Transformers UK: Issue #251
Story 1: Skin Deep (Part 3)
Story 2: The Void
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: January 6, 1990
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo, Staz, Gary Erskine (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Starscream feels the pain as his Pretender shell is attacked.
And Rodimus is troubled at how the tables have turned in the war.
Starscream has been brought back from the dead as a Pretender and despatched to Earth to destroy Optimus Prime and Scorponok. With his 'invincible' shell grappling with Prime, Starscream himself gets stuck into Scorponok's troops. Mindwipe's finds that his hypnotic power has no effect (not surprising really as Starscream is currently a blank slate programmed to fight) and Weirdwolf's savage strength counts for nought. Hot Rod blasts the Pretender armour with a photon burst, causing a surge of pain in the shell's owner, and Scorponok follows this up with a powerful sting. It is enough to awaken Starscream's dormant personality and he immediately reverts to type and starts begging Scorponok for forgiveness.
On Cybertron, Ratchet is running for his life with Megatron in pursuit. He has a plan in motion and leads Megs to the lab where the trans-dimensional portal is manifesting. Ratchet receives a hefty slap but says he wasn't trying to flee at all - and mentions that he left Starscream's personality intact, meaning the scheme on Earth has probably failed by now. Moments later the explosives Blackjack planted on the Ark, arrive through the portal with just to go until detonation! Megs panics and runs for the portal but Ratchet dives on him to prevent the escape, saying 'This time you stay dead!' Both disappear through as a massive explosion obliterates Megatron's fortress! The Pretender Classics and Megatron's henchmen watching outside cannot believe anything could have survived that.
Back on Earth Hot Rod can't believe that Optimus just let Scorponok go - and with Starscream too! Prime points out that the two of them wouldn't have stood much chance against the combined Decepticon army, and there was no sense prolonging the conflict. Besides having the traitorous Starscream in the Decepticon camp could be the best weapon the Autobots have ever had!
New Year's Day 2009 - and how things have changed. The Autobots returned from the past (see Time Wars) and discovered that history had been altered. Galvatron, far from dead, was back in charge of the Decepticons and the heroic forces had been driven off Cybertron. In fact, as the Autobot ship warps through space to Earth, Rodimus Prime reflects that things are worse now than ever. His decision to retreat from the homeworld created a lot of ill feeling and may be responsible for the anxiety he feels - or maybe not.
Later the Pretender Double-Header alerts Kup that they have a saboteur aboard who has wasted a guard and gunned up the ship's engine room. With the guidance systems out, and thirty minutes from re-entering normal space, they are flying blind. Then the mystery deepens as Kup is told that Rodimus has disappeared. He dispatches the Micromasters to conduct a proper search while he programs the ship's sensors to scan for unknown life forms. Meanwhile two startled guards challenge an intruder and stand down when they realise who it is - but the mysterious bot blasts them both square in the chest. On the bridge the Autobots discover they dropped out of warp too late and are about to slam into Earth! The controls are dead thanks to the saboteur - who Kup reveals is not a stowaway but one of the crew!
I still think it was reckless and totally unnecessary for Megatron to use Starscream in his plan to destroy the Earthbound Transformers. After countless betrayals he would be the last Decepticon you would choose to inhabit a prized super Pretender shell. So what happens is hardly surprising, and it seems Scorponok is a thick as Megatron when it comes to giving Starscream a second chance. No doubt he will regret it soon enough. I imagine Furman had a job on his hands thinking of a way to bring back Starscream, because neither faction would have anything to gain from rebuilding him in light of the trouble he caused during Underbase. But in the end it is Ratchet that restores him, personality and all, as a way of thwarting Megatron's scheme. Convoluted but kind-of clever I thought.
Anyone notice the creeping sci-fi, almost Star Trek, element lately? We've always had time travel and now there's trans-dimensional portals, starships and warp speed to boot! At first I thought the black and white strip had got the date wrong when it said the story was taking place on New Year's Day, 2009. Usually these stories are set 20 years on so it should have been 2010 at this point. Especially as we know that Rodimus and co were on Earth on January 1, 2009 preparing to travel to 1989, to combat the rift in time threatening two worlds. The Void must take place after they returned from Time Wars finding an altered reality where their absence resulted in Galvatron conquering Cybertron. It is a very tangled business to be sure, so I guess we'll have to accept it. I don't know about anyone else but the identity of the saboteur wasn't hard to work out, given his distinctive Rodimus Prime like legs, that we see in silhouette. The real mystery is why the Autobot leader is acting this way - the mystery deepens!