The Transformers #50
Marvel (March, 1989)“The Underbase Saga” finale: “Dark Star” WRITER: Bob Budiansky PENCILER: José Delbo INKER: Dave Hunt COLORIST: Nel Yomtov LETTERER: Rick Parker EDITOR: Don Daley
The Underbase is coming to Earth, and now it’s power is also deadly to any atmosphere it brushes against in its travel. Starscream catches up to it and once the Autobots and Decepticons stop fighting long enough to realize they’ve all been duped, they race to stop him. However, Starscream catches just enough of the Underbase’s power cosmic (it’s a Marvel comic after all, even if it isn’t in the regular Marvel universe anymore) to attack three cities on Earth, and while the cities survive any Transformer without organic elements (like the Pretenders or binary-bonded Masters) are destroyed. However, Optimus has a plan to stop Starscream but Ratbat and Scorponok assume he is simply after the Underbase for himself. Scorponok destroys Ratbat and goes to seek the power himself, but Optimus’ plan is for Starscream to absorb the full power because doing so brings madness…even death, when overloaded by the power anyway. Thus Starscream is destroyed and the two factions of Transformers take their wounded and dead before the truce ends and the war begins anew.
What they got right: This is not only the end of the first Transformers “event” story but the 50th issue and Budiansky brought the hard stuff. I’ll even let Yomtov’s shortcuts slip by because of how many Transformers he had to color in the days before digital coloring.
What they got wrong: Only in the Marvel universe would the citizens of Tokyo assume the Dinobots are some kind of movie stunt until they transform to robot mode. Also, the Throttlebots are rebuilt (and Optimus hypes that he “rebuilt them to be stronger than ever before”) but are taken out so fast it wasn’t worth bothering. I’m assuming the high body count of classic Transformers is another Hasbro edict since they only wanted the currently available toys (the Pretenders and Head/Target/Powermasters plus the upcoming Micromasters) in the comic. It’s still a shame but at least they went out in a blaze of glory in a huge battle.
Recommendation: All four issues of the Underbase saga are a good starting point for the series and worth checking out.