Transformers UK: Issue #305
Story 1: In the National Interest (Part 4)
Story 2: The Human Factor (Part 4)
Back-up strip: GI Joe The Action Force
Cover date: 19th January, 1991
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Will Simpson, Dwayne Turner (stories), Richard Fisher (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Starscream may have missed out on one alliance but he can still team up with the newly returned Shockwave.
Starscream's jaunt down to Florida to recruit a super-powered human to his latest leadership bid is shaping up to be one of his less intelligent moves. First he had his internal systems fried by Circuit Breaker, and then Rapture filled his mind with visions allowing Thunderpunch to knock him out. It is round one to the Neo Knights - a new group of mutant humans whom the billionaire GB Blackrock has assembled to fight the Decepticons.
Thunderpunch is about to press home his winning advantage when he gets shocked by a bolt of energy from Circuit Breaker. Blackrock's former employee, now a cybernetic freak bent on vengeance, is in no mood to allow others to deny her a kill. Thunderpunch strikes back, sending her sprawling, and the target of all of all three parties, Hector Dialonzo alias Dynamo, unleashes a bolt of energy against Thunderpunch. With calm restored he tells the Neo Knights, Starscream and Circuit Breaker that he is tired of being fought over and will listen to each of their offers and make up his own mind. Starscream speaks first, making the case that Hector has been pushed around by his fellow humans for too long, but together they could rule the world. Circuit Breaker slams the "treacherous, backstabbing scum" and warns of betrayal should he accept Starscream's offer. If he goes with her they could rid the Earth of Transformers and be hailed as heroes. Blackrock is offering neither wealth nor power, just a noble cause to convince mankind that the Autobots are their friends and the Decepticons their mutual enemy, plus he can provide Hector with a safe place to belong and to learn about his powers.
Starscream has had enough of bargaining and reaches for some kind of oversized chip with which to destroy his rivals. Rapture sees him and induces another of her visions in which the Decepticon sees his enemies vanquished and the human in his possession. While he is distracted, Circuit Breaker and the Neo Knights work together at last to blast Starscream and render him unconscious. Blackrock accepts Hector into his group and extends an olive branch to Circuit Breaker. Early she had spoke of being "built" to destroy, and he warns her that she has become more cold and unfeeling than any robot. The others are all embittered loners but have demonstrated the human capacity to change - can she? Circuit Breaker wrestles with her feelings for a long moment and then climbs aboard the helicopter with her new friends. The Neo Knights are now complete.
After everyone has left, Starscream picks himself up and vows to have his revenge. But a familiar voice cautions him against such an act of pettiness - it is Shockwave and he offers and alliance, together they can overthrow Scorponok and rule the Decepticons and two worlds!
The most striking aspect of this issues story is once again the artwork. It is distinctive in places, for example Starscream's pleading expression and cupped hand, as well as Shockwave emerging from the ocean with his Cyclops eye ablaze, but for the most part it is grotesquely over-shaded, confused and lacking detail. A particular stinker is the frame where the vision-induced Starscream holds his fists aloft and his face is distorted by shade making him resemble a mummified corpse, while his shoulder mounts are blocks of red with no detail. I've also been unimpressed by earlier frames where his back and wings appear as a red triangle, again with no detail pencilled in. I said before that I hovered between instant dislike and a degree of appreciation at having such a distinctive new drawing style featured - variety is generally no bad thing. But I suspect, like many fans, I won't be sorry that Dwayne Turner's efforts are a one off. However I do feel a certain sympathy for him having read the Transformations page, where the editor says don't bother writing in to complain because it'll be Wildman and Senior all the way from now on. In effect saying, we know this guy is bad and we won't be using him again. It's fine for fans to give their views but I would have expected a little more loyalty from the company who hired Turner. If they thought he was that bad why give him the strip to draw in the first place?
Story-wise we at last get some progress and closure on the Circuit Breaker saga. Since issue 34 very uncomfortable for the Autobots and stubbornly refusing to entertain the notion of good and evil factions within the Transformers. Often her actions have been a source of frustration for fans as she stuck the faces of conquered Autobots on her hanger wall as hunting trophees, attacked Jazz and Wheeljack instead of the Decepticons, and intervened to ensure that Superion got beat by Menasor. Even the Autobots helped her to defeat Runabout and Runamuck she still didn't give any credence to their claims of good faith. Now finally she has chosen to get a grip of her hatred and join Blackrock for a worthwhile cause, thereby healing a long running wound between them. at least for now. It is a touching scene where she accepts GB's offer and shows the writer's understanding of the issues between these two human side characters.
Starscream's weapon looks weird though, its like he's got two oversized microchips in his hand, or a couple of French doors. The of course there is Starscream believing Shockwave to be dead because he fell to Earth in issue 159 - but of course he has been seen since in the UK comic residing on Earth and commanding a smaller group of Decepticons. I don't think this continuity difference between the US and UK comics was ever explained.