Brawn is narrowly defeated by the Autobots, while Starscream is taken out by his fellow seekers, but he demands his right to trial by combat. Brawn seems to make a full recovery, and Mirage reveals that he was also affected by the initial accident. On Ravage's prompting, Megatron organises combat between Starscream and Brawn, the loser being killed, the winner redeemed. Ravage and Mirage are chosen as respective observers to ensure fair play.
Issue
015
Writer
Simon Furman
Pencils
Mike Collins
Inks
Mike Collins
Colours
Gina Hart
Release date
06/04/1985
Autobots featured
Optimus Prime, Brawn, Red Alert, Ratchet, Gears, Windcharger, Prowl, Bumblebee, Mirage, Sunstreaker
Decepticons featured
Megatron, Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Ravage, Earthquake, Tornado
Humans featured
Origin of
Death of
Earthquake, Tornado
First appearance
Red Alert, Earthquake, Tornado
Locations featured
Oregon, USA
Story synopsis
The deranged Brawn fights back against the Autobots who have come to stop him wrecking havoc throughout a human settlement. But he takes them all on at once with relative ease. However, Red Alert takes him by surprise, and blasts him, giving Ratchet enough time to administer a tranquilliser which knocks Brawn out. With that, Optimus Prime and the Autobots leave the scene, taking Brawn with them.

Meanwhile Starscream flees from the Decepticons in his jet mode. Before he can out distance them Thundercracker’s sonic boom takes him by surprise, leaving him a sitting duck for Skywarp, who shoots him out of the sky. Megatron arrives on the scene, ready to execute the helpless and injured Starscream on the spot. But before Megatron can terminate him Starscream demands his right to Trial By Combat.

Back at the Ark Brawn is back to normal, suffering from amnesia and deeply regretting what has happened. Prime decides to temporarily keep him in custody, and Mirage takes Prime to one side to explain that he too was somehow effected by the accident…

At Decepticon base Megatron watches a Trial by Combat on Cybertron from an old history tape. Two Decepticons, Earthquake and Tornado, fight and ultimately kill each other in the process. Megatron realises that this is the sort of outcome he hopes will happen to the traitorous Starscream and another expendable foe. Ravage informs him of Brawn’s exploits which have been broadcast on TV, and with that, Megatron contacts Prime to arrange the contest.

Brawn agrees to the match, eager to clear his name. Starscream and Brawn head to a neutral location, and Ravage and Mirage also attend as impartial observers, though both have been given unknown instructions from their respective leaders. And so the match begins, and Starscream and Brawn charge into battle against each other…

Remarks
With both Brawn and Starscream reclaimed by their respective factions, The Enemy Within runs out of steam, and meanders towards its unlikely conclusion. Furman’s premise of having the two Transformers pitted together in a duel is too tidy, and too convenient. Are we to believe that Megatron would just call his arch-nemesis Optimus Prime to organise the contest? And would Prime really agree to go along with it? Also this issue’s opening doesn’t ring true. Could Brawn really take on all the Autobots at once? Why didn’t Prime step in earlier? Why does Prime then happily leave the scene of destruction instead of doing the responsible thing and helping the humans? Prime’s characterisation seems very muddled in this issue and Megatron’s is also inconsistent, though he does have some interesting monologues.

Furman’s best moment here is his description of the Transformers as “a warrior race.” He would expand on this concept greatly in later issues when revealing the true origins of the Transformers. It seems fitting that in his first ever story he would already make his mark in this way.

The art still looks pretty bad; Megatron has never looked less threatening (in fact his design is downright ugly and bloated) and Brawn still looks daft. A little more artistic license would have been ideal. Collins is at his best when drawing the Decepticons’ aerial dogfight.

The Enemy Within was printed partly in black and white, though later would be reprinted in full colour in Collected Comics 4.

