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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
Devil's Due
(2003-2007)
Dreamwave
(2002-2004)
Club/Con
(2001-now)
Titan Books
(2001-now)
Marvel Comics
(1984-1994)
Japanese
Manga
Other Books
and Titles

MARVEL TRANSFORMERS COMICS GUIDE

Marvel UK nav: UK Intro | Story List | #1-10 | #11-20 | #21-30 | #31-40 | #41-50 | #51-60 | #61-70 | #71-80
#81-90 | #91-100 | #101-110 | #111-120 | #121-130 | #131-140 | #141-150 | #151-160 | #161-170
#171-180 | #181-190 | #191-200 | #201-210 | #211-220 | #221-230 | #231-240 | #241-250 | #252-260
#261-270 | #271-280 | #281-290 | #291-300 | #301-310 | #311-320 | #321-330 | #331-332 | Cover Images
Annuals: 1985 Annual | 1986 Annual | 1987 Annual | 1988 Annual | 1989 Annual | 1990 Annual | 1991 Annual
Other titles / G2: Action Force #24-27 | Specials & Collected Comics | UK G2 Intro | UK G2 #1-5 | UK G2 Annual

UK #241 - #250

| #241 | #242 | #243 | #244 | #245 | #246 | #247 | #248 | #249 | #250 |

#241 - "Back from the Dead!" Part 2 & "Rage!"

[cover]
Cover: Geoff Senior

Cover Date: 28/10/89

"Back from the Dead!" Part 2
Script:
Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 6-10 of US Transformers #56, dated September 1989.

"Rage!"
Script: Simon Furman
Art: Andy Wildman
Letters: Stuart Bartlett

Later Reprinted By: Titan Books: Perchance to Dream [Worldwide].

"Back from the Dead!" Part 2

Synopsis: The Air Strike Patrol take control of the MacDill airbase, demanding a new refuelling plane and a full load of fuel for it. This is spotted by Optimus Prime, who takes most of the Autobots down from the Ark to deal with it. The Sports Car Patrol sneak onboard, and hack into the computers in Ratchet's lab, animating the deactivated Autobots.

Notes: There aren't a huge number of active Autobots on the Ark. A rough guess at current strength would be: Optimus Prime, Kup, Hot Rod, Blurr, Getaway, Joyride, Slapdash, Cloudburst, Waverider, Landmine, Hardhead, Chromedome, Highbrow, Brainstorm, Pointblank, Crosshairs, Sureshot, Nightbeat, Siren, Hosehead and Ratchet, with some possibly reassigned somewhere, giving the rough number as twenty-ish. The Decepticons now have use of a Trans-Dimensional Portal that can place them straight on the Ark.

Errors: Why does Prime need to take so many of his men to cope with four Micromasters? In the top-middle frame of page 5, Hyperdrive's in it twice - once inside the bubble, once outside [he replaces Road Hugger]. Also, the same frame implies that Detour's just arrived and Hyperdrive's just been looking in the lab, when it would seem to be vice-versa.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Storm Cloud, Nightflight, Tailwind, Whisper, Getaway, Hot Rod, Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Detour, Hyperdrive, Blackjack, Roadhandler. The bodies of Hound, Perceptor and Jazz are seen.

Review: Rather interesting, with the Sports Car Patrol well characterised, and Ratchet's as engaging as ever. The plot's at just the right level, with enough going on without being crowded. A good, if not great, story, and while some of his characters are undynamic and ugly, Delbo strangely continues to get the Micromasters just right.

[*][*][*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0]

"Rage!"

Synopsis: Thunderwing re-emerges from the sea in California. He goes on a rampage, and when a shuttle descends, attacks it. It turns out to be a set of Decepticons intent on returning him to Earth. He instead commadeers their ship, resolving to attack the Ark and gain revenge on the Autobots.

Notes: Nightbeat blew Thunderwing up in #231. It's not clear how much later this is set, though it can't be long afterwards. This story would seem to be set after the end of Furman's initial US storyline, which will end in #257. See #242 for my insane reasoning...

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Thunderwing, Siren [flashback], Nightbeat [flashback], Hosehead [flashback], Crankcase, Quake, Ruckus, Flamefeather, Windsweeper.

Back-Up Strips:
Action Force - "Evasion" Part 1
Combat Colin

Review: A bit of a non-event, to be honest. Thunderwing comes across as just another blow-hard Decepticon leader who's more threat to his own troops than anyone else. Wildman's art doesn't help, making everyone look far too squat. A filler story.

[*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0][0][0]

#242 - "Back from the Dead!" Part 3 & "Assault on the Ark!"

