Transformers UK: Issue #244

Story 1: The Resurrection Gambit (Part 2)
Story 2: Two Megatrons
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: November 18, 1989
Price: 40p
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo/Geoff Senior (story and cover)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


In the Dead End Blackjack comes face to face with Megatron!


Two Megatrons do battle but which of them is the imposter, and what of Lord Straxus?

At the Macdill Air force base in Florida Optimus Prime's forces have come face-to-face with the Air Strike Patrol. Unknown to Prime, Ratchet, let aboard the Ark, has been kidnapped by Megatron! Prime hauls the mini-Decepticon Stormcloud off the ground and demands to know what is going on. The cryptic reply is enough to make him realise that this attack is a ruse and, back at the Ark, his physician is in danger. But before Prime can order his troops back to base a Decepticon shuttle swoops down and Scorponok leaps out, followed by his warriors. The Air Strike Patrol have disobeyed orders and will answer for that later, but for now no Autobot may harm them and live, says Scorponok. The order to attack is given and a mighty battle ensues.

Back on Cybertron Megatron introduces Ratchet to his latest maniacal scheme. He has created a super powerful Pretender shell capable of healing the Transformer within, and Darkwing and Dreadwind will shortly arrive with mystery warrior who will be the centrepiece of the plan. Ratchet will be needed to monitor the process and ensure that nothing goes wrong, and if he refuses Blackjack will activate a bomb he has placed on the Ark and destroy all the deactivated Autobots.

Megatron also reveals where he has been all these months. He had not set out to deliberately destroy the space bridge with himself on it (see issue #108) but simply to create an explosion to cover his escape. It duly catapulted him into the region of Cybertron known as the Dead End where he lay deactivated for some time. Eventually Megatron's internal circuitry began to repair itself but his mind remained shattered and would take far longer to fix. The Empties who inhabit this region just thought he was another of their number, a deluded old fool who claimed to be Megatron. That was until one day when Megatron came across Blackjack at the mercy of two Autobots. His recognition of the notorious Decepticon leader was the start, and the sight of that hated Autobot insignia clicked the final pieces into place.

******

Last issue's black and white strip saw a mysterious warrior breach the defences of the Decepticon's stronghold on Cybertron. Ravage attacked, only to learn that the intruder was an apparent clone of his boss Megatron, and now two Megatrons are doing battle. Ravage remembers feeling like this once before, when he met Galvatron and his ultra keen senses registered an impossibility. But this situation is far stranger, as this time there really are two versions of Megatron. The only way to tell them apart appears to be a side wound the 'intruder' picked up on his way in, and Ravage knows he must kill the false Megatron, but is it the newcomer or the being he has served under all these months?

Meanwhile Megatron 1 (newcomer) and Megatron 2 (existing Megs) come to blows and attack each other with their equal ferocity fusion cannons. The newcomer pins Megatron 2 down and calls him the impostor. He (Megs 1) tells how he survived the exploding Space Bridge and was guided out of the Dead End by Blackjack (see main strip). He found Lord Straxus' abandoned lab and learned of project rebirth, an experiment to make an exact duplicate of Megatron using a hapless trooper as raw material. Back in issue #103, Straxus attacked Megatron with a mind-swap device, aiming to rid himself of a troublesome foe and claim a new, more powerful body. Straxus failed and his mind fled to his creation, where it lay dormant beneath the brain patterns copied from the real Megatron. When scientists learned of Megatron's 'death' on the Space Bridge they sent the clone to Earth and hid it under the sewers in London. But it was discovered by Action Force before Straxus' mind could take hold and the second Megatron came to life.

Megatron 2 starts to accept the awful truth. He is not Megatron possessed by Straxus, but Straxus possessed by Megatron! But Ravage is not buying it and attacks Megatron 1, scratching at his face. Megs 1 kicks him away and tells Ravage "don't make me destroy you". Ravage can't believe the Megatron he found alongside in Time Wars could be the impostor, but Megatron 2 has seen the truth. As Straxus starts to overwhelm his mind, he puts his fusion in place and blows his own head off - a sacrifice that will deny Straxus his victory once and for all. Ravage asks who won, and the surviving Megatron says they both did.

******

Comments:

Last time I raised a few objections about introducing a second Megatron because I felt that it created more continuity foul-ups than it solved. But despite all that this is still a genuinely good story. It is a functional peice and ultimately only there to resolve a conflict between the US and UK comics, but a gripping read all the same. I would say it is definitely one of the better black and white strips of the run, and the fact Geoff Senior is doing the drawing means it can't fail to look sharp.

Furman has introduced a nice twist to the Megatron/Straxus mind battle. He's switched it so that Megatron is actually the one who possessed Straxus and not the other way around. It isn't clear why the scientists gave the clone the same facial damage as the real Megatron, but possibly to make him appear more genuine as part of a wider plan. Why hide him in the sewers under London though? It seems a odd place to conceal an unstable robot. Ravage mentions Time Wars, and it is clear in that story that Furman believed he was writing about the real Megatron and not a clone. The best indication is that Galvatron keeps seeing the battle through the eyes of his former self, which wouldn't be possible if the Megatron present was a clone. So this aspect doesn't make sense, but maybe no explanation could be perfect. I'm not completely convinced that ANY Megatron would commit suicide because he is too selfish for that, and arguments like it being for the good of the Decepticons wouldn't enter into it. But for me the fake Megatron blowing his head off and leaving Megatron 2 triumphant, is a metaphor for the wider situation between the UK and US continuities. For the first time they found themselves in a serious crisis by Megatron's reappearance on Cybertron after he'd returned ages ago in the UK book. One comic had to back down and as usual it was the good old UK book playing second fiddle. When conflict arises Megatron of the UK stories dutifully removes himself, leaving the US character unopposed.

Just a quick word on the US story. Interesting that Darkwing and Dreadwind are now working for Megatron. He seems to have allied himself with all new characters these days, and not an original Decepticon in sight. Well apart from Starscream, who is coming up soon, and even then he will be a Pretender. I like the idea that the shell can repair its occupant though. That could save Ratchet a whole pile of work. The little joke with the Empties thinking Megatron was just another crackpot (one says 'hic, yep and I'm Lord Straxus') was kind of amusing. Blackjack hasn't been long created but he obviously knows of Megatron, proving he's still notorious four million years after his hey day.

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