Transformers UK: Issue #266
Story 1: Blood on the Tracks (Part 2)
Story 2: Life in the Slow Lane
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: April 21, 1990
Writer: Michael Higgins, Simon Furman
Artwork: Herbe Trimpe, Pete Knifton, Pete Venters, Andrew Wildman (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Megatron sends Dirge and Bombshell to capture Power Station Alpha.
While the Battlechargers and Stunticons battle for the rights to a downed satellite.
The Dreadnoks come roaring into Fort Lewis on their bikes and begin firing off rounds with a total disregard for accuracy. Hawk puts a protective arm around Senator Barbara Hawkins and rushes her to safety as barrels explode around them. GI Joe, who are on the scene guarding a prototype nuclear power station, take on the intruders but must be careful to safeguard the VIPs.
When a Dreadnok nearly flame grills Junk Yard the dog, he really the puts the wind up Road Block, but it falls to Scarlet to knock the guy off his bike with a flying kung-fu kick. The ninja, Snake Eyes, deals with another character in similar fashion, and the Dreadnoks decide to retreat. In order to secure their safe escape they take a fat congressman hostage and threaten to chop his head off with a chain saw, unless everyone drops their guns. The Joes comply and the biker gang ride off.
Over at Cobra Island in the Gulf of Mexico, Cobra Commander is furious that these 'imbeciles' (the Dreadnoks) have scuppered their well laid plans, and is holding Zartan responsible. It is particularly bad news for Cobra's masked leader because he now has a rival in the multi-personality clone, Serpentor. He tells Zartan to contact Zarana and get the Dreadnoks picked up before they are captured and forced to reveal any more secrets.
At Decepticon HQ, Megatron is also watching the skirmish and orders Dirge and Bombshell to report. After reprimanding the Insecticon for his insolence, Megs commands him to modify a cerebro shell and plant it in the main computer of Power Station Alpha. The pair transform and move out, having warned not to fail. While on the highway the Dreadnoks are setting fire to traffic as they go - leaving a very distinctive trail for the Joes to follow, and they try to carve up an approaching yellow VW Beetle. To their amazement it part transforms and jumps out of the way!
Route 43: Jacksonville to New Orleans. A traffic cop stops a motorist for doing 90mph in a 60 zone. Down in Louisiana people take their time, he says, just as two Autobots scream past at 200mph (causing a draft that blows the motorist's toupee off!). It is Jazz and Sunstreaker on a mission to secure a downed satellite and time is most definitely against them. Unfortunately Skydive broadcast its location on an open channel so the Decepticons will have heard, and are probably en route.
A quick recap to UK #261 reveals what happened after Wheeljack and Prowl launched themselves into battle with Megatron's forces. They had intended to stop the Decepticon leader from detonating a cargo of deadly gas in orbit and causing a catastrophic global warming effect, which could have been harnessed to produce Energon. Prowl had leapt on the rocket as it blasted off and evidently succeeded in making it crash land with the canisters in tact. The trouble is that Runabout and Runamuck (working for Megaton) and Dragstrip and Deadend (loyal to Shockwave) are on their way to retrieve it for their respective Decepticon camps. Both groups meet each other at the scene and a fist fight breaks out.
Jazz and Sunstreaker arrive to witness the carnage and think there is no way they'll get the cargo with this lot around. They have surely failed Prowl and ensured his sacrifice is in vain. A human interrupts their melancholy and leads them to Prowl, who it turns out is alive and being cared for by the farmer and his friends. What's more, the canisters are empty (made safe days ago) so why not sit back, watch the Decepticons beat the hell out of each other, and enjoy the show Louisiana style?
I'm still not sold on the Transformers/GI Joe story. It's a little slow for my liking and the art/colouring is pretty simplistic (ie bad) in places. The Dreadnoks must be auditioning for a part as the bad guys in the A-Team because they are shooting all over the place and failing to hit anything. Likewise if the Joes are supposed to be these elite crack-troops why can't they hit a bearded guy on a bike from five metres away? On the plus side Bombshell's flippancy with Megatron was enjoyable, and all the factions have been introduced now so the plot should start moving with more pace.
The two Petes (Knifton on pencils and Venters on inks) make their debut in the UK strip and the art looks detailed and stylish. It's a shame we don't get to see what these guys could do if let loose with a colour story. Nice touches, like the motorist's wig falling off, and Sunstreaker's fears over his bodywork as he crashes through a fence. They even revealed how Prowl escaped from Megatron's clutches in the Starting Over story from UK #261, which in the current 'half-arsed' climate was something I wasn't expecting. No word of how Wheeljack got away from a mob of baying Decepticons with his bodywork intact though. Runabout and Runamuck have been fished out of New York harbour - we never saw it happen, but at some point Megatron must have had them retrieved. While the Stunticons are on Earth working for Shockwave it seems. It is not very clear where all this fits into the ongoing US-led continuity, but in the US at the moment Megatron is lost between dimensions, Shockwave fell to Earth, and all the old Ratbat Decepticons are under the command of Scorponok.
To sum up this issue's black and white story, it's slapstick but not without pace and moves the 'Earthforce' continuity along. After last week's poor effort it comes as a welcome relief to this reader. While over on the letters page Dreadwind addresses the issue of the US stories having poor quality colouring. They have bigger gaps between the dots of colour than Brits do, so if you ever wondered, that's the reason!
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