Transformers UK: Issue #239
Story 1: The Interplanetary Wrestling Championship (Part 4)
Story 2: A Savage Place
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: October 14, 1989
Writers: Bob Budiansky/Simon Furman
Artwork: Jim Fern/Geoff Senior (story and cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Roadhandler wins the fight but his victory speech doesn't go down to well.
Meanwhile Carnivac faces death unless Catilla and the Autobots reach him in time.
Lord Zarak has been watching Roadhandler's growing fame as a wrestling star with great interest. He's none-too-pleased about the positive publicity that this has been generating for the Autobots and he has summoned the Decepticon Air Strike Patrol to Earth to engineer a humiliating defeat. Roadhandler agreed to meet Stormcloud in the ring but Zarak had some young fans kidnapped to force the Autobot into throwing the fight. Now as this issue's story opens Roadhandler is taking a major pounding in the ring and nearly coming apart at the seams. Outside the other Autobot Micromasters have seen off the Air Strike Patrol and Highjump and Tailspin ferry some of the rescued hostages into the arena to let Roadhandler know that there is now nothing stopping him from fighting back.
On cue Roadhandler punches Stormcloud in the gut and throws him out of the ring, only for the Decepticon to transform into plane mode and return with a volley of fire. Roadhandler snaps loose a rope and lassoes his opponent, and then with a mighty tug sends him crashing to the floor. The arena erupts into applause and the Autobot is declared the winner. But in the adulation Zarak is able to climb aboard the groggy Stormcloud and the pair jet away. Roadhandler hears the full story of how his fan club was put at risk but his comrades were able to scupper the plans. Even so he knows it is time he got out of the wrestling business as it has become much too risky for his young human followers. He takes the mike and tells the crowd to find another plaything particularly the 'adolescent bags of protoplasm' who call themselves his fans. A chorus of boos accompanies the Autobots out of the ring.
Outside Swindler can't understand what has got into his friend and wonders if Stormcloud knocked some wires loose! Roadhandler says he didn't mean the sentiments but he thought it was more important to safeguard the fans from the Decepticons. Evan and Dwight, two of his staunchest fans, hear that and realise their faith may not have been misplaced after all. Roadhandler tells them what he said was not important, the main thing is that the boys don't need to go looking for heroes and they would do better to believe in themselves. With that the Autobots the Autobots transform and roll-out back to Ark.
In the baking heat of Los Gravos in Mexico the Mayhem Squad has caught up with Carnivac. The turncoat is down and is about to be speared by Octopunch for siding with Autobots and disgracing the name Decepticon. As the Pretender assassin raises his trident for the kill a wagon truck slams into him and the human driver just manages to jump clear before the vehicle explodes. Carnivac thanks the fleshling for the save but tells him he shouldn't have endangered himself by getting involved. The man replies that Carnivac saved his family from the Decepticons and this is the least he could do.
Soon the other executioners arrive, having been alerted by the explosion, but Carnivac is through running and isn't about to leave another group of humans to their fate like before. And while Springer and Broadside look for their missing comrade, Carnivac leaps clear of the charging Snarler and blasts Stranglehold in the chest. A flying kick puts paid to Bludgeon and Carnivac announces that the 'fight' (ie being part of the Decepticon army) is no longer enough for him as he has decided that helping others is more honourable. Mayhem leader Spinister says it is a fine speech and one he'll happily engrave on his former colleague's tomb. He swoops to gun up the humans and Carnivac throws himself in the way, absorbing the blasts. Snarler tells Carnivac that he is a cancer and must be purged for the good of the Decepticons, and Spinister puts a loaded gun to the head of his smouldering victim.
But again there is a reprieve, this time from Catilla who arrives in the nick of time and pounces on Spinister. Bludgeon recognises him as the other renegade Decepticon a spears him with his samurai sword, putting him down. Carnivac reacts with fury and attacks Bludgeon just as the Autobots arrive on the horizon threatening to even the odds. The so-called elite Mayhems flee, promising to continue the fight another time and the survivors gather around the fallen Catilla. Carnivac thinks his friend is as good as dead and orders Springer to get away from him, before screaming revenge at the heavens.
A fine black and white story that proves the writer's pedigree again and crams action into a relatively small amount of pages. Carnivac's journey from conniving Decepticon warrior in Time Wars to the hero who sacrifices himself to save weaker beings in this issue is remarkable. Real life is never black and white (even if the strip is) and characters change so a big well done to Simon Furman for giving us such a mature story. Carnivac discovers that there is something to be gained by helping humans as his efforts are repaid by the Mexican family. It will be interesting to see where his journey of self discovery leads him now that Catilla has apparently been killed and his death demands vengeance. Of course we don't actually have it confirmed that Catilla is dead just 'as good as' meaning there is a chance he could be repaired and back in a later issue. I'd be surprised if that was the end of him because he is a relatively new character and only introduced this year (1989). I'm also surprised that a Transformer (especially one encased in a pretender shell) could die from a sword wound. Certainly we've seen characters getting blown to bits in the past and surviving it. Elsewhere the tongue-in-cheek Roadhandler wrestling story has been wrapped up with Stormcloud's defeat of course, but it's a shame that he had to go and impugn his young fans just to get the message across. Surely better to announce his retirement, say its for the best and then get going. Now all the good PR work the Autobots achieved is for nought.