Transformers UK: Issue #248
Story 1: All the Familiar Faces (Part 3)
Story 2: Fallen Star
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: December 16, 1989
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo/Andy Wildman (story) Geoff Senior (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Grimlock, Jazz and Bumblebee are reborn as Pretenders - and that's bad news for Megatron!
Aboard the near-deserted Ark in Earth's orbit, the Decepticon saboteur Blackjack is carefully priming the explosives that will shortly destroy the ship. He handles the timer with extreme care, lest it should activate before Megatron gives the signal. But suddenly Blackjack sees the Autobot shuttle returning from the surface - this was not supposed to happen! He dashes to a console hoping to find the Ark's weaponry, and runs into Kup who sticks a gun in his face! Blackjack is taken by surprise and drops the timer, which immediately starts to count down!
On Earth Optimus Prime tries to convince Lord Zarak to suspend hostilities and help him work out why their respective armies were lured into a trap. It would be easy to destroy the Autobot leader and the troublesome Hot Rod, seeing as they are at his mercy, but Zarak knows Prime is as wise as he is brave and he decides to listen to what is proposed. At that moment a portal appears above them and a fearsome Pretender emerges and announces they are to be destroyed. It opens to reveal a Transformer who strikes dread into the hearts (or circuits) of all present, the being they prayed had been destroyed - Starscream!
Back at the Decepticon fortress on Cybertron Megatron is throttling Ratchet when Dreadwind walks in saying they've got trouble. Megs shoves his captive into the lab where he sees the three prototype Pretender shells crackling into life and realises what has happened. The deactivated Grimlock, Jazz and Bumblebee are gone and it doesn't take a genius to work out where! At Ratchet's command the shells open and the three Autobots, now Pretender Classics, launch into battle!
Inside the headquarters of Scorponok's Decepticons (and some time after the events of this issue's main story) Pretender Starscream is lost in his troubles. Once, when he possessed the Underbase, he had the power of life and death and neither Autobot nor Decepticon could stand against him. Unfortunately those vast energies sent him insane and ultimately destroyed him. He would have stayed dead if it weren't for Megatron restoring him as a Pretender and sending him to Earth to fight Prime and Scorponok. When that failed Starscream had to humiliate himself by grovelling to Scorponok to take him back. The Decepticon leader accepted because it suited him to do so, but Starscream is not wanted by his new comrades and feels very isolated. What is the point of having a superior Pretender shell, he thinks, if the Transformer inside is nothing?
He walks past Soundwave and some other Decepticons and they go quiet. He is sure they are laughing at him, but actually they are terrified! Starscream goes outside to think about suicide and then runs into three Autobot spies! They try to back off but Starscream insists they fight him. He blasts Cloudburst, batters Chainclaw and takes to the skies before swooping on Joyride and gunning him up. He transforms and breaks out in a wide smile. His enemies are trembling before him once again and Starscream knows this means he is back!
It is as well that the main story is predictable or the second strip (set some time later) would spoil the surprise. We find out in advance that Starscream is going to grovel his way into Scorponok's good books, which is really dumb because it wasn't that long ago that he was blowing the crap out of both armies. If Scorponok had any sense he would have destroyed Starscream at the first opportunity, but it seems that Decepticon leaders never learn. I spotted a small error early on, where Zarak is recalling the events of the Underbase saga, and describes Starscream as his treacherous lieutenant. In fact he was Ratbat's subordinate and has never worked for Zarak/Scorponok. But with the Autobot Pretender classics now entering the fray and a countdown to disaster on the Ark at least things look good for the finale of this long running tale. Even if we can guess at what will happen. Just to add - I'm not keen on the black and white story this time. It really feels like a six pager in the sense that nothing much happens. Starscream speaks directly to the reader, which I find a little odd. The reader is not obviously present so it is like Starscream is talking to himself and asking an imaginary person to follow him. And what happens to the Autobots he destroys? Do they escape or are they taken captive? Presumably the former although we don't see it.