Transformers UK: Issue #196
Story: The Flames Of Boltax (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: 17th December, 1988
Writer: Bob Budiansky
Artists: Jose Delbo (story) Wetherall/Baskerville (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Ruckus, Crankcase, Windsweeper
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Optimus Prime seeks the mysterious one called Boltax, but his followers warn of dangers ahead.
As if being held prisoner by the Decepticon wasn't bad enough for Buster Witwicky, the Autobots' human friend now finds himself attacked by strange creatures with laser-blasting tentacles! One blasts him square in the chest but there's no gaping hole. The mystery is revealed when the creatures fade out and it turns out that they are nothing more than holograms created by a new technology known as 'Realvision' (kind of like the holodeck from Star Trek).
Commander Ratbat is satisfied that the new facilities are working correctly and orders Buster to be returned to his cell. Soundwave is then instructed to play the Autobot cassettes Grandslam and Raindance through the simulators so the Decepticons can dicepher the sensitive information they hold regarding the Underbase. Ratbat intends to view the information alone but Starscream (his second in command) convinces him that he should too in case anything unfortunate were to happen to the Decepticon leader! You might think Ratbat would be suspicious of this (especially as it's Starscream we're talking about) but he isn't.
The two Decepticons then see images of Cybertron in its golden era (before the war decimated it) and a junior Optimus Prime accompanied by Triggerbots, Backstreet, Dogfight and Override, role into view on their way to a forbidden area occupied by the wise entity known as Boltax. The high circuitmaster is the keeper of the greatest database on the planet and Prime thinks he can help them find a way to defeat the Decepticons menace. First they have to overcome a succession of traps to get in.
While Starscream and Ratbat look on and curse, the Autobots are shown navigating a molten minefield (which Override nullifies) and getting caught up in some vines, nicely sliced-up by Dogfight's wings. A shifting floors trap follows and is defeated in turn by Backstreet who speeds through and disturbs the beams triggering it. On the horizon Megatron and the Triggercons can be seen, waiting patiently for the traps to be exhausted so they can move in for the kill!
Soon the Autobots arrive at The Temple of Knowledge (where Boltax resides) and Prime introduces himself to a group of diciples as 'Lieutenant Commander of the Autobot fourth computerised division (!). Despite their claim if coming in peace the disciples tell the Autobots they must turn back immediately!
The early days on Cybertron have long been a rich vein of untapped stories so it's nice to see something happening here. Prime is young and more impetuous in his early years so we see a new side to him, whereas it's good to see Megatron back in charge. I would have expected to see Prime flanked by his traditional allies of the time Prowl, Ratchet, Jazz etc but instead it's the Triggerbots demonstrating their abilities. Cynics might say it's because they were new on the market at the time and need a plug. Expect their Decepticon counterparts to get the treatment next issue.
The running commentary from the Decepticon observers is amusing at times, although Starscream is very clich�. He reminds me of one of those cartoon villains here (like Dick Dastardly from Wacky Races) who says things like 'curses' and 'foiled again' as their enemies survive trap after trap. Ratbat, meanwhile, should have known better than to appoint him as deputy or let him view the Underbase film. Why not appoint Soundwave to the job, who is vastly more experienced? It's strange to see Soundwave taking orders from one of his cassettes and he looks odd thanks to Jose Delbo drawing him with a mouth rather than his usual faceplate! An experienced hand like Delbo should have been familiar with the character designs by now.
The awful techno-babble/names deserves a mention because there's so much of them this issue. Terms like 'Realvision', 'High Circuitmaster', 'fourth computerised division' and the Temple of Knowledge are freely banded about! I'm also not sure why the Decepticons keep Buster about post 'Club Con' or feed and cloth him. Good cover from Wetherall and Stephen Baskerville though, and I enjoyed the 'A to Z' factfile on Megatron. A fairly standard first part that lays the foundations for a more eventful conclusion. Some new characters getting airtime and older ones returning, nevertheless nothing exciting.