Transformers UK: Issue 234

Story1: King Con! (Part 3)
Story2: Prime's Rib!
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: September 9, 1989
Price: 40p
Writer: Bob Budiansky/Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo/Andy Wildman (story) Geoff Senior (cover)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Iguanus gets a mouthful of exhaust courtesy of Powertrain.

The Autobot Micromaster Mudslinger is ploughing through marshland outside New York City when he runs into two giant creatures having a scrap! It is the Decepticon Pretenders Skullgrin and Iguanus arguing over what to do about the human reporter they have captured. Mudslinger transforms and spins his shoulder-mounted wheel at such speeds that it burns Skullgrin's foot when he attempts to step on his much-smaller foe. Iguanus drops the human, which was the plan, and grabs at the Autobot. The other Off-road Patrol members arrive and a full scale battle breaks-out, but Iguanus hasn't time to hang around if he is to complete his mission so slinks off into the swamp leaving his comrade to deal with the micro menace.

While all this was happening, TV reporter Cecilia Santiago made her break and now scrambles up to the roadside where four sporty-looking cars slow down. She hops aboard the first one (actually the Autobot Roadhandler) and very quickly realises that the 'driver' is in fact a dummy! Her first reaction is to want out but slowly Roadhandler convinces her that he is on her side and wants to stop the Decepticons if Cecilia can shed some light on what they are planning. The quartet approach a toll booth on the freeway and the Autobots are baffled as to what the protocol is, but Cecilia saves their bacon by passing the officer a $20 bill. 'Everyone needs some help some time' she tells the fiercely independent Race Car Patrol.

Close-by at a Manhatten west-side dock the Decepticons are preparing to implement their plan. Finback and Submarauder stay to guard the conductor cable and Iguanus trots off into the city, humans fleeing on all sides, and holding a metallic device which he will attach to the Empire State building. The Autobots emerge from a tunnel and realise from the panic that something is going on, but wouldn't you know it? They are stuck in New York traffic!

******

The masculine environment of a football stadium is the setting for Prime's Rib, the second story. Optimus Prime is unveiling his latest warrior Arcee, a female no less, but the only crowd to turn-up is made-up of placard-waving women's rights protesters! They aren't easily impressed, especially Arcee is pink and weak looking, and there is only one of her! Poor Prime is exasperated and doesn't quite know what he's done wrong - they asked for a female Autobot when they complained that Transformers were 'sexist' didn't they?

Nearby, Hot Rod and Jazz discuss the sticky situation and aren't entirely sure what the difference is between males and females anyway. Jazz notes something about 'upper chassis design' just as a robo-rights activist marches by calling him 'a pig'. He is probably relieved when a traditional oppenent turns-up, in the form of Shockwave and the new Decepticon headmasters, who are out to spoil the party, Decepticons he can handle! Prime tells Arcee to stay back as she has no experience but soon runs into difficulty and needs help! Arcee folds her arms and lets him stew before finally ploughing in, zapping Squeezeplay, and karate-chopping Horri-bull and Fangry! Shockwave sees things have gone sour and takes off, leaving Hot Rod and Arcee fall over each other. The ongoing banter between them starts, and Hot Rod admits that, after seeing his new colleague in action, he's personally all for female warriors! Taunts of 'pig' and 'sexist' break out from the crowd!

******

Comments:

The 'Prime's Rib' story is not just bad, it is downright embarrassing! Proof positive that Furman can cook a turkey once in a while as well. It is supposed to be a light-hearted, satirical piece which pokes fun at the gender divide and feminist protestors, and carries the message that a woman scorned is more than even an Autobot can handle! But I am not very impressed by these short, one-off stories because there is no meat in them and they do little to advance the ongoing UK continuity. It is a far cry from the epics we were used to.

Some points that rankle: how come Prime has gone to the trouble of creating a female Autobot, and use the sacred Matrix to create a life, just to win some PR brownie points? Aren't there more important things to worry about like the Decepticons, who are still trying to conquer the Earth and enslave its resources? The protestors seem to be a throw-back to the 1960s or 1970s more than anything, although strangely for a story set in 1995, they all have 80s hairdos. Realistically the stadium would have been packed with ordinary curious members of the public, press, and a few dignitaries. Protestors would have been a small part of the crowd but that would have spoiled the story. One point it does illustrate is that by the mid-nineties the Autobots are integrated into human society. So much so that people are prepared to debate such things as their gender rather than fearing them as alien invaders. We know from Transformers: the Movie how things stand in 2005/06 and this is background.

King Con! the US story is enjoyable enough but pretty run-of-the-mill. The Pretenders stole the show last issue and now it's the turn of the Off-Road Patrol, with a Race Car finale next issue. The only problem is that four weeks to tell a story seems too long.

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