Transformers UK: Issue #180

Story: The Big Broadcast of 2006 (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: 20th August, 1988
Price: 35p
Script: Ralph Macchio
Artwork: Allan Kupperberg (story) Lee Sullivan (cover)
UK bits: Simon Furman/Lee Sullivan
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Torturer, The Quintessons


Synopsis:

By Adam Hogg

The Quintessons are determined to retrieve their lost canister and will go to some extraordinary lengths!

Typical isn't it? One of the worst story's ever produced, and it brings up more points than I care to note, not least due do its pointless appearance over in the US, but the amount of problems it created in the UK (why didn't we just skip it?).

A distant planet, Earth date 2008. Junkion leader Wreck-Gar finds himself a prisoner of some mysterious beings, and at the mercy of a torturer with a very high reputation. Painfully shackled against a wall with his moustache (?) singed, and what looks like electrodes on his nipples (??), Wreckgar screams out in pain as he is once again asked for the whereabouts of the elusive 'canister'! As his sinister hosts remain out of sight, Wreck-Gar reluctantly calls time - he will talk.

If they sitting comfortably, he shall begin...

It is the year 2006, and a large spacecraft soars over the planet of Junk, dispatching Sharkticons as it passes. These creatures search feverishly through the endless debris for an almost sacred object destined to play a major role in 'The Big Broadcast of 2006'! Nearby, the Junkion leader Wreck-Gar, and his lady friend (?) enjoy their favourite pastime of watching Television. Suddenly with a grunt of delight one of the Sharkticons lifts a large canister over his head, only for Wreckgar (wasn't he just watching TV?) to blast is free as he and his warriors surround the Sharkticons. In orbit above the planet, the sinister Quintessons aboard their spacecraft watch these events unfold, and curse the intervention of the Junkions. On screen the Sharkticons are helplessly outgunned, and retreat back to the Quintesson ship, while back on the surface the canister lays among countless tons of space garbage.

Much later, and the Quintessons continue to monitor the actions of the Junkions below, who have resumed normal service of watching Earth Television. As the US flag appears signalling nightly service shutdown, the Quintessons realise that the Junkions entire culture is based upon primitive TV transmissions from Earth. They defend their territory fiercely, and recovering the canister will prove a difficult task - the Quintessons require a more subtle means.

The next morning and the Junkions hear a strange music over Junk, and en mass they head towards its source - a giant Television screen! The show begins, while above the planet the watching Qintessons hope that their 'gift' is appreciated. It is time for the 'reprogramming', and as switches are flicked, the TV signal from Earth is infused with the Quintesson's hypnotic commands. Not a Junkion stirs as the movie (Crambo!!) begins. While behind the epic adventures of this musclebound hero, a mysterious voice tells the Junkions that all other lifeforms are their enemies!!

A short while later on Cybertron, Rodimus Prime and Ultra Magnus are overseeing a rebuilding project when suddenly Sky Lynx soars into view. He has been doing some reconaissance work and reports of very strange things happening on Junk. Prime praises Sky Lynx for his hard work and names him as one of the best Autobots about! The Aerialbots shall travel to Junk immediatly to try and discover what is going on. Elsewhere in space, Astrotrain in his shuttle mode decends towards the Charr asteroid, where the Decepticons are currently based. Astrotrain has also been monitoring the planet of Junk and reports the strange activities to Galvatron, who angrily smashes him into the wall - what the hell does he care for the Junkions!?? Cyclonus steps in to suggest they enslave the Junkions to battle the Autobots, but Galvatron is still unmoved.

Aboard the Quintesson ship, the masterminds behind all this watch as the Junkions neatly organise all the junk on their planet, as ordered by the Quintessons! A Junkion suddenly holds up the canister ready for placing on the 'tube pile' - the Quintessons must immediatly retreive it. They cloak their ship using a giant cloud of gas as they approach the planet so as not to draw any attention. Elsewhere above Junk, the Aerialbots are surveying the situation - nothing unusual so far, just a giant dust cloud! The Quintesson leader spots the approaching Autobots and orders an immediate assault before they are discovered (?), and as the Junkions on the surface return fire on the Quintesson craft, the Aerialbots are caught in the crossfire. Air Raid calls for his comrades to form Superion, but they are too busy avoiding the enemy fire. Fireflight meanwhile reverts to his robot mode and uses his 'Photon Displacer Gun' to make both the Aerialbots and the Quintessons invisible (??)...

The Junkions on the surface are puzzled at the disapearance of the enemy, while the sheilded Aerialbots quickly combine to form Superion, who immediatly squares up with the now visible Quintesson ship (Superion sounds surprised, and yet Fireflight said it was a Quintesson ship a few panels earlier?). His huge frame is still unable to penertrate the craft's hull , but this charging is reverberating dangerously within. The Quintessons increase the forcefield power which pushes Superon back, who in turn fires his gun full power hoping to overload the forcefield. Suddenly the sky is filled with an amazing light as the shield is destroyed, sending Superion hurtling towards the surface of Junk, while the Quintesson craft pulls off a stratigic withdrawl.

A short distance away, Cyclonus and Scourge watch the Quintesson retreat - something very strange is going on!!!

******

Comments:

This issue finally introduces the Quintessons into the comic series. They of course feature prominently in the Movie and subsequent cartoon episodes.

Before getting down to the actual plot, its worth mentioning that this story was printed before 'The Cosmic Carnival' over in the States. We can assume it went straight into the US continuity as an alternate future, but even so it still doesn't explain why it appeared at all. The UK printing included two additional pages (one at the start of this issue, and the other at the end of next). This was necessary to fit this confused story into the UK's more complex continuity.

I'm not too hot on the cartoon series as a whole, so direct comparissons will be at a minimum, but this isn't the first time that events from it have found their way into the comic. Previous efforts such as 'The Decepticon Dambusters' (UK#29-30), and the 'Transformers: The Movie" adaption were very average, but this one actually manages to be worse than both.

Aside from minor cartoon traits such as flying Autobots, the most obvious problem is that most of the future characters are making their US debut. So previous UK characterisation and continuity is missing (read: most of these characters shouldn't even be here). Also, the Quintessons played a much greater part in the cartoon series, and were actually responsible for creating the Transformers, with text to this effect not being removed from this adaption (so perhaps the US comic was hinting on this origin?). The UK produced page at the start conveniently reduces the entire story to a tale told by Wreck-Gar, which kindly gives the UK letters page a repreive, and allows us to dismiss everything thankfully.

Overall the story lacks substance to the extreme, and progresses with about the same subtlety as any similar cartoon episode - ie none! The strange hypnotic television scenario is exactly the kind of thing you would expect from the cartoon series too (I know it's been done before in the comic with hypnotising car washes, but let's just leave that for now). Overall neither the Autobots or Decepticons get really involved. Not much is revealed about the elusive canister either, or what's so important about it, but hopefuly that will be explained next week.

The Art by Alan Kupperberg must rate as some of the worst for a long time, with some truly terrible character renditions beneath the not unusually average US artwork.

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