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Club Con!

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MarvelUS-47

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.

Marvel U.S. > Issue # 47
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Marvel UK > Issue #194–195
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"Hi, I'm Starscream. Fly me!"

Synopsis

Optimus Prime and his advisers are puzzled over the Decepticons' latest scheme: Ratbat and his soldiers have converted their desert island headquarters into a tourist resort for humans called Club Con, even advertising it on television. It seems clear that this is partially to have an endless supply of human shields and/or hostages to deter Autobot attacks, but Prime suspects there is more to it. He summons Blaster for a mission to investigate the island.

Later in Portland, Oregon, Sparkplug Witwicky and Jesse are discussing how worried they are about his missing son, Buster, when Blaster drops in on them. He has a plan to sneak onto Club Con, but needs a human "owner" to carry him in. Sparkplug is more than willing to jump at the chance to help find and free Buster, but Jesse gently reminds him that he's too old and ugly to fit in at a resort. She offers to take his place on the surveillance mission, and Blaster accepts.

In the mechanical tower that sits just beneath the surface of Club Con, Ratbat is extraordinarily anxious about the success of their latest "operation", as it has been issued from High Command back on Cybertron.

As Jesse and the disguised Blaster arrive on Club Con, they are greeted by the club's manager, Starscream. At the beach, Jesse leaves Blaster to his surveillance work and goes for a swim. Out past the safety buoys, though, she runs into a school of Seaconss patrolling the waters, and sees them enter the mechanical construction underneath the island. Returning to the beach, she gathers up a recalcitrant Blaster in a waterproof baggie and takes him back down to the airlock she saw the Seacons enter earlier.

Sneaking around, Jesse spots a human-sized door, and enters it to find Buster held prisoner inside. Blaster questions him about the Decepticons' plans, and Buster relates what he has overheard. Several hundred years ago, the Autobots of Cybertron sent specially-encoded information to Earth on a pair of mini-cassettes. The message craft was damaged on arrival, though, and the cassettes wound up in a pirate's treasure chest, only for that pirate ship to be sunk in the middle of the ocean. The Decepticons of Cybertron recently learned of this long-lost mission and, suspecting the value of the information, commanded Ratbat and the Decepticons of Earth to find that sunken treasure chest and the cassettes inside. Club Con is a blind to cover their salvage operation.

Unable to break Buster free without revealing himself, Blaster promises to return when he can. On their way out, however, Jesse and Blaster spot the Seacons returning from the deep, having successfully uncovered the treasure chest. Against Blaster's recriminations, Jesse sneaks over and retrieves the cassettes right from under the Decepticons' olfactory sensors while Snaptrap is praising his team's efficiency to Ratbat. When they notice the missing tapes, though, Ratbat immediately recognizes Jesse's water-dripping footprints as belonging to a fleshling, and sends the Seacons to fetch.

Back on dry land, Jesse is ready to catch the first plane out with Blaster, but the Seacons pop up onto the beach and begin ransacking through the crowd in order to find the cassettes. Blaster feels compelled to transform and protect the humans, but is quickly overwhelmed by the six Seacons. Out of necessity, he spits the cassettes back out into the water, and transforms back into his smaller form in the confusion. Armed with the information but not the cassettes themselves, Blaster leaves with Jesse and vows to return as soon as he can.

Credits

Script: Bob Budiansky
Art: Jose Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Colors: Nelson Yomtov
Lettering: Bill Oakley
Editor: Don Daley
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Cover: Bob Budiansky

  • Originally published: December, 1988

Major characters

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Autobots Decepticons Humans

Errors

  • A Battlecharger is erroneously depicted among Club Con's staff.
  • Another Battlecharger (or possibly the same one) is erroneously depicted among the Autobots training with Blaster.
  • It's not clear what exactly Blaster would've done if Jessie HADN'T snuck into the Decepticon base with him. Was he just going to sit there and eavesdrop, or what?
  • The mini-cassette backstory is several layers of FUBAR. First, it depicts Sunstreaker and a normal-sized Defensor on Cybertron when they shouldn't be. Next, it assumes the Autobots of Cybertron knew the Ark's crew was on Earth several hundred years before the latter group awoke on Earth, which is nonsense and unsubstantiated. Then, as we'll see in later issues, the information they send to Earth only becomes relevant in the present... several hundred years after it was first sent. FUBAR!

