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Monstercon from Mars!

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MarvelUS-45

Shouldn't this magazine be wrapped in brown paper, and be behind the cash register?

Marvel U.S. > Issue # 45
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Marvel UK > Issue #190–191
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...and weirder!

Synopsis

On the set of a really, really bad alien-monster movie, the FX monster suddenly shorts out and explodes. Director Rollie Friendly isn't far behind, as this set-back will cost him weeks of filming. In a meeting with his PR expert Mitch Keno later that day, Rollie is looking for new ideas when Keno tunes him into a local broadcast by reporter Brad Emory relating to the Transformers.

The Autobot Sky Lynx is finally returning to Earth with his passengers, the human children nick-named the Spacehikers. After setting down at a pre-arranged landing site, Sky Lynx releases his friends to their waiting parents. At first, Sky Lynx is willing to stick around, answer a few questions and pose for pictures. But the anti-robot hysteria of some members in the crowd quickly turns it into a mob, and he is chased away into the sky.

Keno's public relations standpoint is that, even as the villain, robot monsters will not be good for business in movies anytime soon. Instead, he suggest that Rollie check out a mysterious Bigfoot sighting from the Inquisitor. With nothing to do until his Creepozoid prop is fixed, Rollie enlists a camera crew and his two stars, Jake Colton and Carissa Carr, to go creature hunting. After grabbing a local guide in North Carolina and slipping past the National Guard, Rollie and company run right into the giant Skullgrin, inside his organic shell.

After a brief "fight", Rollie gets to talking with Skullgrin and offers to pay him in exchange for a movie deal. Thinking back, Skullgrin remembers that he was sent to Earth alone by his commander to establish a secret fuel depot for his Decepticon comrades. With this in mind, he makes the arrangement with Rollie to be paid in fuel for his time. After squaring things over with the National Guard, Rollie and company bring Skullgrin back to Hollywood for his big break.

Skullgrin mania sweeps the country!

As he adjusts to his new role, Skullgrin prepares for his first live press conference. Things go a little crazy when the fleshlings actually ask him questions, but Carissa manages to calm him down in a classic King Kong / Beauty and the Beast moment. After the show, Carissa happens across a wheelchair-bound woman who is depressed about not seeing more of Skullgrin, so Carissa lets her in on a little secret: they'll be traveling to the Grand Canyon for more filming.

As the shooting continues at the Grand Canyon, Rollie calls a break and Skullgrin goes off to talk with Carissa. Once she confesses the sheer horror of her real name, Ethal Stankiewicz, Skullgrin feels the need to confide in her as well, and removes his Pretender shell for the first time. Unfortunately, the "poor woman in the wheelchair" has followed them to the Grand Canyon, and reveals herself as the robot-hating Circuit Breaker.

As Skullgrin and Circuit Breaker begin to spar with one another, Rollie catches sight of the battle and begins setting up cameras to catch it all on film. Skullgrin swipes his fleshling foe with his vibro saber, and prepares to shrapnel-blast her into oblivion until she manages to radio-override his shell and turn it against Skullgrin. The shell's strike knocks his cannons off-target, shattering the cliffside under Carissa's feet. While Rollie just continues to roll film, the poor actress is about to fall to her death. Skullgrin is willing to let her, as he feels betrayed by Carissa telling Circuit Breaker where to find him, but Josie does her good deed for the millennium and tells him Carissa never did anything to harm him.

As Skullgrin moves the actress to safety, Circuit Breaker overwhelms him with her electro-bolts and is ready to move in for the kill when Rollie yells that he'll pay her double bucks to kill Skullgrin on film for him. Momentarily more disgusted with her own race rather than the Transformers, Circuit Breaker fries Rollie's equipment and takes off, leaving Skullgrin alive but injured at the bottom of the canyon.

Credits

Writer: Bob Budiansky
Pencil Art: Jose Delbo and Dave Hunt
Colorist: Nelson Yomtov
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Editor: Don Daley
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

  • Originally published: October, 1988

Major characters

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Autobots Decepticons Humans

Errors

  • Scorponok sent Skullgrin to Earth because, as a giant skeletal minotaur-thing, he'd "arouse less suspicion" than a normal Decepticon. Yup, works for me.
  • Along the same lines — the U.S. military seem perfectly willing to surrender a giant alien monster to a movie producer? Sure. Why not?
  • And the producer is more than happy to pay the giant alien monster actor in fuel? Even though he doesn't have a car or anything? Hey, who hasn't?
  • And Skullgrin's favorite part about this plan was that no one was going to get hurt? Sure sounds likes the Skullgrin we all know.

Items of note

  • Ridiculous as it sounds, it's entirely possible that Skullgrin mania swept the country without the Autobots knowing about it. As of U.S. #44, all the Autobots of Earth were still trapped on the moon following the departure of Steelhaven for Nebulos.
  • Placards brought to protest Sky Lynx's landing include, "Let 'em Rust", "DOWN with the ROBOT" and "DIE, Robots!" There was also the slightly more creative "Reck the Robots", with the r of 'Reck' also serving as the r for robots.
  • In the previous issue, Berko was a passenger on Sky Lynx along with the Spacehikers, and he expressed some interest in returning to Earth. When we next encounter Berko, he and Sky Lynx are working as partners, and Berko is contemptuous of humans. It's safe to assume he's on board Sky Lynx during this issue (and just chooses to stay there). One might speculate that the abuse Sky Lynx receives here convinces Berko not to stay on Earth, but this is not explicitly supported by the text.
  • Sky Lynx leaving Earth was very fortunate for him, since it means he doesn't get offed during the imminent Underbase Saga.

References

UK printing

UK issue 190

  • Backup strips: Visionaries and Combat Colin
  • Unusually this issue's opening splash page was edited to make it larger for the UK comics' larger pages. This amounted to just making the shadow at the bottom of the page larger and giving the Creepozoid a finished toe.
  • An editorial note was added to Circuit Breaker's flashback.
  • Several lines of dialog in this issue were changed from the U.S. version for the UK audience. "Nix the close-ups" became "FORGET close-ups" and references to Skullgrin being paid "points" was changed to "bonuses" for the UK version.
  • In the Dread Tidings for issue #190, Dreadwind clears up confusion about who is named who in the Powermaster's ad in the UK comics, as well as answering the question of whether Transformers go to sleep.
  • This issue features Transformers A-Z profiles on Kickback and Laserbeak.

UK issue 191

  • Backup strips: Action Force and Combat Colin
  • The cover of the comic the reporter at Skullgrin's press conference is reading was changed from an issue of Marvel Universe to the U.S. cover of this story. The image is only partly angled and not correctly aligned to the outline the reporter is holding.
  • In the Dread Tidings for issue #191, Dreadwind covered that Metroplex's lack of UK appearances had been rectified in the 1987 annual story "Ark Duty" and continued to tease about the upcoming Time Wars.
  • This issue includes an ad for Death's Head #1 that includes a summary of Death's Head's career before he got his own solo series. The ad is worthy of note because it is one of the few times after his leaving its pages that direct reference is made to his adventures in Transformers.

Covers (3)

  • U.S. issue 45 cover: Circuit Breaker vs Skullgrin by Bob Budiansky
  • UK issue 190 cover: Circuit Breaker and a Skullgrin poster by Stephen Baskerville
  • UK issue 191 cover: Skullgrin's shell fighting his inner robot by Art Wetherell and Stephen Baskerville


MarvelUK-190

The only thing worse than robots — B movies.

MarvelUK-191

We always hurt the ones we are.

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