The Autobots get a bit narked with Sparkplug, who then has a heart attack (he'd probably read the script for the rest of the issue), so Ratchet takes him to hospital. While he's out Sparkplug has some dumb flashbacks to 'Nam. Meanwhile the Autobots find out that while they were unconscious in the Ark, Shockwave and the Dinobots fought in the Savage Land.
The Autobots have a heated argument after it has transpired that Sparkplug provided the Decepticons with the fuel conversion process that they needed. As tempers flare, Sparkplug and Buster decide its time to depart from the scene. They attempt to run away but Jazz fires a wall of flame in their path to stop them. This backfires terribly when Sparkplug has a heart attack and collapses.
Back in town its pandemonium. “O” sits in his Dad’s bar and watches events unfold on television. His Dad, dressed in an Optimus Prime suit, intends to cash in on all the robot interest, but “O” is appalled and wants no part of it. The Witwicky’s neighbours, the Rolands, have packed up and are leaving town, and Jessie, in a ballet class and still worried about Buster, watches the hubbub from a window above.
At the Ark, Ratchet transforms into his ambulance mode and offers to drive Buster and his Dad to hospital. On the way, Sparkplug dreams of his time back in the Korean War. They arrive at the hospital and Sparkplug is admitted.
At the Decepticon fortress Megatron is refuelled and at full power thanks to the fuel that Sparkplug was forced to supply them. Megatron confronts the army and dares them to hit him with everything they’ve got at once. They oblige, but when the smoke clears he isn’t even scratched, and he laughs and goes back inside the base. He gets a damage report of all Decepticons currently deactivated, and when Starscream makes an underhand comment, Megatron shoots him with his fusion cannon, deactivating him too. Megatron then sends Ravage to spy on the Autobots.
Back at the Autobots’ spacecraft, Huffer shows Prime some footage from the Ark’s memory banks, taken from just after the ship crashed to Earth four million years ago. Apparently the Decepticon known as Shockwave had followed the ship down, and had landed in the Savage Land, a strange place inhabited by dinosaurs. The Ark, mistakenly assuming these strange creatures to be Earth’s dominant lifeforms, recreated five Autobots with the ability to transform into likenesses of them, and thus the Dinobots were born. The Dinobots travelled to the Savage Land to confront Shockwave, but the Decepticon shot the probe recording the events and what happened next is a mystery…
Optimus Prime sends a probe to discover the fate of Shockwave and the Dinobots and then prepares the Autobots for a last stand against the Decepticons. Ravage, who is spying on them, reports back to Megatron his discovery that the Autobots received no help from Sparkplug with their fuel needs. Megatron gleefully announces his intention to strike.
This issue flows very well, and the art looks a great deal better too, now that Springer’s drawings are being inked by the very reliable Akin and Garvey. This issue is also significant for the debuts of the very popular characters of Shockwave and the Dinobots.
Salicrup scripts the heated debate between the Autobots excellently, the stress within the Autobot ranks being quite apparent. Huffer and Ironhide voice their divisions nicely, although Jazz's actions seem completely over the top, and are transparently used script wise just to put Sparkplug in momentary peril. Sparkplug’s flashbacks to Korea are pretty hokey too. In fact, while the human factor continues to be of importance, sadly the scenes with Jessie and “O” are a bit of a bore.
This issue was reprinted in Collected Comics 2, The Complete Works Volume 2, and the Titan Trade Paperback ‘Beginnings.’
Optimus Prime silences the heated debate between the rest of the Autobots, saying it doesn’t matter how the Decepticons’ got their fuel, but how fast the Autobots can make their own. He also reminds everyone that they brought the war to Earth, hence their responsibility is to the planet. He doesn’t show much tact when Sparkplug falls ill (“Is your father still functioning?”) though he does hope he can be “repaired.”
Ratchet says: “Even I find it difficult to be my usual cheerful self when my friends are being blown apart all around me!” Ratchet certainly is one of the most good-natured of the Autobots, and by all accounts, a bit of a party animal too. The Transformers Universe states: “He knows how to have a good time despite his involvement in a combat group. "When does the party begin?" is his usual query after he's completed patching up his latest fallen comrade.” It also says: “He's more prone to giving his leader, Optimus Prime, a lot more backtalk than the other Autobots” which explains his mild dissent here.
