Transformers UK: Issue #321

Story: On the Edge of Extinction (Part 3)
Back-up strip: Machine Man 2020
Cover date: 17th August, 1991
Price: 55p
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Stewart Johnson (cover) Geoff Senior (story)
Rating: Art / Story


Synopsis:

By Omega Steve


The touching moment when Scorponok redeems himself and meets his maker after attacking Unicron.

When last we joined the Transformers they were up to their necks in death and destruction. Unicron had arrived to comsume their homeworld and a bickering Hardhead and Bomb Burst were pushing a rocket launcher into place - when a huge shadow fell over them.

As this issue opens Unicron puts his foot down, literally, and squishes the pair into cardboard. Prime orders Waverider, Joyride and the Decepticon Targetmaster, Quake, to concentrate their fire on the foot. Unicron fights back by unleashing his eye-beams on the trio, and resulting explosion sends Prime flying backwards. He crashes to a halt at Scorponok's feet and implores his Decepticon counterpart to take over. The headmaster leader is terrified, he does not want to die, and deep down he is Lord Zarak, a weak and flawed human. This is not his fight. Then some backbone surfaces within and reminds Zarak that the Scorponok of old would not have turned and fled. He would have accepted his fate, and with that he rushes into battle.

Neo Knight, Thunderpunch, hits the deck, bruised and exhausted. He hit Unicron with everything he had and barely made a dent. Dynamo is having little success channel Cybertronic energy through his body, so Rapture tries her best to fool Unicron's mind. For a moment the Dark God stops and is convinced that he has destroyed all life in the universe and is now one with the void, but he soon snaps out of it. Black realises that only Circuit Breaker can do something, after all Unicron, despite his immense size, does have circuits. He slaps the quivering Josie Beller round the face to snap her out of her mental breakdown.

Meanwhile Scorponok is ripping bits off Unicron's foot like a warrior possessed. It was only a matter of time before he attracted attention, and suddenly a fireball erupts from Unicron's jaws and Scorponok shrieks in pain.

The Ark enters the fray and nicks Unicron's face like a speeding bullet, causing considerable damage to the ship. On board are the Dinobots and the Nucleon-revived Autobots, and Prowl criticises Grimlock's foolhardy 'act first, think later' approach, which nearly totalled the Ark. He soon finds himself pushed out the door and everyone else flies out to bolster Prime's forces. Optimus himself is kneeling alongside the partially melted form of Scorponok. The Decepticon manages to mumble a few last words "Prime did I do good?" to which Optimus replies "yes old friend" before the Scorponok expires.

Now Optimus knows it is up to him to somehow lead both Autobot and Decepticon armies to victory. His engine component Hi-Q has been evolving of late and causing them both pain while combined. Prime begs Hi-Q to hold on just a little longer as so much depends on them. Suddenly Unicron is Blasted by a powerful burst of energy which bounces him off Cybertron. His attacker is non other that the Creation Matrix - still tainted by evil and dragging Thunderwing along in its thirst for more experiences. The Matrix apparent still views Unicron as an ancient enemy and wants to destroy him - the trouble is that it spells doom for the Transformers whoever wins!

******

Comments:

Oh my God, Scorponok dies too! Okay so the cover blows the surprise but I don't think many fans will have seen this coming when the story started. In a way it was inevitable, because since the Autobots and Decepticons formed their alliance, Scorponok has been developing ever more respect for Prime. Now it is at the point where he too, looks to Optimus for leadership and for counsel, and can confess to him the feelings of weakness that he could never reveal to the other Decepticons. His Nebulan component Lord Zarak started out power hungry, he plotted against Galen and the Autobots, and became ultimately corrupt when bonded to Scorponok. In fact Galen warned Zarak that he was losing his mind to Scorponok, a piece at a time.

Arguably it is Scorponok who lost his identity, because once he became a headmaster, it seemed to be Zarak calling the shots while Scorpy stood around headless. Zarak has been leading the Decepticons these last few months, hatching the plans and worrying about his position. The Scorponok of old was a bruiser and not a great strategist. Look at the way he used to get ambushed by Fortress Maximus on Cybertron, and was trounced by Autobot/Nebulan ingenuity when they became Headmasters, and all he could do was copy.

With his death Zarak is redeemed and has ended a life of greed and selfishness in a positive way. He goes out in a blaze of glory, sacrificing himself for a noble cause, instead of running and hiding. Ultimately Zarak/Scorponok sees Prime as his salvation, and therefore he asks the Autobot for approval for his deeds: 'Did I do good?'. Prime shows his great compassion here, which extends even an enemy. But back to what I was saying about his death being inevitable, if Scorponok had survived it would have been almost impossible for him to carry on leading the Decepticons in the war against the Autobots. Furman would have had to have thrown over all the character development of Zarak, so in a lot of ways it is fitting that his journey ends here, where he can remembered as Scorponok, the Decepticon who turned to good and died a noble death.

Other significant moments are the deaths of Waverider and Joyride (both introduced less than three years ago) and possibly Quake too. The sequence with Prime getting thrown by the explosion (and spinning), and the apocalyptic 'nuclear war' style battle scene that Scorponok sees looks way-cool. I also rather liked the bit where Rapture cast an illusion over Unicron - how do you pull the wool over a God's eyes? Senior really manages to capture the look of distraction on Unicron's face and eyes.

It was also good to see a few old favourites like Silverbolt, Sunstreaker, Skids and Blaster back in shot. All have been Nucleon-revived so presumably will lose their transformation capabilities and become Action Masters (puttup!) at some not-to-distant point. Bring on the Evil Matrix versus Unicron!

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