Transformers UK: Issue #175

Story: Totalled! (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: July 16th, 1988
Price: 35p
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jose Delbo (story) Lee Sullivan (cover)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Slapdash, Joyride, Getaway


Synopsis:

By Adam Hogg

Blaster and Grimlock do battle on the Moon to decide who will lead the Autobots!

Every Autobot has assembled on the moon to witness the battle for the Autobot leadership between Grimlock and Blaster (who is fighting on behalf of Fortress Maximus). Omega Supreme signals the start of the battle by blasting an Energon Cube, creating a flash of light in the silent vacuum.

Sword drawn, Grimlock immediately advances with a huge slice, while Blaster displays his incredible agility by ducking and diving. Blaster hits the sword with a burst of circuit scrambling energy, giving him time to kick Grimlock high through the air. Grimlock transforms into dino-mode as he lands and immediately counters with a devastating bite on Blaster's right arm. The assembled Autobots watch in horror while the Dinobots seem to be enjoying the show.

Blaster rolls back and throws Grimlock high through the air and out of the ring before following. As the battle takes them further and further away, Prowl complains about the lack of a view and Beachcomber taunts him for wanting to see the violence. But he never finishes the sentence as suddenly huge blasts rain down on the massed Autobot ranks. It is the Decepticon's desert island spacecraft launching a surprise assault! The Ark is the first to face the barrage and Ratbat is delighted to see that at least a quarter of the Autobots have been injured in the strike. He orders Onslaught to lead the Decepticons outside to finish off the remainder.

The Autobots remain on the back foot as every available Decepticon drops down from above - while away from the conflict the Constructicons have their own job to do. The six land out of sight, where they transform and proceed to rip through the Ark's hull. Meanwhile, Smokescreen (I think) is painfully put out of commission by Soundwave, who kindly recites his tech specs motto for our enjoyment (or close enough anyway). While elsewhere Brawn is hit heavily by Swindle, who sees great potential for the Autobots as spare parts. Aboard the Decepticon spacecraft, commander Ratbat watches the carnage unfold with growing delight, while Buster Witwicky cannot hide his disbelief.

Back on the battlefield, Fortress Maximus curses himself for allowing this to happen (they where all so busy watching the battle), but at least he left someone aboard the Steelhaven to protect it unlike the Ark. A brief glance in its direction shows the Constructicons now loading up the previously captured Decepticons (see UK#71) and escaping with them. The Ark is in ruins and now Steelhaven is coming under heavy attack. Fort Max suddenly orders Goldbug to flee the battle with the few warriors left on Steelhaven, giving him secret orders and no room to question them.

Moments later and Goldbug is speeding towards Steelhaven, while several miles away, the stalemate between Grimlock and Blaster has continued undisturbed. Blaster notices the explosions in the distance, and tries to draw Grimlock's attention. The Dinobot suspects a trick but is soon convinced to a temporary truce, and the pair depart to investigate. Meanwhile Goldbug enters Steelhaven with his important orders - the Ark is in ruin and they are to depart immediately, much to the surprise of Joyride, Getaway and Slapdash, who would all rather be seeing some action. High above the battlefield, Blaster and Grimlock survey the carnage below, when suddenly the Steelhaven soars into the air, making Grimlock believe that this is possibly another trick from 'Fullstrength Motleypuss' (Fortmax). Blaster tells him that this is for real, and it happened due to them being so wrapped up in their personal feud that they were blind to everything else. Above everything else they are Autobots and its about time they acted like it.

Grimlock offers Blaster a draw, which is gratefully accepted, and the pair spring into action. With two of the most powerful Autobots joining the battle the tide begins to turn, but as Buster watches with renewed delight from aboard the Decepticon craft, Ratbat has one final trick up his sleeve. Blaster's weapon is ineffective as the ship hovers menacingly above, when suddenly Grimlock hurls his energo sword towards it, cutting through the energy sheild and allowing Blaster to hit the Spacecraft with a burst from his electro scrambler. The island Spacecraft begins to shake violently due to dangerously overloaded circuits and Ratbat orders his stunned troops back aboard and into retreat.

The Decepticon ship departs the moon with Grimlock insisting they follow, but Blaster convinces him to hold back: There has been enough fighting for one day. Grimlock agrees that they work better together than against each other. As they survey the battlefield the wounded lay all around, and with the Ark so severely damaged they have no choice but to repair it before even attempting to repair their comrades. Grimlock asks if Steelhaven can help but Fortress Maximus reveals that the ship has an alternative mission to fulfil. The whole episode has convinced Max that neither he, Blaster or Grimlock is truly fit to lead them. They need Optimus Prime and Goldbug has been ordered to guide Steelhaven to the one place in the galaxy that possesses the technology to construct a Transformer body - the planet Nebulos.

******

Comments:

Again we have more fresh appearances from long absent characters, so its nice to see the likes of the Insecticons and Constructicons who have been absent for a long while (well not in action anyway), and typically most of the Autobots ressurected for last issue now find themselves on the treatment table again after the Decepticon attack (DOH!!!).

I didnt actually count for sure, but it does see like a desperate mismatch for this battle in the Autobots favour, as we not only have the full count of regular Autobots but also the super powerful Autobot Pretenders/Head/Target Masters (obviously suffering from post traumatic toy flogging syndrome, and therfore not even half as powerful as on their debut). Still with bots like Fortmax, Jetfire and Omega Supreme also weighing up the battle, the Decepticons do seem unlikely victors. The Grimlock and Blaster battle is incredibly even, and so its a big come down in the very late issues when Grimlock finally comes good as Autobot leader, and Blaster is reduced to a pretty substandard warrior.

This issue sees some minor changes to the Decepticons recoverd from the Ark, which differs in the UK continuity due to 4 of them having escaped in earlier UK stories (Starscream, Thundercracker, and Frenzy where freed during Target 2006, while Skywarp was blown to peices in the same story). The US edition show Starscream, Frenzy and others being recovered, while the UK edition just shows Buzzsaw and Rumble, who are the only two left unaccounted for (nice of the Deepticons to go to trouble of rescuing just these two). [Nice of the Autobots to package them in conveniently labeled boxes too! - Steve]

Overall Totalled is a reasonably nice story, finally clearing up the unfinished business from way back in issue #144, and kindly putting an end to one of the most fraustrating scenarios in the comic's run - Grimlock's first stint as leader. The impending return of Optimus Prime draws ever closer, as is painfully predictable too as we have a crew made up of Slapdash, Joyride, and Getaway, who are the other Powermaster toys now already in the shops.

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