Transformers UK: Issue #300
Story 1: Legacy of Unicron (Part 11)
Story 2: Rhythms of Darkness (Part 3)
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: 15th December, 1990
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Bryan Hitch, Jose Delbo, Stewart Johnson (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Getaway has had enough of waiting and decides to make his presence felt.
On an alternate Earth in the year 2009 the governments of Europe and Asia are preparing to launch a massive nuclear strike at what remains of North America. They hope that this desperate course of action will result in the destruction of the Decepticons, and the countdown has begun... unless Spike and the Autobots can show there is a fight-back on American soil.
To achieve this, the allies have decided to launch a potentially suicidal attack on the Decepticon East Coast fortress which is heavily armoured and shielded. Outside its perimeter an anxious Cyclonus and Scourge discuss the situation. They are confident that their force field will protect them from the missiles and afterwards they will be able to siphon the radiation to convert into a fuel source. But it rankles at them to let the humans think that they have the upper hand even for a moment. They will both be glad when the planet has been conquered and they can move on to more exciting places.
Little do they know that they are being watched by a group of Autobots and Spike and an ambush is about to come their way. Spike warns Getaway to keep the noise down, but the hot tempered Powermaster is in no mood for subtlety and charges the Decepticons down. His surprise attack seems to work, and as Chainclaw and Guzzle rush to help, Prowl and the others attack the base. Crossblades picks off Decepticon targets from the air - but he fails to detect Laserbeak, who swoops down and slices his rotor blades off. With nothing to keep him in the air Crossblades goes down in flames and does a kamikaze straight into the power generator.
The shield falls and Prowl, Jazz and Inferno surge forward, taking out Runamuck and several others. Spike and Lisa think this could be the last time they will see each other and are about to confess their feelings, but there is no need to say anything. Spike has 'a world to save' and rushes up to the main structure intending to unveil a secret weapon.
The first thing that strikes you about issue 300 is the nifty wrap-around cover poster. Stewart Johnson and John Burns succeed in making an impression with this pitched battle-scene, and I'm sure it was deliberate to feature classic early Transformers at the expense of the less-popular Pretender types. If you care to look closely there are imperfections, Prime's torso and disproportioned right arm being two, but overall it is positive first impression. Inside there just isn't the fanfare you would expect from a milestone anniversary issue. "The Cybertronic dance goes on forever" is how the introduction describes the occasion, before trotting out the usual teasers for the stories in this week's issue. Contrast that to this jubilation of the staff at reaching 100, 150 and 200, with the extra stops pulled out like additional pages, competitions and a free pocket-sized guide.
This simply feels like a regular issue and either the staff just aren't as bothered anymore, or the human resources are scaled down to the point that extra features aren't possible. It's a pity, because when you think about it this milestone is the most remarkable of all. Despite all the reprints, blatantly bad Earthforce stories, and the US Action Force crossover, the comic has still kept enough readers to avoid cancellation. Consider also that it is six years since the comic started and a lot of readers would have dropped the title thinking they were too old for it.
One obvious change is the replacement of Dreadwind on the letters page by Blaster. This wouldn't have been a bad thing if we were getting the gritty loner that Bob Budiansky characterised so well, but instead it's the juvenile hip hop-loving Blaster we would sometimes see (in thankfully small doses). The picture of the letter answerer looks impressive but was there any need for it to take up a third of the page? This space could be better utilised by letters, and hopefully some of better quality than the ones they chose to print. The first is a poem which is slightly cringe-worthy (rhyming transform and nucleon) and there's a bit of "yo-dude" going on and even a small letter in Polish. Blaster admits that the guy had been stalking Dreadwind with incomprehensible letters so Marvel have obviously decided to print something and get him off their backs. Hardly a good choice for the inaugural page of the new letter answerer though. What's wrong with putting letters on there from people who have something decent to say, questions and comments about the stories perhaps.
A third letter which prompts nearly a column of response from Blaster is one asking how he will become an Action Master. This allows him to trot out the marketing spiel about Prime going into space to find a new energy source (this being Nucleon) and it having the effect of stopping everyone from being able to transform - but not to worry as they've got rubbish plastic accessories that transform into their weapons. This might be acceptable if it actually happens, but as we see later it is Grimlock who goes to Hydrus 4 in search of the power source, and for wholly different reasons.
Some observations about the story: since when has Getaway been strong enough to take on Cyclonus and Scourge. Galvatron said during Target 2006 that not even an army of 100 Autobots could best them. Laserbeak also talks after slicing off Crossblades's rotors - which makes you wonder why he squawked every other time. It was a good death from Crossblades though - a real blaze of glory, but kind of unfortunate given that he was only introduced last issue. And Spike and Lisa's secret feelings for each other only qualify for a couple of panels, but we get the general idea.