Transformers UK: Issue #188

Story: Firebug!
Back-up strip: Visionaries
Cover date: October 22nd, 1988
Price: 35p
Script: Dan Abnett (plot) Simon Furman
Artwork: Jeff Anderson
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Firebug


Synopsis:

By Adam Hogg

Things hot up in small town America when the Firebug comes calling! Sounds like an ideal job for Inferno!

11.55 pm - the night sky above America brings something towards Earth. It is a meteor sized object that doesn't show up on any of NASA's radars. An old man on his way home sees the shooting star and makes a wish. Tomorrow he may tell someone about it but by it could be too late! For an evil looking creature is springing from the flames and the fires are about to begin!

The next morning an Autobot shuttlecraft touches down close to Mount St Hillary. Its passengers - Sandstorm, Broadside and Inferno - disembark and watch as the spaceship cloaks. Sandstorm jokes that he hopes they don't forget where they left it. Broadside reminds everyone of the mission; they are to establish a reconaissance base on Earth and are to take no active part in human affairs. Keeping the ship hidden from view is part of the plan.

Inferno pokes fun at the Wreckers' last visit to Earth which turned into a calamity when they were forced to battle Galvatron in a human settlement. This is a touchy subject for Broadside who squares up to his flippant colleague. Sandstorm intervenes to stop the row from escalating. He points out that their current mission is an opportunity to ensure such disasters are avoided in future.

Sandstorm's upbeat mood is just a front though as he is secretly longing for some action and not happy about his 'non-intervention' remit. He notices a large cloud of smoke in the distance and thinks it may be something they should be observing. Transforming into his new Earth car mode, he asks Inferno if he wants to check out the fire with him. But Inferno declines (with what he is used to dealing with on Cybertron, anything else is strictly minor league).

Sandstorm soon arrives at the small town at the source of the fire and finds it almost entirely ablaze. The humans who live here clearly need urgent assistance and Sandstorm radios his comrades for back-up. Broadside is not keen to disobey orders but the Autobot code is more important. Turning to Inferno, he jokes that should Emirate Xaaron want to know, they are certain Galvatron was spotted in the area! Meanwhile at the town Sandstorm catches a glimpse of a sinister creature disappearing into the flames! Could he be imagining things?

Pretty soon Inferno and Broadside are at the town helping to contain the blaze. Inferno (in firetruck mode) is confident he can handle it, but strangely certain fires keep reigniting after they are extinguished. The mystery is revealed when Inferno spots a Firebug (a creature that was supposed to extinct)! Avoiding the Autobot's extinguisher gun, it quickly disappears into another building, and is gone. Inferno tells the others that these creatures originite from the planet Furnacia and have a propensity to burn anything combustible!

Broadside finds himself under attack from a volley of fireballs, but has no luck in hitting the Firebug due to its speed. After running around in circles it becomes clear that the Autobots are in danger of causing as much damage as they are preventing. A change of tactics is needed and Broadside and Sandstorm keep the Firebug trapped while Inferno bombards him with flame retardent foam! The fires are finally out and now they have to decide what to do with this creature. Should they finish him off? The firebug may have caused a lot of damage but they are Autobots, not murderers, and there must be another way. Inferno has an idea and will have need of a message pod once they return to their ship.

Epilogue:
Mercury, closest planet to our sun. A small capsule lands on the planets surface and opens. This planet has a surface temperature in excess of 400 degrees centigrade. It is midnight earth-time, and the fires have found a home at last!

******

Comments:

By Steve Bax

One part stories tend to be a rarity in Transformers and this one is pretty middle of the road an inconsequential to the ongoing continuity. It does establish Sandstorm, Broadside and Inferno as the Wrecker's Earth-based outpost and they will be around for a while. Nice to see a new writer being let loose on the comic, and I don't know how much experience Dan Abnett had before this, but it does seem like he was thinking "I've got to do a story about Inferno so what can we have happen? I know he should put out fires!" There doesn't seem to be a lot more too it than that. Firebug, though a villain, is made to cute to be evil. He's just following instincts and a simplistic way to resolve the problem is found at the end - they just send him to Mercury! There are more references to the Wreckers' preoccupation with Galvatron, but I still can't work out why they see him as their problem. One nice touch was the melting Ford Fiesta in one of the panels, very commonplace in the UK but I can't believe there were many in the US back then. Aside from the story, I was disappointed to find that this issue was published on poor quality, non-glossy paper. I think I heard something about rising printing costs and I guess Marvel got caught out on this occasion. I remember worrying that it could be the start of a general fall of standards.

Next issue
Previous