Transformers UK: Issue #250

Story 1: Skin Deep (Part 2)
Story 2: The Greatest Gift Of All
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: December 30, 1989
Price: 40p
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo/Staz (story) Andy Wildman (cover)
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Stakeout


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Optimus has the dubious honour of being Starscream's first victim.

Pretender Starscream has arrived on Earth to execute Megatron's will - and his enemies! Lord Zarak is stunned to see him, and not thrilled by the news that Megatron is back either! Prime's concern is for his chief medical officer Ratchet, whom he suspects has been taken prisoner by the Decepticons. Starscream's reappearance is the final piece of the jigsaw, and Prime realises that the Air Strike Patrol's attack on a human air base was a ruse to lure the Autobot and Decepticon armies into a trap. Ratchet has somehow been kidnapped from the Ark and forced to rebuild Starscream, and the chances are he is in grave danger! Prime's thoughts are interrupted by an attack from Starscream's super Pretender shell (mentally controlled by its owner) and he has to rely on Lord Zarak's warriors to help him.

Back at the Ark, Blurr is in a panic about the explosives that are set to destroy the ship in a matter of minutes. Kup is trying to keep a cool head and find a way to defuse them. Getaway has Blackjack by the throat and is demanding that he tell them how to stop the countdown. The Decepticon says he would if he could, he has no wish to die, but it is too late to do anything except abandon ship.

On Cybertron the newly revived Bumblebee, Jazz and Grimlock are still battling Megatron (with a little help from their new Pretender shells). Megs fusion blasts Bumblebee out of the side of the fortress and Grimlock blunders his way through the opening too. Jazz gets thrown out with his shell and the Sports Car Patrol, Darkwing and Dreadwind follow them outside. Megatron will attend to Ratchet. Closeby and the Autobot is speaking to Cloudburst at the Ark via a video link and tells him what he must do to save the ship. He adds that time is of the essence... not least because Megatron is on the warpath!

******

It is Christmas Day 1989 and Optimus Prime has a gift to bestow - the greatest gift of all - life. He holds in his hands a fragment of the Creation Matrix (sent by Longtooth last issue) and enough to resurrect one of his fallen warriors. The problem is who? Prime may be the Autobot leader and responsible for taking tough decisions, but does that give him the right to play God? He surveys the rows of incubators in the Ark's medical bay, each sustaining the life of an Autobot warrior destroyed by the Underbase enhanced Starscream earlier in the year. Perhaps a random selection would be fair? Seaspray, a noble and dedicated Autobot, would make a good choice. But what about First Aid? His medical training would be a valuable asset, especially with Ratchet gone.

Prime is so lost in thought that he has forgotten about the Micromaster Rescue Patrol, currently on Earth hunting a Decepticon assassin. Group leader Stakeout now contacts the Autobot leader to report that they have wounded the quarry and are moving in. The Transformer in question is Whisper, a member of the Air Strike Patrol, and he is currently hiding in woodland preparing for a desperate firefight with his pursuers. Prime tells his warriors to use caution and then programs the Ark computer to carry out sensor sweeps which could help the search. He resumes his deliberations, considering whether to revive Silverbolt, and whether he would appreciate or resent being the one chosen?

Back on Earth the Rescue Patrol comes under air attack from Whispers team mates and Red Hot takes a hit. Stakeout tells Fixit to cover him while he transforms and advances on the enemy position. The Ark computer reports no loss of life but substantial damage to the forest ecosystem. The pollution is more than Prime is prepared to accept and he orders his warriors to retreat back to the ship, allowing the Decepticons to escape. Optimus thinks of the countless battles and their toll on the Transformers' adopted homeworld. He returns the Matrix fragment to the pod it arrived in and blasts it toward the planet, where it explodes and bathes the forest in energy restoring it. Prime has a gift to bestow - the greatest of all - and he gives it gladly to the Earth.

******

Comments:

The Transformers comic has reached another milestone with its 250th issue, and it is also Christmas! To mark this double celebration the production team has given readers a wrap-around cover poster depicting a Transformers Christmas party no less! And there is also a competition to win a set of Micromaster bases, a full page Combat Colin strip and more AtoZ entries. But aside from the poster and competition there isn't much to suggest that this is an out-of-the-ordinary issue. Looking back to issue 100 there was an extended 19 page story and cover poster, and #200 came with a free book of Transformer facts and profiles of the artists. It may be because this is a half century edition or just that the comic doesn't have the manpower and financial resources that it once had. I'm sure most readers were easy would happy enough though.

Storywise, the main strip is proceeding with pace now, with action on three fronts. Prime battles Starscream's pretender shell, the Ark is about to be blown up, and the Pretender Classics are battling Megatron.

As for the second strip, well Christmas stories tend to be light pieces with a generous helping of Christmas-inspired morals, but ultimately of little impact to the ongoing story. This one may be no different but I rather liked it and I think it holds its own quite well against the stories that have gone before. Prime's dilemma is really good, and just the sort of predicament you'd expect from him. Personally I would have revived First Aid because if there's anything they badly need, its another medic. With Ratchet gone (see next issue) the Autobots have the Micromaster Fixit to take on the job of repairs but I'm sure he could have used some help. This is after all a task that nearly sent Ratchet off the deep end. Not surprisingly Prime chooses to do his bit for the environment instead, proving that even Transformers like to do their bit. Let's hope they switch to unleaded fuel as well! Back in 1989 the ozone hole was a new concept as far as the public was concerned, so it is not unexpected that the comic should reflect this. We don't see the Rescue Patrol arrive but I can only assume they travelled from Cybertron as part of the process of bolstering the Earth contingent's depleted ranks, which began earlier in the year with the arrival of the Race Car and Off Road Patrols, new Headmasters and Pretenders.

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