[cover]
Cover: Jeff Anderson

Cover Date: 04/11/89

"Back from the Dead!" Part 3
Script:
Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 11-16 of US Transformers #56, dated September 1989.

"Assault on the Ark!"
Script: Simon Furman
Art: Andy Wildman
Letters: Stuart Bartlett

Later Reprinted By: Titan Books: Perchance to Dream [Worldwide].

"Back from the Dead!" Part 3

Synopsis: The Autobots arrive at the Airbase, and the Air Strike Patrol activate the next part of their plan, contacting Scorponok. Back on the Ark, the Sports Car Patrol are unable to get Ratchet to destroy the reanimated Autobots. Instead, they masquerade as Autobots themselves, persuading him to come with them to Cybertron to pick up more advanced equipment. Ratchet agrees, but instead he's taken before Megatron, the Decepticon behind the events on Earth and the Ark.

Errors: On the first page, the centre of Optimus' waist is red. Omega Supreme's body is much too small. On page 6, Ratchet's left hand is coloured black.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Nightflight, Tailwind, Optimus Prime, Getaway, Pointblank, Landmine, Whisper, Ratchet, Blackjack, Detour, Hyperdrive, Roadhugger, Megatron. The bodies of, or at least bits of the bodies of, Hound, Jazz, Perceptor, Omega Supreme, Goldbug, Grimlock and Blaster are seen.

Review: A little ropey. Ratchet falling for the Decepticons' riff is believable, but only just, though this will depend on buying into Ratchet having been depressed for some considerable time, when in fact we've barely seen him for a few years. Still, Megatron's plan is interesting, though the revelation that he's behind this seems rather an anti-climax when he's never really faded from the UK stories.

[*][*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0][0]

"Assault on the Ark!"

Synopsis: Thunderwing leads his impromptu team in a head-on attack against the Ark. They board the ship, much to the bemusement of the Autobots, who nevertheless prepare to repel them. Optimus Prime prepares to fight Thunderwing, but Siren offers to sacrifice himself. However, the remaining Autobots take out Thunderwing, and the Decepticons retreat. Thunderwing reports back to the High Council, expecting to be mocked, but instead they make him Decepticon leader.

Notes: Thunderwing is named as new Decepticon leader, though in this context it appears to be more of a military rank, under the council. The Cybertronian and Terran Decepticons appear to be more-or-less seperate units, with no reference whatsoever to Earth incumbent Scorponok. Presumably this is set some time after last issue, considering the state Thunderwing left both the Decepticons and their shuttle in. The Ark would seem to have limited external weaponry. The UK exclusives "Rage" [ #241], "Assault on the Ark" [ #242] and the Demons trilogy [ #245-247] would all seem to happen in that order, but between "Skin Deep" [which will end in #257] and "Yesterday's Heroes" [which starts in #258]. What would seem to happen is that after Megatron's disappearance the Decepticon council then set Thunderwing his trial for becoming a new Decepticon leader, which he eventually passes [well, sort of]. This also allows a nice passage of time for the Classic Pretenders to galvanise the resistance on Cybertron. Only problem with this? It means Prime's been moping about Ratchet for a while, but that's really just a problem with "Yesterday's Heroes" [which also establishes that the Classic Pretenders have been operating on Cybertron for a while] which will exist wherever you stick it... This also explains why the Triggercons are working to find Thunderwing here, when they joined Megatron in #214.

Errors: On page 5, Thunderwing's line in the first panel is attributed to Prime.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Hot Rod, Kup, Slapdash, Nightbeat, Thunderwing, Crankcase, Ruckus, Windsweeper, Flamefeather, Getaway, Blurr, Hosehead, Optimus Prime.

Back-Up Strips:
Action Force - "Evasion" Part 2
Combat Colin

Review: An unusually action-packed story from the UK back-up strip cycle. However, the five-page format really doesn't help... the whole thing seems rather hurried and faintly ridiculous. There's some nice flecks of characterisation, though Thunderwing's still too much of a generic crazed Decepticon leader, though, and the ending is pretty weak - so losing a hunt, beating up your own men and then nearly getting killed is what the Decepticons are after? No wonder they never win...

[*][*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0][0]

#243 - "The Resurrection Gambit!" Part 1 & "Mind Games"

[cover]
Cover: Andy Wildman

Cover Date: 11/11/89

"The Resurrection Gambit!" Part 1
Script:
Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 1-5 of US Transformers #57, dated October 1989.

