Transformers UK: Issue #98

Story: The Harder They Die!
Back-up strip: Spitfire and the Troubleshooters
Cover date: Jan 31st, 1987
Price: 32p
Script: Simon Furman
Artwork: Jeff Anderson (story) Geoff Senior (cover)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Outback


Synopsis:

By Adam Hogg

Prime saves Outback from a predatory Decepticon - but he wasn't expecting those eye blasts!

Optimus Prime once again walks on Cybertron and he cannot believe how much it has changed. The Cybertron he left over four million years ago has become a mechanical wasteland. Its many great cities levelled and its sky blackened, but there are some things never change - the Decepticons!

Ahead of him, a Decepticon warrior pummels a much smaller Autobot who was careless enough to be caught wandering the Decepticon controlled planet. Just before he can finish off the battered Autobot, Prime's huge figure looms over him - how would he like to take on someone larger? The Decepticon mocks Prime's threat, in his experience, "the bigger they are".... "THE HARDER THEY DIE" insists Prime! He lifts the Decepticon off the ground by the throat, educating him on the number of comrades he's seen fall in battle, while he has consistently cheated death due to some warped good fortune. The Decepticon seems unimpressed, and a surprise eye-blast to the face sends Prime reeling. He throws his opponent as far as he can before falling in pain. With his vision badly impaired, Prime realises that the Decepticons have grown powerful in his long absence, and expecting the Decepticon to finish him off at any moment, he thinks his luck has finally run out!!!

The expected onslaught never comes, and as Prime's vision begins to return the small Autobot known as Outback seems to be okay - while the Decepticon has been impaled on a huge spike after Prime's equally huge throw, once again reflecting the Autobot commanders striking good fortune - but how long can it last? Outback is shocked to learn that this is none other than the great Optimus Prime, believing him to be long dead (I am not sure why Outback thinks this, there has been numerous contact between Earth and Cybertron recently). Prime explains about the crash on Earth, which in turn reminds him of his troops back there, for who's benefit he was going through the trouble of faking his own death last issue. After it all went wrong when Megatron and the Predacons showed up, he now finds himself on Cybertron. Unless he can find a way home they will have to function without him for good? Prime bids Outback farewell, there are things he must do alone - but as he departs Outback transforms and follows (into a nifty Cybertronian hover car I might add).

Elsewhere on Cybertron, inside a Decepticon stronghold in Polyhex, Megatron looks out at the destruction that stretches as far as he can see - magnificent! His own Decepticon standards have not slackened in his long absence, but there are some things that have - his authority! The salvaged head of Polyhex's ruler Lord Straxus' eerily floats in a green liquid. He has been confined to a life support bubble after the events of issue 69, and he is deeply disturbed by Megatron's presence here - and his apparent lack of respect for his host. All Megatron has brought with him is trouble, the last thing they need is for the Autobot resistance to meet up with Optimus Prime. Megatron insists he will deal with his oldest foe, but possibly not before Straxus deals with Megatron!!

Megatron is visually disturbed by many recent events (some great art of him confronting Straxus), and argues that Prime's presence here is not his fault, after all he was betrayed by the Predacons. Instead of finishing Prime off (last issue), they fled leaving Megatron to fight Prime unaided (we are told how Divebomb stole his fusion cannon, but he has since found another - been shopping?). Megatron realised this was a set-up by Shockwave, who's logic had no doubt favoured an Optimus Prime victory in unarmed combat. Luckily Megatron was carrying an equaliser in the form of a small handgun just in case. Prime had fled into the forest and Megatron caught up with him back at his trailer section. A full powered blast had blown 'Prime' to pieces but it turned out to be a facsimile. Megatron had no time to wonder why Prime was carrying around a double of himself as he was ambushed from behind by the real Optimus. As the pair fought Prime was clearly gaining the upper hand, leaving Megatron no choice but to summon the Space bridge in an attempt to escape. Prime had hurled them both through it hoping to sacrifice the Decepticon along with himself! But since Megatron survived the unstable crossing he presumes Prime did too. He can't resist making another stab at his host's unenviable situation as he mentions the instability of the Space Bridge, something Straxus knows all to well after succumbing to the void back in issue 69's battle with Blaster. Straxus is interested to know how Megatron will deal with Prime, and he is assured that steps are in motion. Megatron has passed word through to the Decepticon informers that a spy designed to resemble Optimus Prime will try and infiltrate the Autobot resistance. He feels sure that when the Autobot spies learn of this they will kill Optimus Prime for him.

Elsewhere, Prime stands high above Iacon, the once great capital of Cybertron - it too has been turned into a barren wasteland, can any Autobots still inhabit this place? Suddenly he is hit from behind by Rack 'n' Ruin, and spinning round to question the Autobots actions, he is again hit from behind by a Guardian unit (a much stronger version than we have seen before). Prime's claims are ignored as he is hit over and over again. He is now a prisoner of the Wreckers, and the sentence for impersonating the Autobots greatest leader is death!!

******

Comments:

By Steve Bax

What a cracking story! Class from start to finish! Obviously from the clues last issue most fans would have guessed correctly that it was a facsimilie Prime that was destroyed and not the real one, but I never would have guessed at the twist the story would take. Having the issue open on Prime strolling through the streets of Cybertron was pure genius and had me wondering what the hell was going on. Furman, as we know, likes to introduce non-entities and kill them off and we get such an occasion here with the green Decepticon beating up on Outback. He has some cool eye blasts and the way Prime dispatches him was awesome (not to mention grusome). If Prime was horrified by the destruction of Iacon it certain that Megatron is gonna love it, and indeed he does, watching from the view point of Straxus' fortress. These two are both egotists and Megs more so, so it's hardly surprising that they don't get on. In fact Straxus is acting like a homeowner who has just heard an unwanted relative has come to stay and doesn't know when he's leaving! Not that he can do much about it from the vantaage point of his life support bubble - another nice touch. Despite only just arriving Megatron wastes no time in getting the word out that the Prime wandering around Iacon is a Decepticon imposter, demonstrating that he's a more shrewd operator than people think. Its a shame the same can't be said of Magnus and the Wreckers who pass a death sentence without even interogating this 'spy' of giving him a chance to prove his case.

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