Transformers UK: Issue #190
Story: Monstercon from Mars! (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: 5th November, 1988
Writer: Bob Budiansky
Artists: Jose Delbo (story) Stephen Baskerville (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Rollie Friendly, Carissa Carr, Jake Colton, Mitch Keno
Synopsis:By Adam Hogg
First Skullgrin is mistaken for Bigfoot and then gets an offer to be in the movies!
No one makes a meal out of any intergalactic hero's woman, so with 'Celestia' in deep danger Brick springs into action. A gigantic half robot, half organic 'Creepozoid' leers over her when suddenly it begins to pop and crackle and then collapse in front the bemused pair. Film director Rollie Friendly orders the cameras to stop rolling and gives his props manager an earful for this latest technical hitch. Ham actor Jake Colton (playing Brick) complains of these working conditions, and is told (by Rollie) that he can't act anyway, before being sent packing with his co-star Carissa. Filming is suspended for three weeks until the main prop can be repaired.
A short while later Rollie is in his office when his public relations guru Mitch Keno drops by. Mitch switches on the TV which is showing live coverage of a Transformer event. Sky Lynx is returning four children to Earth after they were apparently kidnapped by robots and held hostage for nearly a year (see UK#144)! As the reporter updates the viewers (and readers), Mitch hints that perhaps a Transformer could make more than an adequate movie star (?).
At the airstrip (currently being televised) a huge crowd of media, army and protestors has gathered to watch a space shuttle land. The Spacehiker children depart to be reunited with their tearful parents and Sky Lynx reverts to his familiar (and bizarre) robot-esque mode. He is happy to take questions from the media, not realising that a short distance away is Josie Beller, the wheelchair-bound computer expert better known as Circuit Breaker! She recalls (for the benefit of the readers) how a Decepticon attack in issue 24 left her crippled, and how she used technology to overcome her disabilities and gain powers. With her attention waning, she realises that the crowd is now rioting and pelting Sky Lynx with rocks and anything else that comes to hand, forcing him to flee.
Back in the offices of Rollie Friendly, the news that Transformers are universally unpopular is hardly new, and the recent films have been unpopular enough without including these robots. Mitch suggests an alternative plan and holds up a recent newspaper report about Bigfoot sightings - perhaps this creature would make a decent film star? (Stop laughing ok!!) With three weeks before filming resumes they have nothing to lose so it's time for some backpacking to find Bigfoot!
The next day in the foothills of the Great Smokies in North Carolina, a ranger carrying Mitch, Rollie, Jake, and Carissa, along with a film crew, approach the army cordon where local residents are up in arms at the trail of devastation. The army refuses to allow the film crew through so Rollie pays a cash-stricken farmer to show them the way. An hour later they find a clearing full of toppled trees and crushed homes and realise they are close. Suddenly a gigantic monster appears and punchs down trees while howling wildly. But Rollie isn't about to lose his chance and orders his terrified crew to begin filming or kiss away their jobs. The huge monster is the Decepticon Pretender Skullgrin, who proceeds to smash up the camera crew's van and terrify the humans. Rollie orders his men to lower the cam in case it's mistaken for a weapon and Skullgrin mocks them for insulting his intelligence. Realising the monster can talk, Rollie uses his smooth talking to strike a deal.
A quick recap from days earlier sees Skullgrin being sent to Earth by Scorponok to locate a fuel source for the eventual Decepticon landing. The commander hadn't seemed bothered how the source was acquired so Skullgrin thinks he could accept Rollie's offer and be paid in fuel. Rollie smoothes things over with the farmers and the army but is warned the military will be keeping watch! So too, apparently, will be Circuit Breaker who close-by. Over the next few weeks, Rollie's newest discovery dominates the headlines - Skullgrin is a star and he adorns the covers of every film magazine! It's Skullgrin mania!!!!
The US continuity has been going wayward recently with a string of really awful stories, and to be honest the UK ones deserve lots of credit in sustaining interest in the series. Monstercon from Mars! is yet another odd, uninteresting, slapstick effort, which quite frankly offers little in the entertainment stakes. It serves to tie up the Spacehikers saga and brings Circuit Breaker back from a long absence, but the idea of a Transformer becoming a movie star pretty much speaks for itself. A novel but ultimately daft storyline that treads a fine line between slapstick and ridiculous.