Character development
Throughout The Enemy Within Optimus Prime has appeared bad tempered and restless, and this is evident again in this issue. His reaction to the news that Brawn is possibly cured is a little harsh: “If! Might! I need more than that!” but worse is his treatment of Mirage, who repeatedly tries to tell him important information only to get angrily rebuffed several times.

Megatron displays a degree of homesickness, anguish and regret when referring to his homeworld: “Ah, Cybertron. How I yearn to tread your gleaming lands – lands which I, by right, should now rule over. Instead I find myself on this backward mudball – not knowing if the war with the Autobots still rages – or if we won.” Earlier he shows a hint of democracy when he turns to Skywarp and Thundercracker and asks their opinions on Trial by Combat. And he also has an uncanny knack of reading Autobots reactions when he predicts that Brawn will agree to the contest.

Brawn claims: “I would rather than die than remain disgraced!” This shows both a sense of honour as well as his usual brash and defiant attitude, exemplified by his next line: “Not that I intend to lose!”
Trivia
Red Alert makes a sudden appearance in this issue, and his late debut in the comic is left unexplained. Perhaps he was reawakened later than the other Autobots, but after Ratchet reactivates all the Autobots in issue 33 there is no sign of him. More confusingly, at that stage Sunstreaker is described as the only Autobot still inert. The only explanations left are that he was missing in action or, worse, his Autobot colleagues forgot about him. He will not make another present day appearance until the G2 comic issue 4.

Ratchet uses a neuro-tranquilliser to administer an electric shock to Brawn. It appears to be untried and untested, with Ratchet saying: “I really don’t like using this device… there’s so much we don’t understand about its effect.” However it seems to cancel out the initial electric shock that corrupted Brawn in issue 13, and renders him unconscious. When he wakes up he is cured, and no longer in a fighting rage.

We see Thundercracker and Skywarp initiate “containment manoeuvre four-eight.” This involves the Decepticons shutting down their audio sensors in preparation for Thundercracker’s devastating sonic boom so as to avoid sensory overload. This is followed by Skywarp utilising his teleportation powers to corner the disoriented victim and bring the target down.

Brawn’s power levels in this issue have gone through the roof. The script describes him as “a Transformer of immense power” and he takes on all the Autobots at once easily. While he is certainly one of the stronger Autobots, here his strength seems exaggerated. At no point does the script suggest that the electrical shock that turned him into a liability also gave him increased strength.

Starscream is clearly the fastest of the Decepticon jets, as shown when he outdistances Thundercracker and Skywarp in the air.

Trial by Combat appears to be an ancient Cybertronian tradition, which any Transformer sentenced to death for his crimes can demand. Upon the extermination of his opponent the victor of the trial is cleared of all charges. Megatron’s take on this is: “As a warrior race it is only fitting that we should have the right to fight for our existence – no matter what the crime.” Similar contests will be requested in later stories by Grimlock (issue 174) and Bludgeon (issue 226).

At the Decepticon base Megatron has several history tapes from Cybertron. One of these has footage of an old Trial by Combat.

We learn of two Decepticons from Cybertron, Tornado and Earthquake, “one a traitor, the other a rebel… both had opted for trial by combat.” Tornado had the ability to create winds like his namesake whilst Earthquake could “warp the very surface of Cybertron” whenever he made contact with the ground.

Tornado also appears in the State Games text story in the 1987 Transformers Annual. There we learn that he is a member of the athletics team from the city-state of Vos on Cybertron. He was instrumental in sabotaging Tarn's power generator, triggering the war between the two city-states that would ultimately escalate into the Cybertronian civil war.

Megatron contacts Prime at the Ark with a “vidi-transmission.”
Good quotes
Bad quotes
“Bang! Bang! You’re finished Starscream!” Skywarp.

Mistakes
Sunstreaker is coloured red on the first page.
Megatron is several metres away from Thundercracker and Skywarp when they take off and pursue Starscream. But when they eventually catch him Megatron is shown aboard Thundercracker.




Story rating
5 star
Art rating
5 star
Media
Reviewed by
spiderfrommars

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