Transformers UK: Issue #179
Story: The Cosmic Carnival (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: 20th August, 1988
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Frank Springer (story) Jerry Paris (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Adam Hogg
Goldbug is declaring the Space Hiker's contract null and void, but Big Top has other ideas!
En Route from Nebulos to the Moon, Prime and Goldbug had broken off their journey to discover why Sky Lynx is now performing at The Cosmic Carnival, and why the four human children under his care are now prisoners there (see UK#144). After watching his circus performance last issue, Prime and Goldbug now confront Sky Lynx backstage, who explains his situation... Whilst returning the Spacehikers to Earth in his shuttle mode, a holographic advert for the Cosmic Carnival had materialised before them, and the children begged him to take them there. Upon arrival, the sights where so amazing that Sky Lynx almost blew a fuse, and the children where having the time of their lives - until Berko showed up. He insisted that they either pay up, or take a hike, but with none of the universaly accepted forms of currency, Sky Lynx was offered the chance to perform as payment. Right away he became a big hit, but in the meantime, Berko had put the children in the sideshow, where they became equally as popular. Earth children are a rarity in these space circuses, and Sky Lynx reveals that their cage is rigged so that any rescue would be impossible, and only Berko can open it. Berko has asured Sky Lynx that his debt is almost paid, but Sky Lynx wonders if that day will ever come... Prime also wonders, when suddenly Berko appears backstage to tell these potentially troublesome Autobots to leave. Goldbug once again asks for the children to be set free, but Berko wont risk Big Top's wrath, and so the Autobots depart to seemingly pay their fairwells to the children.
Shortly afterwards, the homesick Spacehikers are dismayed that they are being left behind. Prime explains that he too would love to go home, but you can sometimes have important duties elsewhere, and turning to Berko, Prime asks why he *chooses* not to go home. Berko only has bad memories of Earth! He had no family or friends, and no job worth keeping. He lived alone and this suited him, living from his car and tent travelling through the wilderness. Then one night a beam shone around him, the carnival had zapped him aboard, and promptly caged him like just another miserable sideshow freak. But then he began to cooperate, doing tricks to impress the crowds, and getting himself noticed by Big Top. As a reward Berko became a trustee, and eventually boss of the sideshow. After snagging the spacehikers they where put in his old cage, and as long as they remain there then he wont ever have to worry about going back. This is the best he has ever done in his life, and freeing the kids isnt worth it for Prime's rusty hide.
Prime offers to take him back to Earth, realsising that Berkos words are edged with sadness. Berko knows that what he is doing is wrong, and is surprised at the offer of help, it is more than anyone has offered him before. Berko finally agrees - he and Goldbug shall escape with the children, while Prime should return to the arena to get Sky Lynx, who is back on in just a few minutes.
Over at the arena, Prime again watches the show begin, and on Sky Lynx's cue he springs into action, transforming and telling Sky Lynx to play along and land on him. The crowd cheer as Prime is confronted by a wall of viscous looking performers, and the ringmaster (who looks a lot like Big Top - and could possibly be him) orders them not to let either escape. Elsewhere Berko uses a laser key to open the Spacehikers' cage, and they all climb into Goldbug's VW Beetle mode. Meanwhile Prime is driving around the arena dodging aliens left right and centre, while Sky Lynx who is hanging on as best he can is ordered off to fight off some giant lizard. Prime is now faced by a daredevil motorcyclist after a deadly game of chicken with his razorshapr wheels, but amazingly Prime dodges at the last minute, and the dardevil crashes over Sky Lynx behind. With the crowd still cheering, the two Autobots stand and take a bow before departing.
Back at the sideshow the humongous Big Top bars the way between Goldbug and the exit. He isnt happy about this doublecross and hauls the tiny car into the wall. The passengers are surprisingly unharmed, but for how long as Big Top wrenches them out using his tentacles. With his back turned on Goldbug, the dazed Autobot reverses at speed, sending Big Top flying into the empty cage (he conveniently drops the five humans). Berko then slams the door shut and locks it, before they all speed off... Later, aboard the Autobot starcruiser 'Steelhaven', the Autobots and spicehikers are all reunited. Goldbug hopes that they never run into Big Top again, but unless he knows how to pick a lock, then Berko is confident there is nothing to worry about. Meanwhile back at the sideshow, we see a far from happy Big Top staring evily at the assembled carnival visitors around his cage - one says: "Ha ha, isnt that the stupidest looking creature, Honeyslug?"...
The conclusion to 'The Cosmic Carnival' actually offers some action when compared to the first part, but even then it's nothing special. The entire situation of Sky Lynx and the spacehikers performing is a strange one, by insisting on paying to enter they seem to be asking for trouble, and when Sky Lynx is conned into performing - if the contract was legitimate, then didnt he read it first? Also its been eight months in the UK since the Spacehikers last appeared, so they have been missing from Earth for absolutely ages. For children they dont seem to be mentally broken, or all that dirty considering they've been in the same clothes all this time. Berko betrays Big Top without too much encouragement so they couldn't have been that close - is it any wonder he had no friends back on Earth? And when Goldbug reverses into Big Top at the end, how come Big Top drops all the humans before flying spectacularly into the empty cage (the fact that he's larger than an elephant, and Goldbug is a small car is another matter altogether!!). And lastly, if Big top has friends (similar aliens) then surely they can free him, Berko cant have the only pair of keys.. can he?