Transformers UK: Issue #319
Story: On the Edge of Extinction (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Machine Man 2020
Cover date: 20th July, 1991
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Robin Bouttel (cover) Geoff Senior (story and cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
The terrifyingly enormous form of Unicron looms over Cybertron like Satan himself. After billions of years the destroyer of worlds has found his ancient enemy Primus, and the time has come to finish a battle which began at the dawn of time itself.
The Transformers face their darkest hour as Unicron arrives to consume Cybertron! Is there anything Prime, Scorponok and co can do against an enemy of this size?
Primus, god light and source of the Matrix, exists at the core of Cybertron and he created the Transformers in his image to defeat Unicron. He knew that if he were able to transform as Unicron does then it would only prolong the stalemate.
So he became a habitable world and populated himself with living robots which would one day evolve beyond Unicron and hopefully defeat him. That was the idea but unfortunately his 'children' have squandered their time with a eons-old civil war and they are nowhere near ready for the fight with Unicron.
The monster's colossal fingers tear into the flesh of his enemy, scooping up a handful of the planet surface and consuming it. The meat is as succulent as Unicron always imagined it would be, and his internal digestive system converts it into energy to make him even stronger.
The Autobots and Decepticons scramble for cover, devoid of any plan of counter attack. Optimus Prime is supposed to be leading the way but he has been overcome by a sudden attack of pain (see last issue) and is helped out of harm's way by his loyal warriors. As Unicron comes back for another scoop, we find Cloudburst, Mindwipe and Iguanus in a state of panic. They turn to Brainstorm for some kind of suggestion, but all the headmaster can do is shoot open fire out of terror, and it momentarily speared on the end of one of Unicron's nails. Seconds later the giant pops him into his menacing jaws like a light snack.
Emirate Xaaron has been possessed by Primus and implores the Autobots and Decepticons to stand and fight. Cybertron is being torn apart a piece at a time and they face the end of everything if they cannot mobilise a response. Prime and Scorponok cannot imagine what they can do that would make any difference against a foe so impossibly big. Shockwave and Starscream decide that the planet is done for and they are better off getting off it!
The Neo Knights can certainly appreciate the sentiment. They were transported to Cybertron (seemingly by accident) when Primus summoned his children home, and now they are stranded. The most powerful member, Circuit Breaker, hates robots with a passion and when she found herself on a planet full of them, it made her mind simply shut down. Thunderpunch suggests that the only way to save her is to make her confront her fear - and that means taking on Unicron. GB Blackrock thinks they must be nuts, but he is reminded of what he always taught the Neo Knights: that they have to look beyond the size of the foe. Meanwhile Unicron unleashes his terrible eye beams on the planet causing powerful eruptions. Why won't somebody fight back and make it interesting for him, he thinks.
One word sums up this issue - awesome. The picture above of Unicron at his most menacing, poised to destroy Cybertron piece by piece just says it all. I have always considered Geoff Senior to be my favourite of all the Marvel TF artists, so I am delighted that he got the nod to draw this issue. The Transformers have encountered many threats over the series, from fighting mad Decepticons, to super powered humans and even the Matrix itself. But Unicron is surely the foe to end all foes.
Although there has been a considerable build up to this story (great title by the way) it is still awe inspiring to see it come together. Most Transformers fans will have seen Unicron in action in Transformers the Movie, and the UK stories set in the future have always dealt with the aftermath of this ground-shaking event. So it took me by surprise when it emerged that the comic would be presenting its own version of the Autobots and Decepticons' darkest hour.
Part of me has regrets that Furman has decided to throw over Transformers the Movie, having made it an integral part of continuity for so long. But of course in the US, neither the cartoon nor the Movie were considered canon, so it does mess any previous stories up by having Unicron arrive in the present day. Those UK stories like Target 2006, Wanted Galvatron, Legacy of Unicron etc, now have to be explained away by saying that the future they depicted was an alternate reality. To work this little conundrum out would put a lot of readers' minds in a spin.
Here's a possible solution. We know in Target: 2006 that Unicron snared the minds of Hot Rod, Kup and Blurr and sent them back to 1986 to defeat Galvatron. They were under Unicron's subliminal control, so it could have been possible for them to deploy some kind of homing beacon while on Earth. That would have acted as a point of reference for Unicron, and could have changed history, meaning that he was able to cut years off his journey and arrive at Cybertron in 1991 instead of 2006. That's a possible theory and I'd be interested in hearing what other fans think may have happened.
Back to this issue though and its worth mentioning Brainstorm's death on page 7. It is not often that a main character (ie part of the Hasbro toy line) can be killed off. That demonstrates that all bets are off for this story. The robo-phobic Circuit Breaker's collapse after seeing Unicron is a nice touch too. I am not sure of the wisdom of having the Neo Knights in this story, they just seem to be there for the sake of it, but perhaps their presence can provide a little distraction from the main battle.