Transformers UK: Issue #306

Story: Eye of the Storm (Part 1)
Back-up strip: In the National Interest (Part 5)
Cover date: 26th January, 1991
Price: 50p
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Staz and Robin Boutrell (cover), Will Simpson, Andy Wildman
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Grimlock has a bruised ego and woe betide anyone who gets in his way!

The Matrix Quest is over and relative calm has been restored aboard the Autobots' space-faring headquarters the Ark. They are in the midst of a long journey back to Earth, after rescuing Bumblebee, Jazz and Grimlock from the VsQs moon, where they were beaten up and left for dead by the Decepticon leader, Lord Thunderwing.

For once though, thoughts of Unicron and their sworn enemies are far from the troops' minds. Chromedome is being put back together by the mini-medic Fixit, and jokes with Hot Rod that he is thinking about asking Prime to launch a 'leg quest'. In the recreational area, games of Cybertronian chess are under way, and Nightbeat is watching a robotic 'who dunnit' film. But not everyone is in the mood for relaxing, as Waverider discovers when he goes to investigate the source of some rowdy banging and crashing.

He finds Grimlock slicing the furniture in two and chopping lumps out of the ceiling. Waverider tries to calm the highly-strung Dinobot down, and reminds him how he was close to death when he was found on VsQs and ought to think himself lucky... A flying energo sword narrowly misses Waverider's head! Grimlock fumes that he should have destroyed Thunderwing, but instead he was humiliated and had to be saved by 'puny Autobots'. He is sick of being part of the Pretender Classics team and wants his Dinobots back.

Optimus Prime strolls through the Ark corridors and observes his Autobots laughing and joking. Though it does his fuel pump good to see such things, he worries that the Autobots AND Decepticons must be battle ready for when Unicron arrives - as surely he will. Suddenly Prime sinks to his knees, clutching his stomach area, and recoiling in pain at the latest attack to his insides. Could it be that the Powermaster process that he underwent with the Nebulan HiQ has resulted in some unexpected side effects?

Prime struggles to his feet, determined that his warriors should not see him weakened, especially at a time like this. He calls on Nightbeat and requests and update on the detectives investigation into the disappearance of Ratchet. A flashblack reveals how the Autobot medic and his captor Megatron had perished, when explosives that had been planted on the Ark were teleported to their location. Nightbeat thinks it is possible that an initial explosion blew both Transformers into the open portal before the larger blast destroyed Megatron's fortress. It is just possible that both of these Transformers are lost in the nothingness between destinations. The question is, how to retrieve their friend.

******

Comments:

What happened to GI Joe 'The Action Force'? One minute they were about to be overrun by hordes of Cobra forces, and the next they are quietly dropped without explanation. In its place there is a second helping of the 1986 classic 'In the National Interest', which is all well and good if you are a new reader, but not so good for those old faithfuls who collected it the first time around.

The cover of this issue was destined to be a famous one. In case you missed it on the way to this page it is the depiction of Prime as Rodin the thinker (a statue of some kind?) with his fist supporting his temple - and there are some rather pathetic references to the British comedian Bruce Forsyth, who begins his act in that pose. Staz's picture would be used for several issues as the subscription coupon. There is also a hint on the letters page of even better covers in the future, because more money will be available to spend on them once the comic switchers to more affordable paper.

I should add that this issues American strip marks the debut of one Andy Wildman in the US comic, reprising his long-standing partnership with writer Simon Furman. Now as I've said numerous times, I am no fan of Wildman's art (it's just a style that doesn't agree with me) but he seemed to be well received by the US audience. I was certainly surprised! Having said that though, his work this issue is not bad at all (aside from Nightbeat's humanoid mouth in the last frame) and I'm wondering if he was reluctant to 'let rip' opting instead to draw a little conservatively as it is his first issue? Anyone spot the little dinosaur toy on the table that Grimlock chops in half on the second page? There's also a half-full glass of liquid which strikes me as odd, because I can't imagine why a transformer would drink in this way. They would be more likely to stick a fuel pump in their thigh or something?

The bit with Chromedome joking about a leg quest for his missing limb was amusing, but the tiny Fixit must feel literally overwhelmed by his gigantic patients - I know Ratchet certainly did and he was their size. With First Aid inoperative and Ratchet missing, it is as well they have Fixit on the team. I am also very pleased to see Waverider in a scene, as he has not been seen since the Pretenders made their debut back in issues 162-163. On the subject of Pretenders, it appears that Grimlock has abandoned his shell, presumably because he doesn't like having Bumblebee and Jazz for partners or prefers the independence/notoriety he had as a Dinobot. Whatever the reason we won't see the shell again in the comic. It's a shame in a way, but if I'm honest I much prefer him as a Dinobot and Furman probably does too. That would explain why he has introduced Pretender Grimlock, thereby paying his dues to Hasbro, and is now dropping the idea at the first opportunity.

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