"Mind Games"
Script: Simon Furman
Art: Staz [pseudonym for Stewart Johnson]
Letters: Annie Halfacree

Later Reprinted By: Titan Books: Fallen Star [Worldwide].

"The Resurrection Gambit!" Part 1

Synopsis: Megatron sets Ratchet to work on his new secret weapon - a Pretender shell. Back on Earth, Prime has been cut off from contacting the Ark, and flies into a rage.

Notes: The presence of Pretender technology with Megatron lends credence to the idea postulated by "The Magnificent Six" - that Scorponok didn't create Pretender technology after all.

Errors: Yeh, so it's a US/UK continuity glitch, but Ratchet knows Megatron's been knocking around since the Spacebridge incident in #108. While I can't think of any instances of them meeting, Ratchet must've heard of the whole Time Wars thing, if little else, due to it being part of his workload. While I understand that Furman was told not to reference his UK work, this could have been steered around... Despite Ratchet exclaiming that the Autobots were being left behind last issue, they're clearly there on page 1. The Autobots only have one radio? There's not even one on the shuttle?

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Megatron, Ratchet, Hyperdrive, Detour, Roadhugger, Getaway, Hot Rod, Blurr, Landmine, Optimus Prime, Highbrow, Slapdash, Cloudburst, Storm Cloud, Nightflight, Tailwind, Whisper.

Review: The plot's starting to come apart at the seams a little, with several concidences that, while plausible individually, really damage credibility when all tied into the same story. Ratchet's good value, though, and Megatron has some oily charisma to him. Sadly, the sequence on the last page really shows Delbo's lack of skills with portraying action.

[*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0][0][0]

"Mind Games"

Synopsis: Megatron is once again suffering mental attacks from the remnants of Straxus' psyche, much to Ravage's distress. They are interrupted by an intruder in their base - another Megatron.

Notes: Megatron does appear to have some troops under his command, though I can't identify any bar Ravage. There are a couple of things which could account for him and Thunderwing seeming to be in command on Cybertron at the same time - it's possible there are several Triads, and Megatron defeated only one, with the Triggercons defecting at some later date; it could be that Megatron's mental state has caused him to stagnate and lose a lot of power. Megatron thought he'd purged Straxus in #161, after his attempt to take over Megatron in #103. Megatron and Ravage returned to Cybertron in #213. Megatron appears to be based in the Gladiator Ampitheatre from the same issue. This story is set before "Back from the Dead!".

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Megatron, Ravage. Straxus is seen in flashback.

Extras: The Classic Covers Calendar uses #135.

Back-Up Strips:
Action Force - "Evasion" Part 3
Combat Colin [hijacked by the Giggly Sisters, who dress the villain in a frock and have a problem column]

Review: It's well laid out, setting up the confusion of Megatron nicely with a suitably muddy narrative, and Ravage is spot-on. However, it's pretty much all set up, with the first page already changing what we know and preparing the reader for a retcon.

[*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0][0][0]

#244 - "The Resurrection Gambit!" Part 2 & "Two Megatrons!"

[cover]
Cover: Geoff Senior

Cover Date: 18/11/89

"The Resurrection Gambit!" Part 2
Script:
Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov
Originally Printed In:
Pages 6-10 of US Transformers #57, dated October 1989.

"Two Megatrons!"
Script: Simon Furman
Art: Geoff Senior
Letters: Glib

Later Reprinted By: Titan Books: Fallen Star [Worldwide].

"The Resurrection Gambit!" Part 2

Synopsis: Optimus works out something has happened to Ratchet, but then Scorponok shows up with his troops, intent on protecting the Air Strike Patrol, despite them having acted without his orders. Meanwhile, Blackjack has infiltrated the Ark, and set explosives which will be detonated if Ratchet won't help Megatron. The Decepticon also explains how he was left a wandering amnesiac in the Dead End on Cybertron following his accident on the Spacebridge, but regained his memory when he saw Blackjack under attack from Autobots.

Notes: Megatron was damaged on the Spacebridge in #108. Scorponok received the Air Strike Patrol as reinforcements from Cybertron in #236. Dreadwind and Darkwing are working for Megatron. The flashback takes place somewhere between "A Small War!" Part 2 in #233 and "Back from the Dead!" Part 1 in #240.

