Transformers UK: Issue #312

Story: Surrender (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Machine Man
Cover date: 13th April, 1991
Price: 50p
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Baskerville, Dalton, Boutrell (cover) Andrew Wildman (story)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


Hot Rod seizes a valuable hostage in Lord Zarak as the Autobots fight back!

Things are decidedly bleak for the Autobots as this issue opens. On Earth Optimus Prime has surrendered the heroic forces to Scorponok and everyone is now languishing in holding cells. Their desperate gamble to unify both armies against Unicron appears to have backfired. While on Cybertron the secret base of resistance leader, Emirate Xaaron, is under heavy attack from Galvatron. The future incarnation of Megatron was plucked from an alternate 2009 by Unicron and dispatched to Cybertron with three other servants, Hook, Line and Sinker, to herald the arrival of the Chaos Bringer.

Inside the base the ceiling starts to collapse, and Quickmix and Scoop implore the Emirate to escape through the utility tunnels. If the resistance loses its figurehead the fight would go out of the remaining Autobots and the Decepticons will have truly won. Xaaron flees, not happy about abandoning his comrades to be slaughtered, but knowing that he has no choice. He is haunted by Galvatron's words, which follow him, declaring that Unicron is coming for them. Little does he (or Unicron) know that Galvatron is not content to be anyone's messenger boy and will seize the first opportunity to betray his master.

On Earth, Soundwave hits the wall with a bang! He is immediately rendered offline as Optimus dusts down his knuckles and then rips the doors off his cell. It has become clear to him that Scorponok has reneged on the deal and now he has to free his fellow Autobots and get out of this mess. The first cell to be opened belongs to Hot Rod and Kup. The youngster is pleased to see his leader, but old timer Kup is still smarting over the appalling decision to surrender in the first place. Prime explains what is at stake with Unicron, and that the actions he took were not cowardly, but required the greatest courage of all.

In the command centre Lord Zarak has been alerted to four blips on the radar which are closing fast. It could be Autobots who remained on the Ark in the event of a betrayal, but surely that is not Prime's style? Zarak feels pangs of guilt for his own, and Scorponok's conduct, perhaps he has doomed them all? Suddenly Hot Rod zooms in, transforms and seizes Zarak. He threatens to pull the arms and legs off him unless Bludgeon sheaths his sword. Then Kup bulldozes through and knocks Bludgeon over. He reverts to robot mode right next to Scorponok's headless body, and in seconds Zarak commands a giant pincher to clamp hold of Kup's head.

Prime enters and orders Zarak's release. He returns the favour in respect of Kup. Optimus points out that for a moment they trusted one another, and it is essential for the alliance to happen or else Unicron will destroy Cybertron and hunt down all of Primus' children. As Decepticon reinforcements flood through the door, Zarak considers his options: he knows Prime speaks true but it would endanger his position to side with the Autobot. No matter, he resolves, he is Scorponok the mightiest Decepticon, let others fear him! Then before the startled troops Scorponok and Prime shake on their deal.

Then with unbelievably bad timing the roof caves in on everyone, courtesy of a blast from the outside from Shockwave. The Decepticon civil war has begun! On Cybertron, Xaaron runs into a dead end in the sewer system and is cornered by Galvatron!

******

Comments:

The most striking thing about the story is Wildman's distinctive art. A lot of people like it although I could never understand the attraction myself. He give robots humanoid expressions, so when you compare the frames of Kup and Zarak on page 7 they look virtually identical (cheek bones and all). Andrew also likes drawing his characters with large open mouths (see Hot Rod and Zarak above, Galvatron and Kup and hell he'd even do it to Prime if it wasn't for the face plate). It makes them look like angry opera singers. Mind you the drawings of Soundwave hitting the wall and then slumped in the next frame look hilarious, and almost make up for the rest.

Story wise it is the usual thing for the Autobots, that just when everything starts working out a spanner comes along. In this case it is Shockwave choosing the worst possible time to launch his leadership coup. It will be exciting seeing him in pitched battle with Scorponok next issue. By the end of this story, both Prime and Scorponok appear to have resolved their leadership woes. Prime has the alliance he sought, thus putting an end to the whispers that he should quit. And Zarak/Scorponok has decided that he will do what he wants regardless of anyone else's opinion, and if his opponents don't like it they can take him on. Galvatron is an interesting wildcard in all of this because we don't know what he has up his sleeve.

There's an amusing drawing of Optimus Colin (Prime with Combat Colin's head) on the letters page, and the editor must have been sleeping because he/she failed to spot Scorponok's name spelt wrong. The kid writing in has spelt it 'Scorponock' and Blaster repeats the error in his reply. Oops! Thank Primus that the next issue box has returned. This was always one of my favourite features and essential for making sure that any fair-weather readers return next time. The decision to replace the text with pictures was terrible, disappointing and lazy (yes I felt that strongly about it LOL). There's also a reader's poll coupon where people can vote for their best/worst covers, stories, artists and characters.

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