- Bob Budiansky
- Don Perlin
- Ian Akin & Brian Garvey
- Nel Yomtov
- Release date
- Autobots featured
- Skids, Warpath, Silverbolt
- Decepticons featured
- Runabout, Runamuck
- Humans featured
- Circuit Breaker, Walter Barnett, Donny Finkleberg, Gary Acton, Judy Acton, Noah Acton, Leah Acton
- Origin of
- Death of
- First appearance
- Locations featured
- Philadelphia, Liberty Island and New York, USA
- Story synopsis
- The Acton family arrive at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, but lurking nearby are Runabout and Runamuck! The two Decepticons barge their way through the traffic and then transform and take to the air.
However, the two Decepticons suddenly come under attack from a squadron of RAAT assault craft, and leading the ambush is Circuit Breaker! As the battle escalates, the crowds below are put in jeopardy, leading RAAT to call the attack off. But as the Actons run for cover, their boy Noah instead heads back to get a closer look at the action.
Circuit Breaker fights on, regardless of the pandemonium in the streets below. But as falling rubble endangers Noah, Circuit Breaker suddenly realises that she got carried away in the heat of the moment, and so she instantly flies to his rescue. But she’s hit by collapsing bricks and hits the ground hard.
Meanwhile, Runabout and Runamuck, fed up of the ‘interruptions’, transform back to their car modes and drive off. RAAT soldiers soon reach Circuit Breaker, to find her sprawled on the pavement in pain.
Later at RAAT HQ, as a doctor sees to Circuit Breaker’s cracked ribs, Walter Barnett tells her that the robots’ next target is the Statue of Liberty. However, he thinks her recent judgement has been faulty and gives her a direct order to remain back at base and rest.
Circuit Breaker’s too weak to do anything about it, but Donny Finkleberg suggests that she ask her Autobot captives for help. She initially refuses, saying they can’t be trusted, and besides, there isn’t enough time to fix them. He mentions that she could link up and control them using her electrical powers, and when she says she hates the idea, he asks her what other choice does she have?
The next day, the Statue of Liberty stands deserted, closed to the public as RAAT commandos take up their positions. Nearby, a ferry sails by, with Runabout and Runamuck on board. They transform and then force the captain to steer towards Liberty Island. Minutes later, they fly towards the statue, their spray paint cans at the ready.
Instantly, the RAAT soldiers open fire. Runamuck covers Runabout as he goes about defacing the statue. He sprays his message in huge letters across the statue’s front – and he’s learnt to write in English! Everyone looks up in amazement to see the slogan: “Humans Are Wimps.”
A barge approaches the island with Circuit Breaker and Donny on board, as well as a cobbled-together robot made up of various parts of RAAT’s Autobot captives. Circuit Breaker is strapped to the chest of the creature, and is connected up to its circuitry. She gives the order to attack, and it flies into battle against the Decepticon Battlechargers.
Runabout and Runamuck fight back, but Circuit Breaker’s robot catches Runamuck with a shot. The Decepticon, no longer amused, shoots back quickly, and Circuit Breaker has no time to react. Luckily she’s saved when her robot acts instinctively and heroically, shielding her from the blast with its hand.
Next, Runabout shoots the statue’s torch, and it falls towards the watching crowds on the ferry below. Circuit Breaker orders the machine to disconnect its hand, and catch the torch, which it does so just in time.
The Battlechargers admit they’re not having fun anymore, and prepare to make their getaway. But Circuit Breaker and her robot fly overhead, managing to get in two direct hits. The two Decepticons fall ablaze into the sea below.
Later, at RAAT HQ, Barnett congratulates Circuit Breaker and Donny on a job well done. However, he has no choice but to fire them, as the thirteen Autobot captives have been set free! Circuit Breaker explains that she’d made a deal with them, and that in return for their assistance she said she’d let them go. However, she promises that the robots will not be so lucky next time.
That evening, a relieved Donny arrives back at his old apartment. Sitting down in his chair he switches on the television to see a news report about the vandalised Statue of Liberty, and how a fund has been set up to receive donations for cleaning up the Decepticon graffiti.
Donny hesitates for a moment. But then he thinks, ‘what the heck’, and writes out a cheque for 50,000 dollars to the Statue of Liberty Repair Fund…
- Thankfully the Acton family are written out of this issue early on, though we never really find out what happened to them. To date I haven’t lost sleep over that fact though.
The monstrosity that is the remains of the Autobots that are stuck together Frankenstein-style by Circuit Breaker leaves me cold. It’s just an unholy mess, and rubs further salt in the wounds – why can’t we just have some Autobots star in this story? And anyway, just whose face is it on her robot creation? She’s got thirteen perfectly good and intact Autobot heads on her wall, and for some reason this one turns up out of nowhere. Seems a lot of effort to go to.
Having the creature save Circuit Breaker instinctively is a nice touch, but why bother? By the end of the story Circuit Breaker is still vowing to hunt down all Transformers. She has learnt nothing.
