Transformers UK: Issue #159
Story: The Desert Island of Space (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: 2nd April, 1988
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jose Delbo (story) Will Simpson/Dave Elliot (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
The Witwicky brothers have a brief reunion in space after Spike's showdown with Shockwave... but then Buster is gone!
On the Caribbean island that serves as cover for the Decepticon undersea base, Buster is elated to see an Autobot rescue craft arrive. The Targetmasters pour on to the beach along with Fortress Maximus (who has been newly bonded to Buster's elder brother Spike). Kup tells the Autobot leader that his emotions could endanger the mission, and suggests that he leave the Targetmasters to retrieve Buster while he provides cover. Max reluctantly agrees and transforms into battle station mode while the others go ahead.
Hundreds of feet below, Shockwave monitors the situation from within the Decepticon control room. He orders the island's weaponry to be activated and giant laser cannons emerge from the ground and start laying waste to the Autobot invaders. Buster takes cover and watches in horror as his saviours are forced to retreat. Suddenly the whole island shakes and an enormous glass dome surfaces and encloses the island surface. The base is transforming in a huge rocket that now starts to take off - with Buster a helpless passenger!
Fortress Maximus realises that he must take matters into his own hands if he is to rescue his 'brother' and leaps on to the ship as it blasts off! The other Targetmasters think Kup earlier words have proven true and sentiment has got the better of their leader - but Kup now wonders whether he was too harsh. This Spike clearly has guts - and that he can respect.
Meanwhile Buster has been rendered unconscious by the g-forces involved in blasting off and now awakens to find himself staring at the blackness of space - with Earth directly below. The Decepticons study their view screen and see Fort Max hanging on to the side of the ship, fuel auditor Ratbat is most unhappy citing this as further evidence of Shockwave's incompetence. The Decepticon leader now has something to prove and activates the ship's external defences. A huge pitch fork (???) ejects Fort Max from the hull, while a harpoon fired from a palm tree in the island section (no really!) spears his chest. Fortress Maximus' new improved body is a wreck but luckily he can still transform his head into Cerebros and resume the attack.
Shockwave, stung by Ratbat's constant criticism, takes matters into his own hands and flies outside in space gun mode to confront the Autobot. One blast puts Cerebros out of commission but as Spike ejects and transforms, he commands Fortress Maximus' body to blast Shockwave. The shot sends the Decepticon commander reeling and he is caught up in Earth's gravitational pull, and sucked down in a spectacular fireball. Ratbat smugly watches the view screen and knows that this is his chance to take command of the Decepticons.
Spike and Buster come face to face on opposite sides of the island dome. The elder Witwicky promises his brother that he will find a way to free him - but there is no possibility as the Decepticon craft suddenly accelerates away, leaving Spike marooned in Earth's orbit. Presently the shuttle arrives and collects him, along with the damaged remains of Fortress Maximus. Spike is crestfallen by his failure to rescue Buster and as leader of the Autobots - because of him Max got trashed. Kup disagrees, and insists it is they who should be sorry - for not showing more faith in Spike to begin with. Someone clearly as caring and heroic as he is deserving of respect - and Kup formally welcomes the newest Autobot aboard!
Gimmicks like the harpoon and pitchfork aside, I really like this issue. I enjoyed seeing Fortress Maximus taking matters into his own hands and battling in all three modes (Max, Cerebros and Spike). We find out that the Decepticon base has the capability to become a spaceship (perhaps these were the improvements the Seacons were working on in issue 152?). Strangely when the island blasts off it looks a hell of a lot smaller than is normally. The UK editors have made a couple of minor changes to this issue. When Shockwave is caught up in the planet's gravity he exclaims that he is 'falling to Earth' rather than burning up, which is what he says in the original text. I assume the reason they changed this is because Shockwave reappears on Earth in the next UK story. Ratbat shows himself as a true schemer when he decides to leave the Decepticon leader to his fate and take command himself. Ratbat has got to be the most unlikely Decepticon leader to date, but nice to see someone rising through the ranks for once.