Transformers UK: Issue 211
Story: The Man in the Machine (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: April 1, 1989
Writer: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jose Delbo (story) Andy Wildman (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Snarler
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
In Spike's nightmare he is chased by machines
Spike Witwicky is pursued by an assortment of terrifying machines while a menacing, yet strangely familiar, voice declares 'you are mine'! He flees from the whirring tentacles and falls down a pit where he must grasp a cable to save himself. At the crucial moment Spike wakes up in a sweat, home in bed at his father's house in Portland. He recently quit the Autobots but kept his Headmaster helmet as a souvenir. He now wonders if this is the source of his nightmares.
The next day Spike prepares to leave for a skiing trip and tells his father and brother that he is going to dispose of the helmet thereby severing his link with the Autobots. A flashback reveals Fortress Maximus telling Prime that he wanted to leave now that Buster had been rescued from the Decepticons. This was undoubtedly the part of him that was Spike talking, but Max had always sought a release from the war so probably didn't resist the idea. Optimus granted Spike a discharge but warned him that he may not be able to return to the life he once knew.
Spike drives to a nearby tip and throws the helmet away before continuing to pick-up his klutzy friend Clifford who will be accompanying him on the ski slopes. Some tramps find the helmet but are quickly scared off by two fearsome gigantic beasts, a wolf and a warthog with huge cannons mounted on their backs. These are the Pretender beasts Carnivac and Snarler. They are on a mission for Scorponok to terminate Fortress Maximus and will start by following the scent to Spike.
Hundreds of miles away while Cliff takes his turn driving, Spike falls asleep and experiences the nightmare over again. On the slopes the next day he hopes to put his problems behind him by having fun but the Pretender Beasts are closing in.
Poor Fortress Maximus. Abandoned by Spike his headmaster companion he finds himself shoved in a cupboard in the Ark and gathering dust! It raises an interesting point about what a binary-bonded Transformer does in these circumstances. I don't see why the Autobots couldn't have restored him to how he was before he became a headmaster, or re-engineered him so that he and Cerebros could function without Spike. Since the Autobots and Decepticons left Nebulos there have been new headmasters and targetmasters created so it could be that Nebulans left with both ships to serve as stand-ins should something unfortunate happen to a Transformers binary bond partner. Perhaps the Autobots could have found a successor for Spike. Then again maybe Prime knew he would be back sooner or later.
This story marks Carnivac's first appearance in the US comic. In the UK he appeared in Time Wars but was not a Pretender at that time. The shell is a reward from Scorponok, and while I don't generally like Pretenders, the beasts are cool.