Transformers UK: Issue #263
Story 1: Matrix Quest: Bird of Prey (Part 2)
Story 2: Break Away
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: March 31, 1990
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Geoff Senior, Staz, Stephen Baskerville (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Miss Fatale, B'ghdad, Gutt
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Miss Fatale claims to own the mystical bird and offers the Autobots a deal - but can she be trusted?
While Optimus and Grimlock battle to decide who should lead.
The search for the missing Creation Matrix is on with teams of Autobots being sent to likely planets where it could be. Meanwhile Optimus Prime, aboard the Ark, and Emirate Xaaron, on Cybertron, are discussing the situation via a subspace link-up. They recap the threat of Unicron, who has learned of Cybertron's whereabouts and is coming to devour the planet, and Prime speaks of his shame at not telling his fellow Autobots that the Matrix was a tangible object. When he 'died' three years ago his comrades thought the Matrix had been stored in his mind and had gone too. So they blasted his body into space and now the only thing that can stop Unicron is lost in the cosmos. Prime was later restored to life in a new body and now feels responsible for the current predicament. Xaaron reassures him that this is not the time for apportioning blame and they should concentrate on the search. Afterwards a pessimistic Prime confides in Hot Rod that even if they find the Matrix, he has a feeling that they will somehow be worse off!
Meanwhile on the planet Pz-zazz the Headmasters, Nightbeat, Hosehead and Siren are propping up a bar and thinking about the bird ornament that recently came into their possession. They were given it by a dying alien but Nightbeat was persuaded to put it aside so they could get on with searching for the Matrix. He can't help thinking that Pz-zazz degeneration from a peaceful haven into this grease-pit of a world has something to do with the mystery artefact. Suddenly the Autobots are approached by a mysterious stranger with a special interest in what they were talking about.
Across town the crimelord Gutt is most unhappy that his henchmen failed to retrieve the bird artefact. He hears that a trio of robots made off with it and speculates that this is the work of a new faction called the robot mob. Clearly they must be hunted down and crushed! The mystery woman who has made the Autobots' acquaintance is called Miss Fatale - and she says the bird belonged to her but was stolen. She points to a sacred mountain where locals used to go to be cured of their illnesses, and says she will take them their in return for the bird. It sounds to Siren like the object they will find there could be the Matrix so a deal is made. Nightbeat goes to get the bird and tells his comrades not to turn their backs on Miss Fatale for an instant. As Nightbeat walks away he is observed by a group of robots who follow him. He goes into a storage shop and picks it up, only to be confronted at the exit by a thin robot called B'hgdad and his mobsters. He tells Nightbeat that the bird was stolen from HIM but the Autobot doesn't believe it and attacks the gang, propelling a huge shaggy alien at them before making for the door.
In the Ark an explosive confrontation has broken out between Grimlock and Optimus Prime! The Dinobot leader slams his fist on the table and says he has had enough of weak Autobot ways and threatens to quit - taking his team with him. Prime, backed by a group of loyal warriors, says he has bigger things on his mind like the threat of Unicron and has no time for these tantrums - if the Grimlock wants to go then he knows where the hatch is! Highbrow whispers in Prime's ear that this is a mistake - they need the Dinobot muscle more than ever at the moment. Grimlock fumes "that wasn't tantrum... THIS IS" and pulls the huge round table out of its foundations and slams it into the wall! He declares Prime is unfit to command and openly challenges him to a fight to decide who should lead.
Prime accepts and the two reign blows on each other. The Dinobots and Autobots stand around looking concerned but not daring to intervene. Ten minutes go by and both combatants finally slump to their knees laughing. Prime says Grimlock has succeeded in beating some sense into him and offers him the post of Autobot commander for Earth. The Dinobot accepts and agrees to Prime's precondition that he exercise restraint. It is agreed that the other Dinobots and newly revived classic Autobots will make up the team and they will protect humanity from the Decepticons while Prime's warriors will devote their energies to the Unicron crisis. Jazz says they just got word from Prowl and Wheeljack, who have prevented Megatron destroying Earth's atmosphere, but they need help. Prime orders his warriors to go swiftly... and with his blessing.
Transformers artists seem to forget that not all robots are the same size. Powermaster Prime for example is supposed to be twice as big as the average Autobot because he combines with his trailer to form a bigger mode. When not combined with the trailer he is the same dimensions he used to be, and even then head and shoulders above most. The reason I mention it is that PM Prime and Grimlock have both been drawn in equal proportion this issue. Not the biggest of deals you might say, but something that niggles me. Given Prime's natural strength and size advantage he ought to have handled Grimlock with no difficulty (like Megatron always has) but the fight is portrayed as evenly matched, a draw in fact. I also don't like the way Staz draws Prime's head like he's got a surgical mask on, and the gun that goes flying on the first page looks way too human in design. But don't worry, this isn't going to be a long rant about the art. For the most part I find Staz's work tolerable and quite often good, and at least he's not Wildman.
The story is significant because it establishes Earthforce, with Grimlock at the helm, who are going to feature in most of the next 20 or so back-up stories. Prime is always saying he doesn't have enough troops to get the job of fighting the Decepticons done so it's a miracle he can spare anyone for this project. But that as maybe at least this provides a platform for the original Transformers to feature prominently in the comic again. And by way of an unexpected bonus the writer has picked up a plot thread that was left dangling in issue 261. This was when we last saw Wheeljack and Prowl embarking on a last ditch assault on Megatron to save Earth from a rocket that would overheat the atmosphere. The story ended just as their attack began and we were all left to presume they had been successful, without knowing how. At least now we know that reinforcements were sent and that is probably how Wheeljack and Prowl lived to fight another day. Once again though - how is Megatron on Earth when he is currently drifting in dimensional limbo with Ratchet (see issue 251). An ideal solution to this problem would have been if the clone from the Two Megatrons story had lived. They could have decided that one would stay on Cybertron and the other would go to Earth thereby avoiding a continuity hiccup.
In Bird of Prey we have more detective novel references with the introduction of the femme fatale - who is rather brazenly named Miss Fatale! There is also the quip about Peter Lorre who I presume is an actor from this period. Must remember to look that up. Nightbeat and co are finding themselves in the crossfire between lots of three rival factions who all want the mystical bird and the plot is gathering pace. I loved the shaggy alien Nightbeat throws at the mobsters at the end. This planet seems to be a real melting pot of aliens along the lines of the Moss Eisley bar in Star Wars. A chance for artist Geoff Senior to have a little fun I think.
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