Transformers UK: Issue #194
Story: Club Con! (part 1)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: 3rd December, 1988
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jose Delbo (story) Budiansky/Nolan (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Jessie and Blaster have infiltrated Club Con and hope to find out what the Seacons are up to.
Bob Budiansky's most bizarre tale since the infamous 'Car Wash of Doom' opens with a TV commercial for the latest Decepticon sideline - a holiday resort for humans! The normally fearsome Starscream is seen touching down outside a typical American home and personally flying a family to the Caribbean destination of Club Con, where they'll find sandy beaches, fine restaurants and robots who are eager to please. Aboard the Ark Optimus Prime and his deputies Fortress Maximus and Grimlock are watching with amazement and scepticism, but their interest is peaked when Buster Witwicky appears on TV masquerading as the island's ruler! Just what exactly is going on?
Prime decides he must send an agent to Club Con to learn the truth and contacts Blaster, who is busy honing his skills at avoiding laser blasts while his comrades try to catch him (look closely and you'll spot the Decepticon Runamuck who really shouldn't be there).
A quick shift of scene to Earth sees Sparkplug Witwicky fixing a car and talking to Buster's girlfriend Jesse about his missing son. Suddenly a large metallic egg falls from the sky and cracks open in the old man's yard revealing Blaster inside in tape deck mode. He announces that he's been sent to infiltrate Club Con and will need their help to get in, and perhaps they can rescue Buster while they're about it. Sparkplug still wants nothing to do with the Autobots but is willing to try anything to get his son out - Jesse thinks it would arouse less suspicion if she went and it is decided.
Two days later Starscream is briefing commander Ratbat on operation from their secret lair beneath the paradise island. We learn that it is of great importance to the Decepticon hierarchy on Cybertron and Ratbat is anxious to see it go well, but we aren't told why Club Con is a big deal at this stage. Starscream returns to the surface to welcome new arrivals not realising that among the latest intake is Blaster and Jesse. Blaster tells his soft-skinned friend not to be fooled by the beauty of the island or the Decepticons apparent warmth. She does a bit of sunbathing and then decides to do a bit of snorkelling.
Sneaking past a Stunticon 'lifeguard' she dives down to the coral reef and is terrified to see an enormous shark swimming her way! Luckily it turns out to be the Seacon Jawbreaker and not something that wants her for lunch, and even better he hasn't seen her. Jesse watches from a safe distance as the Decepticon and his amphibious comrades scout the area and swim into a hidden entrance.
Where do I start with this story? Well it's offbeat, unrealistic, weird, confusing, plain stupid and, incidentally, full of plot holes! Why would the EVIL Decepticons be interested in setting up a holiday resort for humans? What possible advantage could there be? We learn later that that want a cover so they can search the oceans for two missing cassettes and having a human figurehead means other country can legally intervene. I'm sorry but why go to all this trouble on the off chance that a few human battleships might interfere? The Decepticons have nothing to fear from any of Earth's navys and can simply blast anyone who gets in their way. Surely advertising their island on TV just invites attention at the very time they don't want it and now the Autobots know they're up to something too. Having lots of unfamiliar humans around just means it's easier for spies to get on the island, as this issue proves.
One would think the fearsome Decepticon warriors would feel humiliated to act as waiters, lifeguards and passenger jets for a bunch of humans. The whole thing must be incredibly bad for morale and it's a wonder Ratbat doesn't have a mutiny on his hands (especially as the hypnotising car wash was his idea too!).
If I suspend my belief about the Decepticon's behaviour for a moment, then what about the humans? Sure its an attractive prospect to be picked up at your door and flown to a Caribbean location, but not when your transport is a 40 foot robot with a sinister name like STARSCREAM!! The firm is called Club CON as well which can't be helpful! I fail to see how anyone in their right mind would entrust their safety or that of their family to the Decepticons, especially when the media has been warning people about the Transformers for years. And shouldn't the world's governments be concerned about their citizens strolling into the Decepticon lair and becoming potential hostages or meeting a nasty end?
Bob probably planned this as a fun story and even indulged himself by putting in his favourite character (and mine) Blaster. But even this doesn't save it from stretching the boundaries of credibility to breaking point. Decepticons simply do not waste time on this kind of hairbrained scheme, it's not their way. Bob is a talented writer who's responsible for some of the finest TF stories to date, but why he wants undermine his reputation with crap like this I don't know.
On a different note did anyone notice the discrepancies with the Autobots seen putting Blaster through his paces in the early part of the story? One of them is Outback, who last we knew was on Cybertron, so I've no idea how he came to be there. But more importantly the other sparring partner is the Decepticon Runamuck (also seen over at Club Con on page 4). Even if he's been fished out of New York harbour he REALLY ought not to be in Ark! By way of a bit of trivia the cover for this issue (also used on the US version) is actually drawn by Bob Budiansky with help from someone called Nowlan. It's a fine drawing and shows Bob has a few talents nobody knew about. It's just a shame the script on Club Con is so daft.