Transformers UK: Issue 230

Story1: Ressurection (Part 2)
Story2: The Big Shutdown! (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: August 12, 1989
Price: 38p
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Will Simpson/Lee Sullivan (story) Andy Wildman (cover)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Nightbeat, Siren, Hosehead, Thunderwing


Synopsis:

By Graham Thomson


A dead Autobot has washed up on the beach and private eye Nightbeat is determined to find out whodunnit!

It is the dead of night and the Autobot Headmasters, Nightbeat and Siren, have come to a Californian beach in search of a corpse! The Ark had detected a body washed ashore and these two Autobots have disobeyed orders to go and investigate. Siren is a little uneasy, after all they have only been on Earth two days, and it's a little early for an act of insubordination. But Nightbeat is too much the detective to let a mystery slip past him.

As they approach, Siren notices a small figure kneeling over the corpse and unwittingly gives their presence away. The shadowy figure is startled and makes a run for it, hopping aboard one of two parked vehicles, which promptly accelerate off along the shore. Nightbeat is angry that his friend has allowed a "living breathing clue" to escape and orders Siren to give chase - quietly!

Lights flashing, and sirens blaring, Siren follows the two vehicles into the streets of a nearby town. He unknowingly causes carnage as motorists swerve to avoid him and end up smashing bits off their cars. Pretty soon the two vehicles take a wrong turn and, finding themselves in a dead end, they transform into the Autobots Horsepower and Hosehead (the small figure was his Nebulan companion, Lug). As the three discover they are on the same side, a powerful beam rips through Horsepower, rendering him non-functional. Thunderwing - heir apparent to the Decepticon throne - appears from nowhere, claiming to have found his prey!

******

Comments:

By Steve Bax

This issue sees the introduction of the Autobot 'private eye' Nightbeat (along with Siren and Hosehead) who would quickly become one of the more popular characters. Reading the story it is immediately apparent that Furman has spoofed the detective novels of Raymond Chandler, borrowing his distinctive writing style and characters. In fact Nightbeat is a shameless copy of Chandler's private eye Philip Marlowe, just in Autobot form. But the story is well done (and the debt to Chandler is acknowledged) so I can't have serious complaints. And it is a compliment to Chandler's work and the Marlowe character that it can be introduced into a Transformers context and be a hit with readers of the comic too.

I especially enjoyed the opening lines spoofing Chandler's distinctive first person narrative... "Did it matter where you lay when you were dead? On a dirty beach in California or a metal tomb on Cybertron?" Great stuff! Unlike Marlowe, who works alone and likes it that way, Nightbeat doesn't have this luxury. He has a not-very-able assistant, Siren, who he thinks is totally unsubtle and wouldn't know a clue if it bit him. But deep down the pair are great friends and loyal to one another, and Nightbeat respects Siren even if he'd never admit it.

Its never really explained where the new Headmasters come from. We find out that they've only been with Prime's Autobots for two days, so presumably arrived from Cybertron? Certainly Hosehead has. But this doesn't explain how the trio have come to be binary bonded to Nebulans. A possible explanation could be that additional Nebulan volunteers accompanied Steelhaven when it journeyed to Earth. These recruits could have been bonded to Nightbeat and Siren very recently, but that doesn't explain how Hosehead came by Lug! We've also got the Star Trek syndrome again this issue, where a couple of non entities appear only to get wasted. I'm of course talking about Horsepower and the Autobot corpse Playback.

Its a first appearance for Thunderwing as well - and he is character destined to play a really big role in upcoming stories. I think he looks great but it's just a shame that he has to be a Pretender. I never could see the point of that seeing as how his shell transforms anyway, but at the time Hasbro seemed incapable of releasing a Transformers toy that didn't have a gimmick in some way.

In case you're wondering, The Big Shutdown! was published in the usual black and white format, but the colour picture above is taken from a much later reprint. The main story this issue (ie the one in colour and on the nice paper) is the second part of the 1987 story Resurrection. It has already been reviewed so I won't duplicate the effort. Suffice to say as a long time reader I was extremely unhappy the reprints, and coming as they did after the introduction of the three story format, the black and white, and poor quality paper, it seemed to be adding insult to injury. I carried on collecting out of loyalty but I certainly didn't feel I was getting value for money anymore. Glancing at the Transformation page now, I notice that it acknowledges that mail has been flooding in moaning about the reprints (no appologies are offered though) so clearly a lot of readers felt as I did. Despite the complaints it would not stop the comic reprinting more stories in the future.

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