A scene with the Autobots heading off home wouldn’t have hurt either, but Budiansky just seems insistent from the start not to give any Autobots any lines in this story at all.
There are some positives: the Statue of Liberty is an enjoyable setting for a confrontation, and the ‘Humans Are Wimps’ graffiti painted on is not only hilarious, it’s also one of the indelible images in the original comic’s run.
I also really like the story’s ending. Yes, Donny writing out his 50,000 dollar cheque to the Statue of Liberty Repair Fund is completely far fetched. But it’s both a bittersweet and funny punchline to the scene, the story, and Finkleberg’s character arc as a whole - he started as a selfish bastard interested only in money, but his encounters with both good and evil in recent times have perhaps shown him what really matters in the long run.
Perlin’s art is lacking though. The interpretation of the melded Autobots is rubbish - it looks like its been made from a bucket of lego.
To conclude, in the main this issue is just more throwaway stuff. Simply not good enough – it’s like an episode of the cartoon, and even that at least had Transformers, and not humans, as it’s main stars. I like my Transformer stories to be a little more Earth-shattering personally. Next!
This issue was reprinted in the Titan trade paperback, ‘Showdown.’
- Character development
- Runabout and Runamuck go about their attack in Philadelphia with their usual cheerfulness and mutual backslapping, and they revel in the carnage that follows. There’s something mildly sadistic about what they promise to do with Circuit Breaker – Runabout says, “I’ll blast you to little bitty pieces!” whilst Runamuck sinisterly says: “Make her explode! Heh heh! Big mess! I love a big mess!” (though is it just me or does that sound a bit rude?) They soon decide to head off, though they say, “there’s always tomorrow.”
Their attack on the Statue of Liberty sums up Runabout and Runamuck in a nutshell – they’re simply a pair of jokers taking the complete piss, as their graffiti on the statue attests to. “Humans Are Wimps” seems to be their general feeling on the matter.
As the fight on Liberty Island turns against them, the two ‘cons get a little nasty. “What will you say after I’ve burnt you to carbon ash, fleshling, eh?” asks Runamuck, who seems put out at the fact that Circuit Breaker is ordering Transformers about (he also just got damaged as well). For the first time we see the two Battlechargers quite flustered: “This isn’t fun anymore,” says Runamuck, whilst Runabout mumbles: “The fleshling’s sense of humour is sorely lacking.”
In Philadelphia Circuit Breaker gets carried away in the heat of the battle, fighting the Decepticons in a heavily populated area, and forgetting about the endangered innocents nearby. But when she catches sight of Noah in trouble, she has a realisation: “I was so busy trying to destroy those robots I forgot… why I’m doing this!” She rushes to the rescue, telling him, “don’t worry child! I’ll get you away from here!” But she ends up getting badly injured and is left sprawled on the floor, endlessly mumbling her apologies.
Later, regardless of being injured, she still wants to strike back against the robots, though Barnett orders her to stay behind and rest. She tells her doctor, “the robots have already made me quadriplegic… how much worse can I get?” Her desperation (or determination) leads to her taking Donny’s advice to ask her Autobot prisoners for help. Originally she balks at the idea because of her strong beliefs: “They’re robots! They can’t be trusted! …You’re asking me to interface with robots!”
In the end, she actually makes a deal with the ‘bots – in exchange for their help, she will set them free. It’s interesting that she agrees to this, as basically she’s swapping 13 robot heads for 2. Perhaps it’s because of the principle – Runabout and Runamuck have made it personal, both hurting her, endangering innocents and indirectly getting her stripped of command. She shows surprise when her robot creation (a combination of parts from her captive ‘bots) instinctively saves her, but by the end of the issue she’s back to her old self, saying she’s sorry that she ever struck a deal with the Autobots, and that, “soon, they will be sorry!” However, she did show a sense of honour by sticking to the deal in the first place.
Walter Barnett is not happy with Circuit Breaker after her ambush of the robots in Philadelphia, which endangered innocent civilians. He decides that she’s been pushing herself too hard and that her judgement’s faulty, and gives her a direct order not to partake in the ambush at Liberty Island (the robots’ next target) and to instead get some rest. Afterwards, when Circuit Breaker and Donny do intervene and help defeat the Battlechargers, Barnett makes sure he congratulates them on a job well done. But he still fires them both for letting the Autobot prisoners go free. He does it in a sort of charming way though: “I know you meant well. But my boss expects you to capture robots… not release them. I’m sorry.”
Donny Finkleberg is still fed up with being stuck at RAAT HQ, but thankfully he still seems set on putting things right. He suggests Circuit Breaker ask her Autobot captives for help, eventually convincing her to do so by controlling them with her circuitry, and because she has no other choice. “They’re all you’ve got, “he tells her, “Why don’t you ask ‘em?” Later, as they sail towards the statue, he seems impatient, clearly keen to get there as soon as possible and succeed in their mission.
