Transformers UK: Issue #238
Story 1: The Interplanetary Wrestling Championship (Part 3)
Story 2: Survival Run
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: October 7, 1989
Writers: Bob Budiansky/Simon Furman
Artwork: Jim Fern/Lee Sullivan (story) Andy Wildman (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Roadhandler will have to pick on someone his own size for his next interplanetary wrestling match.
The Autobot Race Car Patrol leader, Roadhandler, finds his fame growing as a wrestling champion. As the weeks pass he defeats ever more challengers and uses each victory to deliver a sermon to his adoring fans on how they too can 'defeat the bad guys' and make Earth better. But outside the ring as he is showing self defence moves to a bunch of kids Lord Zarak arrives requesting an audience, and not taking no for an answer. He introduces his 'talent' the Decepticon Air Strike Patrol and says any one of these Micromasters would be willing to crush Roadhandler in the ring. Fight promoter Casanova Brown thinks it sounds like a great match and Roadhandler isn't about to back away from the showdown.
Several days later a packed stadium welcomes Roadhandler to a steel-bottomed ring and Stormcloud flies in and transforms to robot mode declaring 'enough talk lets get physical'. Zarak arrives ringside and taunts Roadhandler about his missing fan club. He warns that something nasty might happen to them unless he lets Stormcloud rip him apart and the Autobot seems to have little choice. Outside the remaining Air Strike Patrol members are swooping down to capture fans going into the stadium but the Autobot Off Road Patrol is on hand to put paid to their plans. Tailspin and Highjump skid alongside Dwight and Evan and order them aboard so they can try to rescue Roadhandler from a humiliation and worse, but inside the ring the beating has already begun.
A two hundred mile stretch of Mexican desert south of Texas is not exactly a tourist attraction. A relentless sun bakes the barren rock for 16 hours a day making this the kind of place where creatures come to die! The latest looks to be the Decepticon Carnivac, outwardly a giant sized wolf, but actually a Pretender Beast. Until earlier this year he was leader of the elite Mayhem Attack Squad but his men were wiped out fighting Galvatron and he ended up forming an alliance with Springer and a small group of 'survivors'. As Carnivac collapses on the ground, the heat fusing his internal circuits, he remembers two hours ago getting attacked by the new Mayhem Squad who have come to execute him for siding with the sworn enemy.
If the desert heat doesn't kill Carnivac then his Decepticon ex-comrades will!
Luckily the US army had arrived and tank blasted Stranglehold in the face. The troops then bravely fought the band of metal/organic freaks allowing Carnivac to escape while they were slaughtered. This was how he came to be in the desert and now the screams of the men fills his ears. He sees a town up ahead and hopes to find some shelter there and somewhere to hide until his fellow survivors come for him.
Some distance away and Springer is learning of Carnivac's fate from the stetson-wearing human who he saved from the Hell Hound. Catilla, on hearing his comrade is in danger, is set to go his aid but Springer reckons he forfeited his right to help when he walked out on the group. Catilla says if they won't save a comrade he will go alone and Springer asks his fellow Autobots, Skids, Broadside and Inferno if they agree with him and its clear they don't.
Meanwhile Carnivac runs into Needlenose in the town and pounces on him. If the Mayhems have split up it gives him an advantage he thinks. But Octopunch threatens to 'toast' some innocent people unless Carnivac leaves his pretender shell and lets go of Needlenose. He remembers leaving the soldiers to die and cannot allow another act of dishonour so complies. Octopunch is shocked at such weak behaviour from a Decepticon warrior and attacks Carnivac with his tentacles and trident spear.
The Survivors story is really hoting-up in this instalment (bad pun sorry). I like the way it starts in the desert and readers are left wondering what happened to Carnivac after last issue. That ended with Bludgeon preparing to slice up the traitor and the action deliberately starts elsewhere to create questions and hook you in. The army describes the Mayhems as 'freaks' and is spot on because they look nothing like conventional Decepticons that the comic started with, and shows how very different the 1989 toy line is to the original concept. We don't often have humans killed by Transformers but it looks like it happened to the soldiers on this occasion. Meanwhile Carnivac's guilt at saving his own hide was a nice touch and shows he is a more complex character than your regular two-dimensional Decepticon. In previous reviews I've had a go at Lee Sullivan's art but it is of a very high standard this issue. It could be that he is better at drawing creatures than robots and has a lot more scope to do than in this pretender-laden tale. Carnivac looking dehydrated on the first page is amusing, especially with his tongue flopping out. But Transformers being machines should have some means of keeping their internal circuits cool, like air conditioning perhaps? Meanwhile in the wrestling we at last get some Decepticon opposition for Roadhandler and strangely enough the Air Strike Patrol arrive wearing hats and trench coats (where did these come from?). It's a bit weird that the match is starting and yet all of Roadhandlers supporters are still outside. Did the bus breakdown to make them late or something?