Transformers UK: Issue 209
Story: Dark Star (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: March 18, 1989
Writer: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jose Delbo (story) Geoff Senior (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
The Throttlebots make the shortest return in Transformers comic history - one panel!
The Autobots and Decepticons have joined forces to prevent Starscream getting his hands on a fabled power source called the Underbase. It has been adrift in space for millennia and is now passing by the Earth. The Transformers arrived in time to stop Starscream absorbing much of the energy but he still picked up enough to magnify his power a thousand fold.
In moments he recovers and propels Scorponok's ship into Earth-bound Decepticons' vessel, causing all aboard to spill out into space. This leaves everyone stranded and unable to stop Starscream from returning to Earth to lay claim to it. Luckily Prime has programmed the Ark to stay close-by and it is able to pick them up. On the way to Earth it is decided that teams lead by a senior Autobot and Decepticon will travel to the major cities and confront Starscream should he arrive. But Prime insists he will stay aboard the Ark and safeguard Buster Witwicky. His stance impresses no-one and Ratbat and Scorponok storm off in disgust at such an apparent display of cowardice.
Blaster and Ratbat encounter Starscream first in New York and witness the Aerialbots taken-out in a single burst of energy. Jetfire blasts Starscream on to Brooklyn Bridge (?) where he runs into Goldbug and numerous Autobot cars and destroys all of them. Jazz buys it next and so do the Seacons (hardly worth introducing them) and Jetfire gets a blast for good measure. Ratbat doesn't like the way the fight is going and takes off (besides he thinks Optimus is up to something on board the Ark). This leaves Blaster alone to have his circuits fried by Starscream's eye blasts and he winds-up on his back in the river.
Ratbat's suspicions are correct for Prime and his engine component Hi-Q are busy constructing a rocket at this very moment. They receive word from Grimlock in Tokyo that the recently rebuilt Throttlebots have bit the dust. Skywarp and Thundercracker, may be Starscream's old flying companions but even this doesn't save them, and the Dinobots and Predacons are also casually dispatched. One group, who readers might like to see the back (the Pretenders of course) are sadly immune to Starscreams energy bursts due to their organic components but no matter. By skillfully manoeuvring Grimlock he is able to force them to do his dirty work by shooting the Dinobot leader for him. Grimlock slumps to the ground with smoke belowing from his chest while Starscream cavileerly departs to his next on his way.
Bob Budiansky's cull of older characters begins in earnest as wave after wave of Transformers helpfully turn-up in their teams to be dispatched. Bob said in a recent interview that the huge cast was becoming unmanagable and added that Transformers, being machines, weren't really dead because they could always be fixed later. Even so it must have been gut wrenching for fans to see all their favourites buy it in such a cavalier fashion. The Throttlebots for example have only just been rebuilt and show-up for one panel. Likewise the Seacons had not been in the US comic for long when Starscream disposed of them. I would have been happier seeing the Pretenders get retired instead of favourites like Blaster and Goldbug and the Dinobots, but the story marked the 50th issue of the American comic and a huge body count was deemed necessary. Fans that I have spoken are generally unhappy about the way characters are killed off this issue so I am not convinced it hit the mark.