He’s relieved to finally get home at the end of the issue, and is already wondering what he’s going to spend the money on that RAAT awarded him. But as he slumps in his chair and switches on the TV he sees a news report about the Statue of Liberty Repair Fund looking for donations. He pauses for a moment, giving it some thought, and then ends up writing a cheque to the fund for $50,000! He obviously feels partly responsible after all the trouble he’s caused recently (after all, if he hadn’t turned Skids in, maybe it would never have happened). But more than that, it’s a chance to see, in our final glimpse of Donny, that he really has a heart of gold deep down, and isn’t that selfish at all. His adventures with both the Autobots, the Decepticons and even RAAT have finally brought out the best in him.
Noah Acton is still bored of looking at tourist attractions, and all he seems to care about is catching another glimpse of Runabout and Runamuck. So much so, in fact, that when they turn up again he shouts: “Yippee!” This leads to problems when he runs off to get a closer look and ends up getting caught in the path of falling rubble. Circuit Breaker saves him but she gets injured in the process. Noah then asks if she’s alright – a silly question really, but it’s the first non-selfish thing he’s said in the entire story.
- Runabout and Runamuck have “short-range rocket jumpers.”
RAAT have several airborne rocket-propelled assault craft in their arsenal.
Runamuck uses a particle beam rifle, while Runabout uses a friction ray that heats things up until they explode.
After the battle in Philadelphia, Circuit Breaker’s injuries include mild concussion, two cracked ribs and… a severed activation circuit. Interestingly, she’s inspected by both a doctor and an electrician. Lucky boys.
Oddly, Circuit Breaker claims that it would take days to get the captured ‘bots operational again, “to reconnect their minds with their motors.” That said, they ended up fixed and heading home the next day, which suggests she was either lying or mistaken.
The Battlechargers have learnt to write in English.
Circuit Breaker can use the circuits in her outfit to link up with the Autobots and take control of their movements (this was originally seen last issue when she manipulated Skids). She constructs a robot by ‘jury-rigging’ several parts of her dismembered Autobot captives together. She can then fly into battle whilst ‘plugged’ into it, able to prompt the robot’s actions almost instantaneously by thought alone. It is also able to disconnect its left hand, which can fly independently and grab things.
Circuit Breaker’s ‘jury-rigged’ robot at one point saves her life instinctively, as if the Autobots are still aware to a point.
According to Part 1 of Perchance to Dream (issue 255), at some point during these two issues Prowl has a run in with the two marauding Battlechargers.
The injured Runabout and Runamuck land in the sea and are not seen again for some time. Runabout surfaces first, and is seen serving under Shockwave’s command in issue 261. But not long later, both Battlechargers are working for Megatron in issue 266.
The Transformers also use the Statue of Liberty as a battleground in an episode of the cartoon, namely ‘Cosmic Rust.’
According to Runamuck, RAAT’s bullets only itch. The same is probably true for most Transformers in the face of such Earth weapons.
It’s not clear how Circuit Breaker made the deal with the deactivated Autobots as it’s all dealt with off panel. Presumably she was able to bring them to some level of consciousness.
Independence Hall in Philadelphia is the, “birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” according to Gary Acton. This happened on July the 4th, 1776.
Everyone knows about the Statue of Liberty, but here are some basic facts for you. The sculptor was Auguste Bartholdi. Construction of the statue began in France in 1875, and was completed in 1884, and then presented to America by the people of France on July 4th. It was then dismantled and shipped to the US in early 1885 in 350 pieces and 214 crates. 1886 saw the final assembly of the statue and pedestal on Liberty Island. The inscription on the tablet is the day of America’s independence from Britain (see above): July 4th, 1776.
- Good quotes
- Runabout - “What a simply spectacular statue!”
Runamuck - “Yeah! Let’s trash it!”
“Ah, but it is I who have the last laugh, robots! Ha ha ha!” Circuit Breaker.
- Bad quotes
- “Goodness gracious! I missed!” Runamuck.
- In one panel Runamuck is black and Runabout is white, instead of the other way round. It had to happen at some point I guess.
Runamuck seems to say one of Runabout’s lines whilst on the ferry.
- Story rating
- 4 star
- Art rating
- 5 star
- Reviewed by
Decepticon Grafitti - Part 2
- Written by Kay E
- Category: Comics
- Hits: 1223
RAAT organise a trap based on the family's holiday route, but the attack goes badly wrong due to the amount of civilians around and so the Battlechargers escape. Finkleberg persuades Circuit Breaker to seek the captured Autobots' help and when Runamuck and Runabout strike the Statue of Liberty (finally writing in English instead of Cybertronian) they are attacked by a massive Circuit Breaker controlled amalgam of the Autobots (that looks like its made out of Lego) and defeated. Circuit Breaker sets the Autobots free and is sacked by Triple I. Finkleberg decides to give his reward money for handing Skids over to the Statue of Liberty Repair Fund.