Transformers UK: Issue #275

Story 1: Ashes to Ashes (Part 3)
Story 2: Secret
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: June 23, 1990
Price: 45p
Writer: Michael Higgins, Simon Furman
Artwork: Herbe Trimpe, Pete Knifton, Stephen Baskerville (cover)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Bombshell loses control when a human scientist probes one of his cerebro shells.



Wildrider has been framed as a traitor and faces judgement and execution from his leader Megatron.

In order to make changes to the Power station Alpha satellite Shockwave has cajoled Cobra into attacking the Ark to steal a solar generator. Blaster detects the incoming planes as the Autobots are preparing to go home following the funeral of Optimus Prime. Ark bouncer, Omega Supreme, swats the Cobra planes like they were insects, and the Decepticon Dirge does nothing to help his human 'allies'. Cobra's Emperor Serpentor swiftly realises that the attack is futile and must be called off before they are all destroyed. But first he will lead Dirge to a certain doom in the thick of the battle.

Over at the Pentagon General Hawk is getting a briefing on the destructive potential of Alpha now that it is in the wrong hands. Senator Garcia reveals that the designers, and Hawk's new love interest Senator Larkin, knew of the dangers but proceeded anyway without reporting the findings. Hawk is ruffled and leaps to her defence, but is presented with photographs of her having a secret meeting with The Baroness.

Elsewhere, surgeons have succeeded in detaching one of Bombshell's cerebral shells from the brain of teenager Tony Duranti. His mother is relieved when he starts to recover from the zombie state he has been in since he was ensnared during the Decepticon theft of Power Station Alpha. And Dr McGrath decides to study the device he has just extracted and pokes it with a needle. This produces a startling effect on Bombshell who starts to undergo spasms and involuntary transformation in front of Dr Mindbender. The Cobra scientist is fascinated and believes he may have discovered a weakness he can exploit.

******

In the black and white strip the Decepticon civil war continues. Megatron takes a blast in the back from his rival Shockwave and topples over a cliff into the sea. His attacker transforms and joins triple changers, Astrotrain, Blitzwing and Octane, who now help themselves to a shipment of energon that Megatron was supposed to be collecting. Shockwave doubts they have seen the last of Megatron but they have inflicted a humiliation on his band of 'rogue Decepticons' and he will settle for that.

Moments after they depart, Megatron surfaces, looking furious. He returns to HQ and orders Soundwave to use his mind-reading abilities to uncover the traitor, who betrayed their location. The trouble is that Soundwave IS the traitor and is now in an impossible position. Nevertheless he goes for a wander and scans the minds of his comrades, discovering some interesting snippets of information, including how Mixmaster is continuing to trade the forbidden circuit booster drug, Syk.

Hours later and Megatron is growing impatient. Soundwave knows he had better come up with a result so he decides that a scapegoat must be found. He goes to see the well known paranoia king Wildrider, and in hushed tones tells the Stunticon the enemies are everywhere and he is the only one Soundwave can trust. He hands over a disc of 'battle plans' to transmit to Cybertron and then promptly collapses!

Wildrider decides Soundwave must have been poisoned and goes off to make the transmission only for Megatron to catch him at the console. It turns out that Soundwave had framed Wildrider as the traitor, and this latest piece of evidence is all Megatron needs. Without waiting for an explanation he warms up his fusion cannon and blow the unfortunate 'patsy' to pieces. Such deceit would play on Soundwave's conscience if he had one, but now he has shifted the heat off himself and ingratiated himself further with Megatron, and has learned some juicy secrets that could make for some good old fashioned blackmail.

******

Comments:

The cover of issue 275 is a little deceptive because it gives the impression readers are in for another titanic battle between Megatron and Shockwave. In reality the scenes with Megatron being ambushed and plummeting into the sea, are a minor part of a story and more like a catalyst for what comes next.

But despite the initial disappointment, I went on to be pleasantly surprised with Secrets. What we get instead is something far better - an original gem of a tale in which the devious and manipulating nature of Soundwave is centre stage. He might at first thought he had been rumbled as the traitor when Megatron summons him, but it soon becomes apparent that he is not suspected and his mind reading abilities are needed for an investigation. This ability is not often shown in the comic and yet it must surely be crucial to how Soundwave always maintains his position of authority, no matter who is Decepticon leader. And the secret of his success is knowing when and how best to use the information that he illicitly gleans.

Soundwave proves himself a master of manipulation in this issue. He plays on Wildrider's paranoia to set him up, and gambles that Megatron will engage fusion cannon before brain and destroy the scapegoat without asking questions. It all works out perfectly, and as much as you can admire Soundwave's deviousness you have to feel sorry for the unfortunate Wildrider.

It certainly looks like he is a goner and yet he features in 'future' stories like Ark Duty and The Legacy of Unicron. So at some point I imagine he is rebuilt or the Decepticons make another Wildrider. It would make sense because he is needed by the other Stunticons to form Menasor. Megatron might have thought about that before blowing him to bits and losing one of his gestalts. I would interested to see how the other Stunticons take the news and how Soundwave goes about blackmailing Mixmaster and others now that he has got dirt on them.

Some observations about the lead strip. How are Cobra planes able to withstand blasts from Omega Supreme without blowing up? And doesn't the fact that there are humans in the planes put Omega in a difficult situation? After all the Autobots are sworn to protect humanity, even the misguided ones. And how come Bombshell doesn't deactivate or retrieve his cerebro shells once they have accomplished their task? By allowing them to fall into enemy hands and be used against him he is really leaving himself exposed. His mind-control ability is unique among the Transformers but appears to have an equally dangerous downside.

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