Transformers UK: Issue #324
Story: Still Life (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Machine Man 2020
Cover date: 28th September, 1991
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Andy Wildman (story and cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Action Master Grimlock is born and wastes no time wasting the monsters!
The Transformers have prevented Unicron from destroying their home world but the situation is still far from rosy. Optimus Prime is dead along with and countless others and Cybertron is in danger of being torn apart by tremors and freaky weather.
New Autobot leader, Grimlock, had embarked on a mission with the Dinobots to locate the Ark when he found he found himself unexpectedly frozen to the spot. It appears that this was what the guardian of the Nucleon power source on Hydrus 4 meant when he warned of dangerous side effects. And it couldn't have come at a worse time because the group has run into Prime's former Nebulan companion, Hi-Q, who is being hunted by some particularly nasty looking monsters.
As the hordes close in the sensible option is to run away, but Grimlock is frozen to the spot and they cannot abandon him. While some distance away, we see the unlikely allies, Starscream and Shockwave, conducting repairs to the stolen Ark with a view to high-tailing it off the planet before it self-destructs. Watching from a safe distance is Galvatron, who listens with interest and plans his own departure - ideally by stowing away on the Ark!
Meanwhile Snarl takes a swipe at one of the creatures with his Energo Sword, but it soon recovers and gives him a wicked scratch across the face plate. Slag propels himself into the monster's side like a raging bull and then bathes him in fire. But these hellish creatures (who have existed below Cybertron for millennia) are immune to searing heat and appear to be indestructible. Sludge and Swoop are faring no better and Grimlock can only watch helplessly as his body begins to cocoon.
Hi-Q, who is after all a Powermaster, can see what is happening within Grimlock's robotic body, even if others can't. He uses his abilities to accelerate the process and causes Grimlock to 'hatch' from the shell of his old body. He emerges with a leaner, meaner new form, which cannot transform but packs a hell of a punch.
As Hi-Q worries that he may have disastrously accelerated his own metamorphosis, Grimlock leaps into action swinging his sword, and drives the creatures back. He is about to deliver the killer blow when Hi-Q speaks and reminds Grimlock of the sanctity of life whatever form it wears. It is as though Optimus Prime were there in person delivering the sermon. The monsters are driven back to where they came and the Dinobots press on with Hi-Q. Grimlock tells his friends that his Nucleon-gifted power has come at a price and he can no longer transform. But more startling is the revelation from Hi-Q that somehow, as a result of their binary bonding, he and Optimus Prime have become one being!
Hi-Q's revelation provides an explanation for all the recent instances of Optimus Prime doubling up in pain. It now appears that he and his engine component had begun some kind of metamorphosis, but the reason we are given is vague at best: 'that no one could have foreseen what the outcome of binary bonding would be'. Okay, but how come this has only effected Prime and Hi-Q and not the other Powermasters (or Headmasters for that matter who arguably have a more intrical bond).
This is also suggests that Optimus Prime is not as dead as we thought as his persona is living on in Hi-Q. It sounds a bit daft to me but when I think about it, this may be no more unlikely than Prime surviving on one of Ethan Zachary's computer diskettes. See 1987 and 1988 stories for the joys of that one. The chances are that Prime will be back soon and no doubt in his new Action Master form. As we all know that whatever else the comic is, it also a vehicle for selling the latest Transformers toys, so the writer is duty bound to shoehorn new characters and conceptual changes in.
The idea of having Transformers who can't transform seems to me an oxymoron, or to put it another way, a contradiction in terms. Furman has put the best possible spin on it by saying that Nucleon compensates for the loss of this important ability by making the robot more powerful. This would undoubtedly create the incentive for the Decepticons to follow the Autobot lead - after all they have many deactivated or comparatively underpowered warriors whom could benefit.
In a way it is a shame that the comic folded so soon after this issue because I'm sure Furman could have told some interesting tales about Action Masters. I could imagine some TFs would freak out at losing their alt modes and it would have been fascinating to see how the dealt with this major upheaval. As it is, no-one other than Grimlock is seen to go through it. I suppose the impending cancellation meant that Furman had to tie up loose ends and not generate new too many new ones.
I can't say I am too bothered that we won't see the subterranean monsters from this issue again. I am much more excited about Autobot against Decepticon, good versus evil battle, than reading about Transformers battling snarling creatures. But some will say a bit of variety is no bad thing. However one aspect which really does spoil this issue is the screwed up colouring on several of the pages. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think colours are printed by transposing primary colours over each other. In this case a layer seems to be missing from some of these pages. It is annoying because it all looks fine in the US printing of this story.