Transformers UK: Issue #192
Story: Ca$h and Car-Nage! (part 1)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: 19th November, 1988
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jose Delbo (story) Stephen Baskerville (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: The Roadjammers, Backstreet, Override, Dogfight
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
A $50k reward for killing Autobots is music to the ears of this handsome mercenary!
At a Pennsylvania county fair a tacky attraction called 'Reck the Robot' is drawing crowds of children all anxious to take a pot-shot at a ridiculous looking mechanical target. A large Terminator looking guy with a scarred face pushes his way through and blows the robot away using his own heavy artillery. He introduces himself as Burn-Out and is told by the stall owner that his skills and attitude could net him $50,000 working for the mysterious Z-Foundation.
Around the same time a motorcycle-riding maniac named Roadhog is proving his metal in a car rally, and quickly disposing of a bizarre looking 'Transformer style' vehicle. He too snapped up by the Z-Foundation, and several days later two highly skilled bounty hunters named Felix and Skunge (his parents must not have liked him) are also told about the large cash reward on offer.
Forty eight hours later all four men arrive at the Z Foundation's headquarters in New York and are greeted by three suited flunkies called Mr B, Mr L and Mr K. They explain their employer Mr Z prefers to stay out of the limelight but will pay them $50,000 for every Transformer they put out of action. To give them an advantage they will be equipped with a small jamming device that will neutralise their quarry's greatest weapon - his ability to transform! With that the group (code named the Roadjammers) are shown out and the alphabetical executives report the progress to their boss Mr Z. The darkened silhouette tells them to proceed with the second phase.
Meanwhile on Cybertron the Sparkabots and Triggerbots are rotting away in a Decepticon prison camp. Dogfight and Fizzle are itching to make their escape but Guzzle is more realistic and thinks the only fate they will see is being melted down by the captors. Suddenly three Firecon jailers enter and tell Sizzle, Fizzle and Backstreet to go with them. A fight breaks out but the Autobots are too weak to put up any serious resistance and are quickly crushed. Sizzle, Fizzle and Backstreet are given an energon bath to rejuvenate them and them transported across the space bridge to Earth for a fate unknown. They transform into vehicle modes and go looking for a fuel source and other Autobots only to find the Roadjammers quickly on the tail!
Human adversaries have never been all that popular with fans and I'm not sure why Bob decided to write some more into the book. A view that I've seen a lot on Internet message boards is that humans with special abilities are covered by all of Marvel's other titles and Transformers really ought to be about warring robots and I reckon I agree with that. I liked Circuit Breaker (Bob's first 'fleshling foe' to a point, although her uncanny ability to pick on Autobots instead of the real villains was annoying) and others such as the Mechanic and especially Robot Master have been irritating. I have to say the Roadjammers as a group don't really grab me.
The Z Foundation with its mysterious shadowy figurehead didn't fool myself or my comic reading compatriots back in '88 as we guessed from the start that it would turn out to be Lord Zarak. Mr L (Lokos) with his clown-style red wig was kind of comical though!
This story was the Triggerbots' first appearance in both the US and UK comics, although the Sparkabots had featured quite a lot in the UK that year except under the name 'Sparkler Minibots'. On previous occasions when they teamed up with Ultra Magnus to fight Galvatron and others, Fizzle was red and Sizzle was blue. This time they've swapped colours and look just like their toy versions proving perhaps that Hasbro were a lot stricter the US production team. The Firecons would have been making their US debut here too, although UK readers met them about 40 issues ago.
An alteration has been made on page 12 to accommodate the UK readership. In the original text Sizzle and Fizzle are speaking like it's their first time on Earth and this has been changed to have them telling Backstreet that they came here before to battle Galvatron. Even without seeing the US version you can tell the panel has been altered because the text size looks out of sync with the rest of the page. Overall an okay start to a fairly run of the mill story.