Transformers UK: Issue #240

Story 1: Back From The Dead (Part 1)
Story 2: Out To Lunch
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: October 21, 1989
Price: 40p
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo/Andy Wildman (story and cover)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Detour, Hyperdrive, Roadhugger, Blackjack, Quickswitch


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Ratchet has failed his patients and they are not happy about it...



But the Mecannibals are pleased with the rich supply of food on Cybertron.

Chief medical officer Ratchet is an Autobot with an impossible task. For weeks he has been huddled over the operating table trying to repair the thirty or forty comrades destroyed by Starscream (in issues 206-210) and has not had much luck. Now the patients are taking their revenge as a dozen or so mechanical corpses close in to tear him apart for his failure!

Suddenly Ratchet is awoken from his 'involuntary systems shutdown' or dreaming as humans call it, by Optimus Prime. With Scorponok's Decepticons menacing Earth, Prime needs these warriors active but he is concerned that he is pushing the medic too hard. He orders Ratchet to take a break but moments later when he is alone again, Ratchet throws a wobbly and overturns a bench full of tools. There's no way he can repair the Autobots with this junk, if only he could get his hands on some of the new technology on Cybertron he might have a chance. Instead he is stuck in Earth's orbit aboard the Ark.

Meanwhile on Cybertron the Decepticon Micromaster team known as the Sports Car Patrol is receiving orders from their mysterious new boss inside a sinister looking castle. They are ordered to switch their insignias for Autobot ones and proceed on their mission. While on Earth the Micromaster Air Strike Patrol also receives commands and proceeds on their way to an airforce base. Whisper leads the team but the others are all out to undermine him and look good to 'the boss' so that they can win promotion. Whisper lets them squabble and delights in their incompetence when Nightflight and Stormcloud come close to crashing into some trees!

******

In a seedy looking part of Cybertron a very drunken Darkwing and Dreadwind are making their way to the notorious Maccadam's oil house. Little do they know that two of their former employers the Mecannibals have followed them to the homeworld, and are pigging out on the plentiful supply of robots. In the bar an Autobot sixchanger named Quickswitch is sipping his oil and waiting to meet a Decepticon informant. In the past this waterhole was neutral ground where warriors from both sides could enjoy a drink in a relative truce, but things have got worse since Thunderwing took charge of the Decepticon high command. He spies Darkwing and Dreadwind but they are too legless to be the one he is waiting for. Then a half-eaten robot staggers in screaming about creatures who just ate his comrades! The bartender calmly states that who ever they are 'Rocky' on the door will see to them. Suddenly the Mecannibals burst in and spit the bouncer's head out complaining he was tasty but a little too tough! Now everyone else is on the menu.

As the Mecannibals get stuck in the Decepticon Powermasters are seated in a corner bemoaning their ills and totally oblivious to the carnage around them. But Quickswitch decides to break cover and do something, first transforming to animal mode and pouncing, then to a gun and blasting the Mecannibals. Finally he transforms into mining vehicle mode and drills underground and through the supports. Surfacing outside he leaves the Mecannibals to plunge through the floor and be buried under debris. Only at this point do Darkwing and Dreadwind realise something as happened and the place is deserted. 'Knowing their luck' they are bound to get blamed so they decide to 'shplit'. Meanwhile the Mecannibals have a plan to escape - what else but eating their way to freedom!

******

Comments:

If last issue's story was the best of the black and white strips this is the opposite end of the spectrum - truly dire! Andy Wildman's art is poor with the Mecannibals looking way-too cartoony and not scary in the slightest. It's like attack of the killer tomatoes! The story is a total non-event, and as a showcase for the abilities of Quickswitch falls short because we only see four of his modes including robot. The idea of Darkwing and Dreadwind being drunk might be comical in some circles but missed the mark for me. It's just another example of the creeping humanisation of Transformers, giving them eyeballs, saliva, tears etc. They are supposed to be robots. Besides why would a Transformer get inebriated on fuel? It is their lifeblood after all and would be like a human getting legless on water. Anyone who works as a doorman on a planet wracked by war should be packing some heavy weaponry, but not Rocky the bouncer at Macaddams. It is a shame because a tough bruiser blowing a couple of big holes in the Mecannibals before getting eaten might have improved the story a bit.

A possible reason for the lack of a substantial UK strip can be gathered at the start of the issue where it is revealed that Simon Furman is now writing the US book. I'm guessing that this took up most of his time and the UK comic went firmly on the back burner. The intro page heralds his appointment as a chance to eliminate continuity problems, which must have been the bane of the UK editor's life. Sounds fair enough, but ironically his first story is one of the biggest continuity foul-ups of the series. By reintroducing Megatron to the US audience by having him show up on Cybertron after surviving the exploding space bridge (see issue #108) this contradicts 100 or so UK issues where the Decepticon was involved in stories on Earth. The upcoming Two Megatrons will attempt to iron out the mess but not in a satisfactory way in my opinion, but more on that in that story's review. I liked the scene with Ratchet getting bundled by his deactivated patients and it is good to see Prime in non-Powermaster mode now and again. Not too much happens in this scene setter but the Sports Car Patrol make their debut so it is a fair bet that this will be another of those vehicles for introducing new characters. Good then that we have an old hand like Ratchet centre stage as well. Just a thought, how come he's not getting help from First Aid. To my knowledge the Protectobots were not among those slaughtered by Starscream.

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