A team of archeologists get splatted in the sewers beneath London. Its revealed that the space bridge has transported Megatron there, who has just awoken in a blind rage. Meanwhile Grimlock sends Blades to investigate wrongly assuming the Transformer life signal to be the errant Blaster or Goldbug. Action Force are sent into the sewers where they attack Blades. But then the real menace Megatron rears his ugly head. Contuned in Action Force Weekly...rip off alert!
Issue
125
Writer
Simon Furman
Pencils
Geoff Senior
Inks
Dave Harwood
Colours
Steve White
Release date
08/08/1987
Autobots featured
Grimlock, Wheeljack, Blades
Decepticons featured
Megatron
Humans featured
Centurion, Susan Hoffman, Mr Fuller, Flint, Scarlett, Bazooka, Airtight, Barbecue
Origin of
Death of
Mr Fuller
First appearance
Susan Hoffman, Mr Fuller, Centurion, Flint, Scarlett, Bazooka, Airtight, Barbecue
Locations featured
London, and Mount St Hilary, Oregon, USA
Story synopsis
London, deep beneath the city streets. Three archaeologists are amazed at how extensive the Roman sewage systems they walk through are. Their pot-holer guide, Mr Fuller, however, is irritated at having to stop at "every bit of Roman Graffiti" they find.

They are soon distracted, however, when Fuller hears a noise that sounds metallic. Turning their lamps in the direction of the sound, they find the remains of a metal structure that is unknown to them.

Raising their lamps to see higher up, they are shocked to discover that the wrecked structure they have been examining has a head!

Running away, they are under attack as the monstrous creature literally brings the house down around them, burying all but Susan Hoffman.

At the Ark, Grimlock is extremely put out that he called a meeting of all available Autobots, but no one has turned up! Walking into the repair bay, he airs his annoyance at Wheeljack, who calmly replies that the obvious explanation is that there are no available Autobots, Grimlock having assigned them all to either search for Blaster and Goldbug or other "pointless tasks", Wheeljack's task being to repair the "Ancient Relic" Centurion.

Grimlock responds that the "antiquated piece of junk", Centurion, is his friend, and that is why his repair takes precedence over other injured colleagues. Wheeljack responds resignedly that Centurion is fixed, improved and functional.

Grimlock states that Wheeljack should go and prepare a shuttle for transport and load Centurion on board, as they've found their deserters. Wheeljack pleads to Grimlock that Blaster and Goldbug may not have deserted, they could be injured or worse.

Grimlock doesn't care. To him, they failed, the Mechanic escaped. But now Blades has found them in London.

Switching to London, and Blades radios back that that's not exactly what he said. Instead he reported that he'd found a Transformer life signal coming from beneath the city. He doesn't think the deserters would have come as far as London.

Grimlock disagrees, stating that they'd want to put as much distance between themselves and his wrath as possible. He then states that he will soon be joining Blades and instructs him to find them.

Blades transforms and voices his opinions of Grimlock's orders on an empty pier. He ponders the deserters' motives and, should he find them, whether or not he should bring them in, or join them.

In the Roman sewers, Action Force has been brought in to investigate Ms Hoffman's claims of a monster killing her colleagues. Scarlett airs her dislike of the mission, directing her anger at Ms Hoffman. Flint brings her into line by stating that although members of the team may think their time is being wasted, they still have a job to do and are going to do it. The individual members then quash their dissent.

Ms Hoffman suddenly spots a gigantic shadow and assumes it's the monster.

In reality, it's Blades, who is still lost in his thoughts about his mission, and he's taken completely unawares by a blast from Bazooka. Reeling from the initial assault, he is then attacked by the rest of the team.

Already in a sore mood, Blades voices his major gripes: being on a fool's errand, wet, cold and uncomfortable, and now being attack by humans. This makes him "really mad" and he retaliates with a burst that temporarily blinds the team.

About to pound on the humans, Blades suddenly blinks and apologises for his actions, stating that Grimlock's instability has obviously infected him. All the while everyone is being watched by a shadowed figure.

