Transformers UK: Issue #258
Story 1: Worlds Apart (Part 4)
Story 2: Perchance to Dream (Part 4)
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: February 24, 1990
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Will Simpson, Staz, Jeff Anderson (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Wheeljack goes looking for technology but all he finds is Ravage!
The main strip is a reprint of Worlds Apart from issue 131 so please see that page for comments.
Wheeljack is laying deactivated in the Ark's sick bay when a robotic bug lands on his head and starts probing his memories. The unexpected happens and the Autobot starts to wake from his coma, still unable to move but suddenly self-aware, he feels the bug uncovering a dark secret from his past!
The scene opens in G.B. Blackrock's deserted aerospace plant - used by the Decepticons as a factory for building new warriors - back n 1985. Wheeljack had gone there in early 1986 in search of the advanced Decepticon technology that created Jetfire but had no idea that Ravage was spying on him from the shadows. The jaguar-like Decepticon pounced and scratched Wheeljack's face before disappearing back into the darkness. Wheeljack transformed into his vehicle mode and shone his headlights but the master of stealth was too good at this sort of thing. He leapt on to Wheeljack's roof and revealed that he was fully aware of what the Autobot was doing sneaking around the plant!
Wheeljack was surprised, and embarrassed, and Ravage tempted him by offering to supply some of that technology. With it Wheeljack's engineering skills could become unsurpassed and even enable him to repair the Autobots who fell in the Dinobot Hunt (issues 47-50). In return the Decepticons wanted Jetfire returned to them and Ravage supplied a mind-control device for the purpose. Wheeljack returned to the Ark and summoned Jetfire under the pretence of a routine medical examination. The Autobot's latest recruit was happy to comply, and this made Wheeljack feel worse for his intended betrayal, even though he tried to justify it by thinking it was one life for many. He didn't trust Jetfire but realised this didn't mean it was right to hand him over to the Decepticons! Wheeljack returned to the aerospace plant to acquire the technology some other way only to find that Ravage had torched the place and probably planned to burn it to the ground all along! Back in the present day Wheeljack realises that the sinister figure controlling the psychic bug now knows of his shame - but he has made a mistake because now Wheeljack functions!
I liked this story. The shading and inks brought the colourless strip to life giving the abandoned aerospace plant a real atmosphere. This is just the sort of place you might expect to meet Ravage, and his shows off his mastery of the shadows when he is able to disappear from Wheeljack's view in a split second. The Autobot engineer shows a side to himself that we haven't seen before, his obsession with technical achievement. So great is his desire to get his hands on the Decepticon technology that he comes close to betraying a comrade to get it. I wouldn't have thought it possible of Wheeljack to be tempted this way, and surely he would have known that anything he accomplished afterwards would be tainted, the ends not justifying the means. Prime would never have approved or forgiven him.
Interesting that Wheeljack doubles his function as a doctor - I suspected he would be able to lend his expertise to help Ratchet but I've never known him to be referred to as 'doc' before. The mystery deepens as to what the mysterious watcher (oh okay Galvatron) wants from the deactivated Autobots, but with reactivation a confrontation is building. The epic one they promised? Something tells me not, but more on that later. There is a good letter from Neil McClean on the Dread Tidings page which raises many of the points I've talked about - like Longtooth having a Pretender Shell before the technology existed, and the Dark Rodimus story being set on Jan 1st 2009, the same date as Time Wars. Sadly the reply doesn't address the questions even though there is plenty of space available - annoying! One good thing though is that this is the last reprint for a long time. Thank goodness for that.