delay gives Swoop time to transform and counter attack and soon the pair are scrapping on the floor. But the private grudge match is about to be gatecrashed as the other Predacons arrive baying for blood! Razorclaw tells the Autobot that Predacons look after their own, and that means he's dead meat!
Lord Zarak and his cronies contact the Decepticons for help in driving the Autobots from Nebulos!
As anti-Transformer protests continue, the ruling body of Nebulos meets to discuss the crisis. Lord Zarak - a fervent opponent of the Autobots and all they stand for - argues that they present a danger that cannot be ignored. If the council will not listen to reason then they will be forced to listen to the people making their feelings known outside. Galen takes to the stand knowing he will have to say something good if he is to convince the council to stay true to a peaceful path. Luckily on this occasion he has some help - the young Nebulan Gort - whose injuries at the hands of an Autobot has provided much of the focus for demonstrations.
Gort addresses the council and tells them that his injuries were totally accidental, and the robot had wished to talk to him not fight. In light of this evidence Zarak is forced to back down - for now. Days later in a forest, the Autobots are busy constructing a new base for themselves. Galen, Zarak and others have come to see them and to satisfy themselves that the Autobots are keeping their side of the peace agreement. Hot Rod is establishing one-way contact with their old base on Cybertron so that they can listen in on events happening on the homeworld. The Autobots will not broadcast to Cybertron in case the Decepticons should learn of their location and come to Nebulos. But as Hot Rod works, Zarak's assistant Vorath secretly records the location of the Cybertron base. And later in a powerful observatory Zarak transmits a message to Cybertron asking for help in ridding Nebulos of the Autobots.
As luck (?) would have it, at that very moment the Autobot base in the Manganese Mountains has been invaded by Scorponok and his Decepticons. They have been wondering why they've not seen their spiring partners for a while and come looking. When an unintelligible message starts broadcasting out of a console they activate translators and hear Zarak's appeal for assistance against Fortress Maximus! Scorponok offers to help and asks for the coordinates of Nebulos, and soon his army is preparing to journey to the planet to crush the Autobots and conquer! Several days later they arrive and are greeted by a nervous Zarak (who hadn't expected that many of them). Scorponok is told where to find Fortress Maximus and orders a full scale offensive against the city, telling Zarak he will deal with him on his return!
The grudge match between Swoop and Divebomb looks promising - especially as each's respective teams are set to enter the fray. This story picks up where What's In a Name - the story from the 1987 Transformers annual - left off. It was way back in issue 46 that Optimus Prime revealed he'd known Swoop on Cybertron, back when he used to be called Divebomb. It seems that Hasbro released a toy of the same name not long after presenting the writer Simon Furman with something of a problem. It's good to see how he's risen to it by weaving the tale we see this issue.
The Headmasters story has been edited for the UK comic. In the US version Scorponok addresses one of his lackeys as Cyclonus, but the name has been changed to Krunix for the British comic. It's worth noting that US continuity does not take in Transformers the Movie so as far as they are concerned Cyclonus is just a regular Cybertron Decepticon - and not created by Unicron. The UK comic does accept the movie and the mystery of how Cyclonus ends up in the present day is explored in the up-coming Legacy of Unicron story. Zarak's obsession with destroying Galen and his Autobot friends must run deep if he is prepared to gamble on contacting the Decepticons. He doesn't seem to give much thought to the risks involved - like the prospect of bringing more 'conquerors' to Nebulos.