Transformers UK: Issue #281
Story 1: All Fall Down (Part 5)
Story 2: Makin' Tracks
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: August 4th, 1990
Writer: Michael Higgins, Simon Furman
Artwork: Herbe Trimpe, Pete Knifton, John Marshall and Pete Venters (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Hawk is powerless to prevent an assassin shooting Barbara Larkin.
Tracks is on course to be repaired, but not if Grimlock has any say in it.
GI Joe was assigned to protect a controversial new satellite called Power Station Alpha, which had capacity to generate abundant energy for mankind or become a terrifying threat in the wrong hands. Fears were soon realised when it was stolen by the Decepticons, then reprogrammed and turned loose to unleash and orgy of natural disasters. It was enough to make the sworn enemies, GI Joe and Cobra team up, along with the Autobots to put a stop to the Decepticons' nefarious scheme.
A the coalition of planes launches an aerial assault on the Decepticon island base, and this draws attention away from Alpha, long enough for Scarlett and Baroness to plant explosives on the power station. As this issue opens, Alpha lifts off with the two female agents and Goldbug watching on. Scarlett and Goldbug hope Alpha is recoverable but they don't realise that Baroness has set her charges to detonate when the power station reaches orbit. And sure enough it explodes in a ball of flame some minutes later, while the human boy Tony Duranti (who was recently infected by a Decepticon mind control device and freed) witnesses the explosion. He tells his mother who doesn't believe him, but is relieved her son is back to normal.
Back at Decepticon Island, Superion battles Devastator and causes the titan to separate into his component Constructicon parts. He wins the fight, and Serpentor gives the order to withdraw after hearing that Alpha is destroyed. The Joes also depart under advisement from the Autobots who do not want humans getting caught up in their war.
With the crisis over, Hawk goes to see Senator Barbara Larkin, possibly with the intention of patching up their relationship. It went wrong when he learned that she had gambled with lives to get Alpha built and had done business with Cobra. As she is being led to the car, a sniper targets and guns her down, as Baroness watches from a nearby window. A loose end has been tied up... and the series ends with a tearful General Hawk leaving a rose at the senator's grave.
There's trouble brewing at Wheeljack's workshop in the black and white strip. It seems that a saboteur has got in and disabled an automatic sequencer just as the Autobot Tracks was due to be rebuilt. Prime is concerned and assigns Grimlock to find out what is going on. Trouble is, Grimlock IS the saboteur. He can't stand Tracks and would he stay deactivated so he's been throwing the odd spanner in the works.
He goes off to plot his next move, leaving Wheeljack to place the dismembered body of Tracks on a conveyer belt. The parts are taken into a machine begin to be fused together. It will take about 10 minutes so Wheeljack wanders off (like you would when there's a saboteur loose) and Grimlock turns up with a mallet. He's about to do a bit more damage when a tentacle grabs him and sucks him into the machine.
Minutes of bangs, crashes and shrieks later, and Tracks emerges reanimated followed by a decidedly worst-for-ware-looking Grimlock. The vain tracks shows he's lost none of his charm and jokes about scratches to his bodywork, and lets slip that he'll be station on Earth. 'I'm sure we'll get on famously', he says, but seconds later Grimlock is swinging his energo sword and chasing him across the snowy landscape.
After four months of agony, the TF/GI Joe crossover finally reaches a conclusion. Talk about longwinded! There was a story in there fighting to get out, but the pace was painfully slow, especially when served up in so many short instalments. I would have rather it have been half the length and concentrated on the action scenes a little more. The battle between Superion versus Devastator was a case in point, and more could have been made of the clashes between the Joes and Cobra, to give fans of that franchise something to shout about. All that business with Tony Duranti and getting infected with Bombshell's cerebro shell was all very unnecessary to the wider plot. And likewise Hawk's love affair with Barbara Larkin was little more than a distraction to the main event, which achieved little more than to fill some more pages. I could sum up this story with three words beginning with D - deadly, dull, drivel. Trimpe should have read Furman's Transformers/Action Force crossover, for pointers on how to integrate the two series and make an action packed, fast paced story.
At least now the Matrix Quest can resume. It really was a disservice to the readers to put this quality storyline on hold for 17 weeks on account of this pile of cack. In fact this was the point when I stopped collecting the UK comic. I wanted to know what happened in Matrix Quest so I found a comic shop selling the US book and switched to that. This made the UK comic irrelevant, because it was only reprinting stories I had already seen (well in advance) in the US comic, and the black and white Earthforce stories were not strong enough to keep my interest. The irony is that years later I have splashed out a small fortune collecting those missing issues so I can have a completed set. Ah well, part of the reason for quitting the UK book here was out of protest at the way standards had slipped. Luckily they would improve and start working back to where they were in 1986, 87, 88.
A quick word on the back-up strip: nice to see an old face, Tracks, back in the comic. I don't think much was made of his personality back in the days when he featured regularly (albeit in the background). I had no idea he was supposed to be so vain or irritating. This story would have been better suited to Sunstreaker than Tracks in my view, but Sunstreaker is already up and running around. The ending is slapstick and pretty funny, even for a miserable sod like me who prefers to his TF stories to be heavyweight not light-hearted, but what's going on with Grimlock. Behind all the comedy is the serious issue that he's been sabotaging the base and trying to stop a fellow Autobot from being brought back to life. Is this guy really fit to be in command of Earthforce? You'd think Prime would come to the conclusion he's not. But as ever with the black and white strips, it's a bit of fun and of now real significance.
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