Transformers UK: Issue #243

Story 1: The Resurrection Gambit (Part 1)
Story 2: Mind Games
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: November 11, 1989
Price: 40p
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo/Staz (story) Andy Wildman (cover)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


The Air Strike patrol leave Prime with very few options...


And Ravage discovers the shocking identity of a mystery intruder!

Ratchet has been tricked by the Sports Car Patrol into returning with them to Cybertron, and now finds himself a captive of Megatron! The doc, who believed this formidable enemy was dead, can scarcely believe his eyes and the revelation plunges him even deeper into despair. Megatron welcomes Ratchet to his fortress like an old friend and leads him to a separate chamber where three prototype Pretender shells are being stored. Ratchet is told to forget about these and marvel at a fourth, more powerful shell, which is to be Megatron's instrument of revenge. The Autobot's medical expertise will be needed to oversee the process and it is a fair bet that whoever goes in the shell will be bad news.

At the Macdill Air Force base in Florida a short while ago, Optimus Prime had ordered the Decepticon Air Strike Patrol to surrender. They refused and warned the Autobots that a firefight would injure the human hostages. Ratchet had chosen that moment to radio Prime from the Ark and Stormcloud destroyed Prime's communicator before he could answer. The Autobot leader was incensed and went on a rampage attacking the mini Decepticons.

******

The black and white tale opens in the middle of Megatron's dream! He sees a ghostly figure resembling himself journeying across Cybertron's metal plains to find him, and perhaps to destroy him. Images follow of a mystery Transformer being dismantled piece by piece, then encased in a Megatron-like body almost like a living coffin. Finally there appears the face of the being he has tried so hard to surpress... Lord Straxus! Megatron awakes with a jolt and Ravage asks him what is wrong. It looks as though Straxus may be planning a fresh assault to regain control of mind he shares with Megatron (see UK #103).

Outside, the mysterious warrior from Megatron's dream, has arrived and karate chops a guard into unconsciousness. Ravage hears the intruder alert and pounces on the stranger who has pentrated their defences. Only when he gets close does he realise the awful truth - his opponent is none other than Megatron! So who is the being he just left in the throne room? At that moment the Megatron that Ravage has served for the last few months appears. Only one of them is the genuine one, but who?

******

Comments:

The stand-off at the Macdill base is starting to bore me now because it has been going on for a couple of issues and nothing much has happened. The Autobot army ought to make short work of the Air Strike Patrol and I'm puzzled as to why Optimus thought such numbers were necessary in the first place, especially when you consider that the Ark has been left vulnerable. So I was very glad to see Prime kicking some tailgate in the final panels - about time too! Otherwise the story is quite predictable because we have had advanced warning in the letters pages and elsewhere that the Pretender Classics are coming. Now Ratchet has been transported to Cybertron, conveniently with the very three who will become Pretenders: Grimlock, Jazz and Goldbug. And Megatron just so happens to have three prototype shells laying around doing nothing. It doesn't feel like there is much room for surprises in this story.

However in the black and white strip surprises are certainly on the menu. The story is essentially an attempt by Simon Furman to dig himself out of a hole - but in my view it only succeeds in making matters worse. The dilemma is that back in issue 108 Megatron blew the space bridge up with himself, having gone nuts after the 'death' of Optimus Prime. In the US continuity he is not seen again until 'Back From the Dead' (last issue) and soon it will be revealed that the bridge accident merely catapulted him into Cybertron's Dead End where he remained, disorientated, until being discovered by the Decepticon Blackjack.

But in the UK run Megatron returned a whole lot sooner. In issue 125 we found out that the accident had transported him to the sewers under London, where he fought Grimlock, Blades and Action Force before ending up at the bottom of the Thames. We know this was the same Megatron who blew himself up because of the identical facial damage. Megs goes on to fight off a resurgent Lord Straxus (who tries to overwhelm their shared mind) and fight alongside Galvatron in Time Wars, before stealing a ship and returning to Cybertron with Ravage. During Time Wars Galvatron kept seeing things through Megatron's eyes, as indeed he would as he is a future version of Megs. So quite clearly the Megatron that Furman had been writing about for 100 issues or so IS the genuine article. His reappearance on Cybertron in this way creates a problem.

The solution? Create two Megatrons! Furman's idea is that Lord Straxus built a second Megatron as a fall back plan in case the mind-swap failed. This doppelganger was sent ahead to Earth and mistakenly believed he was the real Megatron. The problem with this is that it doesn't explain why the duplicate Megatron was packed-off with identical facial damage to the real Megatron when he was last seen blowing up the bridge. His battle with the Predacons hadn't taken place by then so how would Straxus know what injuries Megatron would pick up? And why created a wounded body double anyway? Moreover Galvatron remembers participating in Time Wars as Megatron which is not possible unless he and the second Megatron are the same being. If Straxus had created a second body, why go through with the mental attack on Megatron? It had so much potential to go wrong that it would have been less risky to transfer himself to the clone body and then attack Megatron on equal terms.

What bugs me is that the whole thing is so unnecessary. In the UK continuity Megatron is already on Cybertron, and could easily be written as having battled some Autobots on the space bridge and be thrown into the Dead End by an explosion. The continuities could then be re-woven and the crisis averted. Furman will probably have known, when he brought Megatron back in issue #125, that a conflict would arise eventually. It was obvious a US writer would want to bring Megs back at some point and he (Furman) would have a problem. Ironically, Furman gets appointed writer of the US book and becomes the architect of his own mini crisis.

One final point to note. The Decepticon undergoing the process of being turned into Megatron looks like a dead ringer for Darkwing, but of course it's not him. He shows up in a short while still very much himself.

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