Transformers UK: Issue #272

Story 1: Power Struggle (Part 4)
Story 2: Cry Wolf
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: June 2, 1990
Price: 45p
Writer: Michael Higgins, Simon Furman
Artwork: Herbe Trimpe, Pete Knifton, Stephen Baskerville (cover)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


One of Bombshell's mind control devices is revealed as the reason for poor Tony's vegetative state.



Carnivac returns for a showdown with his former Decepticon comrades.

Power Station Alpha has been stolen from under GI Joe and the US Government's noses by the Decepticons, and then hijacked in mid-flight by Cobra. An aerial dogfight between Cobra and the Joes was ended decisively when the terrorists threatened to sink a passing cruise liner. Now Serpentor gives the order for his planes to open fire on the liner anyway to ensure that the heroic forces have something else to worry about and cannot pursue. Sure enough the Joes have no choice but to go to the aid of the oil baron (and Autobot ally) GB Blackrock and his fellow cruise passengers, with hovercrafts and a large floatation device to keep the boat afloat. Blackrock thanks his saviours offers to use his connections with the Autobots to help in any way he can.

Watching the events unfold from high above is the Decepticon Dirge and his Insecticon passenger Bombshell. They follow the fleet and Alpha to Cobra Island and then transform and introduce themselves to Serpentor and Dr Mindbender. Dirge congratulates Cobra on acquiring the satellite/power source, and offers an alliance. Serpentor is receptive while Mindbender is intrigued by the powerful machines before him. He privately thinks it would be a great advantage if they could override the Decepticons' minds to serve Cobra, and secretly plants a monitoring device on Dirge as a precaution. The Decepticon reverts to his plane mode and soars into the sky to report back to his new leader Shockwave.

Meanwhile Tony Duranti, the boy who was unwittingly implanted with one of Bombshell's mind-controlling cerebro shells, is taken to see a doctor by his worried mum. He is examined and x-rays are taken and hours later the results are in. The mechanical device attached to his brain is revealed and surgery will be needed to remove it.

Back at Cobra HQ, Mindbender is listening in to the Decepticons' conversation. He overhears Shockwave plotting to use Cobra as an army of "fleshling fodder" and reveals plans to recapture Alpha and use it to create devastating climate change on Earth. The process would allow the Decepticons to harvest enough energy to re-power their home planet of Cybertron.

******

The second story picks up threads left dangling in issue #239 when the Decepticon Mayhem Attack Squad executed the defector Cattilla and his comrade Carnivac swore he would have revenge. The Mayhems - Spinister, Snarler, Bludgeon, Octopunch, Stranglehold and Needlenose, have been laying in wait at their secluded compound for the final reckoning. Needlenose lacks the backbone of the others and has been feeling decidedly jumpy. He decided to test the response times of the others by falsely sounding the alarm, and sparked fury from the Pretender trio. Bludgeon threatens to slice Needlenose in two for daring to test him and the fact that they are fellow Decepticons cuts little ice with him.

Fortunately team leaders Snarler and Spinister appear and demand an explanation for the infighting. Bludgeon stabs a timing device with his samurai sword and shows it to them. Needlenose tells Spinister that he wanted to make sure that everyone was alert and ready. He has served with Carnivac on Cybertron and knows what a deadly and determined opponent he can be. Spinister is offended by this apparent display of fear from one of his warriors, he dismisses the others and then warns Needlenose that he faces termination if he does anything like this again.

Needlenose walks forlornly back to the main structure, still convinced that something bad is about to happen. Sure enough he steps inside and discovers that the lights have been sabotaged. There in the darkness is the terrifying beast form of hunter-wolf Carnivac who is poised to strike. Thanks to the distraction he was able to sneak into the base. Needlenose activates the communications panel and screams for help, but the other Decepticons just think he is up to his old tricks and cut him off. Carnivac pounces and it all goes black - it seems that Needlenose has paid the price for crying wolf.

******

Comments:

I am still finding the GI Joe crossover tedious. The problem is that the story is not that exciting so to drag it out for 16 weeks is just too long. It would have been better for everyone concerned if it were condensed into an eight-parter (the equivalent of two monthly US comics). But I suspect the reality is that Marvel and Hasbro have been determined to flog this one for as long as possible in the hopes of winning TF fans over to their GI Joe franchise and vice versa. In reality people tend to be into one or the other and I'm not sure how effective this marketing exercise will have been. I dare say a faster-paced story might have helped.

All that said there are just enough scene changes in this instalment to stop it getting too stale. I liked the part with young Tony at the hospital because it is the first time the comic has explored the lasting effects of a human becoming infected with one of Bombshell's devices. At least they didn't leave the thread hanging after Tony had served his role in helping the Decepticons to steal Alpha.

What stuck me about Dirge getting cosy with Cobra was the ease with which he seemed to slip into an ambassadorial role for the Decepticons. To my knowledge he had not been briefed by Shockwave on how to play it when he did track down Alpha, and certainly Dirge and Bombshell could have gone in guns blazing and pinched it back. Dirge seems to have evaluated the situation and decided that diplomacy and the long game was the best tactic, perhaps sizing up the armaments at Cobra Island on the way and thinking they could be formidable. Mind you he is obviously not very observant because he didn't see Mindbender lobbing a tracer on to his metal skin. That could have been a touch embarrassing for Mindbender if he were discovered.

The black and white strip is likely to be the main crowd puller. Carnivac is an intriguing character, a bad guy we can sympathise with (but never know if he really has turned good), and as such it makes him a grittier hero then most. The interplay between the panicky Needlenose and his unsympathetic comrades gives Carnivac a great build up and makes his awesome appearance at the end even more special. There is some great artwork here from Pete Knifton. Just see how menacing Carnivac looks - the beasts are far superior to other Pretenders in my book. Furman has taken the simple and well known fable of the boy who cried wolf and adapted it to a Transformers setting and it is a great start to this long awaited 'Carnivac vengeance' arc.

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