Items of note

  • Part 1 of the Underbase Saga.
  • This is technically the first appearance of the Autobots of Earth since U.S. #41. This issue establishes that Optimus Prime has now officially returned as overall Autobot leader, and Blaster, Grimlock, and Fortress Maximus all seem comfortable being under his command.
  • The Decepticons have claimed their island/spaceship as a sovereign nation and declared Buster as its monarch to prevent interference by humans due to international law. This legal reasoning is not dissimilar to the real world case of the Principality of Sealand.
  • This issue features Outback's second and final appearance in the U.S. comic (after a one panel cameo in issue #41), seen here training with Blaster aboard the Ark. He will not be seen again, and given the presence of a Battlecharger (see Errors above) in the same scene, his appearance here may possibly be another mistake.
  • Starscream is now fully repaired and back working with the Decepticons as Ratbat's lieutenant commander, after being recovered from the Ark in U.S. #41.
  • Instead of publishing a new Transformers: Universe limited series, Marvel began shortening the main stories and including profiles for the Headmasters-era and beyond characters in the back. Profiles for Snapdragon, Highbrow and Apeface are found after the main story.

UK printing

UK Issue 194

  • Backup strips: Action Force
  • This is the last time a cover featuring a U.S. artist would appear on a UK Transformers comic. It was a heavily edited (and mirrored) version of the U.S. cover for this story, with the addition of a thought balloon for Jesse and a banner proclaiming the return of the Seacons. The recoloring of the cover was also striking — the Seacons now are more accurate to their usual color models and Jesse's bikini was changed to green to match the interior story.
  • While in the U.S., this story was the Seacons' first first appearance, in the UK, the Seacons had their debut in issue #152 (Enemy Action!, pt 1).
  • In the UK continuity, Starscream was revived quite some time earlier, way back in issue #81 (Target:2006, pt 3), though locked in a pod in #88 (Target:2006, epilogue) and did not come out of it until #145 (Stargazing). But this is still his first appearance back with the Decepticons for UK readers as well. Starscream's conversation with Ratbat had minor changes so his excuse for not using Ratbat's title is now attributed to having spent such a long time in a life support pod rather than having recently been brought back on line.
  • Outback appears to have dropped on to Earth for just this issue. In his other appearances in the UK comics, he was always on Cybertron.
  • The splash page for this issue was edited, removing reference to the Underbase Saga as a 4-part epic. In the UK, it was printed over 9 issues, with Time Wars happening in the middle of the story.
  • Some of Starscream's dialog was modified to account for the fact that he wasn't rescued from the Ark.
  • In Dread Tidings this issue, Dreadwind reveals that Grimlock left the variable voltage harness behind for use on any mistake-prone stubbies. He also foreshadows the appearance of Chop Shop and Venom in Time Wars.

UK Issue 195

  • Backup strips: Action Force, Death's Head and Combat Colin
  • This issue included Transformers A-Z entries on Long Haul and Menasor.
  • The Death's Head "Backup Strip" this issue is actually a one-page comic strip meant as an advertisement for Death's Head's own regular series. The UK comics often blurred the line between backup strips and advertisements.
  • In Dread Tidings this issue, Dreadwind confirms that he is 4 million, 60 thousand, 3 hundred and forty two years old, and still reads comics.

Covers (3)


MarvelUK-194

All the better to eat you with my dear.

MarvelUK-195

This is what happens when you don't put anti-blaster cream on before going out in the sun.

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