Transformers UK: Issue #144

Story: Space Hikers (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Headmasters: Brothers in Armour (part 3)
Cover date: December 26th, 1987
Price: 32p
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jeff Anderson/Frank Springer (story) Barry Kitson/Robin Bouttell (cover)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Adam Hogg

Blaster has returned to the Ark to save his friends and get revenge on Grimlock!

Inside the recently repaired Ark, which is now orbiting the Earth. The four children captured along with the Decepticon Blast Off, while the rogue Autobot Blaster was instead able to escape, are now summoned by commander Grimlock. They don't like the sound of it, but Wheeljack calms them by insisting Grimlock probably just wants to... erm... meet them!?

They are brought before Grimlock, in what he now describes as his courtroom, with the four children the accused. Appearing minute amongst the gathered Autobot ranks, these humans are not even fully grown, and don't deserve a trial in Grimlock's eyes. Wheeljack reminds him of Autobot law, but is promptly told to shut his face (Grimlock and Wheeljack are striking up quite a comedy act together) - these humans will tell him where Blaster is! The children explain how Blaster saved their lives and then gave them a ride inside Blast Off as thanks, and Sammy mentions that he then helped Blaster escape when the Ark was chasing them (doesn't he have any tact at all!?). Grimlock orders silence, they helped the traitor and must pay - the sentence is death, and shall be carried out immediately (the faces on the other Autobots is of utter horror, but WHY DON'T THEY SAY SOMETHING, Grimlock may be a tyrant but the rest are a bunch of wimps!!). The Autobots immediately prepare to carry out the sentence, while Snarl has a word in his commander's ear, wondering if this is wise considering some Autobots have strong feelings for humans. Grimlock now reveals the truth behind the decision - he doesn't want to kill the humans, but he bets that Blaster will try and save them again...

Soon, a platform jetting out from a side hatch of the huge craft is lined by various Autobots, with the children effectively about to walk the plank and drift into endless space. Meanwhile inside, Wheeljack realises that Grimlock must be suspicious of him of by now, but he must act quickly, and contacts Sky Lynx who he secretly called from Cybertron last issue. He is asked to simply retrieve the four small pieces of cargo about to be unloaded form the Ark, while a distance away, Blaster also approaches using the satellite he hijacked last issue. Just after Grimlock cuts the children's rope, Sky Lynx soars past and swallows them whole - much to the shock of Blaster, and not to mention Grimlock.... who the hell is that? Grimlock orders his warriors back inside to pursue this creature, while Blaster finally gets within reach of the Ark, only for its huge engines to seemingly flame-grill the Autobot before he can grab on...

Elsewhere, the four children are also puzzled as they float within a pitch dark chamber. The lights are switched on and the creature introduces himself as a friend of Wheeljack's, who will look after them in the mean time. That wont be an easy task however as the Ark appears to be gaining rapidly, forcing the bird like Autobot to speed towards a meteor shower. The Ark is too large to follow, and back on the bridge the hunt appears to be over - but Grimlock insists that its only just begun! He and his Dinobots depart in pursuit, forcing Sky Lynx to revert from bird to animal mode as he propels himself between the asteroids. Conflict appears imminent as the Dinobots approach, but this is just the kind of action Sky Lynx was looking for when he arrived. Back at the Ark, a dazed Blaster is recovering after feeling the heat of the Ark's engines, but he finally reaches a hatch, and jumps in to the surprise of his former comrades. Blaster explains the misunderstanding about teaming up with Blast Off - the Decepticon was Mode-locked and totally under Blaster's control. But he has no time to answer questions, and simply wants to know where the four human children are.

Back outside, Sky Lynx is battling bravely despite being outnumbered by the Dinobots, forcing Grimlock to call his troops and come up with another plan. Inside the Ark, Blaster is pleased to be accepted back, but has some words to say about Grimlock's leadership. They have all lost sight of the true purpose of the Autobot cause - to defeat the Decepticons and protect those most vulnerable and least deserving of their tyranny - the Humans. Until they accomplish this they cannot shut down their engines for a microsecond! The Autobots applaud their comrade, while back outside, Sky Lynx now finds himself surrounded, but surprisingly the Dinobots aren't making any moves. Wheeljack explains that the humans have only a limited supply of air, and Grimlock knows it. Jetfire suggests he lead a force against the Dinobots, but Blaster realises is could pose a threat to the humans. And by allowing that, everything he just said before would be meaningless. There is only one true way to solve this and guarantee their safety... Moments later, Blaster approaches Grimlock. Let Sky Lynx and the humans go... he surrenders!

******


Synopsis 2:

By Steve Bax


The Autobot Targetmasters try to repel a Decepticon attack against the botanical centre known as the Nursery.

At the Autobots' command, six armoured Nebulans transform into weapons and land in the hands of Blurr, Crosshairs, Hotrod, Kup, Pointblank and Sureshot. Pointblank gives the order 'Targetmasters attack!' and a volley of laser fire unlike anything ever seen before cuts down the Decepticons. Cutthroat swoops on the Autobots and destroys one of the Nursery's concrete supports. The structure wobbles and finally collapses after a stray blast from Hun-grr. The Autobots realise that their presence is only exposing the Nursery to further and they quickly withdraw. Zarak is buzzing with the adrenaline of battle, and only when it wares off does he notice the terrible price that this local beauty spot has paid for their war. It all unfolding as Galen said.

Several days later in Koraja, Vorath summons Zarak to inspect his latest technological achievement. He has succeeded in duplicating the Autobot advantage and has created Decepticon Targetmasters. Slugslinger, Triggerhappy, Misfire, Cyclonus and Scourge now stand before them with the Nebulan recruits who will become their guns. Strangely Zarak seems preoccupied and wanders off before Vorath has finished his briefing. He steps past the guards and his daughter Llyra and goes to the detention cell where Galen is being held in an energy net.

Krunk activates Galen from his slumber, and Zarak confesses that each time he combines with Scorponok he loses more of himself - it is as though Scorponok is reprogramming him! Galen has little sympathy but Zarak persists, telling him cryptically that they will meet in the next world, and suggesting he ask his Autobot friends. Suddenly Zarak knocks Krunk unconscious and deactivates the holding field - Galen and the others are free!

******

Comments:

A nice twist to this issue's Headmasters instalment with Zarak realising that he is addicted to the power of Scorponok and losing his sanity. Since he cannot give up this power he must free his enemies in order for them to lead him away from Nebulos. For anyone wondering how the future Decepticons Cyclonus and Scourge come to be included in the Targetmaster line up, all is revealed in issue 151. There are more of the usual errors, first when Hun-grr is called Hun-garr on p18, and then on p21 Stylor and Gort have been mistaken for each other again.

What happens to Blaster after the main story's shock ending? Unfortunately we wont find out until issue #174, well over four months away! The US material seems to drop this whole storyline to concentrate on the Headmaster's arrival on Earth, although we will see the Earthbound Decepticons for a while longer. Such a shame the Dinobots couldn't have been defeated and Blaster installed as leader! That is the ending I wanted, and what the hell is wrong with the Autobots? Even when the Space Hikers were about to be cast into space (a blatant violation of the Autobot code) they still don't have the guts to rebel!

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