Transformers UK: Issue #229
Story 1: Ressurection (Part 1)
Story 2: Hunting Party
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: August 6, 1989
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Geoff Senior/Simon Coleby (story) Geoff Senior (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Needlenose, Spinister
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Slaughter City starts to give Needlenose the creeps!
There are regions of Cybertron where the enemy wears the oppressor's boot and even Decepticons fear to go. Places like Slaughter City, with its threatening graffiti, run-down buildings and stench of death! Into this sinister environment walks the new Mayhem Attack Squad, Octopunch, Stranglehold, Bludgeon, Needlenose and ice-cool team leader Spinister. These Decepticon crack troops have replaced the old ones who died in Time Wars and are in the city to hone their fighting skills. All are pumped-up for action except for Needlenose who is secretly drowning in fear! The Decepticon plane thinks he should be in the skies "looking bad" and not in a place like this, he doesn't belong in the Mayhems and will most likely meet his end in these dark alleys. Little does he know he is inches away from being proved right, as Kup climbs out of his hiding place and prepares to fire!
Luckily Spinister sees the threat and blows the Autobot away. He berates Needlenose for taking his eye off the ball, and nearly gets attacked by Optimus Prime himself! But Bludgeon slices the Autobot leader's head off, and brags to Stranglehold, who isn't impressed because he Octopunch have taken out six senior Autobots while everyone was gassing. Needlenose thinks the Autobots are behaving much more aggressive than normal and it unnerves him so much that he makes a run for it.
Spinister follows knowing that the morale of the team may require that he terminates his cowardly colleague. But he thinks Needlenose could make a good warrior with a bit of guidance and hopes to snap him out of it. When Slag pops up and attacks Spinister, the team leader sees his chance and calls to Needlenose for help! Needlenose stops and wrestles with his inner demons, then finally decides to go to his friend's aid by beating Slag to death with a metal post. He tries to apologise to Spinister but it is not necessary. Training is declared over and the environment suddenly phases out, revealing that it was a hard light simulation all the time, and not real. The Pretender Beast Snarler enquires after the combat status of the team and is told that everyone is ready for their first mission. Snarler is pleased and tells them that they will leave for Earth immediately - to hunt down and destroy the Autobot 'Survivors' and the traitors Carnivac and Catilla!
With the colour strip featuring another reprint (Resurrection) the main point of interest this issue is Hunting Party in the black and white slot. For once we get a story told from the Decepticon point of view (well probably not the first time but it is unusual). Needlenose's doubts show that it is not only Autobots who suffer fear and anxiety, and wonder if they fit in. He is in a difficult spot because he's been picked to join a group with some of the most ruthless killers on Cybertron and he could easily be eliminated if he fails to live up to expectations. Luckily he seems to have a real friend in Spinister, and one knows his potential and is prepared to give second chances. These are traits we rarely see in the normally self-serving Decepticon ranks but surely must be there or it would be impossible for them to form an effective army. The simulation idea reminds me a lot of the Star Trek holodeck. While the show was probably not on TV in the UK at the time it was out in the US and may be Furman caught a couple of episodes and got the idea for this. 'Hardlight simulation' sounds an awful lot like the holodeck principle. But why is Needlenose terrified of Slaughter City if it is a simulation? It only makes sense if he didn't know it wasn't real, but I don't see how he didn't notice when walking in unless he had a blindfold on!? Also the Autobots who attack them aren't even on Cybertron at the time. Flicking through, I stopped and re-read the Combat Colin cartoon. He and Semi-Automatic Steve are going up against an amusing villain who plans to conquer Earth by turning human brains to mush with a diet of bad TV! Genius.