Transformers UK: Issue #274

Story 1: Ashes to Ashes (Part 2)
Story 2: Where Wolf?
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: June 16, 1990
Price: 45p
Writer: Michael Higgins, Simon Furman
Artwork: Herbe Trimpe, Jeff Anderson, Pete Venters (cover)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


GI Joe realise their mistake in destroying Bumblebee and will now make efforts to have him rebuilt.



While Bludgeon finds himself under threat of execution from Springer if Carnivac turns out to be dead.

The shaky alliance between Shockwave's Decepticons and the terrorist movement Cobra continues for the moment. Both sides secretly intend to betray the other when the moment is right, and to this end Serpentor has charged Dr Mindbender with remaining at Decepticon HQ as his 'ambassador' and Shockwave now assigns Dirge to accompany the humans on a suicidal attack against the Autobots. He is not too bothered whether they prevail or if they are destroyed by the Autobots.

Back at Joe headquarters in Seattle, the oil billionaire GB Blackrock is putting the counter terrorist unit in the picture in regards to the Decepticon threat. It is a subject he knows all too well, having had several of his installations captured or raided. He chastises Main Frame and Crankcase for the destruction of the Autobot Bumblebee, seen in the next frame decapitated and in bits. Main Frame thinks there may be a way to save him, and he will study Bumblebee's inner workings to see if it is possible to send a message to his comrades.

Those fellow Autobots are currently away from the Ark attending the funeral of Optimus Prime (who was killed in UK#106 following a virtual reality encounter with Megatron). For two of the speakers, Blaster and Omega Supreme, their leader's death will only strengthen their dedication to the cause.

Meanwhile General Hawk has got off a plane in Richmond, Virginia, on his way to an emergency meeting at the Pentagon. It will give him a chance to see Senator Barbara Larkin again, whom he has been growing increasingly attracted to. A brief interlude sees young Tony Duranti being admitted for brain surgery to remove one of Bombshell's mind control implants, and then Senator Larkin is seen dodging reporters' questions about an inquiry into the theft of Power Station Alpha. She has her driver drop her off at a fancy French restaurant where she gets uppity with a mystery dining partner whom she had colluded with to have Alpha removed and destroyed. It turns out to be The Baroness - a slippery Cobra manipulator who has very different intentions for the power station. Later, as the senator hails a cab, her secret rendezvous is being observed by a Government agent.

******

Springer and his team of Autobot 'Survivors', Broadside, Skids and Inferno, has been granted an audience with Grimlock at the Earthforce HQ in Canada. They have come to plead for reinforcements to take-on the elite Mayhem Attack Squad and hopefully save their Decepticon ally Carnivac from certain doom. Grimlock is initially resistant but is persuaded by Prowl that is worth doing as it would net them five new recruits (including Sandstorm who is not present).

However, as the scene switches to the Mayhem's island base, it looks like the Autobots could be too late. For Pretender Beast Snarler appears to have vaporised Carnivac! It turns out that he has only succeeded in destroying his opponent's pretender shell, and as he examines the smouldering ashes a huge lump of machinery is dropped on him and renders him unconscious.

Bludgeon is not happy by the way the quarry has been executed by blasting from a distance - he would have preferred close-knit combat, an honourable warrior's death. It looks like he will get a chance to fight after all, as Springer arrives with a squadron of Autobots on gliders. A fierce battle ensues with Bludgeon, Octopunch and Stranglehold in the thick of it, but Spinister decides to sit this one out; after all the mission is complete. Nearing the camp he finds the broken Snarler and realises Carnivac may have survived after all.

With the three Pretender Mayhems subdued and captured, Springer is doubly relieved when Carnivac appears still very much alive. Prowl has been impressed by the Decepticon's superior tactics and mercy towards their captives, and offers him a place on the Earthforce. Carnivac laughs. Far from being merciful he simply knows that denying Bludgeon and his sidekicks the warriors' death they crave, and imprisoning them instead, will be a far worse fate then death. A suitable revenge perhaps, for the death of his friend and co-defector, Catilla. He will join the Earthforce but will remain a Decepticon at heart.

******

Comments:

Treachery abounds in this issue's offering of the Transformers/GI Joe crossover. It is one of the most long-winded and justifiably derided stories ever to grace these pages, and ultimately pointless for UK readers as it flies in the face of established continuity. As enjoyable as it is to see the Decepticons and Cobra feigning alliance while plotting each other's downfall, it doesn't ring true for me why the 'cons would bother to get involved with Serpentor and company in the first place. Everything we have seen to date suggests that they consider mankind worthless. Senator Larkin must also need her head tested for trusting the Baroness - the fact that she's dealing with a terrorist outfit likely to use Power Station Alpha as a weapon against the US should have set the alarm bells ringing at the outset. It's dumb.

However efforts have been made to integrate the story into the ongoing Transformers US continuity with scenes depicting the funeral of Optimus Prime, and leading up to Bumblebee's rebirth as Goldbug (of course long time readers will have seen a time travelling Wreck-gar performing this rebuild in UK 118).

The art is also pretty poor, including in the black and white strip and the cover, with only a couple of frames being the exception. We have to assume that Spinister, Snarler and Needlenose escape capture as only the three Decepticon Pretenders are in the Autobot cells in a later story. While Carnivac's quest for revenge has ended in a partial victory; he lost his distinctive wolf Pretender shell but escaped death and inflicted a humiliation on his enemies. Writer Simon Furman cleverly found a way to resolve the story without having to kill off Bludgeon and his buddies - not that I would have minded much as Stranglehold and Octopunch look pretty ridiculous. It is great to see the Next Week teaser restored to its former glory and accompanied with words instead of the two-picture format that didn't tell you anything.

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