#166 (Legion of the Lost, part 1, as a shadowy background figure.)
#167 (Legion of the Lost, part 2)
#168 (Meltdown, pt 1)
#169 (Meltdown, pt 2, Flame dies.)
Xaaron: "Didn't that explosion three weeks ago tell you anything? Won't you listen to reason?"
Flame: "Ha, ha! In a word ... NO!"
Firetank. This alt mode is actually pretty impressive; if not in terms of appearance, but because it relates back so well to his robot mode.
Flame was a bit of a loony.
In fact he was so much of a loony that, instead of just being a character who appeared, then died, Flame was the centrepiece for an entire storyline.
Flame played the villain in the trilogy of stories, City of Fear, Legion of the Lost, and Meltdown. Perhaps interestingly (then again, maybe not), even though he was the villain responsible for the conflict in City of Fear, he didn't have a personal appearance in that story. This alone makes Flame unique among Obscure Transformers.
Flame was (and still is, I suppose) just an excuse for Furman to do two things he seems to love to do. First: to centre a story around a throwaway concept from earlier issues. (Another good example of this is the 'Grudge Match' story, where Swoop tries to get revenge on Divebomb.) Second: to bring monsters, and horror concepts into Transformers. (We've seen demons, alien monsters, creatures based on the 'Alien' movies, etc. etc.)
While we're talking about Grudge Match, Flame is also one of three examples (that I know of ) of Furman pre-empting Hasbro with a Transformer name. The first being his use of 'Divebomb' as Swoop's name on Cybertron, the second being the obscure Transformers Flattop, (though it might be argued that Micromaser Flattop and Obscure Flattop more-or-less came out at the same time) and finally we have Flame. Aside from this mad scientist the other Autobot known as Flame was the late-Gen2 UK exclusive Motorvator toy named... well... 'Flame'.
Incidentally, for those reading the 'War Within' comics the idea of Megatron turning Cybertron into a giant space ship was first mentioned in Marvel's Transformers #1. Flame's saga also picks up this story, Flame trying to use the rockets that Megatron built 4 million years ago, with some disastrous results. So, yes, this old UK story ties in quite directly with 'The War Within'.
Millions of years ago on Cybertron a crazy Transformer named Megatron broke away from the Autobots and formed a sub-faction named the Decepticons. He intended to turn his home planet into a massive space ship, which would range throughout the universe, destroying and conquering all it came into contact with.
Now, while this sounds like an interesting plan in theory, in practice it was stupid. The reactors Megatron built to power his Cybertron-space-ship were as unstable as they were big.
[SIDE NOTE: A 'Cybertron Space Ship' is not the equivalent of, say, a Death Star, or the Warworld. Both the Warworld and the Death Star are small compared to Cybertron; moon sized. Comic book Cybertron (unlike cartoon Cybertron) is not the size of a moon. It's freakin' huge. Comic book Cybertron is about the size of Saturn (according to issue 1 of the US comics, and no other mention of Cybertron's size was ever made in the comics). What you're looking at, then is a space ship, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of times the size of a Death Star or Warworld. In a word, friends, that's damn big. On another note, this also demonstrates that comic book Unicron coulda whupped the arse of cartoon Unicron, all over the place. Comic Book Unicron coulda used the cartoon version as a Tennis ball.]
Fortunately Megatron was lost (on the Ark, which crashed into Earth) before his plan could come into fruition. Sadly though, someone actually thought it was a good plan.
This someone was the Autobot scientist known as Flame. While Flame didn't want to turn Cybertron into a planet-destroying juggernaut, he did was to turn it into a planet-visiting space ship. He wanted to free Cybertron and control its random flight through the universe.
Flame made a proposal to the Autobot Council of Elders (See Emirate Xaaron, Councillor Tomaandi and High Councilor Traachon.) to carry out his mad plan. They refused him (at the insistence of Emirate Xaaron), one of the few smart moves they ever made.
Flame was a little put out by being turned down, so he continued his work in secret. He experimented with nuclear fusion, and searched in vain for the location of Megatron's reactor.
When Flame's experiments went a little astray and there was a massive explosion, the Autobots found no trace of the mad scientist and presumed he was as dead as a doornail. He wasn't. (People are never dead in comic-books if you can't find their remains. The Autobot council of Elders should have known better. Well, okay. Emirate Xaaron should have know better.) In truth, the explosion had thrown Flame clear, and uncovered the entrance to Megatron's ancient underground fusion reactor. The one the Decepticon had intended to use to rocket Cybertron around the universe blasting things.
