TFormers.com's Featured Comic of the Week is the entertainingly apocryphal "Plague of the Insecticons!", from the Transformers UK Annual for 1985 Written by Simon Furman, Art by Mike Collins and Jeff Anderson.
Optimus Prime, Prowl, and Warpath arrive at the White House and are greeted by President Ronald Reagan. Before peace negotiations can begin the Insecticons arrive, attacking in the name of Optimus Prime. Despite both parties' precautions, one call on an unsecured telephone line has made the meeting known to Megatron. After disrupting the meeting, the Insecticons peel off to attack DC- with Prowl and Warpath on their trail. Chasing the source of the attack, Prime finally
remembers he can send his Scout Car to aid his warriors. It's far too late to save Prowl from Shrapnel, but Optimus finds his hunch was correct and the Insecticons are under the control of Ravage. So obvious! Ravage sends two commands: one to Bombshell to inject Prime with a cerebro shell, the other a general order: "Destroy Optimus Prime!" Kickback does his best, bless his heart, and destroys Scout Car Optimus. Optimus
Optimus doubles over in pain, and the shell instead hits Ravage, who is then under Bombshell's control. Who is under Ravage's control. While Ravage sits there smoking as his brain divides by cucumber, Warpath and Optimus head home (without Prowl- is he...?) deciding that President Reagan would never believe their political enemies would want to sabotage peace talks. President Reagan declares to his aide that since the Autobots couldn't be bothered to explain themselves after the battle, he can't afford to trust them again.
Uh... Prowl's already dead by panel 1, Prime.
This is another story from the first UK annual- which as I mentioned week before last was one of the first Transformers comics I ever owned. And it is an odd, odd story. It's not unusual for Optimus Prime to come off as dumb or distracted in fiction, but this is one of his worst days. It's well into the battle- too late for Prowl- that he remembers that Roller exists. (Or "Scout Car," as the UK calls him here and in his G2 profile- not sure why they didn't like the name.) That's slightly more forgivable when you consider that this is the only appearance of Roller in either Marvel-G1 continuity. Everybody else forgot Roller, so why not Optimus? And speaking of continuity, Prowl kinda.... dies
, here. There's no sight or mention of him at all after he takes a splinter grenade in the back from Shrapnel. You could guess that he's in Prime's trailer at the end, maybe, but considering Prime's decision-making skills in this story... maybe not.
Possibly worse, Optimus decides to just slink back out of shot-up Washington DC without so much as an apology to the President of the USA. Who is, in fact, Ronald Reagan. It's always kind of weird to see real-world figures work their way into comics as anything more than an offhand reference- this goes double for political figures, who are usually abstracted for both political reasons and reasons of shelf-life.
It's a fun story despite or possibly because of its failings- in that sense it has the G1 cartoon feel. As a writer, Simon Furman likes hard stops in his narrative, for lack of a better term. He seems to want to have the last word in a words-and-pictures medium, and there's a couple of story beats here that show that: The parting shot of Ravage is a memorable image paired with a thorougly Furman caption, and Reagan's final proclamation of being unable to trust the Autobots has an air of something that will have grave consequences later. And it probably would have, if this weird little story was in continuity with anything.
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