Errors: Why is Storm Cloud dribbling on page 1? Iguanus is on page 2, despite looking pretty totalled in #239. Blackjack's a powerful little guy, taking down Joyride and... is that an oversized Pinpointer? We can probably assume Megatron was lying in that the explosion was designed to cover his escape... Why run from the Decepticons on Earth when he was holding sway over Shockwave? Megatron must have only regained his memory relatively recently - Blackjack's only been active 18 months at the most. Prime's legs are uncoloured in the first frame.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Getaway, Landmine, Optimus Prime, Storm Cloud, Slapdash, Cloudburst, Tailwind, Whisper, Nightflight, Hot Rod, Scorponok, Skullgrin, Skullcruncher, Weirdwolf, Mindwipe, Megatron, Ratchet, Hyperdrive, Detour, Blackjack, Joyride.

Production Notes: For some reason, the UK editorial team bill this story as "Gambit (Part 2)".

Review: Treading water a little here, especially with Megatron's exposition really smothering the scant action. It feels very stodgy and slow, with only Scorponok's weary characterisation really above average. It'd be a disappointing story with the limp script anyway, and between them Delbo and Yomtov suck the life out of what remains.

[*][*][0][0][0][0][0][0][0][0]

"Two Megatrons!"

Synopsis: Both Megatrons battle, with the newcomer explaining he found Straxus' plans to make a duplicate Megatron should his attempt to take over his body fail. Ravage doesn't believe him, but the other Megatron realises this is the truth, and destroys himself.

Notes: Straxus' technicians built a duplicate of Megatron's body, with copied brain patterns. After his attempt to take over Megatron failed, Straxus' mind reverted to the cloned body, where it remained dormant apart from a couple of take-over attempts, which was then sent to the sewers under London. However, Straxus was unable to take control before the clone was disturbed by Action Force in #125, and then had various adventures in "Ancient Relics!", "Salvage!", "Dry Run!", "Altered Image!", "Time Wars", "Fall and Rise of the Decepticon Empire" and "Mind Games".

Errors: Where to begin? Why would Straxus even bother trying to take over Megatron's body when his technicians can built him an identical body? Why not have them construct a copy of his own body? Why copy Megatron's brain-patterns, which is just going to cause all sorts of bother? How come the clone was built with the scars suffered by Megatron in #108, which Straxus can't have known about? Why hide the thing in the sewers of London? And never mind what the destruction of that Megatron does to the events of "Time Wars" - presuming that Megatron will still become Galvatron, Galvatron can't possibly have any memories, even inaccurate ones, of the Time Wars through Megatron's eyes as that wasn't Megatron, and the clone destroys itself, so it can't become Galvatron.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Megatron, Ravage, clone Megatron [which destroys itself]. Straxus and Blackjack are seen in flashback.

Back-Up Strips:
Action Force - "Evasion" Part 4
Combat Colin

Review: The story itself is interesting, and well done, with Senior pulling off a nice fight scene, and Ravage engaging once more. However, the leaps of belief it requires from the reader are little short of insulting. "Two Megatrons" has often been pointed out as a solid example of Furman's mastery of fixing Transformers continuity, when in fact it's a sub-par retcon. Worse than that, it's a retcon that undoes about two years' worth of decent stories, and the only decent character work Megatron got in the original Marvel series.

[*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0][0][0]

#245 - "The Resurrection Gambit!" Part 3 & "Underworld!"

[cover]
Cover: Andy Wildman

Cover Date: 25/11/89

"The Resurrection Gambit!" Part 2
Script:
Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 11-16 of US Transformers #57, dated October 1989.

"Underworld!"
Script: Simon Furman
Art: Jeff Anderson
Letters: Helen Stone

Later Reprinted By: Titan Books: Aspects of Evil [Worldwide].

"The Resurrection Gambit!" Part 3

Synopsis: Megatron takes Ratchet to his patient, but the medic is already forming a plan. Down on the Airbase, the Autobots and Decepticons begin to fight, and the Air Strike Patrol clear out, their work done. Ratchet, meanwhile, is shown who he has to rebuild for Megatron - Starscream.

Notes: Darkwing and Dreadwind recovered Starscream's remains in #218 [there's a sidelong reference to that UK exclusive strip here]. The Mecannibals have been chasing the two Decepticons since #220.

Errors: In the middle-left frame of page 1, Roadhugger's huge. In the panel above, Blackjack's only slightly shorter than Megatron.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Megatron, Blackjack [flashback], Ratchet, Roadhugger, Optimus Prime, Scorponok, Skullgrin, Weirdwolf, Blurr, Mindwipe, Tailwind, Storm Cloud, Landmine, Skullcruncher, Nightflight, Whisper, Bomb-Burst, Dreadwind, Darkwing. The bodies of Goldbug, Grimlock, Jazz and Starscream are all seen.

Production Notes: For some reason, the UK editorial team bill this story as "Gambit (Part 3)".