Flint protests that Blades killed Fuller and the others, when Hoffman comes to Blades' defence by revealing that she didn't see clearly before and Blades wasn't the creature that attacked her.

Her description of the creature is cut short as Blades is shot in the back and comes crashing down beside them. The 'creature' steps out of the shadows, fusiion cannon still smoking.

Flint asks what it is, to which the creature reveals itself to be Megatron!
Remarks
With the beginnings of a plot to any 'big budget' Teen Horror Movie (minus the teens!), this turns into something much more sinister, with the return of one of the most memorable characters, Megatron (Although, as later stories reveal, this is not Megatron, but an ill-fated Straxus-possessed clone).

Transformers and Action Force! Yes! Finally the cross-over we've been waiting for! What with the naffness of the US Transformers & GI Joe cross-over being replaced by the Galvatron/Death's Head saga's 'origin of Goldbug' of 10 issues past, this issue goes on to firmly set Action Force and Transformers in the same universe, though in a slightly forced manner.

Senior's art is impeccable, although mainly consisting of very angular shapes. A lot of detail is put into the focus of each panel, with sparse hinting being the flavour for the background elements. Points to notice include page 7, panel 3 where Grimlock is walking towards a wall terminal, and the microphone is clearly shown, so that on panel 5, no one wonders where Grimmer's mike came from.

This is the only time throughout the comic's run that Senior doesn't do his own inks (being assisted by Harwood) as he had to draw the entire 5 issue crossover himself, and as a result the art loses some of its grittiness.

What really caught my eye, though, was the slime on Blades as he wanders around the sewers. Although it's not shown or mentioned, combine it with his landing on the pier and you come to the obvious conclusion that he had to use an underwater entrance to the sewers. This makes sense, as the humans needed a pot-holer to guide them in, meaning that there were probably no large surface entrances. How Megatron got there, though, remains a mystery - that is revealed in a later part.

Furman also plays the inference card, by having Grimlock arrange a meeting, then go on to announce that Blades may have found the deserters. It occurs to us that the meeting was probably so he could announce the finding of the deserters and their imminent capture.

We also get the long-hoped-for return of Centurion. "He's fixed, improved and functional." But, where is Professor Morris?

Although a group of pot-holing archaeologists wear safety helmets when exploring a dangerous underground tunnel network, a crack military group will happily wander around with their heads exposed to falling rock! Okay, so Bazooka, Barbecue and Airtight do have special protective headgear on, but I don't think a beret or long hair are going to have the same effect for the others!

Despite this being a kids' comic, Furman pulls no punches, having humans die.

The only part of the story to be printed in the Transformer comic, readers had to get the other 4 parts from subsequent Action Force Weekly issues (issues 24 to 27 - see the Marvel Crossovers review section). A cunning marketing ploy, there, Marvel!
Character development
Grimlock shows himself up as the incompetent leader he is, by arranging a meeting to which no one but he can attend, due to him assigning all the Autobots to 'pointless tasks' that he feels are important. He only hears what he wants to, as Blades' earlier report probably went into more detail than just "I've found the deserters", and probably more along the lines of "I've found something, but it might not be what we're looking for." Additionally, his ordering of priorities leaves a lot to be desired, as he wants Centurion fixed ahead of deactivated Autobots, based purely on the grounds of friendship.

Wheeljack knows that he's a critical part of the team, and isn't afraid to talk back to his leader, who would most likely turn on him if he wasn't. Unlike Grimlock, he doesn't jump to any conclusions, but will reiterate points that he feels should be addressed. He also like to take a pride in his work.

Blades starts off thinking that Grimlock is a complete waste of space, and begins to question whether he should apprehend Blaster and Goldbug or join then in defiance. He says, "This stinks! We're supposed to be out fighting Decepticons... but Grimlock's got us hunting down our fellow Autobots!" Later, as his mood drops further, he begins to agree with Grimlock about humans, and really loses his temper, coming amazingly close to squashing the humans. But before he does anything he can later regret, his morals bring him back to his senses. This is a short teaser of his dark side, which really comes to prominence in G2.

From Blades and to a lesser extent Whelljack's comments, it seems that Blaster and Goldbug aren't the only 'bots peed off with Grimlock's leadership.

