Transformers UK: Issue #165

Story: City of Fear (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: May 14th, 1988
Price: 35p
Script: Simon Furman
Artwork: Dan Reed
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Its a bad day in Kalis for our heros as they find themselves surrounded by a horde of vicious robot zombies!

Ultra Magnus, the Sparklers, and Flywheels stand with open mouths as hordes of robotic corpses rise from their graves and surround them. With nowhere to run the only option is to fight their way out, something which they waste no time in doing.

As Magnus fends off several zombies he wonders how the hell they came to be reactivated - there must be some logical explanation he thinks. Flywheels, meanwhile, is totally swamped and transforms into his tank mode to speedily lay waste to his attackers. The Sparkabots hate to adopt a Decepticon tactic but they have to admit that it is the most effective, and they follow suite by transforming into vehicles and flame bathing the zombies with their engine output. Pretty soon the tide of the battle is turning, that is until Ultra Magnus notices that one of the zombies wears an Autobot insignia. He realises that they are potentially slaughtering their own troops, and orders the Sparklers to stop firing. Suddenly a corpse launches itself at Magnus and is instantly blown apart by a carefully placed shot from Flywheels. Magnus points his blaster at the Decepticon and tells him that the cease fire order applies to him too. The four transformers beat a strategic retreat while the zombie hordes regroup.

Shortly afterwards Magnus and the others gather in an abandoned building to plan their next move. Magnus thinks he has figured out what has activated the zombies - a powerful computer signal! He reminds the group that without a functioning brain module a robotic body is ripe for remote manipulation and it is likely that this is what's going on here. The question is who has gone to the trouble of reanimating the dead and for what purpose? Next of all, how can the zombies be stopped? Flywheels listens to this and accuses the Autobots of being dimwits - if the zombies are being controlled by computer transmission, he says, all they have to do is jam the signal!

Magnus awkwardly thanks the Decepticon for the idea and the suggestion that they make use of the 'Baird Beaming Transmitter' about ten kliks away. The Sparklers distract the zombies while Magnus and Flywheels approach the transmitting station. Once at the door Magnus leaves Flywheels to stand guard and is presented with a dilemma when the Decepticon asks to have his gun back. Magnus knows he needs Flywheels' help but he doesn't trust him, and for all he knows the slippery con could shoot him in the back once the zombie threat was over. He reluctantly hands over the weapon and goes inside. After a short interlude Magnus succeeds in isolating the frequency and jamming it. But his jubilation is swiftly ended when he turns to see Flywheels raising his blaster and firing! Luckily the Autobot is not his target and the shot catches a surviving zombie warrior instead. The automaton falls on his back with smoke pouring from a gaping hole on his chest. That's another one Magnus owes Flywheels.

They go outside and meet up with the Sparklers who report that the zombie threat is over and the dead are statistics once again. Fizzle asks Ultra Magnus if he was able to find out anything about the mysterious signal that reanimated the zombies. The answer is yes, Magnus tracked the signal alright, and it was coming from below them - hundreds of feet beneath the surface of Cybertron.

******

Comments:

What better way to follow an excellent first instalment than an equally inspired second part. Flywheels for me is the real star of the show as he shows the others how Decepticons get things done. His callous disregard for life is just the ticket for dealing with the zombie hordes and it's no wonder that he makes Magnus and co nervous. Worse still they find themselves thrown together with their 'prisoner' and forced to work with him to overcome a shared threat. However Magnus doesn't trust the Decepticon for a minute and neither do the readers, which is why the hairy moment at the end works so well. Having shut down the computer signal Magnus finds a loaded gun pointed at him and thinks Flywheels has turned, but in reality he is aiming at an attacking zombie. Why Flywheels decides to help is unclear. It might be that he thinks he might need Magnus' help in case the zombies are still a threat, or it could be that he's actually starting to like his new Autobot allies. We'll never know.

Artwise, I'm not so keen on the cover as Magnus' body shape seems a bit weird. But Dan Reed does a better job on the story and I notice he's starting to draw the funnel shaped blasters that were a trademark of his. Once again the Duocon gimmick of a transformer splitting into two vehicles is conveniently forgotten, and we see Flywheels straightforwardly transforming into a tank. Grimlock confirms in a subsequent letters page that the Duocons are more like triple changers in the comic. A shame. Apart from that though I found this two-parter most enjoyable. Have a read of the scans and see what you think.

One last thing - the Baird Beaming Transmitter? Is this named for John Logie Baird the inventor of television? I wonder...

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