Transformers UK: Issue #96
Story: Prey (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Spitfire and the Troubleshooters
Cover date: Jan 17th, 1987
Script: Simon Furman
Artwork: Will Simpson (story) Jeff Anderson (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Razorclaw, Rampage, Divebomb, Headstrong, Tantrum
Synopsis:By Adam Hogg
Razorclaw and his team are here to serve Megatron, but Shockwave may have a better offer!
Deep within the Ark, Optimus Prime should feel safe. He is surrounded by the most sophisticated defences and scores of committed warriors, yet the Autobot leader has never felt more threatened! The cause of this anxiety is the Decepticon space bridge - with it his enemies have access to unlimited reinforcements from Cybertron. So far the threat of these new arrivals has been contained, but for how long? The Autobots could try to capture the bridge but if they succeeded the Decepticons would not rest until they possessed it again - innocent human lives could be further endangered. And is Prime prepared to sever his people's only connection with their home world. Prime resolves that he must be even if it costs him his life! But then the doubts return, is he still willing to sacrifice himself unquestionably to the Autobot cause? Recent events - particularly the Galvatron affair (UK#78-88) - has demonstrated that his forces are lost without his leadership. They had been forced to deplorable lengths to defeat Galvatron, even teaming up with their mortal enemy Megatron! Errors of judgement and blind stupidity had almost led to total defeat. Prime decides that the only option is to force his followers to be less reliant on him, should the worst ever happen. He begins to formulate a plan, and when it has been honed and sculpted, requests Wheeljack to report immediately.
At the Decepticon base Megatron's obsession with his Autobot opposite number continues to grow. A flippant comment from Motormaster sends him into a rage - only he, Megatron, can defeat Optimus Prime - no-one else! Motormaster cowers in fear as Megatron just misses him with a giant boulder. Soundwave watches with interest, clearly Shockwave was not exaggerating Megatron's paranoia concerning the Autobot's leader. With Megatron's mental state rapidly deteriorating, Soundwave knows that his best interests are served by helping Shockwave to re-take command. He calmly stands before the angry Megatron, and patronisingly suggests a plan to flush Prime out. Although Megatron is Prime's superior in every way, he says, it would not hurt to have the weight of numbers on his side. Perhaps a specialised team of hunters? Megatron takes the bait - the elite cadre known as the Predacons still exist on Cybertron and would be perfect for the job. He orders Soundwave to summon them. Meanwhile Shockwave is monitoring the conversation from within a nearby cave. His plan is going perfectly, soon he will manoeuvre Prime and Megatron into a situation where the only winner is Shockwave!
A week later at the Ark, Prime is ready to put his own plan into action. His fellow Autobots are aghast to learn that their leader plans to embark on an unimportant reconnaissance mission to the Decepticons base, alone! Prime is too important to risk, surely one of them should go in his place. Prime is saddened to hear his warriors speak so, but it only strengthens his resolve to proceed and he assures them that he'll alert Wheeljack (who stands close-by looking decidedly uncomfortable) if he runs into trouble. After ordering them to return to their duties, Prime has a final chat with Wheeljack. They load a mysterious cargo into Prime's trailer and Optimus tells Wheeljack that he is relying on his to sound the alarm in two hours. That should give him enough time to fake his death!
Sometime later at the Decepticon base, Megatron has found a practical use for Motormaster - target practice! With his back to the wall, he is narrowly missed by the laser blasts from the newly arrived Predacons. Their hunting skills are still as exceptional Megatron remembers, and he is satisfied. And after Soundwave announces Optimus Prime's imminent arrival, the hunt is about to begin! Megatron and the Predacons prepare to leave, and Shockwave has a few final words with their leader Razorclaw, serve him well and the Predacons have a glorious place in the new Decepticon hierarchy!
Nearby, Prime's uneventful ride through the peaceful Wyoming countryside is about to take an unexpected twist. The road ahead suddenly explodes leaving Prime no option but to transform as he is thrown forward. He is momentarily stunned by this surprise attack and reaches for his gun which ahead of him. It is crushed by a giant foot before he can grasp it! Prime looks up to find himself surrounded by Megatron and the Predacons in animal mode. After a short introduction, they will be the death of Prime....
Prime has come to perceive the space bridge as a threat and rightfully so. It maybe a link with Cybertron but if the Decepticons wanted to they could bring an army of warriors through and conquer Earth in no time. It is legitimate that the Autobots should want to contain or remove this menace. However I don't see the logic in Optimus faking his death and putting Wheeljack to the trouble of creating a body double. What will it achieve? Last time Prime's followers went to pieces without him, and if the precedent is that they make stupid mistakes when leaderless (such as teaming up with Megatron last time) why put them in that position again? Rather than taking stupid risks Prime would do better to bolster the authority and judgement of his lieutenants as a way of improving the situation.
Shockwave alludes to a different side of Prime that he witnessed in Limbo. This suggests that Megatron one not come off well in a straight fight between them, yet in issue 100 we don't see a fighting mad Prime but an intelligent one who knows when and when not to fight. You could easily favour Megatron because he is not handicapped by Prime's compassion for other beings, so Shockwave's logic is not clear. Good to see the likes of Motormaster getting some extra spotlight, rather than being introduced and then forgotten about. The Predacons are also a fascinating bunch, being elite hunters and able to combine into Predaking, and we are seeing them in an additional yet similar tale to their eventual debut in the US comic. In the US story Gone But Not Forgotten, Shockwave brings them to Earth to hunt Megatron. The same happens here in effect but this tale takes place before the US one and loose ends will be explained away by Megatron suffering a loss of memory!