Transformers UK: Issue #289

Story 1: Matrix Quest: Deadly Obsession (Part 4)
Story 2: End of the Road
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: 29th September, 1990
Price: 45p
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Jose Delbo, Staz, Pete Knifton (cover)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Doubleheader pulls off a 360 degree turn and surprises Needlenose.

Longtooth survived an attack by a semi-mythical sea creature called the Klud and was left delirious and thirsting for revenge. He stole a boat and went after the beast determined to kill it, while his fellow Autobot Pretenders Pincher and Doubleheader raced to the scene. The Decepticon Thunderwing senses that the Klud had encountered the Matrix and was an important living clue to its whereabouts: therefore the monster had to be protected at all cots. On the high seas of the planet Pequod a fierce battle broke out between the Autobot and Decepticons and Longtooth was knocked overboard and into direct confrontation with his adversary.

Thunderwing reveals that (like a select few Autobots including Optimus Prime) he Thunderwing was created with a natural affinity for the Matrix and now felt it was calling to him - perhaps the time had come for a Decepticon to possess it. Thunderwing reached out to the Klud via a mind link and curled up in pain as he witnessed the events leading up to creature's encounter with the Matrix. It transpired that an escape pod launched from the moon called VsQs ended up in the Pequod oceans. A dead scientist lay on top of it with his wounds awash with Matrix energy and was consumed by the dying Klud. The Matrix transformed the huge fish and literally gave it a new lease on life! Thunderwing was able to witness the VsQs logo on the dead scientist's clothing and realised where the Matrix would be found!

Outside Spinister and Needlenose ganged up on Doubleheader (two planes against one) but didn't count on the Autobot's superior manoeuvrability. He turned the tables on Doubleheader by pulling a 360 and opening fire, while Pincher stung Spinister with a blast from his scorpion tale. Pincher saw Longtooth preparing to finish off the wounded Klud - his deranged mind now associating him with Unicron, and implored his friend not to fire. Longtooth searched his feelings and finally started to remember he was an Autobot and sworn to protect life. Meanwhile Thunderwing recalled his warriors and set immediate course for VsQs leaving the Autobot Pretenders to dust themselves down. Seeing the Klud swim away to safety, they realised this signified a real victory for Longtooth.

******

Intrepid reporter Irwin Spoon accepted a guided tour of the Autobot base expecting to write the scoop of the century. Instead he found himself under attack by the Stunticons and scooped up by the group's fearsome leader Motormaster! In moments he was trapped in the Decepticon's cab section as the truck tore down the the highway with Autobots in hot pursuit! Irwin slammed his fists against Motormaster's windows, demanding to be let out, but it did no good. Prowl - feeling responsible for the situation, raced alongside with sirens blazing but was rammed off the road and into a ditch. Wheeljack broke off his pursuit to attend his friend's injuries, leaving Jazz, Bumblebee, Sideswipe and Tracks to continue.

Irwin was told by Motormaster that the Decepticons did not want him writing a story saying the Autobots were friends of humanity. If the truth came out it could result in Earth's armies declaring war against the Decepticons, but if the Autobots stayed tarnished with the same brush so much the better. Irwin wished he'd listened to his mother when she cautioned against journalism - he should have picked a less dangerous profession, like lion taming!

Jazz transformed and shot out Motormaster's rear tyre sending the trailer section skidding. Breakdown careered into Jazz and both ended up damaged, while Dragstrip and Deadend voiced their displeasure at their comrade's clumsey assault. Motormaster detached the trailer into the path of his pursuers, taking out two Autobots, and now had only Bumblebee and Tracks on his tail. Dragstrip and Deadend closed in on these two, but the Autobots banked left and right at the last moment, causing a three-way Stunticons collision. Motormaster spiralled down an embankment and was powerless to stop the Autobots rescuing Irwin. Little did they know that the Insecticon Bombshell had been hiding in Motormaster and had implanted Irwin with one of his mind-controling cerebro shells! And later at Irwin's home we see him typing his story, trance-like, about evil Autobots who help him prisoner in their base!

******

Comments:

Fun fact: Coincidentally the title 'End of the Road' was also used for the last ever US strip in issue 332.

As the title suggests, it is indeed the 'end of the road' for the Transformers UK stories. The first one appeared in issue #9 to fill a gap until more US material arrived, then grew in scope and sophistication for more than five years. Indeed some of the comic's best stories - such as Target 2006, Time Wars, Dinobot Hunt - were British, so it will have been a sad day for a lot of fans. True enough the UK stories had become shadows of their former selves by this point, but many readers still harboured dreams of a return to old glory days and will have been disappointed by this sudden demise.

The story itself is a fitting note to end on, with just the right mix of pace and action, finished off with a twist in the tale. I am also pleased that it starred old favourites like the Autobot classics and Stunticons - even if Wildrider was missing (see issue 275 for the reason). I never realised Motormaster could separate his cab and trailer sections as Optimus Prime does, but the chief difference between them is that Prime's cab becomes a robot and Motormaster's is just a set of feet. So no matter how effective his tactic of disconnecting his trailer in the path of the oncoming Autobot cars is, he'll still have a major problem when he wants to transform. That is unless Motormaster's cab and trailer are capable of some kind of localised teleportation like Prime's components? I'm not aware of that ability though.

As much as I liked the sting in the tale, having Irwin ensnared by a cerebro shell and having this great story of his turn out to be anti-Autobot propaganda, I'm frustrated too. This being the last UK story we will never know what becomes of Irwin or how this situation resolves. For all we know Irwin is still churning out the same nonsense many years later - depending of course on the life-span of a cerebro shell. With all that is going on in the US comic its hard to see how Furman would have been able to revisit this story, so he must have known he was ending the UK material on something of a cliffhanger.

Matrix Quest-wise, I had no idea previously that Thunderwing was created with an affinity for the Matrix, though that explains his recent behaviour, and nor did I know he could mind link with other life forms. It is somewhat improbable that he could do that with the Klud, but perhaps this can be explained by the common bond they share with the Matrix? Thunderwing's Matrix obsession has really been gathering pace in the last few issues and we can expect things to escalate further in the next instalments. Bizarrely the inking has been done by two different artists this time, and some of the frames look a little smudged. I wonder if there was a problem with some of the sheets?

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