Transformers UK: Issue #164

Story: City of Fear (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: May 7th, 1988
Price: 35p
Script: Simon Furman
Artwork: Dan Reed
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Flywheels, Battletrap


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


This Autobot non-entity pays the price after chancing a walk through Kalis, the city where the dead have risen!

Despite the bombed out buildings and wreckage-strewn streets, the city of Kalis was once considered relatively safe by Cybertron standards. These days it is a place where even Decepticon patrols fear to go, for rumour has it that the dead walk the streets in Kalis!

Our scene opens as a petrified Autobot warrior stumbles through the city streets in a desperate bid to get to the border. Noises close by startle him and he cannot shake the feeling that something not quite alive is following. Suddenly a half-decayed robotic corpse blocks his path. The wretched soul wears an Autobot badge but it says nothing. Then without warning it plunges a clawed hand through his victim's chest and watches the impassively as the unfortunate Autobot warrior falls to the ground.

Light years away, Ultra Magnus and Sparkabots - Sizzle, Fizzle and Guzzle - are preparing to say goodbye to Earth and return to their homeplanet of Cybertron. The Sparkabots' mission to spy on Galvatron is complete and it is time to report back to Emirate Xaaron and the Wreckers. An inter-dimensional portal materialises on cue and the quartet step through, emerging millions of miles away inside the Autobot headquarters in Kalis. But instead of being greeted by friendly faces the group finds the base in ruins and no sign of anyone. It looks like a massive battle was fought here but there is no sign of bodies so perhaps their friends are still alive? Fizzle looks around for clues and finds a minor mystery: a decapitated corpse which looks like its been dead for centuries, but strangely has fresh blaster damage. The others start to leave and Fizzle quickly discards the head and runs after them. As he disappears out the door the corpse's eyes suddenly spring to life!

After a short while the four Autobots discover that Kalis is a ghost town. The only lifeforms they see are Empties (Cybertronian down and outs) who flee at the sight of strangers. Magnus and his friends decide to transform into their vehicle modes and head for the neighbouring city of Tyrest, where hopefully they can get some answers. As they reach the border a heavily armoured Decepticon guard post attacks them. The Sparklers pick off the ground troops but are blasted unconscious by Flywheels and Battletrap in their airborne modes. Ultra Magnus is enraged at the sight of his fallen comrades and batters Flywheels with an iron girder, while Battletrap flees. The Autobot's greatest warrior then drags his friends back into Kalis where they find the unconscious Flywheels begining to stir.

The Decepticon curses his captors for bringing him to Kalis (why couldn't they just have killed him in Tyrest?). He tells them that the dead have risen here and their victims become like them, living zombies! Guzzle hopes this is some kind of joke but has to concede that a sense of humour is not a typical Decepticon trait. Seconds later dozens of zombie hands punch through the floor and sieze the legs of each Transformer! Magnus, the Sparkabots and Flywheels are about to become the latest victims of Kalis!

******

Comments:

This is one of my favourite UK stories. It reminds me a lot of the old B-movies like 'Invasion of the Bodysnatchers' with zombies walking the streets and preying on the living. The concept sounds like it would be ridiculous for Transformers but Simon Furman does a great job of making it work. So much so that the story stands out as one of high points of the year.

Once again the Sparkabots (or Sparkler minibots as they are sometimes called) are teamed up with Ultra Magnus. It's nice to see some lesser characters (Magnus excluded) getting the attention, likewise can be said of the Duocons Flywheels and Battletrap who debut this issue. The interesting feature of these Decepticons is that they seperate into two components when they transform - the upper body becoming a plane and the legs turning into a vehicle. Sadly for no other reason that plot convenience the writer has painted them more like triple changers in this story. So when Flywheels' plane mode is knocked out of the sky he is able to revert to full robot mode (rather than just an upper body). And in the next issue he transforms into a tank only, instead of tank and plane. It's a shame that the character's unique abilities are not explored.

Meanwhile the interdimensional space window makes a return and it seems like the Autobot scientist have been working hard to improve it. Back in issue 80 Ultra Magnus had a particularly uncomfortable journey through it but now it is quick and painless (who needs a space bridge?). The Autobot in the opening scene suffers from the Star Trek extra syndrome. We haven't seen him before and he's not part of the toy range, therefore we know he's gonna die!

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