Transformers UK: Issue #297
Story 1: Legacy of Unicron (Part 8)
Story 2: Matrix Quest: All Fall Down (Part 4)
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: 24th November, 1990
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Dan Reed, Geoff Senior, Stewart Johnson (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Prime faces crunch time on whether to destroy the Matrix to end the threat of Thunderwing.
Thunderwing now possesses the Matrix, or rather, it possesses him! Having sneaked aboard the Ark in an Autobot shuttle he has laid waste to his enemies and has Optimus Prime at his mercy.
Back on the ship the stowaways Nightbeat, Hosehead and Siren, are trying to devise a way to help their leader and get this Decepticon menace out of the Ark. Nightbeat tells his puzzled comrades to open the shuttle bay door and prepare to turn the artificial gravity off. The master investigator himself, interfaces with the shuttle computer and activates the grappling harpoon. He targets Thunderwing, saying 'Matrix guide me' as he lines up the shot, then thinks 'then again maybe not'.
The Decepticon Spinister tries to reason with Lord Thunderwing, that Optimus speaks true and he has indeed been taken over by the warped Matrix entity. The Decepticon leader lashes out at his loyal henchmen, felling him with a sudden blast, and then realises what he has done. As he fights the Matrix's influence, Prime seizes the moment to launch a counter attack. He reigns down blows on Thunderwing, before the evil Matrix reasserts control and swats him like an insect.
Nightbeat fires the grappling hook, which pierces Thunderwing's reinforced Pretender shell, then Hosehead turns the gravity off and everything starts to be sucked into space in the sudden vacuum. The Autobots frantically grab hold of anything that is bolted to the floor and Nightbeat releases the shuttle's docking clamps, before bailing out. The shuttle disappears out of the bay at a rate of knots, dragging the harpooned Thunderwing and evil Matrix with it, before self destructing in a massive explosion a few hundred metres from the Ark. Thunderwing's body appears to exit the fireball and tumble away unseen into space.
Nightbeat meanwhile is nearly sucked into space, and is hanging on by his fingernails, when the gravity is restored and Siren pulls him back aboard. The Autobots pick themselves up and Hot Rod places Thunderwing's Decepticon followers under arrest. It has been a dark day, with ten or more deactivated and the Matrix, found and then lost again. Optimus is philosophical, and tells his Autobots that the situation may not be as bad as they think. What happened to the Matrix (turning evil) could happen to them all, so they have faced the dark side of their souls and triumphed, they will go forward emboldened to face whatever is to come.
Nightbeat's face looming large was the first image we saw of the Matrix Quest, so it is fitting that he is so instrumental at the final knockings - coming to the rescue of Prime, the Autobots, and very probably the Ark itself. He is a fascinating character, with a superb analytical mind, and with Nightbeat a trail can lead into all sorts of trouble, demanding the most innovative solutions. For example the way he defeated Thunderwing the first time, by animating a dead Transformer and freaking the Decepticon out so much that he was off guard when an explosion went off. This time Nightbeat harpoons the dark Lord and throws the gravity off causing chaos.
Overall it is a fast-moving and dramatic conclusion to the Matrix Quest. In true comic style the bad guy won't stay dead and we see Thunderwing spiralling away from the fireball - Matrix in tow. With their leader gone, the other Decepticons surrender and won't be seen again for a long while. It is fair to say that they are probably released when the Autobots and Decepticons form their alliance against Unicron later on. One final point about Nightbeat and his fellow Headmasters, is how come their heads are so under-used? We never see their Nebulan companions in the Matrix Quest and if you didn't know about their heads detaching and transforming, you wouldn't guess from the story. Perhaps the writers were getting as bored with the gimmicks from Hasbro as the fans were (Pretenders and anything ending in the word master, had been hopelessly overused by this point). Interesting how Prime thinks the Autobots can prevail after the bad day they all suffer. Sure they have faced the Dark Matrix and survived, but only by the skin of their wires, and what will they do when Unicron turns up and there's no Matrix? There's not much to be optimistic about that I can see.
The art is clear, defined and breathtaking as only you could expect from Geoff Senior. Dan Reed does a good turn in the Legacy of Unicron strip, which is one of his best. I don't care for the cover by Stewart Johnson (aka Staz) much though. Thunderwing looks too fleshy and like some sort of Halloween ghoul or a Scooby Doo villain.
This week's welcome page contains the first mention of issue 300 (just three weeks off at the time of publication). The editor says everyone at Marvel is surprised that a comic started in September 1984, would still be around six years later. I don't see why they are so shocked, as the comic has got a lot going for it (namely great characters, stories and artists). It goes to show that the comics live fast and die young, and keeping readers is no small task. TF fans have been treated to some excellent storylines during the run, most definitely including the Matrix Quest, but they also showed great loyalty to the comic as well. This was tested severely by black and white pages, poor quality paper in places, and reprinted stories. Obviously the toys and cartoons have helped but at this point in the story, the toy range mostly consisted of gimmick Pretenders and ever-so-poor Action Masters and the cartoons were off air, in Britain anyway.