Transformers UK: Issue #252

Story 1: Yesterday's Heroes (Part 1)
Story 2: Edge of Impact
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: January 13, 1990
Price: 40p
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo, Staz, Gary Erskine (cover)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Optimus is grief stricken over the loss of his friend and medic - Ratchet.



The mystery saboteur is revealed to be Autobot leader Rodimus Prime!

Autobot scientist Perceptor - status: deceased. Autobot warrior Powerglide - status: deceased. Autobot surgeon Ratchet - status: missing presumed dead. The computer report makes grim listening for Optimus Prime, not only are these deactivated Autobots comrades, but they are/were friends too. None more so than chief medical officer Ratchet, with whom Prime shared a long standing and personal bond. He understands the sacrifice his friend made but that doesn't make his 'death' any easier. Prime considers all the casualties that the Transformers war has brought and asks the computer how he can possibly stop this. The computer has a straightforward answer: stop fighting. Nearby, Hot Rod and Kup are concerned about their leader's state of mind. If the great Optimus has lost the will to fight on then the Decepticons have as good as won.

On Cybertron giving up is the last thing on anyone's mind, especially now the resistance has a new lease of life care of the Pretender Classics - Grimlock, Bumblebee and Jazz. The trio now lead the Rescue Patrol and Double Targetmasters - Landfill, Quickmix and Scoop - in an assault on a Decepticon fuel depot. Bumblebee is revelling in his new found status, before he used to be small and weak, but as a Pretender he is looked up to and respected. A lot of anonymous looking Decepticons hit the deck and just as the Autobots are getting warmed up, the battle is over! "Victory ours," exclaims Grimlock, in another example of his defective speech circuits. Bumblebee suggests they get Ratchet to fix this, forgetting for a moment that their friend is lost. Jazz concurs, nothing could have survived the blast that destroyed Megatron's fortress, he says. But at least with the Pretender Classics getting things moving on Cybertron, some good has come out of the surgeon's sacrifice.

******

With the future Autobots' facing destruction, ship's first officer, Kup makes a last minute log entry. It is January 1st, 2009 and the ship was on its way to Earth when the engines were sabotaged. The culprit is one of the crew and has also totalled three troops. Making matters worse Rodimus Prime is missing and they are about to burn-up in Earth's atmosphere! Kup enters a cargo bay and sees Longtooth kneeling over a fallen Prime - it looks like the saboteur has been found!

Kup pulls a gun on Longtooth and tells him to back off nice and slow. Arcee comes in and protests that the Pretender is not responsible for the attack on Prime, he was down when they found him. Rodimus recovers with no memory of the saboteur or how he came to be in the cargo bay, and this raises Kup's suspicions. He tells Rodimus that Arcee will attempt to swim through the coolant tanks to fire the retros and slow the ship's descent. Shortly afterwards we see Arcee crawling through a tunnel, not swimming, and Kup waiting by the coolant pools with a very bad feeling. Sure enough Rodimus Prime surfaces and tells Kup that he tricked him and will die for that! The ship impacts hard, but is not destroyed thanks to Arcee. The Autobots end up outside and pick theirselves up, thinking the worst is now over. But Kup knows better and warns everyone that with Rodimus in the grip of evil, the real challenge has just begun!

******

Comments:

Optimus Prime's computer is a bit of a bastard - talk about rubbing it in! Rather than listing the injured Autobots as deactivated it says they are deceased - which in my view is too strong a word. It implies finality, no way back, when we have seen on numerous occasions that a Transformer sustain massive injuries including the loss of a limb - or even their head - and still be repairable. As far as I know the only way a Transformer can actually die is if their brain module is destroyed. This happened to Shockwave in issue #147, but Optimus Prime proved the exception to the rule because he survived the death of his body by being copied to a computer disk! That said though, the idea of the Autobot leader plagued by insecurity and despair is an interesting prospect. It is the kind of character analysis that we have come to expect from a Simon Furman story, and is evidence of his growing confidence on the US book. You can imagine that Prime must feel very lonely in his position, after all as commander he bares ultimate responsibility for the casualties. He has to project an image of leadership and strength and as such emotion can be a luxury. It was only really with Ratchet, Prowl and some of the older cast, that Prime could show his inner feelings and concerns. With his confidante gone there is no-one to lift Optimus out of the mire of self pity he is in. Most of the current Autobots are newcomers and he hasn't known them for that long.

The story marks the debut of the Double Targetmasters, although whether they are binary bonded to Nebulans at this point is open to debate. If they are, how did it happen? They weren't part of Fort Max's expedition to the planet as far as we know. They aren't in it long, but there are hints at some characterisation. Quickmix comes over as a perfectionist windbag, and Scoop is clearly a bit irritated by his comrade and has to remind him to stick to the task at him (namely blasting Decepticons). Meanwhile the Rescue Patrol make their US entrance and will shortly be dispatched to Earth to replace Prime's legion of "deceased" warriors.

Story two is busy acquiring those Star Trek themes. Now we have Kup the first officer, making log entries! The reason for this is unclear, after all they have moments before they are due to burn up with the ship, and presumably the recording device would be destroyed in the accident. The suddenness with which Kup susses Rodimus Prime is not realistic enough for me. I would have preferred a few more clues, and seeing Kup's thought process in a little more detail, but as ever panels are at a premium.

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