Transformers UK: Issue 213

Story1: Guess Who the Mecannibals are Having For Dinner? (Part 1)
Story2: The Fall and Rise of the Decepticon Empire (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Visionaries
Cover date: April 15, 1989
Price: 38p
Writers: Bob Budiansky/Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo/Lee Sullivan (story) John Stokes (cover)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Quake, Legonis, Octus, Seizer


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


The patrons of Grand Central Station are none-too welcoming of robots.



Megatron has a bone to pick with Cybertron's new rulers.

Transformers has 'transformed' again and now features a radical three story format (see comments). The first, reprinting US material, opens in an intergalactic bar reminiscent of a scene from Star Wars. A yellow mechanoid tries to order a 'lube chaser' and gets told by the barman that 'robots are not welcome'. At the end of the bar the Autobot Pretenders Landmine and Cloudburst watch from inside their humanoid 'outer shells' as a crowd surrounds the small 'chromite'. Landmine is itching to intervene and ignores Cloudburst's warnings to put the mission first and stay out of it.

Soon a bar brawl is in full swing with the Autobots in the middle and the yellow robot is cast out of the airlock. Things calm down and Cloudburst talks them out of sticky predicament by insisting they are no 'robot lovers'. A flashback to the Ark several days before sees the two Autobots (in robot modes this time) getting a tour of the medical bay from Commander Optimus Prime. Dotted around are the broken bodies of their comrades (rendered inoperative by Starscream) and Prime reveals that a fresh supply of microchips is needed for the repairs. The Pretenders are to travel to the robot-unfriendly Grand Central space station, where their disguises will allow them to blend in. Hopefully they will find a black market trader to supply the chips. With this Cloudburst transforms into his spacecraft mode and his outer shell, and Landmine, climb aboard! (see comments)

******

After an interlude for the letters page 'Dread Tidings' the comic moves on to the second strip, by Furman and Sullivan. This opens with Megatron and Ravage on Cybertron and laying waste to a couple of Autobots. Megs is disappointed that his enemies would dare to venture out so casually, and clearly Decepticon standards have slipped in his absence. Ravage lets us know that the pair of them have travelled to the homeworld via spacecraft (later revealed as the one the Mayhems used in Time Wars) and points out that they have seen no Decepticon patrols since disembarking. After pausing to destroy an Autobot taking aim behind him, Megatron sets off in the direction of the capital Helix.

Within a huge and intimidating Decepticon complex are the sounds of battle and frivolity. The ruling 'triumverate' of Legonis, Octus and Seizer lounge on their thrones as the gladiator Quake torments his latest victim below. Most Decepticons are enjoying the entertainment and have grown fat on the fruits of their empire. But the Triggercons, watching from the wings, are disgusted and wish they were out hunting down Autobots. There needs to be a change according to Crankcase, but Ruckus warns him that he will only make trouble for himself if he antagonises the triumverate. Though slow and weak they still hold the balance of power.

Suddenly their prayers are answered as the door is blasted in two and Megatron strolls in demanding to know how is in charge. He slams the Decepticons for their idleness and tells the rulers they sully the badge they where. Octus attempts to ridicule this challenge, telling the Decepticons they are in the presence of a living legend! The cause's most celebrated loony!

******

Comments:

Good Lord what have they done? I wasn't crazy about the last revamp but this one takes the biscuit. Where before the writers had 11 pages to tell a story now it is just five or six and the quality can only dip accordingly. US stories will now be printed over four issues instead of two and stories like the Mecannibals are destined to drag on for two-months as we are drip-fed instalments. The coming attractions blurb, one of my favourite features, has been dropped in favour of lazy picture teaser which tells you very little - and to top it off the price has gone up so fans are paying more for less. All in all a disappointing new direction for Transformers that smacks of money-saving and is/was a worrying sign.

The oasis in the sea of dispair is that the layout of Transformations page has vastly improved and Visionaries have returned to the back-up slot.

The Mecannibals saga has been widely panned by Transfandom as one of Bob Budiansky's dumber ideas and it is not hard to see why. The Mecannibals look like killer tomatoes and have a silly name, but in fairness this sort of humour is not unusual for Bob and never has been, and the story is not as bad as it sounds. Landmine and Cloudburst have their first staring role, and while I have never been a fan of the Pretenders, I was pleased to see this because it is about time Bob justified introducing the characters. Previously they had been brought in and forgotten about. The double-act have distinct personalities, with Landmine prone to act hastily and get into trouble and Cloudburst being the thinker who prefers to talk his way out of danger. When Cloudburst transforms he is somehow able to fit Landmine and his OUTER shell aboard which is weird. If he can grow to that extent why not stay that size all the time and really bash the Decepticons?

The second strip is not bad story but feels too short (hardly surprising as it's five pages). However I enjoyed the references to the Roman Empire, such as the arena, the 'Triumverate' and Octus, Legonis and Seizer who sound like emperors. The situation of rulers growing lazy and comfortable mirrors the fate of Rome and this trio have little chance against a back-to-form Megatron.

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