Review: It's nice to see the pay-off from "Race with the Devil" here with the recovery of Starscream's body. On the downside, Megatron's already sliding into the arch-villain mode, with a needlessly complicated plan, with the nice "ironic" touch that we can guess will be his downfall in some way even on the first read. Prime's sudden swing from fighting mad for about a page, then repentant, doesn't gel either.

[*][*][*][0][0][0][0][0][0][0]

"Underworld!"

Synopsis: Flattop has talked fellow cadets Tailgate and Subsea into an ill-advised rite of passage under Cybertron's surface, where they're pursued by a group of mutated Transformers. Subsea and Flattop are killed, but Tailgate is able to destroy his pursuers and fight his way back to the surface. However, the Autobots' jaunt may have disturbed something else...

Notes: It is an old Autobot tradition to be initiated in the Cybertronian underworld, though Outback notes it "went out with the Ark!". There are mutated Transformers living in this part of the planet. Tailgate, Pipes and Outback are all part of an Autobot Training Academy. Cybertron has disused sewers - while to assume a parallel with human bodily functions would be a bit of a leap, it's probable there were other waste materials from forges and the like. It's likely these haven't been used because of Cybertron's dwindling population, and the war. Outback's possibly a senior cadet.

Flattop isn't to be confused with the Decepticon Micromaster of the same name.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Tailgate, Subsea [Destroyed by Jackhammer], Flattop [Destroyed by Smeltdown], Rotgut [first appearance], Slayride [First appearance], Outback, Pipes [first appearance], Jackhammer [first appearance] , Warhead [First appearance], Smeltdown [Destroyed by Tailgate].

Back-Up Strips:
Action Force - "Evasion" Part 5
GI Joe - The Action Force - "Divided We Fall!" [an odd one this... a three-page in-house insert, scripted by Dan Abnett and drawn by Stewart Johnson, this sees GI Joe and Action Force joining forces against Cobra, to tie in with the rebranding of the line by Hasbro in Europe - they'd save money by marketing it as GI Joe everywhere].
Combat Colin

Review: A neat little story, adding to the history and structure of Cybertron. The Autobot Academy is a decent concept, though it's a shame it's never followed up on. The three Minibots receive adequate characterisation, and the mutants are imaginative. It's great to see the flipside to the Dead End, with war drop-outs that aren't just aimless bums, and Anderson captures the darkness nicely, with his best art for some time.

[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][0][0]

#246 - "All the Familiar Faces!" Part 1 & "Demons!"

[cover]
Cover: Stewart Johnson

Cover Date: 02/12/89

"All the Familiar Faces!" Part 1
Script:
Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 1-6 of US Transformers #58, dated November 1989.

"Demons!"
Script: Simon Furman
Art: Jeff Anderson
Letters: Annie Halfacree

Later Reprinted By: Titan Books: Aspects of Evil [Worldwide].

"All the Familiar Faces!" Part 1

Synopsis: Ratchet works on Starscream, trying to stall until he can develop his plan. On the Ark, Blackjack has laid explosives, but Kup is back online and prepares to stop him. Back at the MacDill Airbase, Prime orders to Autobots to retreat, to reduce the risk to humans, but opts to stay behind himself.

Errors: Joyride's in a different place than he was in #244 [the frame is reused in a flashback in this issue also, and retains the oversized Targetmaster partner]. He's then gone altogether as Kup revives and moves for his gun.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Ratchet, Megatron, Blackjack, Joyride, Darkwing, Dreadwind, Detour, Hyperdrive, Roadhugger, Kup, Hot Rod, Getaway, Blurr, Optimus Prime, Chromedome, Mindwipe, Iguanus, Scorponok, Triggerhappy, Skullcruncher, Slapdash.

Notable Others: Zarak.

Review: It starts off very well, with Ratchet getting too caught up in his work a great moment. Megatron's characterisation's back on track a little, but it's not a terribly interesting read. The whole arc is seriously dragging, pretty bad when you consider it's being fed in bitesize parts.

[*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0][0][0]

"Demons!"

Synopsis: Seawatch is cornered by a group of Decepticons, but something kills them. The trauma leaves him offline. Fixit reluctantly agrees to revive him in order to find out what he saw. Meanwhile, Grimlock, Jazz and Bumblebee are sent looking for the cause. They're jumped by a team of Decepticons out for revenge, with both groups unaware that the real cause is sneaking up on them.

