Transformers UK: Issue 212
Story: The Man in the Machine (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: April 8, 1989
Writer: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jose Delbo (story) John Stokes (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
A headless Fortress Maximus battles the Pretender Beasts.
On the ski slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains the Pretender Beasts have caught up with Spike Witwicky and his friend Cliff. Spike recently quit the Autobots to return to civilian life and threw away the helmet which he could have used to summon Fortress Maximus. As the giant creatures close in it seems that he will have to survive without Autobot help if he can!
Spike and Cliff make a dash for it, using trees to shield them from Decepticon blasts, and then discard their coats to throw off the scent. Some time later they find a cave to hide in and light in the hopes that their pursuers will give-up the search. Spike confides in his college friend about his time in the Autobot army and the recurring nightmares he has been having. Cliff thinks that the machines may represent Spike's former self and the life he is running away from.
Spike brings on a trance and explores the dream images. This time he allows himself to fall down the pit and comes face to face with Fortress Maximus who says they will always be a part of each other. Aboard the Ark the headless Max wakes up from his slumber and travels to Earth.
Minutes later the two humans are on the move with the Pretender Beasts back on the trail. Spike and Cliff sky off a mountain and land in the waiting arms of Fortress Maximus. The Autobot battles Carnivac and Snarler but is hugely disadvantaged without his head. The Pretenders exit their shells and transform into robot mode, allowing Spike to reclaim his helmet from the Snarler shell's tusk. He orders Max to release the headmaster armour which quickly reassembles around Spike allowing him to transform. With human and robot combined Fortress Maximus is quickly able to defeat the Decepticons and send them retreating.
Much later Spike is driving home talking to Cliff, who is impressed that his friend has a secret identity. Spike has sent Fortress Maximus back to the Ark but this time he has kept the headmaster helmet. He knows that it will not be the last time that both of their paths are destined to cross.
Fortress Maximus had been a prominent and well liked character for two years and this would be the last we'd see of him for a long while. He eventually returns in the 1992 story 'The Last Autobot' just before Transformers came to the end of its run. The story is a change from the momentous events of Time Wars and the Underbase saga and shows things getting back to normal. The Pretender Beasts reflect the nature of their shells in that Carnivac is cunning and dominant leader and Snarler being a less intelligent brute force. Strangely Cerebros does not feature in the issue and it is almost as though Spike can now transform directly into the head of Fortress Maximus. I rather liked the scene where Max opens the Ark's airlock and jumps out. Either he skydived to Earth or flew down in battle station mode as he is able to do in the cartoons. I presume this is what happened. The transformations page is abuzz with news of a revamp happening in issue 213.