We see the usually dour Huffer really lose his temper here, and he’s not afraid to cross his comrades: “Have your circuits decayed with age Ironhide?” and “If you stopped babbling for a moment Mirage…!” Also, his attitude towards Sparkplug borders on the threatening: “I’ll show you how we deal with traitors!” He is quick to cool off though, and later proves very helpful to Prime when he unearths footage of the Dinobots.
Ironhide, on the other hand, is quick to give the human the benefit of the doubt: “You know as well as I do that the Decepticons are capable of getting what they want by any means – including torture!” He also shows concern: “Stop! You forget how frail the humans are!” His Universe entry states: “His gruff exterior hides his kind inner soul; his concern for the protection of life.”
Bluestreak is another one of the dissenting voices. This makes sense as his character hates war, but its nice to see Bluestreak used for something other than comedy effect.
Jazz makes a very rash move in this issue when he uses his flame-thrower to stop the humans escaping. This is more or less typical of the flamboyant Autobot, whose profile says: “He'd rather dazzle you with style than accomplish a mission the easy way.”
Starscream again tries his luck with Megatron: “Perhaps another’s judgement is called for at this time!” But he learns not to cross Megatron so openly again when the Decepticon leader chooses to shoot him for his insolence. Later we see a new side to him when he seems very obedient. It’s an aspect of his character that we’ll see many times again: Starscream the Coward.
Buster is clearly shocked at the new side of the Autobots that he sees this issue. The situation is volatile enough for him and Sparkplug to decide to run away. When his Dad has the heart attack Buster is very upset, and he even snaps at Optimus: “My Dad’s not a machine! He’s flesh and blood!”
The human character of “O” gets a rare moment to actually do something in this issue. When his father plans to exploit the robot-mania that is consuming their town “O” is clearly disgusted. But that’s about it, and “O”, in his small stint as a supporting character, never really gets another chance to break away from the “token friend” stereotype that he undoubtedly is, or does anything to drive the story forward at any time.
Visible in the Decepticon base this issue are some generic looking Transformers who are assisting Megatron with the damage report. They’re more likely to be Reflector than anyone, but the fact that there are four of them is confusing.
This issue clearly states: “Most of the Autobots are continuing in their efforts to repair their huge starship, the Ark, damaged upon its crash-landing on Earth.” This was a theme that runs throughout the original limited series, but things began to pan out more after these initial issues.
Megatron, when “refuelled…and at full power” is able to withstand a 15-minute barrage of firepower from the army without getting a scratch.
When the Ark originally crashed four million years ago its “defense systems were still functioning – and they detected another Cybertronic lifeform.” Completely under its own steam the Ark sends a probe to investigate, and eventually recreates five Autobots into the Dinobots.
The Ark perceives Earth’s dominant mechanical lifeform to be dinosaurs, but peculiarly, four million years later the Ark could not detect any forms of organic life at all and assumed mechanical objects to be the earthlings (see issue 1). Perhaps the Ark’s sensors were damaged with age, or were able to resort to a secondary scan of organics where the first one failed in this instance.
The script confirms the answer to a much debated topic: “Shockwave’s power is second only to Megatron’s.”
Shockwave displays some of his abilities: “His total command of the electromagnetic spectrum allowed Shockwave to coldly examine with super-powerful x-rays this planet’s lifeforms.” He was also able to detect the drone monitoring him and jam its signal “with his powerful radio waves.” His Universe entry tells us more about these powers: “His total command of the electromagnetic spectrum allows him...to emit a coruscating beam of energy in a wide variety of forms: high-energy explosive gamma rays, x-rays that allow him to see through almost anything, blinding visible light, super-hot infrared rays and radio waves that can either send messages or jam other radio signals.”
Huffer is referred to as 'young one' by Ironhide, suggesting an age difference.
Regarding “O” - his Dad has a pretty nifty Optimus Prime costume, and owns a bar called ‘Mister O’s.’
“Never fear! Jazz’ll make sure they won’t get far!” Jazz.