Transformers UK: Issue #99
Story: Under Fire
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: Feb 7th, 1987
Script: Simon Furman
Artwork: Jeff Anderson (story) Geoff Senior (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Ratbat
Synopsis:By Adam Hogg
Outback is mortally wounded after he and Optimus Prime flee from an execution squad!
In the past Outback has broken the rules and taken risks, but this has to be his biggest risk yet. The Wreckers are preparing to execute a 'Decepticon spy' who they think is impersonating their revered former leader Optimus Prime and somehow Outback has to stop them. He thinks over his reasons for doing so - it's not just that this Transformer has saved his life, nor even that he's sure that this is the real Optimus Prime - rather, this being shares Outback's view on life 'defy the reaper enough times and death no longer holds any fear'. It's just as well, he thinks, because this rescue plan is never going to work!
As the Wreckers train their weapons and wait for Ultra Magnus to give the order to fire, Outback speeds into view. He transforms and commands them to stop, insisting they're about to make the biggest mistake of their lives! Magnus is in no mood to listen, his spies tell him that this is not Optimus Prime but an imposter, and the spies have never been wrong before. Outback suggests that they are the victims of disinformation, and questions whether Magnus is acting rashly in a bid to atone for his failure to save Impactor during Operation: Volcano. He has clearly hit a nerve as Magnus erupts and orders Outback to take a hike or else he can share in the prisoner's fate!
Outback backs off and turns to bid Prime farewell. Unseen to everyone he places a small device on Prime's chest which causes the shackles behind his back disappear. Outback then lobs a gas particle bomb and creates a smokescreen allowing Prime and himself to escape. Ultra Magnus is enraged and tells Springer that he will take three Guardian units and hunt them down himself. All the while the Decepticon Ratbat observes from a safe distance. Shortly after he returns to Polyhex to delivers the painful news to his commander, Lord Straxus. It would seem that Megatron's plan has failed, and Lord Straxus takes great pleasure in rubbing it in. Megatron is not amused and reminds his host of his precarious position - it would be laughably simple to reach into Straxus' life support bubble and crush him what remains of him! Fortunately he is needed alive for the moment. Megatron orders a search party be sent after Prime, surely he cannot evade the Decepticons and the Autobots! He then departs leaving Ratbat to question Straxus on just how long they must tolerate Megatron's unstable presence. Straxus reveals that he has something in the pipeline and will stike when the time is right!
Meanwhile Ultra Magnus and a Guardian unit follow the trail of the escapees. Magnus reflects on Outback's home truths from earlier and now wishes that he hadn't divided his search party - Guardian units are loyal but tend to interpret orders too literally. Suddenly there is an explosion nearby and it looks like the Guardians have caught up with the fugitives. We switch to the scene and find Prime and Outback okay but fending off attack. Outback ignores the order to flee and blasts one, just as the second unit siezes Prime from behind and starts to crush his body. Outback tells Prime to turn around so that he can get a clear shot, but to Prime's horror the other Guardian recovers and tears through Outback's side with his huge nails. The small Autobot collapses and spurrs Prime into action. He draws on all his considerable strength he tears the head off of the Guardian unit holding him.
After the second one has been dispatched, Prime scoops up the fallen Outback. He realises that the Autobots have a similar way of life to the mindless Guardians, going from battle to battle and fighting without question. Once again Prime has cheated death but this time another may succumb in his stead. Ultra Magnus remains out of site as he watches Prime carry his friend into the distance - Outback's only crime was trust, and Prime is determined to do all in his power to save him.
More great tension between the two Decepticon commanders, but just what is Lord Straxus planning for Megatron? Once again the Wreckers seem to be thinking with their fists and not their heads when it comes to dealing with Prime. Haven't they ever heard of disinformation? There's also something very un-Autobot about capital punishment, to say nothing of sticking a prisoner in front of a firing squad without so much as a trial! I do like the new improved Guardian units though. The one we saw in UK#31-32 was just a big muscle-bound bruiser, and while these are slimmer units they have gun hands or deadly claws as extra weaponry. By the looks of the ending Magnus is starting to cotton on that this is the real Prime - about time too!