Megatron is not given that much airtime, but what little he has, he uses to his full potential. Whether it be felling caves on people who rudely shine lights in his face, or shooting Blades in the back purely because he wears the accursed Autobot insignia, or even introducing himself to fleshlings, he shows himself to be Megatron, and Megatron is the villain.

Susan Hoffman, along with her two ill-fated archaeologist colleagues, is a member of the Heritage Society. She appears, understandably, to be the frightened little girl here, but in later stories, her resolve is greater than those around her (see issues 137-138, 216-218).

Mr Fuller is a real rank-and-file do-the-job guy. Had he been in the military, he'd probably be a sergeant and spend most of his time saying "Don't call me sir, I work for a living!" He'll happily show some snobby pen-pushers around a sewer all day long, but he takes offence at having to stop to look at every 'interesting' rock along the way.

Centurion doesn't get much airtime in this issue at all. In fact, for the majority of it, he's not even online! But, even without a speaking part, he conveys a hell of a lot of emotion. Bursting with a pride after Wheeljack announces he's fixed, improved and functional, this quickly gives way to remorse when Wheeljack reveals that it was at the expense of other injured Autobots.

Flint is the leader of Action Force. He won't stand for dissent in the ranks, but is also not the shoots-first-ask-questions-later type either, as he both reprimands Scarlett and gives a vocal response to Blades apology, even though he's convinced that Blades was responsible for Megatron's activities. His is a professional approach, and at the same time, he also inspires respect: ""I know some of you think we're wasting our time, but we've been given a job to do! You'll all do it to the best of your abilities or answer to me, okay?"

Scarlett tells people what she thinks. She's sees Action Force as "the finest counter-terrorism outfit in the world" and is more than a little miffed that they're monster-hunting in the sewers, manifesting her opposition in a heartless approach to Ms Hoffman. She's also not the type to give up, though, as even when blinded, she still keeps on the fight against Blades.

Bazooka is, in his own words, "spoilin' for a fight!". He's got a big gun, and he's not afraid to use it. He's the first to attack Blades, based solely on the words of Ms Hoffman.

Airtight and Barbecue don't say much, but actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately, their actions are to reiterate Bazooka's sentiments and follow Flint's order and attack Blades. If they can think for themselves, they don't show it here.
Trivia
London's Roman sewers stink, according to Scarlett. The air, although pungent, is no more flammable than on the surface, however, as Barbecue happily wanders around with a lit flamethrower.

In his improved state, Centurion has a mouth, which replaces the static grill that was so often dented. There is no mention of Professor Morris, so it is possible that Wheeljack was able to improve on the 'Guardian' drone concept with the available technology. Maybe Morris' brain patterns were somehow encoded into Centurion at some point at a basic level as well. With the absense of the life-giving Matrix, theres not many other possibilities.

Blades has a hydraulics system, which can rust given prolonged exposure to sewer conditions. The damage is not permanent, however.

Blades' gun produces a blinding flash.

Megatron is still missing half his face, the missing bit having apparently been ripped off by the Predacons back in issue 108 (at this point in the comics, we are led to believe that when Megatron destroyed the Space Bridge, the resultant explosion somehow landed him beneath London). In reality, this is a clone of Megatron, created by Lord Straxus and secretly placed there in case his takeover of the real Megatron failed (see issue 103). Prematurely activated by Hoffman's party, Straxus was unable to assert himself, and 'Megatron' lived again (this is all revealed in issue 244).

Action Force is the British arm of the "the finest counter-terrorism outfit in the world", known to US readers as Gi-Joe.
Good quotes
"Are we running some sort of Holiday Camp?" Grimlock.

"When I see Grimlock I'm gonna roast his circuits!" Blades, enjoying the sights and sounds of London.

"Curse you, Robot - Where Are You?" A blinded Scarlett.

"The name, fleshling... is MEGATRON!" Take a guess!
Bad quotes
"Centurion is Grimlock's friend." Grimlock, reading his motivation as well as his lines.
Mistakes
Story rating
8 star
Art rating
8 star
Media

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