Transformers UK: Issue 232

Story1: King Con! (Part 1)
Story2: A Small War (Part 1)
Story3: Ressurection (Part 4)
Cover date: August 26, 1989
Price: 40p
Writer: Bob Budiansky/Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo/Jeff Anderson (story) Lee Sullivan (cover)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Powertrain, Mudslinger, Tote, High-Jump, Roadhandler, Tailspin, Swindler, Freewheeler, Flak, Bigshot, Sunrunner, Side-Track


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Small and mean! The micromasters have arrived on earth!

The main feature this issue is the US story King Con! by Budiansky and Delbo and starring the Decepticon Pretenders and debutantes, the Autobot Micromasters. It opens in the swamps of New Jersey where three hunters and their dog are out looking for prey. There are plenty of reasons not to be there - it is the dead of night and raining, not to mention illegal - and as one of the group points out, a monster was recently sighted in the area. Naturally the other two think the story is a load of nonsense, probably a bear or something, but the main thing is that the cops did not come to investigate and they are unlikely to be looking for a group of illegal hunters either.

Suddenly Lady, their faithful hound, is onto something moving in the reeds. A flashlight reveals a horrible sight, not food or a bear, but a nasty 60 foot lizard with spikes and a blaster strapped to his arm! It is none other than the Decepticon Pretender Iguanus and, not surprisingly, the human's rifles can't hurt him. A return-shot of compressed air (I think it is because they survive) blows them away and sends them fleeing for their lives.

Two days later Optimus Prime and his Nebulan companion Hi-Q pull up at an abandoned petrol station in the middle of nowhere. A trans-dimensional warp manifests in front of them and eight earthen vehicles come roaring out. Prime transforms and greets the new arrivals, announcing that they are here to bolster the depleted Autobot ranks, and thanking them for modifying their forms (and building in facsimile humans to complete the effect). The 'Off Road Patrol' consisting of Powertrain, Mudslinger, High-Jump and Tote transform, followed by the 'Race Car Patrol' - Swindler, Tailspin, Freewheeler and their leader Roadhandler.

It is evident from the start that the teams have a no nonsense attitude and are less than respectful of authority - including giving lip to the great Optimus! Hi-Q isn't too impressed and he doesn't see how Autobots who are so small can possibly stop the Decepticons. Roadhandler doesn't like the inference and propels his fist, which destroys the gas station sign, and reconnects with his wrist. He adds that they have been downsized to conserve energy (presumably due to the fuel shortage on Cybertron) and they fight differently and by their own rules. Prime shows them news footage of a weather disturbance building over New York City and three men who say they had a run in with a monster in New Jersey. The Autobots believe the incidents are connected and probably the work of the Decepticons. The Micromasters are to investigate. As they transform and speed away Hi-Q repeats his concerns to Optimus. These miniature Transformers wield their independence like a club and cannot be trusted!

******

Cybertron, fourteen months ago: a Decepticon is guarding the front door to Thunderwing's fortress when a voice tells him to stand aside or else! The guard looks around but he can't see anyone, then the voice adds 'down here'. He looks down and sees Flak, a member of the Autobot Battle Patrol, a Micromaster! The guard starts to laugh, what is this little guy going to do, punch him in the kneecaps? Flak transforms into tank mode and lets out an unexpectedly fierce blast, flooring the Decepticon and rendering him inoperative. It's like he always says, size isn't important, it is how much firepower you pack!

Flak and his fellow Autobots Sunrunner, Big Shot and Side Track go inside and easily avoid the clumsy security sensors that are calibrated for full-sized intruders. They reveal they have been sent by Emirate Xaaron to stop the Decepticons from creating their own Micromasters. Hiding in the shadows in one of the labs they see a technician at work and being supervised by Thunderwing himself. The tech complains that it is hard work without having an example to refer to. Luckily, says Thunderwing, the Battle Patrol is here and has been successfully lured into a trap! The Autobots have been discovered but rather than activate their self destruct mechanisms they decide to go out fighting, like warriors. But they are no match for Thunderwing whose powerful hand swats them like flies!

Back at the Autobot resistance HQ Xaaron is concerned that he hasn't heard from the Battle Patrol and thinks something has gone wrong. He orders Roadhandler and the Race Car Patrol to go after the Battle Patrol - and destroy them if necessary - to prevent Autobot secrets falling into enemy hands.

******

Comments:

A pretty good issue this time, which is not something I've said much lately. In King Con! Budiansky introduces the latest in a long line of Hasbro Transformers toys, but he manages to make the Micromasters interesting. They have bad attitudes from having to overcome everyone's doubts about their size and are naturally rebellious, not traditional Autobot characteristics. Roadhandler seems to embody them most of all and he gets a lot of the limelight in the next few weeks. The trick he does with his flying fist is pretty nifty as well. I don't like the Decepticon Pretenders that much, but having introduced them a year before it was about time they appeared in a story in more than a supporting role. We only see Iguanus this issue (showing that a giant lizard is scarier than a giant robot) but the others are in it as the story progresses.

The comical scene in story two where Flak destroys the overconfident guard demonstrates the potential of Micromasters. They have a natural advantage because the enemy is always underestimating them, and as we saw they still pack the same firepower as a full-sized robot. I'm not convinced about the Decepticons being unable to make their own Micros though. Presumably Decepticon scientists are fully aware of Transformer anatomy so why can't they reproduce that on a smaller scale? Story three is a reprint from issue 104 so I won't review it again. Slightly annoying that space is given over to reprints but I'd rather see the back-up strip sacrificed than the main slice of the action. To compensate for the 2p price rise the comic gave away a magnifying glass with this issue and a temporary tattoo the following week.

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