Transformers UK: Issue #309

Story 1: The Price of Life (Part 1)
Story 2: The Enemy Within (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Machine Man
Cover date: 2nd March, 1991
Price: 50p
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Frances Farmer (cover), Andrew Wildman, John Ridgeway
Rating: Art / Story

First appearance: Megatron-Ratchet


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Grimlock makes his way through the waste tunnels of Hydrus Four.

The Autobots' space-faring headquarters, The Ark, is heading for Earth and the crew are still reeling from Optimus Prime's decision to surrender them to the Decepticons when they arrive. If this wasn't bad enough, Nightbeat has tracked down the remains of Ratchet and Megatron (believed destroyed in a teleporter accident) and the duo have reappeared, fused into one a hideous three-legged, two-headed creature!

Megatron-Ratchet staggers towards a flabbergasted Optimus, who shakes his head and wonders if it would have been better to allow his old friend and confidant to stay dead. Then security chief Kup walks in and catches the silhouette of Megatron - he quickly draws his weapon. The creature erupts into life, landing a blow on Prime, and reeling in pain as Kup blows a chunk out of his side. Nightbeat stops Kup from delivering a killing shot and the monster violently all concerned in the Ark's hull, before escaping through the open doorway.

Kup picks himself up and is all for going after the creature and putting it down before any Autobot lives are lost. He finds himself in conflict with an emotional Prime, who reasons that their may be a chance to save Ratchet, so they have to take it down without harming it. Kup stomps off and Prime is left wondering if he is any better than Grimlock, who he recently chastised for putting comrades at risk to save his deactivated comrades, the Dinobots.

Speaking of which, we now jump halfway across the galaxy to Hydrus Four, a watery wasteland of a world which is the source of a mysterious energy called Nucleon. Grimlock slices his way through the metallic wreckage and can feel his temper rising (no surprise there then) - where is the guide he paid handsomely for? On cue the hapless mechanoid appears and apologises for having got lost! He warns that even if they do find the Nucleon there is no telling what it will do to the Dinobots. It may well revive them but it could also send them berserk, such are the unpredictable side effects.

In moments they run into a supernatural, robotic skeleton and he guards the way. He unleashes a volley of laser fire and Grimlock transforms into T-Rex mode and locks his powerful jaws on. Severing the creature's leg, he realises that it is more dead than alive, yet some force is keeping it going. It is no way to live and it falls to Grimlock to play the part of the surgeon cutting away the diseased tissue.

******

Comments:

After an agonisingly long wait of almost three weeks the comic is back in its new fortnightly format. Simon Furman's debut story, The Enemy Within, from 1985 is still running in the back-up slot, as is Machine Man 2020, enjoying a second run. The significant change is to the main strip (which at 10 pages is now just about what it was before the annoying three story format was introduced in UK#213). This is surely good news for the fans even if the time between comics is increased. As a reader I never felt I had got money's worth from the five or six page stories.

It is full colour with an AtoZ entry featuring Thundercracker and Thrust, and a 'Movie Mark' free gift. Some pages are lower quality paper than others, but overall the comic is not a bad package for 50p. Certainly if you were reading Machine Man or The Enemy Within for the first time, there would be plenty here for you. The cover is one of the most bizarre I have ever seen on a Transformers comic - I don't actually know if I like it or not, but it is striking.

Story-wise, it looks like the seeds of dissent are being sown aboard the Ark. Grimlock's criticism of Prime's leadership style has transferred itself to Kup in his absence. We are used to seeing Prime as the wise and venerable Autobot leader but his decision to surrender to the Decepticons, and risk the crew by letting Megatron go, is making him appear a liability in his follower's eyes. Could the unthinkable happen and a mutiny occur? It would be ironic because they all endured Grimlock's tyranical spell in charge without rebelling. Prime doesn't seem to have a friend in the world at the moment, apart from Ratchet but let's not go there!

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