Transformers UK: Issue #178
Story: The Cosmic Carnival (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: 13th August, 1988
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Frank Springer (story) Stephen Baskerville (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Big Top, Berko
Synopsis:By Adam Hogg
Optimus is horrified to find human children on display to visitors of the Cosmic Carnival.
From somewhere in deepest space comes a strange serpent like spacecraft, weaving through the void its origin unknown and its destination unclear. Against the dark backdrop of the cosmos, powerful beams of light are projected to all corners of the galaxy - the cosmic carnival! In a nearby sector of space, the Autobot spacecraft 'Steelhaven' continues its journey from Nebulous to Earth (see last issue). Inside, Goldbug and the Autobot Powermasters watch as Optimus Prime projects images for the benefit of their new Nebulan companions - Hi Q, Rev, Hotwire, and Lube. Images of Cybertron, and the painful war that has raged there for millions of years, and images of Earth where the conflict has continued. The Autobots are sworn to rid Earth of the Decepticon threat before they can return to Cybertron, but all this talk is just making Goldbug homesick. Hi Q admits that he and his fellow Nebulans are also homesick, but with recent events tying their fates to the Powermasters this preparation is vital.
Suddenly another projection fills the room, creating a holographic image which surprises them all. On show are strange and exotic creatures from 10,000 different planets, daring performers and death defying stunts baned in some parts of the galaxy. Joyride and Slapdash are both impressed, although Getaway ridicules it as nothing more than a freak show, and Prime adds that they have little time to make a detour as dozens of Autobots are still stranded on the Moon awaiting Steelhaven's return (see UK#175). Suddenly something catches all their attention, the main atraction Sky Lynx the mechanical marvel! The Autobots have no idea what a comrade would be doing at the carnival, and Optimus Prime suggests they find out right away...
Later, after the Steelhaven has docked alongside the Cosmic Carnival, Goldbug and Optimus Prime (in his standard guise, and not combined with his trailer) walk down the packed central parade. The steep admission charge only allowed for the pair of them, where inside they witness the many strange and exotic aliens that make up both the exhibits and the visitors. The carnival is so big that Prime and Goldbug just follow the crowds for the time being, when suddenly the pair notice a human employee of the carnival, calling for crowds to witness one of the most amazing, astonishing, and rare animals in the galaxy - Earth Children!! Prime and Goldbug are shocked to see the four Spacehikers (see UK#144), Jed, Alen, Sammy, and Robin, cruely locked away in a makeshift human environment, and looking very glum. The four children are tired of performing and make disappointing attractions, and so Berko (the human employee of the carnival) warns them that they aren't doing themselves any favours. Prime steps in to question what the hell Berko is doing holding children obviously against their will? Goldbug reaches forward to try and help the children, but is painfully shocked by the invisible forcefield holding the kids back. Prime demands to see who is in charge, and Berko agrees to take them to the boss, but warns them it wont do any good.
The Autobots are led by Berko into the chamber belonging to the Carnival proprietor 'Mr Big Top' (a giant cigar smoking slug?!?)! Transformers are very rare visitors to the carnival, and 'Big Top' shows his apreciation by slapping his slimy tentacles around Prime and Goldbug. Berko is told to make sure that they both have a great day, but Prime draws his attention to the four Earth children, who 'Big Top' reveals have a legitimate contract to perform along with Sky Lynx. They have a small debt to pay off and as soon as it is cleared they are all free to go. Finally 'Big Top' hands the Autobots two passes for the main event, giving them the best seats in the house. As the Autobots depart, the angry and two faced 'Big Top' quietly warns Berko that any further problems from these Autobots and he will be held responsible...
Soon in the huge main arena, Optimus Prime and Goldbug ponder the situation as the show begins to start. In a cage suspended high above the arena sits Sky Lynx, who jumps out and soars around the arena before transforming mid-air into his Lynx mode and then leaping from tiny platforms. For the grand finale Sky Lynx plummets dangerously towards the ground before transforming at the last minute into his shuttle mode and skimming the ground before landing safely. The crowd give him a rapturous applause, however there are two in the crowd who do not join in, and as the show finishes Prime and Goldbug make their way backstage to confront Sky Lynx. His story had better be good...
This story is a big disappointment compared to what's been going on recently, and rates as one of the worst stories in my opinion. Not too much happens storywise, and it's really just used to explain what happened to SkyLynx and the Spacehikers who have been absent since UK#144 (not to many people cared though). The idea of a cosmic carnival is pretty dismal, with its wide variety of aliens and visitors from all over the galaxy a bit suspect, although it does serve to further expand the Transformers galaxy, which was first hinted upon during "Deadly Games" (UK#170). Also I cant help but see 'Big Top' as a rip off of Jabba the Hutt.
Its also a disappointment to see Prime in his regular mode and not combined with his trailer after the big introduction last issue. I admit its nice to know that Prime can still become his regular self when necessary, but I can remember being very annoyed after all the build-up (especially since Prime wont be back in the comic until UK#194).