Transformers UK: Issue #268
Story 1: Blood on the Tracks (Part 4)
Story 2: Flashback
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: May 5, 1990
Writer: Michael Higgins, Simon Furman
Artwork: Herbe Trimpe, John Marshall & Stephen Baskerville (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Bumblebee finds himself on the end of some unfriendly fire from GI Joe!
Megatron travels to the past and possesses the body of Snaptrap - but he's got company.
Bumblebee continues his vigil at the Fort Lewis army base, where GI Joe is guarding a revolutionary new orbital power station, scheduled for imminent launch. The mini Autobot is bothered briefly by a buzzing insect which he recognises as the Insecticon Bombshells and radios Optimus Prime for help. At the Ark, Ratchet has finished modifications to the newly-created Aerialbots and Prime immediately dispatches them to the scene. As the five Autobot jets soar skyward, Optimus expresses (via his thoughts) his admiration for Silverbolt who is doing a creditable job of leading the team despite harbouring a secret fear of heights (a rather unfortunate weakness for a robot who transforms into a Concorde).
Meanwhile the human boy Tony Duranti continues to walk zombie-like towards Power Station Alpha under the spell of one of Bombshell's mind controlling cerebro shells. Strangely he is not challenged by security (GI Joe obviously on a tea break) and only his faithful dog seems to know something is wrong. Bumblebee spots the boy and is forced to disobey orders by revealing his presence, transforming as he does into robot mode and rushing through the crowds of startled human protestors to scoop up Tony. Amid the screams the ninja Snake Eyes swings aboard Alpha and brings it to a halt. Other members of GI Joe see Bumblebee return Tony to his mother and also the boy's expression, it is like he is in a state of shock, and this convinces them of the Transformer's ill intent. Senator Barbara Larkin orders General Hawk to do whatever it takes to safeguard the power station and the Joes aim their tanks at Bumblebee and open fire - blowing him to pieces before he has a chance to explain himself. Amid the debris Bumblebee's severed head says "I have failed" and goes offline.
Bombshell is able to use the distraction to enter Alpha's control room, while outside the five Aerialbots arrive in the sky above and combine, transforming as they land into the gigantic gestalt robot, Superion.
The second story opens with Prowl stood beside a portal of Megatron's making which the Decepticon has used to travel back in time. Prowl glances at the date - 1989, and realises Megatron has returned to the Underbase battle, where ancient energies had transformed Starscream into a living god and he systematically destroyed scores of Autobots and Decepticons who got in his way. Megatron's device has allowed him to take over the body of Seacon leader Snaptrap and obviously intends to save the team of nautical combiners from being destroyed, thus gaining some new troops in the present day. Prowl fixes an image of himself in his mind and steps through the portal.
In San Francisco, a year previously, a great battle rages. The Prowl of 1989 opened fire to no effect and narrowly managed to avoid termination from Starscream's eye beams. As he hit the deck his mind was temporarily fused with his future self, and the Prowl of 1990 takes over his body. He finds the Seacons and challenges Megatron (in Snaptrap's body) to do battle - the other Decepticons are understandably confused. Snaptrap/Megatron reigns blows on Prowl with his sword and Prowl responds with weapons fire and taunts of "I'm hurt you don't realise who I am". Megatron figures Optimus Prime has come back for him, but a slightly dejected Prowl owns up that it is he, before rendering Megatron unconscious. With this Megs is zapped back to the future and into his own body. All that remains is for history to take its course. Starscream destroys the Seacons as before and Prowl stands in the firing line and lets his own circuits fry. He blacks out and wakes in the present day, learning that Megatron has high tailed it out of there, and remarks to Jazz that he now knows how it feels to die twice - and it is no joke.
If Prowl thinks dying twice is bad news he should try being Optimus Prime. That guy has popped his clogs and come back more times than South Park's Kenny - often as a means of launching a new Prime toy. After the mediocrity of recent black and white stories it is a welcome change to have a tale with a bit of grit and action, even if it is somewhat sort at five pages. My guess is that Simon Furman got the inspiration for this one from watching episodes of the TV series Quantum Leap, one of my favourites in the 90s. However, even with this superior-than-most mini tales, I still can't shake the feeling that these back-up strips are being fired at us with a scattergun effect. They are all so random and unconnected and lack cohesion in any kind of ongoing continuity. Certainly, Megatron at this time in the ongoing saga is lost in between dimensions and won't be seen again until the 1991 story 'The Price of Life'.
Elsewhere in GI Joe world it is another lacklustre instalment made memorable only by the scenes with Transformers in it, notably the destruction of Bumblebee and Prime evaluating Silverbolt, plus the dramatic appearance of Superion at the end. But even Superion's arrival could have been done better. Incidentally the ignominious end of Bumblebee is to be the catalyst for his rebirth as Goldbug (a move made necessary by the Hasbro toy line). The UK comic handled the transformation in a similar way in issue 118, but in that storyline he was blown up by Deaths Head and rebuilt by Wreck-gar. Clearly this story does not fit UK continuity, which is why it was ignored when it was first released, but is being printed here anyway as a stopgap for new material. To make it fit there were suggestions that it took place in an alternate reality. There's also a blooper where Prime refering to Silverbolt as Superion in one of the frames.
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