Transformers UK: Issue #290
Story 1: Legacy of Unicron (Part 1)
Story 2: Matrix Quest: Dark Creation (Part 1)
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: 6th October, 1990
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Geoff Senior, Stewart Johnson (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Matrix Spawn
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
The Matrix examines a creature that crawls inside Prime's old body to die.
Note: The Legacy of Unicron story is a reprint so please check out issues 146-151 (in the 1988 section) for the original reviews. And so, on to Matrix Quest...
In 1987, some three years after the Transformers awoke on Earth, Optimus Prime died in a confrontation with his age-old enemy Megatron. Though remnants of his personality survived on a computer disc, his followers were unaware of this and blasted the body into space in accordance with Cybertronian traditions. The funeral barge carrying Prime's body (and the Creation Matrix in his chest) eventually crash landed on an alien moon called VsQs and the Matrix began to ponder its existence. For the first time it was without a living host - a wizened Autobot leader to provide it with experiences, and began to look to the world for fresh input and sensations.
When a shuttle pod crashed close by, a survivor crawled out seeking death to alleviate his terrible pain. He touched the Matrix and was transformed into a sentinel called Deathbringer, whose purpose then became to put an end to all life in the galaxy, whether it was in pain or not! On Earth, Deathbringer experienced terror and extinguishing life, and the Matrix felt it too. It wondered if this was the experience called evil and became curious. Optimus Prime - by then restored to life as a Powermaster, destroyed Deathbringer and the Matrix was robbed of its vessel (see issues 235-236 for the full story).
Time passed until finally an insect-like creature crawled into the funeral barge to die. The Matrix examined it and determined it to be a predator - a lifeform existing purely to kill and destroy, and it wondered if this could be evil in its purest form? The decision was taken to recreate the creature, larger and more deadly than before. Soon humanoid explorers from the nearby planet Cameron arrived on VsQs to investigate the barge. One scientist peered inside and the Matrix spawn promptly attached its fangs to his face! Kill followed kill and the creature grew larger and bolder. It even slaughtered the scientists stationed at VsQs' nearby moonbase!
Some time later the Pretender Classics Jazz, Bumblebee and Grimlock arrived at the deserted moonbase looking for clues to the Matrix's whereabouts. From the looks of it a fierce battle had taken place and Bumblebee hoped to find information in the computer. Jazz voiced his fears about the impending arrival of Unicron... and privately worried that this place was giving him the creeps! The Autobots discovered a log entry detailing how Prime's funeral barge was found, along with a mysterious power source therein, and said they were attacked by a creature! Grimlock returned saying he'd located the science team and then barred the door telling Bumblebee ominously 'None of them ever tell anything again'!
Previous instalments of Matrix Quest have all been laden with references to other forms of popular culture (eg. detective novels, westerns and Moby Dick) and this one is no exception. In telling the fourth part of the story Furman has drawn on the cult sci-fi flick Alien and sprinkled in elements liberally. The names VsQs and Cameron relate to the character in the movie Vasquez (sp?) and James Cameron is the director. Furthermore the Matrix Spawn looks and behaves a lot like on of the terrifying aliens, with the setting being a remote, abandoned space station to boot!
The Matrix has been evolving over the series from its initial depiction as a program within Prime's mind, that could that could give life to Transformers and control inanimate machines. Then when the Transformers Movie was released we found out the Matrix was a tangible object that resided in the chest of the Autobot leader. The film also introduced the idea of the Matrix being a weapon to be used against Unicron - and in later comics came the explanation that it was the life-force of Primus (Unicron's ancient enemy). Now though, it is going through an even more extraordinary phase in its development, with the Matrix becoming a sentience in its own right. It was so used to goodness and purity and has started wondering about the other things in life. Always denied evil it now craves it and is prepared to use its powers to obtain new experiences. In a way it has become an adolescent rejecting its parents and doing the opposite of what it has been taught. I think it is a very intriguing development anyway and is truly establishing this story arc as one of the all time best Transformers epics.
A quick word about the comic too. With the demise of the UK strips last week we are back to the much-lamented reprints to fill the void. The Legacy of Unicron is a fine story but it was only published two years previously which means a lot of readers will already have it. To my mind this is cheating the fans because they are being asked to pay twice for the same story. On the other hand it is nice to see full colour restored to the comic after months of the controversial black and white format, but perhaps an even greater improvement would be for the Matrix Quest strip to be the main not secondary story. This would ensure it was printed on the quality paper and the reprint on the economy paper.