Transformers UK: Issue #267
Story 1: Blood on the Tracks (Part 3)
Story 2: Snow Fun
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: April 28, 1990
Writer: Michael Higgins, Simon Furman
Artwork: Herbe Trimpe, Jeff Anderson, John Marshall & Stephen Baskerville (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Autobots and Decepticons are not the only giant machines who can transform!
Grimlock is tricked into a wasted trip to the artic - and he's not happy.
Power Station Alpha - the world's first mobile solar/nuclear station - is at Fort Lewis military base under guard from GI Joe. Already the Dreadnoks have tried to steal it but they were driven off by the commandos, and narrowly avoided colliding with the Autobot Bumblebee as they made their escape. We now see the bikers roaring into the back of Zarana's semi for a rollicking over their ill-timed and incompetent assault. Meanwhile the Joes are forced to admit that the Dreadnoks have alluded them and they decide return to base.
As night falls the anti-nuclear protesters are still camped out at the perimeter, but have been joined by a familiar looking yellow Volkswagen. Bumblebee stares in awe at the marvel of modern engineering that is Power Station Alpha, and by morning it is he who is the focus of attention... from a traffic cop anyway. It is the height of indignity, Bumblebee given a ticket for being illegally parked.
Shortly afterwards the satellite demonstrates its awesome capabilities as it transforms into space shuttle mode and is ready for launch. Road Block allows his four-legged-friend Junk Yard to go wandering off and the dog meets Tony Duranti (the boy from the first instalment) and they keep each other amused courtesy of a game of Frisbee.
Up above, Dirge soars over the base (unseen amazingly) and dispatches the Bombshell to do his thing. The Insecticon needs an agent for what he has in mind, and injects poor Tony with one of his mind-controlling cerebro shells. The boy drops the Frisbee and walks zombie like towards Power Station Alpha.
Northern Canada, April 1st 1990 sees Grimlock trekking through the frozen wastes as a driving blizzard blinds his optics. The Dinobot and Earthforce leader is cold, wet, tired and fed up, and boy does he need to hit something! The reason why Grimlock has travelled 300 miles by shuttle and the last 50 or so on foot is because he is supposed to be meeting Shockwave for a showdown. Quite why the Decepticon has chosen this inhospitable place is unknown, and Grimlock's mood is not helped by his latest comedic fall.
Meanwhile, the two Predacons, Razorclaw and Rampage, are on patrol - and not really expecting to run into any Autobots because surely none are dumb enough to come out here. A quick jump over to Earthforce HQ sees Dinobots, Swoop, Snarl, Slag and Sludge, having a good laugh at their leader's expense. It turns out that they were behind the fake communication from Shockwave challenging Grimlock to a duel. Sure enough in the next frame we see Grimlock arriving a giant Shockwave-shaped-snowman with a big sign alongside saying April Fool. The Dinobot leader - not known for his sense of humour at the best of times is fuming, and takes apart Razorclaw and Rampage (who turn up laughing) then hightails it back to base and is last seen approaching the other Dinobots with a gigantic snowball.
Transformers playing practical jokes on each other - need I say more? If someone had told me during the heyday of 86/87, when truly great stories were being churned out, that the comic would be tackling such themes as April Fools Day I would have checked the calendar to make sure I wasn't being 'April fooled'. Sadly this is the reality of the comic at this particular juncture in its evolution. It's like Furman has decided to concentrating his creative efforts on the US comic and shovel the UK comic full of any old crap, with the result that the product is now a sorry version of its past greatness. While I don't object to humour in stories I would rather it be restricted to light hearted moments in an otherwise action-packed and gritty tale. If not we may as well buy the Beano or Dandy instead of Transformers. And besides the brilliant Lew Stringer already does a great job providing laughs in his excellent Combat Colin back-up strip.
Story-wise: the main strip, though unbearably dull, illustrates my point about interspercing humour rather than letting it take over. The frames with Bumblebee getting a parking ticket and moaning how this sort of thing "never happens to an Aerialbot" are inspired. It is a shame there is not much else to recommend in this lacklustre crossover. Returning to the black and white strip, I'll admit to liking the final frame where Grimlock arrives with a giant snowball to ambush his Dino-buddies, and the 'censored' box appears, but overall this is one issue you wouldn't kick yourself for missing.
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