Transformers UK: Issue #284
Story 1: Matrix Quest: Kings of the Wild Frontier (Part 3)
Story 2: Assassins
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: 25th August, 1990
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo, Jeff Anderson, Kirk Etienne (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
The alien family tighten their grip on the unsuspecting Autobots.
Fearing the impending arrival of Unicron, the Autobots have begun scouring the galaxy for the only thing that can defeat him - the Creation Matrix! As Backstreet, Dogfight and Override face mortal peril on the planet Cheyne, aboard the Ark Optimus Prime tries to mentally contact the Matrix. As a former guardian he maintains a psychic link to the sacred life force and in a dream state, Prime witnesses it as it was, pure and untainted, and now sullied by evil. Finally he experiences the sensation of plunging into the open jaws of Unicron before waking up. As omens go this one is not the best.
Back on Cheyne the search team is slowly being brainwashed by an outwardly innocent family of aliens. We now see them ploughing the land with no memory of the urgent mission they were recently dispatched on. The head of the Vrobian family comes to chat to them and Dogfight accompanies him into town, lest any harm should befall him.
Sure enough when they arrive at the settlement the locals are distinctly hostile but they dare not attack with Dogfight standing guard. Suddenly Thunderwing and his posse of Decepticons arrive and demand that the Autobot hand over the Matrix. Windsweeper and Ruckus bash him up a bit but no answers are forthcoming - in fact Dogfight seems confused and not to recognise his enemies. Thunderwing decides to find out what is going on.
For some strange reason Starscream is hanging out in the Louisiana swamps and if this wasn't bad enough an assassin has him in his crosshairs. The alien mercenary takes aim... shoots... and misses! But Starscream is not so sloppy and quickly destroys his attacker in a twin burst of laser fire! As he examines the body somebody comes riding at him on a unicorn (no really!) and with his lance extended. Starscream seizes the weapon and throws the rider into the swamp. Then he deals with two floating spud-like things that attack, and when they are at his mercy, the Decepticon demands answers.
The scene cuts away to Megatron and Shockwave who are watching the ambush on a monitor screen. They have pulled resources to try to destroy Starscream and Soundwave and take their places as Decepticon leaders. By making it look like Soundwave arranged the assassination attempts they hope to turn Starscream against his untrustworthy partner. Bludgeon, Octopunch and Stranglehold will come in handy for the next phase of the plan. Meanwhile at Autobase, Earth, acting-surgeon Wheeljack determines that Snarl is suffering from Corrodia Gravis. He will literally rust to death unless he gets a systems boost from a compatible donor, and the one who fits the bill is Starscream!
As you might have guessed from reading the synopsis of Assassins this is one weird story. Not only do we have Starscream as Decepticon leader but he's trudging through a desolate rust-inducing environment alone, for no apparent reason, and being attacked by a knight on horse back! Who this guy is and where he comes from is anybody's guess, and not to mention how come his horse is giant robot size! These are just some of the questions that go unanswered in what is fast becoming the most plot hole ridden stories in the history of the Transformers comic. If all of this wasn't barmy enough we then get two flying potatoes (could be brains) connected by an umbilical cord joining in the fight! The mind boggles!
The paymasters behind this decidedly odd bunch of assassins is Megatron and Shockwave, two hugely ambitious egos who have never got on before, going to some lengths to unseat Starscream and Soundwave. My problem with this is a) that their previous alliance (remember the joint leadership?) ended in such acrimony as to be unlikely to be repeated, and b) why bother when they could easily turn-up and give their former lieutenants a few good slaps and take over anyway? Oh and c) the potatoes are in it.
An interesting twist to it all is Corrodia Gravis disease that Snarl has, but the idea that an enemy is the only compatible donor is something I've seen a few times before. One that comes to mind is a Star Trek: TNG episode where Worf is put in that position with a dying Romulan. Anyway to sum up it is a shame that these colendar-like black and white stories are so holed but that is doubtless a natural consequence of trying to tell a self-contained story in so few pages. If only they would revert back to the 11 page strips of the good old days. Likewise the Wild Frontier story is interesting but too slow moving when chopped into four instalments. It seems that a lot of readers were unhappy with the format and sliding standards because there is a revealing appeal from 'Dreadwing' on page 2 for more interesting letters that the usual black and white gripes. So it sounds like the postbag has been full over this one and the comic's editors are concerned.