Transformers UK: Issue #145

Story: Stargazing
Back-up strip: Headmasters: Brothers in Armour (part 4)
Cover date: December 26th, 1987
Price: 32p
Script: Simon Furman/Ian Rimmer/Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jeff Anderson/Frank Springer (story), Barry Kitson/Robin Bouttell (cover)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Adam Hogg

Starscream is too homesick to muster the enthusiasm to squash a fleshling!

Awakened from his spell in an Autobot deep-sleep capsule the Decepticon Starscream feels more homesick for Cybertron than ever. Staring at the night's sky he knows his home planet is up there somewhere. The place where he learnt to fight, cheat, and betray - for the Decepticon cause and for himself! For countless centuries he dreamed of ruling Cybertron and commanding the Decepticons to victory there, but grand ambitions no longer seem important. Now he just wants to see his home.

Starscrem hears a voice.... and sees a human standing at his feet, who recognises him as a Transformer. The Decepticon is in no mood for talking but can't muster enough enthusiasm to squash this pest! The youth asks the Decepticon why he's so miserable on Christmas Eve? He's sure that if Starscream knew what Christmas was about he would soon cheer up (ever the optimist). The Decepticon's internal data file gives a brief and mundane description of the occasion, but the human tells Starscream he is missing the point. Starscream tells this fleshling he wont live long enough to see Christmas day the way he's going - and the startled youth finally gets the message and asks to be released so he can go home. Starscream is envious that this human can do what he cannot. So, in a rare moment of indulgence, he transforms into his jet mode invites the human to show him the spirit Christmas, thinking it might cure his depression!

The human hopes they will see people giving presents, which is not a prospect his once feared Decepticon companion is thrilled by! Starscream points out that helping the needy conflicts with the Decepticon ethos, the weak give and the strong take! These Autobot sentiments are not for him. They spot a bus caught in a snowdrift and the human thinks it the perfect opportunity for Starscream to show compassion. It would be simplicity itself for Starscream but he fails to see what's in it for him? At that moment the Autobot Streetwise arrives and attacks. Starscream is taken by surprise but he's sure he has the superior firepower than s small Protectobot. As they brawl the people in the bus are placed in greater peril and Starscream's friend steps-in, telling Streetwise he should be ashamed seeing as Starscream was about to help these humans! The Autobot doesn't believe it so Starscream smugly lifts the bus from the snowdrift and places it on the road. The bus passengers cheer before going on their way, escorted by Streetwise.

The youth is sure Starscream must have got satisfaction from his good deed, and maybe next time it will be his turn to receive help? Starscream doubts it and reveals that the human misunderstood his pleasure on that occasion - he was merely pleased to see the humiliation of the Autobot! The human gives up, thinking this transformer is beyond redemption. All he can do is bid Starscream 'Merry Christmas' as the Decepticon laughs and walks off. He takes a few steps and then pauses, perhaps a twinge of conscience or a remnant from the earlier events, he turns and wishes the youth a Merry Christmas back!

******


Synopsis 2:

By Steve Bax


The Autobot Headmasters are home and dry providing they can get past the Targetmasters and Scorponok!

In part four of Brothers in Armour, Galen and his friends have been freed by Lord Zarak, in a final act of sanity before Scorponok's control becomes complete! The Nebulans waste no time in combining with their Autobot partners and burst through a wall, passing Zarak and Llyra, on their way outside. They run into the Decepticon Targetmasters in the courtyard and a fierce firefight takes place. Llyra demands to know why her father freed the captives but he seems mesmerised by the call of battle and rushes to bond with Scorponok! Llyra watches in horror as her father as the city is nearly destroyed - and her father's Decepticons are the worst culprits! Fortress Maximus orders a retreat to save the city and they all flee into the woods. Zarak tells the Decepticons that the battle will be finished at another time and place (Earth).

The Headmasters and Galen are welcomed back to the Autobot camp by Hotrod, Kup and the others. Galen tells them of the decision to leave Nebulos and head for Earth, adding that he is certain Zarak and the Decepticons will follow. At least this way Nebulos has a chance to regain the peace it once enjoyed. A shuttle carrying Llyra, and she now doubts everything her father told her, perhaps she was wrong to stop loving Galen? She asks him to tell her the truth and Galen coldly replies that his forces are leaving! The young woman flees in tears and Galen's friends ask him why he passed-up his chance to set the record straight. He replies that if Llyra still loved him, he could never leave and that is what he must do for the sake of the planet. True to his word, Galen leads the Autobot exodus back to the Starship Steelhaven and then warps away across space to plan the eventual showdown on Earth. A little while later Zarak and the Decepticons board their own ship and give chase. In their wake a courageous people will try to rebuild their shattered world, and the tormented Llyra tries to rebuild her shattered life. The End.

******

Comments:

On Headmasters: A suitably good ending for an excellent mini-series. I know Bob Budiansky gets criticism for his wackier ideas, but he does a top job on this, keeping it is original and interesting until the end. It can't have been too easy introducing so many characters without it having a negative effect on the story, but Bob succeeds on this count. Galen cements his status as a tragic hero in this issues instalment by not telling the woman that he was innocent of all charges. As a reader I found that frustrating because I wanted to see the wrongs put right, but I can respect Galen's sacrifice. I'm not sure I could do the same. Perhaps in the years to come Nebulans will re-examine recent events and view Galen differently, certainly Zarak will be discredited now.

The corrupting of Zarak by Scorponok is a side-effect of the Headmaster joining process that interests me. Ultimately it is hard to know who wins the battle though, because once on Earth it always seems like Zarak is the more dominant partner. A small gripe, I noticed that Fortress Maximus has been drawn with Cerebros' head in one of the frames (Frank Springer getting mixed up again!). And another blunder, on the last page we see the Autobots departing with Decepticons Triggerhappy, Misfire and Slugslinger with them!

As for Stargazing - Christmas stories are usually light-hearted and mostly inconsequential to the ongoing plot, so I never expect too much from them. This tale is not bad but I can't help thinking that it's out of character for Starscream to be interested in finiding the festive spirit, even if he is depressed. Also on the opening page his deep sleep capsule is pictured a few metres away from the main road. Surely passing motorists would have stopped and examined it over the past year, and it ought to have been carted off by the army/Triple I or something!

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