Flame resurfaced about 4 million years later. Shortly after the Autobots relocated to the ancient City-state of Kalis there was a terrible explosion which rocked the entire city-state. The explosion slaughtered... well, I'd like to say 'thousands' of Transormers, but in truth we don't know how many died. A lot died, certainly, and quite graphically, being torn to atoms by the explosion.
The explosion, it turned out, was caused by the accidental venting of a massive fusion reactor under the surface of Cybertron. Yes, boys and girls, it was Flame, mucking about with Megatron's old reactor. 'Really? That reactor?!' The same.
The Autobots (not yet knowing about Flame's involvement) searched for a way down to the ancient reactor. Springer and his Wreckers couldn't find an entrance, so it fell to the technicians. But when the techs' probes did find something, it also warned Flame of their interest. To stop any more probes Flame used the Decepticons' ancient computer to reactivate thousands of dead Transformers (most seemed to be Autobots!) as part of what he called his 'Legion of the Lost'. These Transformer Zombies attacked and decimated the Autobots, dragging Springer, Emirate Xaaron and all the Wreckers down to Flame's chamber as prisoners.
Why didn't the Wreckers just kick Zombie butt? Because one of the Zombies was none other than Impactor, their former leader!
Cue insane rant. Flame basically spent the rest of his life ranting to Emirate Xaaron, or ranting to his computers about how great his plan was. The funny thing is, even if his plan did work, it wasn't a very good one. Flying a planet around would take insane amounts of energy... where would they stop to refuel? But now I'm just ranting, like Flame used to. Used to? Oh that's right, I didn't get that far, did I?
Flame was ranting and ranting while the Autobots and Decepticons conspired against him. Above him, in Kalis, Ultra Magnus, the Sparkler Minibots and their Decepticon prisoner Flywheels deactivated his surface zombies. Meanwhile, Springer had escaped from his prison, as had the other Wreckers, and while Springer headed to the surface looking for reinforcements, the Wreckers were invading Flame's armoury.
How were the Wreckers able to escape? Wasn't there a guard? There was, none other than Zombie Impactor. Springer dragged him out of the cell when he leapt to safety, and managed to get Impactor to see what had been done to him, sending the former Wrecker leader on a mission of death, chasing Flame.
And Flame was ranting. Ranting, ranting, ranting. Until Xaaron came along. Xaaron put an end to Flame's ranting by trying to shut down his reactor. Flame responded by transforming into his deadly Firetank mode, and attempting to blow Xaaron's head off. Despite Flame's superior firepower Xaaron managed to keep one step ahead of him long enough for Springer, Ultra Magnus, the Wreckers and Trypticon (! he was brought in by Flywheels) to show up. Even with all their power, though, these reinforcements weren't able to get through Flame's zombies to save Xaaron. In the end it was Impactor, angered at the half-life Flame had given him, who stopped Flame.
And stop him he did, impaling the insane Autobot through the back of the head, with his harpoon. Shortly thereafter Impactor shut down the reactors, averting the cataclysm that might have erupted.
Insane as he was, Flame clearly must have had a relatively high intelligence. I'd say it would be around the 7 or 8 mark, maybe even a 9. After all he did come up with that whole zombie-Transformer idea. His endurance, speed and skill? Well that's hard to say. I'd give him a medium endurance, a low speed and, once more, a medium skill. After all, for all his abilities, he really did botch his most important experiments, didn't he?
Firepower, now that's where I think Flame would have excelled. The dude was a massive melting machine. Firepower? Yes please. Let's give him a nine or ten!
Challenge: Kitbash a UK Motorvator Flame into the insane Autobot scientist Flame! Go on, do it.
Well what can I say? Flame was just fun. Most ranting, mad-scientist types are fun, after all. He was the first (and one of the only, I'd say) genuinely evil Autobot. But... if there is one complaint I have about Flame it's that there's no ambiguity. This guy is a lunatic. There's no suggestion of any possibility that his plan might have merit, let alone it's execution. If Furman's script didn't brand him as a lunatic, Jeff Anderson's wildly gesticulating madman erased all doubt. When Robin Smith was given the artist's duties on Flame he took it even further, making him a grinning, maniacal super-villain. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as such, but it's always nice to be given some ambiguity about 'rogue good guys' in these sorts of stories.
That said, I love Flame. The main reason it took me so long to do an entry for him is a lack of actual issues with his appearances. I only have one of the four issues in which he appears. Ahhh well.
UK Issue #167
UK Issue #168
UK Issue #169