Transformers UK: Issue #158
Story: The Desert Island of Space (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: 26th March, 1988
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jose Delbo (story) Dan Reed (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Buster finds himself castaway on the Decepticon's deadly desert island
On a solitary island off the Florida Keys, Buster Witwicky slowly stirs into consciousness. The Autobot's human friend finds himself on a scenic beach with the sun beating down and the ocean lapping at his feet. For a moment he forgets he is a captive of the Decepticons until the towering figures of Shockwave and Rabat loom over him.
Ratbat is unhappy at Shockwave's decision not to terminate this troublesome flesh creature, and even more so when he must expend energy and fuel catching fish for Buster to eat. Shockwave points to an armada of human battleships arriving on the horizon, and suggests that the presence of this 'hostage' will be enough to halt their attack. For the moment at least it suits Decepticon interests to keep Buster alive.
Aboard the flagship of the human fleet, Triple III director Forest Forsythe watches the Decepticons through his binoculars. A helicopter lands on deck and Walter Barnett steps out to advise his boss. He has brought along some experts on the Decepticons in the form of the five Throttlebots whose brains were recently transplanted into toy cars (see issues 155-156). Barnett finds out that Buster a captive on the island and places a call to Sparkplug Witwicky, the boy's father. At the same time Sparkplug is being visited by his elder son Spike (who unknown to him has recently become 'binary bonded' to the leader of the Autobot Headmasters). Barnett won't tell Sparkplug where Buster is because the information is classified, but Spike's new abilities allow him to trace the call simply by holding the phone wire! This act blows his cover and he is forced to remove his raincoat to reveal the Autobot armour that he now wears.
Spike takes his father to the hotel balcony where the headless Fortress Maximus and Cerebros are standing in the car park. Spike transforms into the head of Cerebros, who in turn transforms into Fort Max's head. The giant Autobot explains that he and Spike have now become one - and together they hope to rescue Buster from the Decepticons. The Autobot Targetmasters emerge from the foliage and announce themselves before joining their leader on board a shuttle bound for the Decepticon island. The Targetmasters are loyal but one of them, Kup, has serious misgivings about Spike who he feels is too sentimental for war - andlikely to lead them all to the junkyard!
Back at the naval fleet, a trigger-happy Forsythe spots the shuttle heading for the island and orders it to be blasted out of the sky. The Throttlebots protest that the craft is carrying Autobots who are there to help and Barnett backs them up. Forsythe cannot believe that he is expected to take orders from a *$@# toy car! (hehe).
After introducing the Headmasters last issue it is turn of the Targetmasters this time. In the US the Headmasters saga appeared as its own four part series, seperate of the monthly Transformers title. Since its possible that some Transformers readers may not have collected the other book, writer Bob Budiansky obviously felt he should re-introduce the characters to this wider audience. This wasn't a problem for the UK as we experienced Headmasters as the back-up strip, and also in the main strip in the Worlds Apart story. An interesting sub plot is developing with Spike as he struggles to establish himself as leader. He is barely out of college so its no wonder that his followers have doubts. Kup is the most vocal and thinks Spike's preoccupation with rescuing his brother will lead to trouble. I'm intrigued by the 'new abilities' that Spike's suit grants him. He can trace phone calls apparently (without calling 1471!!) simply by touching a wire! Presumably there are lots of enhancements made as a result of binary bonding but I don't think there's ever another time that this is explored.
Triple I, who we know are not the brightest bunch, are now having trouble with the most basic maths! Walter Barnett turns up saying he's got six Throttlebots in his suitcase, when actually its five as Goldbug is missing. Then mentions Goldbug as the seventh member of the team!!! The UK crew spotted it for the reprint but missed a panel. Another thing: Hotrod's targetmaster gun is named as Sparks when he is actually Firebolt.