Notes: This story takes place after the end of "Skin Deep" in #257. The Demons suck the Matrix lifeforce out of Transformers. A severe shock or traumatic experience can cause a Transformer to enter mental shutdown. One of the Decepticons makes a joke about his "deprived upbringing"... Picked up from someone who's served on Earth? Something more?

Errors: Why do the Demons leave Seawatch? Because he's shut down?

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Seawatch, Fixit, Xaaron, Jazz, Grimlock, Bumblebee, Ruckus, Windsweeper, Cindersaur, Sparkstalker. Jackhammer's corpse is seen.

Back-Up Strips:
Action Force - "Law of the Jungle!" Part 1
Combat Colin

Review: The middle link in a three-story arc's never that great with just five pages. This follows the pattern - the first half pads out the ending of the opening part, and the second half sets things up to the conclusion. Xaaron's tougher character shows decent development - the earlier politician perhaps hardened by the trouble the resistance had slipped into. It's a good, if not great, story, though Anderson's simple pencils are horribly exposed in black and white.

[*][*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0][0]

#247 - "All the Familiar Faces!" Part 2 & "Dawn of Darkness"

[cover]
Cover: Jeff Anderson

Cover Date: 09/12/89

"All the Familiar Faces!" Part 2
Script:
Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 7-11 of US Transformers #58, dated November 1989.

"Dawn of Darkness"
Script: Simon Furman
Art: Geoff Senior
Letters: Glib

Later Reprinted By: Titan Books: Aspects of Evil [Worldwide].

"All the Familiar Faces!" Part 2

Synopsis: Hot Rod stays behind to help Prime, and the pair are able to get Zarak to think over the odd happenings. On Cybertron, Starscream is ready, and Megatron sends him to Earth. Ratchet is forced to accelerate his plans, but Megatron realises he's up to something.

Notes: Starscream's new body is modelled on the Classic Pretender Starscream figure.

Errors: In the first two frames, Op's legs are entirely white. In the third, Hot Rod's insignia is yellow, and then disappears in the following panel. As Scorponok zaps Prime, the Autobot's faceplate goes pink. As Hot Rod charges through the Decepticons, the guy in the bottom-left looks a lot like Whisper, who left in #245. There's something wrong with the printing on page 3, as all the red [notably on Ratchet and Megatron] is closer to orange.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Iguanus, Optimus Prime, Scorponok, Mindwipe, Triggerhappy, Skullcruncher, Hot Rod, Landmine, Weirdwolf, Megatron, Ratchet, Starscream [revived by Ratchet], Hyperdrive, Detour, Roadhugger.

Notable Others: Zarak.

Review: Things keep moving at a nice pace, and at least the repetitive airbase sequences seem to be going somewhere at last. Ratchet suddenly getting panicked by Megatron when the Decepticon isn't even on to anything is also a nice development. Aside from that, though, this rather forgettable arc continues to plod away.

[*][*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0][0]

"Dawn of Darkness"

Synopsis: The monsters attack Bumblebee, but he gets away and alerts the scrapping Autobots and Decepticons. They try to fend them off together. Meanwhile, back at Autobase, Seawatch is online, muttering about demons. Xaaron then uses Seawatch's ramblings to deduce that the demons are legendary creatures who feed on Energon. He creates a device to overload them, and arrives in time to destroy the monsters.

Notes: According to the legend, the demons were entombed under Cybertron by Primus.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Bumblebee, Grimlock, Sparkstalker, Cindersaur [killed by a demon], Windsweeper, Ruckus, Jazz, Xaaron, Seawatch, Fixit, Red Hot.

Extras: The Classic Covers Calendar features #145.

Back-Up Strips:
Action Force - "Law of the Jungle!" Part 2
Combat Colin

Review: Nice and atmospheric. Xaaron gets to save the day, even if it is an old twist on the energy-feeding monsters staple of overloading the enemy. It's nicely scripted, with Furman picking back up on Grimlock right away. The Decepticons are a little peripheral, but it's a great little story.

[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][0][0][0]

#248 - "All the Familiar Faces!" Part 3 & "Fallen Star!"

[cover]
Cover: Geoff Senior

Cover Date: 16/12/89

"All the Familiar Faces!" Part 3
Script:
Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 12-16 of US Transformers #58, dated November 1989.

"Fallen Star!"
Script: Simon Furman
Art: Andy Wildman
Letters: Helen Stone

Later Reprinted By: Titan Books: Fallen Star [Worldwide].

"All the Familiar Faces!" Part 3

Synopsis: Kup confronts Blackjack, who accidentally primes the explosives aboard the Ark. On Earth, Prime and Zarak reach a truce, but then Starscream appears and attacks them. Back on Cybertron, Ratchet has a surprise for Megatron - he's used reject Pretender shells to revive Grimlock, Jazz and Bumblebee, who prepare to attack.

