Transformers UK: Issue #271

Story 1: Power Struggle (Part 3)
Story 2: The Living Nightlights
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: May 26, 1990
Price: 45p
Writer: Michael Higgins, Simon Furman
Artwork: Herbe Trimpe, John Marshall, Stewart Johnson (cover)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


GI Joe pilots lock horns with Cobra jets in a bid to win control of Power Station Alpha.



Snarl gets the creeps while snooping at the mysterious Sleepfast factory.

Power Station Alpha has just lifted off from the Fort Lewis army base under the control of the Decepticons. However Dr Mindbender has overridden the control and forced the satellite to switch course to Cobra Island and a squadron of Cobra planes is on its way to intercept it. Meanwhile at a farmhouse in Washington, Tony Duranti, the boy infected with one of Bombshell's mind-controlling cerebro shells, sits on the end of his bed staring into space. His mother had thought he was in a state of shock after run-ins with the Transformers and Dreadnoks at the base but now realises something more serious has happened.

Elsewhere, the armada of Cobra planes and helicopters escorting Power Station Alpha, comes under attack in the skies from GI Joe. One Joe plane executes a perfect 360 turn to shoot down a Cobra jet, leaving the enemy agent to bail out. Below all the action GB Blackrock and his friends are reclining on a Caribbean cruise ship. They hope to avoid getting involved in the battle, but the Cobra emperor Serpentor has other ideas. He orders his air force to circle above the ship and issue GI Joe with an ultimatum to withdraw or they'll destroy the boat. Back at base, Hawk and Senator Larkin have no choice but to agree to the demands, while on the ship a parachuting Cobra pilot comes to land on the deck and is captured.

******

A new craze is sweeping homes in America. It is a goblin-shaped bedside lamp called Sleepfast that reads its owner's mind and allows them to turn out the lights with a single thought. And it is a bargain at only $19.95. As the second story opens we see a TV commercial explaining the product, and in the next scene Wheeljack and Snarl are conducting a midnight break-in at the Sleepfast warehouse (there are no guards around, naturally!). They find literally thousands of the eerie looking goblins curled up in foetal positions of the shelves and the whole experience is giving tough-guy Snarl the creeps. Wheeljack suspects that there is more to these products than meets the eye and they could in fact be dangerous. A flashback to some hours earlier sees him dismantling one and finding out it was made with Cybertronian technology - worse still these creatures have the ability to exert subliminal control over their human owners!

A mysterious robotic figure watches the Autobots on screen and decides they have learned too much and must be eliminated. With that the rows of Sleepfast goblins awake into life and begin to attack Wheeljack and Snarl, swarming over them like a plague of locusts. Just as things are looking desperate the mastermind behind the whole operation shows himself - and it is the Decepticon Headmaster Mindwipe. He reveals that he has been thrown out of Scorponok's army after trying to enthral his boss, but soon he will rule this planet and his comrades will see they made a mistake.

Mindful that the Sleepfasts react to thought, Wheeljack and Snarl both think lights on, and suddenly thousands of the creatures light-up overloading Mindwipe's optical circuitry and incapacitating them. Their plan worked and Wheeljack rounds off the encounter with a cringe-worthy joke, commenting that they scared the living nightlights out of Mindwipe.

******

Comments:

Oddly enough no Transformers actually appear in this week's main story, unless you count the toy Bumblebee that Tony Duranti is holding. This little in-joke is strange when you think about it, because in the story's reality TFs are seen as alien invaders and all equally evil. Governments have been doing their best to deceive their peoples as to the true nature of the robot civil war on Earth, hence the Robot Master conspiracy of some issues back and the very public 'execution' of the Throttlebots on live TV. So it is odd in that climate that there would be Transformer toys on sale to children.

I would have liked to have seen the Decepticons' reaction to having Power Station Alpha pinched from under the noses, but this is saved for another instalment. In fact the closest we get to a Transformers presence is the appearance of regular TF guest star GB Blackrock on his cruise ship. Poor GB, it seems that whether on his oil rig, in the aerospace plant, refinery or ship, he always seems to attract trouble. However the dogfight erupting around his cruise liner at least ups the excitement levels from the previous dullness. But I cannot believe any terrorist organisation like Cobra would be allowed to get hold of tanks, planes and island headquarters without being bombed into oblivion long before now.

As for the back-up strip, it strikes me as a little daft to try to take over the world using hypnotising bedside lamps. It is definitely the most stupid idea since the brainwashing carwash of doom from issue #128 and Furman should have known better. However this is the five page back-up, and not even in colour, so it seems that anything goes. At least the artist, John Marshall, has made an effective use of shading to give the panels an eerie, more fleshed-out feel. Although I notice that the 'consumer' in the advert who has bought a Sleepfast has a face that looks almost identical to the goblin at his bedside. Perhaps its effects are not just subliminal but face-altering as well. This story is not the worst black and white but it is a long way off the best. I would have been more interested to read an account of how Mindwipe tried to enthral Scorponok and got thrown out of the Decepticon army, as that was the most intriguing aspect of this yarn. I also found myself wondering what became of Mindwipe at the end of this - was he taken captive or left to dust himself down and plot anew?

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