Transformers UK: Issue #150
Story: The Legacy of Unicron (Part 5)
Back-up strip: Iron Man
Cover date: January 30th, 1988
Script: Simon Furman
Artwork: Anderson/Baskerville/White (story) Paris/Burns (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Primus
Synopsis:By Adam Hogg
An epic clash with Primus left the dark god Unicron trapped in the centre of an asteroid. But over time he began to shape his prison.
One of the most significant issues in the Transformers comic series, even though it never featured stateside. The origin of the Transformers no less, and something that was desperately in need of explaining after the events of Transformers: The Movie. The cartoon series had tackled the issue by claiming that Transformers were created by Quintessons as a race of servants, and this was comic's explanation.
Deep below the surface of the planet of Junk - Earth date 2008. Wreck-Gar's mission is to lay enough explosives to wipe out the new improved head and shoulders - of Unicron! Failure is not an option as his entire race has been brainwashed by the would be universe dominator. As he puts the finishing touches to huge mound of high explosives, Wreck-Gar can only wonder why Unicron has failed to detect his presence - perhaps he just has something else on his mind?
Death's Head plummets through the vast realm that is Unicron's consciousness - while ghostly apparitions of the demi-god laugh at the unfortunate who dared to underestimate him. Nevertheless Unicron is once again impressed at this creature's mental strength, even if it is not clear what he had hoped to achieve by launching an assault on the psychic plane. The bounty hunter had hoped to battle Unicron on equal terms but now, as a giant hand materialises around him, he realises he is out of his depth here too. Unicron will execute his troublesome slave in time but for now he is impressed by Death's Head's audacity, and as a last request he will share with him a story unheard of by any mortal - the origin of Unicron!!
Meanwhile back in the real world, Rodimus Prime's shuttle soars towards the planet of Junk. The knowledge of Unicron's return haunts him. Just who is he and why is he hell bent on destroying Cybertron and its inhabitants? As the planet of Junk nears, Prime watches Smokescreen at the ships controls - the Autobot who had little choice but to abandon Wreck-Gar, when along with Inferno they had discovered Unicron's resurrection. This scrutiny does not go unnoticed by Smokescreen, who himself curses the decision - he can only pray that Wreck-Gar is okay.
Back inside Unicron's mind, Death's Head watches as Unicron displays images of godlike beings who existed when the Universe was in its infancy. Primus, leader of the light gods, had existed to protect all life in the universe while his counterpart Unicron had sworn to destroy it. As they fought the universe shook - suns imploded and entire worlds were destroyed - it seemed the cosmic battle could destroy all Primus held sacred. In a final desperate push he attacked Unicron on the astral plane before fleeing back to the physical world. Unicron, sensing his opposite number was wounded, had blindly followed only to find that Primus had tricked him. Instead of returning to their energy forms both materialised within enormous barren asteroids. With the path to their energy forms now behind them both drifted helplessly for countless millennia... But Unicron never lost his burning desire for revenge, and this hatred gave him strength to reshape his prison - becoming a monster planet! And finally after countless more millennia he was able to restructure himself further, gaining the ability to shift between planet mode and a form not unlike his original body - in effect he had become the first Transformer!
But while Unicron metamorphosed, Primus had not been idle either. He had shaped his body into a vast habitable world which he populated with beings designed to mimic Unicron's ability - the Transformers. Although billions of light years apart, Primus and Unicron shared a mental link. Primus ultimately knew of Unicron's plan to destroy the Universe, and in turn Unicron knew how Primus intended to stop him. He had installed his great life essence within a genetic Matrix, which was as capable of creating life and it was at destroying Unicron's. Until the Matrix was secured, any attack on Primus would be suicide, and so Unicron created servants - Galvatron, Cyclonus and Scourge, to capture it. But Galvatron betrayed Unicron, and allowed it to fall into the hands of the Autobot's new leader Rodimus Prime. At his touch the Matrix opened and spread its power through Unicron - ultimately destroying. But once again Primus had underestimated Unicron - who was reborn from the faintest spark, and when the Junkions construct his new body he shall return to Cybertron and...
Suddenly his concentration is broken as Rodimus Prime's shuttle blasts at Unicron in the real world, forcing Unicron to return there. Although immobile, Unicron fires his deadly eye lasers at the tiny shuttle, and commands the hundreds of Junkions to grab their weapons and attack - but as before Death's Head resists. He raises his gun to Unicron who promptly fires an eye beam hard into the ground which Death's head does well to avoid. At that moment directly below ground, the force of the blast sends Wreck-Gar tumbling inside the underground shaft. While the countdown continues, Wreck-Gar lays helpless with most of his body under tons of rubble!!
Naturally the comic's origin is nothing to be taken lightly and because of this there area lot of divided opinions. It is hard to imagine how Simon Furman could have possibly come up with anything more at contrast to the cartoon's origin, with battling gods from the dawn of time revealed as the original identities of Unicron and now his newly introduced nemesis Primus - who is in fact Cybertron!
To be honest I was never too happy about the 'gods' scenario myself (I consider myself an atheist, but that is neither here nor there), so perhaps I would have just preferred something more reasonable and believable (as believable as Transforming robots from outer space anyway). I can't really say I was overwhelmed at the time, but I guess the Movie did throw up lots of difficult to explain questions, and in the end I realise it was a reasonable attempt by Furman (it certainly created a great end to the comic series). A few revelations that are of interest, such as Unicron being the first Transformer (quite a clever way of explaining this - him shaping the asteroid into a planet, and then the desire to appear as his original form). And with Unicron the first Transformer, Primus created the Transformers to deliberately "mimic" his ability, which I guess answers that lifelong question "why do transformers transform?".
The art is not that bad this week, and I suppose Jeff Anderson has a better than normal day at the office, but I can't help thinking that he draw's Unicron to favourably. The ultimate evil just doesn't seem scary enough, and unlike most of the other artists Anderson draws him without the much needed sharp teeth, and some very suspect, almost friendly expressions (I never liked Dan Reed's art, but one thing he managed to get was Unicron looking evil).
Steve says: I can agree with Crespo's reservations about the origin scenario to a certain extent. Up until this point the comic had been about waring machines and to suddenly introduce a theological aspect in the form light gods seems strikingly out of place. But Furman has weaved a clever tale here that neatly explains the evolution of the Transformers (and Cybertron) as well as Unicron's motivations in wanting to destroy them. Arguably the foundations for this mystical element already exist, thanks to Transformers: The Movie and its treatment of the Matrix as a sacred lifeforce. Like most fiction Transformers has always been about the battle between good and evil and this story simply takes it to a higher level. Primus and Unicron are two sides of the same coin and probably cannot exist without one another. Yet both are intent on achieving supremacy over the other. While Unicron focuses on restoring his own power by reshaping his asteroid prison as an all powerful body, Primus selflessly decides to remain dormant within the core of a planet. He knows that if he were to become a Transformer the same as Unicron, then the stalement would be restored. Instead he creates new life to end the cycle and carry on after him, and gives them a helping hand against Unicron by creating the Matrix. It's a matter of opinion as to whether he did the right thing, as some may say that Primus wimped out by creating the Transformers to fight Unicron for him. Overall though an excellent story which is fitting for the landmark 150th issue.