Notes: The new bodies of Bumblebee, Jazz and Grimlock are modelled on the Classic Pretender range of figure.

Errors: Putting aside aesthetics, how does Ratchet have the time to remould much of Goldbug's body into Bumblebee?

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Blackjack, Kup, Optimus Prime, Hot Rod, Scorponok, Skullcruncher, Starscream, Dreadwind, Detour, Roadhugger, Hyperdrive, Jazz [revived by Ratchet], Grimlock [revived by Ratchet], Bumblebee [revived by Ratchet].

Notable Others: Zarak.

Review: Building up nicely at last. Ratchet's always good value, and he has an extra zing when he starts to get on top of things here. Furman also begins his work on Zarak, and this is about the first time since the Headmasters limited series that the character's promising foundations have been built upon. It's far from perfect, but Furman's finally getting somewhere.

[*][*][*][*][*][*][0][0][0][0]

"Fallen Star!"

Synopsis: Back as a Pretender, Starscream is worried he's a laughing stock, unaware that his fellow Decepticons are afraid of him as ever. He runs into an Autobot team sent to observe him, and knocking them out revives his confidence.

Notes: This story is set after the conclusion of "Skin Deep" in #257, and probably before "Primal Scream" [#259-261]. Soundwave has been revived since #210.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Starscream, Fortress Maximus [flashback], Omega Supreme [flashback], Hot Rod [flashback], Optimus Prime [flashback], Scorponok [flashback], Weirdwold, Mindwipe, Soundwave, Cloudburst, Chainclaw, Getaway.

Back-Up Strips:
Action Force - "The Lower Depths" Part 1
Combat Colin

Review: A fine character piece - probably the first good development Starscream ever received. Letting him narrate fits the scripting well, emphasising the neuroses behind the smug exterior, and you can practically feel the Autobots' bemusement. Wildman's also well down the road of adding human features to his art, and it fits "Fallen Star!" like a glove. A wonderful story.

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#249 - "Skin Deep" Part 1 & "Whose Lifeforce is it Anyway?"

[cover]
Cover: Mario Capaldi

Cover Date: 23/12/89

"Skin Deep" Part 1
Script:
Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 1-5 of US Transformers #59, dated Mid November 1989.

"Whose Lifeforce is it Anyway?"
Script: Simon Furman
Art: Staz [pseudonym for Stewart Johnson]
Letters: Stuart Bartlett

Later Reprinted By: Titan Books: Way of the Warrior [Worldwide].

"Skin Deep" Part 1

Synopsis: The revived Autobots tackle Megatron while Ratchet tries to contact Optimus Prime. At MacDill airbase, Starscream begins to attack the Decepticons.

Errors: Ratchet's blue on the splash. On the second page, bottom-left frame, Grimlock's neck is uncoloured. On the next page, the motion lines make it look like Bumblebee's shell has just swung open, when it was opened at the end of last issue. In the next frame, his left horn is uncoloured. On page 5, Roadhugger's missing a leg.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Grimlock, Megatron, Ratchet, Bumblebee, Jazz, Roadhugger, Detour, Hyperdrive, Starscream, Triggerhappy, Skullcruncher.

Notable Others: Zarak.

Review: A middling action instalment, hindered by Delbo's clunky art.

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"Whose Lifeforce is it Anyway?"

Synopsis: Pincher and Doubleheader don't realise that Longtooth's daring on the battlefield is driven by guilt. Millions of years ago, Longtooth kept a fragment of the Matrix to himself, rather than to an injured comrade. Back in the present, Xaaron briefs the trio about the missing Matrix, and Longtooth resolves to send the fragment to Earth, for Prime to use.

Notes: This story is set near the start of the Matrix Quest, around #262. Longtooth is shown to already have a Pretender shell in the flashback, further evidence that Scorponok didn't actually invent the technology in #162.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Doubleheader [first appearance], Pincher [first appearance], Longtooth [first appearance], Optimus Prime [flashback], Xaaron.

Extras: A-Z covers Razorclaw and Red Alert.

Back-Up Strips:
Action Force - "The Lower Depths" Part 2
Combat Colin

Review: Not very interesting. Longtooth's characterisation seems very forced, as does his guilt and paranoia, and it's not helped by the fact he's simply the stupidest-looking Transformer ever. There's nothing really to redeem this story, with Staz' pencils quite ineffective.

