|Marvel U.S. > Issue #62|
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|Marvel UK > Issue #262–264|
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The Matrix Quest begins, and dime novel detective stories make a comeback.
After last issue's disastrous events, the Autobot leaders of Earth and Cybertron have sent several teams to search one cluster of the galaxy for the Creation Matrix, in the hopes of using it against the coming threat of Unicron.
Nightbeat, Siren, and Hosehead have journeyed to the planet Pz-Zazz, a planet apparently covered with seedy metropolitan areas and filled with lowlifes and mobsters. While interrogating some of those mobsters as to whether they've seen the Matrix, Nightbeat's conversational skills get the three Headmasters into hot water. Siren is belted through a nearby storefront window while Nightbeat and Hosehead are preparing to be "plugged" when thugs from a rival gang drive by and begin firing on their tormentors. The firefight hits a passing alien, who collapses into the storefront on top of Siren, passing on a mysterious bird statue to him with his dying breath.
Though Nightbeat's first instinct is to follow up on the textbook detective story that literally dropped into their laps, his comrades convince him to put the bird away in storage and focus on their primary mission to find the Matrix. Still, Nightbeat is frustrated, citing their historical database which claimed Pz-Zazz was a lush and prosperous world once, nothing like the cesspool they've been searching through. His detective's instincts assure him the bird has something to do with that discrepancy.
In the meantime, their conversation is overheard by Miss Fatale, who is willing to deal with the Autobots. She tells them of a legendary font of life that once sat atop a nearby mountain and, in exchange for leading them to that abandoned temple, she only asks for the return of the bird statue, which she claims is her property. Thinking that this healing object might be the Matrix, the Autobots agree — Siren and Hosehead go on ahead with Fatale, while Nightbeat goes to retrieve the bird from lock-up. While picking it up, though, he is confronted by the mobsters the Autobots met earlier, who also want the bird. Nightbeat clubs his way through the goons with the bird, only to get caught red-handed by another thug when he races outside. Moments from death, Nightbeat is saved by a mysterious energy blast that levels the thug before he can kill the Autobot.
Hosehead and the others reach the top of the mountain, but find the second gang-leader waiting there for them, interested in acquiring — you guessed it — the bird. Nightbeat races up then, revealing that the bird is a life-giving source of power, much like the Matrix itself. He discovered this when a piece of the statue's outer enamel was chipped off in his bar skirmish. After disabling the mobsters, Nightbeat makes a move to place the bird back in its special cradle on the temple. Fatale tries to stop him, pleading with him that they can keep the bird for themselves: she can stay forever young, and he can use it in place of the Matrix to restore his fallen comrades. Nightbeat admits having considered it, but ultimately decided that Pz-Zazz needs the bird to sustain itself, and however noble his motives, it would be selfish to keep for himself.
Nightbeat returns the bird to its proper place, and a wave of light and greenery spreads over the mountain. Pz-Zazz is given a second chance, but the Autobots are not: Thunderwing and his Decepticons shoot Nightbeat and the others in the back, taking them captive to find out just why so many Autobots are searching this neck of the galaxy...
- Originally published: January, 1990
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
- None yet identified.
Items of note
- Part 1 of the Matrix Quest
- This story is an ode to the hard-boiled detective genre, a favorite of Simon Furman. In particular, many references are made to The Maltese Falcon:
- Nightbeat's initial encounter with B'ghdad's thugs occurs beneath a billboard featuring what appears to be Humphrey Bogart, who played the detective Sam Spade in the 1941 movie.
- An alien dying of gunshot wounds gives Siren the bird (heh) wrapped in paper. Likewise, Spade receives the wrapped-up Falcon from a bullet-riddled man who stumbles into his office and dies.
- The bird sculpture bears a heavy resemblance to the Falcon, the principle difference being that the former's wings are partly outstretched instead of lying flat against its back. Well, and that it's enormous, as it's scaled up to be proportionate with the robots and aliens handling it.
- The immensely fat ganglord, Gutt is an echo of Kasper Gutman, Falcon's rotund antagonist.
- Gutt's counterpart, B'ghdad, seems to be a more oblique parallel to Gutman's associate Joel Cairo. The name is certainly reference enough, though B'ghdad is a more authoritative and independent character than Cairo. The homage does get reinforced when Nightbeat tells him, "If you're its real owner, I'm Peter Lorre!" (referring to the actor who played Cairo in the Bogart film).
- That conversation occurred while Nightbeat was retrieving the bird from a storage service. Spade similarly stowed the Falcon away in a bus terminal's lost-and-found.
- And that line occurred while Nightbeat was clobbering B'ghdad with the bird, chipping a piece of enamel coating off and revealing its true, luminous nature. The jewel-encrusted Falcon's true worth was also concealed beneath an enamel coating.
- A billboard bearing Humphrey Bogart's likeness is clearly visible on the story's second page.
- The "Timely Publishing" featured on the cover is most likely a reference to "Timely Publications", the name that Marvel went by in the 40s.
- This issue is the first U.S. appearance for Nightbeat, Siren, Hosehead, Needlenose and Spinister. The U.K. comic introduced the Autobots in "The Big Shutdown" and the Decepticons in "Hunting Party".
- In the Dread Tidings for issue #262, Dreadwind supplies the missing motto for Micromaster Battle Patrol member Flak, while expressing his dislike of the smaller guys, and debates what Pincher's level 5 endurance rating means.
- Transformers Universe profiles for Hosehead, Nightbeat, Siren, and Backstreet are found after the main story.
- The title itself relates to a Furmanism known as "Vast predatory bird"
- Optimus Prime and Emirate Xaaron recap the relevant events, including the encounter with Primus and the Mayhem Attack Squad from U.S. #61, and the unwitting loss of the Matrix when Prime's original body was shot into space in U.S. #26.
|Specifics: UK covers|
- U.S. cover: Dime store novel of the Headmaster Juniors by Rod Ramos
- UK issue 262 cover: Grimlock chewing on Shockwave by Stephen Baskerville
- UK issue 263 cover: Bumblebee and Ironhide by Stephen Baskerville
- UK issue 264 cover: Dragstrip, Dead End, Soundwave, Megatron and Mixmaster vs Prowl and Wheeljack by Jeff Anderson
- None yet identified.