Transformers UK: Issue #182
Story: Space Pirates (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: September 10th, 1988
Script: Simon Furman
Artwork: Dan Reed (story) Lee Sullivan (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: General Ghyrik, Lord Kledji, Sevax
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Just when Wreck-gar thought it was safe to go back in the water - it's the attack of the Sharkticons!
In the year 2008, somewhere in deep space, the planet Quintesson is dying. This bizarre looking world is being drawn into its own sun and is only days away from an inevitable, spectacular demise.
On the planet's surface desperation is setting in as Quintesson leadership debates the best course of action. A flashback reveals Sharkticon agents combing the galaxy, gathering intelligence on other metal worlds with a view to invasion. Their data was encoded inside a canister and propelled towards Quintesson but a cosmic storm threw it off course and it ended up in Junkion hands. Subsequent efforts to learn of its whereabouts by torturing the Junkion leader, Wreck-Gar, failed, and now the Quintesson's leader, Lord Kledji, says they must resort to plan B.
He dispatches the Sharkticon general Ghyrik to attack and secure their primary target - Autobot City, Earth - while General Jolup is to assemble the main fleet and await the signal.
In a nearby cell, Wreck-Gar is getting roughed up by his Sharkticon jailer, and then gets hauled into a court where a huge six-faced judge is presiding. In the dock is another helpless soul, who cowers as the Imperial Majestrix delivers his verdict - innocent - the sentence (as always) is death! The prisoner is released into a pit of hungry Sharkticons who devour him alive. It's not the way Wreck-Gar intends to go, and when the moment arises, he attacks his guard and throws him into the murky waters below. The Sharkticons are way too stupid to realise that they are attacking one of their own and get stuck into this second tasty offering with equal gusto.
Wreck-Gar picks up a blaster from somewhere (we don't see where) and fights his way outside. By some bizarre coincidence a speed boat is waiting and the Junkion gratefully hops aboard, before zooming away across the Quintesson rust sea. Hordes of Sharkticons pursue him and pretty soon they are ramming the boat and making it hard for Wreck-Gar to stay aboard. Finally he falls in and (still talking TV) exclaims his horror as he sees a swarm of metallic tail fins approaching! As Wreck-Gar gets engulfed, the scene switches to our own galaxy as a fleet of Quintesson ships lead by General Ghyrik emerges from hyper-drive. Autobot City is now within their sights!
After the appallingly bad Big Broadcast story (last two issues) it is quite a relief to have normal service resume. As many fans will know, the British comic reprinted all the material it's US cousin brought out (yes - even the crap stuff like BB2006) and arranged its own continuity around this. But as a rule the US comic never touched the post Transformers Movie era and this left some rich virgin terrority for the Brits to claim. Hardly surprising then that we got so many future epics from Mr Furman.
As a basis for this one, Simon has picked out elements from the BB2006 and woven them into a coherent tale (Hurrah! It wasn't a pointless mess after all!). We find out that the infamous canister from the last story, actually contained intelligence gathered by Quintesson agents about other worlds. With their world on its last legs they need to find a new home, and - not willing to go caps in hand - they have decided that invasion is the best method.
In the Movie the Quintessons were truly a strange bunch with their society seemed to be built around the notion of a kangaroo court. All they seemed to do was catch prisoners and execute them (regardless of the trial verdict) by dropping them into a pit of hungry Sharkticons! While it all sounds serious it was all rather silly. I'm not sure why the Quintessons wasted their time in this way when they could simply blast any trespassers and be done with it. Likewise the Junkions were equally odd with their TV obsession. Both races were gimmicky sideshows in the Movie and requiring a lot more development if they were to be the focus of a comic mini-series.
So in Space Pirates we start to see some changes. The Quintessons still hold one of their trials with the usual inevitable results - but we see a more serious side to them. Here we have them scheming to invade other worlds and their world has a government and army, in addition to a judiciary. This helps to flesh them out a bit, and of course makes them a lot more menacing than the characters we saw in the Movie that Hotrod, Kup and the Dinobots largely made fools of. Likewise we've got Wreck Gar transformed into some kind of the action hero, fighting his way out of the enemy camp single-handedly. He's still TV talking of course but it's not as annoying as it could be. I suspect Wreck-Gar is a difficult character to do dialog for.
Oddly enough there aren't any Transformers in this instalment at all - the Quintessons and Wreck-Gar hog all the limelight! It isn't the best issue I've read but there's enough in it to leave you optimistic of good things around the corner. In particular, the prospect of the Quintessons attacking Autobot City, and a third faction in Autobot - Decepticon war.
Away from the story there numerous signs that comic is about to undergo changes. It's been over 100 issues since the last redesign so perhaps one is due. Although speaking as someone who was content with the existing format the prospect didn't excite me. It looks like the new back-up strip is on hold until next issue as well because we've got six pages of Combat Colin. Now I always liked the strip (and Lew Stringer's cartoons in general) but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Poor Lew must have been working overtime for this issue - but I would have enjoyed it more if we'd had the instalments spread over several issues rather than all at once.