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#250 - "Skin Deep" Part 2 & "The Greatest Gift of All!"

[cover]
Cover: Andy Wildman

Cover Date: 30/12/89

"Skin Deep" Part 2
Script:
Simon Furman
Pencils: José Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letters: Jim Massara
Colours: Nel Yomtov

Originally Printed In: Pages 6-11 of US Transformers #59, dated Mid November 1989.

"The Greatest Gift of All!"
Script: Simon Furman
Art: Staz [pseudonym for Stewart Johnson]
Letters: Helen Stone
Later Reprinted By: Transformers #332 [UK], Titan Books: Way of the Warrior [Worldwide].

"Skin Deep" Part 2

Synopsis: Optimus and the Decepticons attempt to battle Starscream on Earth. Back on the Ark, the shuttle crew has returned, but there is no way of stopping Blackjack's explosives. On Cybertron, Megatron knocks out Bumblebee, Jazz and Grimlock, and sets out after Ratchet, who has managed to contact the Ark with a plan.

Notes: The Underbase overloaded Starscream in #210. Blurr is four million years old, placing his creation around the Arklaunch [though either date is most likely rounded up or down for convenience's sake].

Errors: Kup's prepared to risk all of the Autobots on the Ark rather than leave the deactivated Autobots... As he hurls Bumblebee through the wall, Megatron's helmet is uncoloured.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Hot Rod, Skullgrin, Starscream, Weirdwolf, Scorponok, Optimus Prime, Mindwipe, Nightflight [flashback], Storm Cloud [flashback], Tailwind [flashback], Whisper [flashback], Blurr, Getaway, Blackjack, Kup, Detour, Jazz, Hyperdrive, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Megatron, Darkwing, Dreadwind, Ratchet, Cloudburst.

Notable Others: Zarak.

Review: A decent, well-paced continuation, with the story continuing to be interesting. Megatron isn't undone by the Autobot Pretenders, nicely allowing the character to remain a threat. Similarly, Optimus is kept on the back foot, not only having to deal with Starscream, but also not knowing exactly what Megatron's up to.

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"The Greatest Gift of All!"

Synopsis: It's Christmas Day, 1989, and Prime has received the fragment of the Matrix. He debates which Autobot to revive, while observing a battle between the Rescue Patrol and the Air Strike Patrol. A computer read-out informs him of the damage Transformer battles do to the environment. Aghast, Optimus orders the Rescue Patrol to withdraw, and then dissipates the fragment in the Earth's atmosphere, to begin repairing the damage.

Notes: A rundown on some of the deactivated Autobots mentioned or seen: - First Aid has been deactivated at some point since #144, and probably around the Underbase Saga [as soon afterwards it's shown that Ratchet is shouldering the burden of the casualties alone]. Prime needs someone with medical skills since Ratchet's disappearance [which will be shown in #251]. Prowl was deactivated by Starscream in New York during the events of #209 [it happened off-panel, but will be confirmed in #275]. The Dinobots were all deactivated in #209, though Grimlock was revived by Ratchet in #248. Seaspray has been deactivated at some point since #211. Silverbolt was another knocked out by Starscream in #209.

The Air Strike Patrol seem to have gone rogue since the downfall of Megatron [which will happen in #251], and have been contracted as assassins by Decepticon High Command [most likely the new Cybertronian administration led by Thunderwing - following the MacDill incident, it's unlikely Scorponok would want much to do with them; the only other possibles are Shockwave, or maybe at a long shot Starscream - though how this would fit in with his current agenda of taking over the Earth-based Decepticons I don't know]. The Rescue Patrol will be transferred to Earth in #261, basing this story firmly between "Primal Scream" and the Matrix Quest.

Errors: Prime doesn't seem to concerned about where the fragment came from. A severe verbal moralising for Longtooth would be par for Op, surely?

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Optimus Prime, Stakeout, Seawatch, Fixit, Red Hot, Whisper, Tailwind, Nightflight, Storm Cloud.

Production Notes: The issue is padded out so there's no back-up strips bar Combat Colin.

Extras: The cover is a wraparound. A-Z profiles Rewind and Rumble.

Back-Up Strip:
Combat Colin [in colour]

Review: Sadly, the final seasonal strip. A shame, seeing as they got much, much better over the years. This one's a cracker [ho-ho!], no direct Christmas references, just a surprisingly adult piece of realisation from Prime [whose frustration over who to revive is captured perfectly, with some great monologue], and a very run-of-the-mill skirmish in the background, which strengthens the idea that there are little battles day-in, day-out that we rarely see.

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