Ravage finds out that the Autobots may have a source of fuel. Meanwhile Bumblebee contacts the Autobots and they go to Sparkplug's. The Decepticons attack and manage to kidnap Sparkplug.
Issue
004
Writer
Bill Mantlo (Plot) Jim Salicrup (Script)
Pencils
Frank Springer
Inks
Kim DeMulder
Colours
Nel Yomtov
Release date
01/11/1984
Autobots featured
Optimus Prime, Mirage, Prowl, Hound, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Jazz, Brawn
Decepticons featured
Megatron, Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Ravage
Humans featured
Buster Witwicky, Sparkplug Witwicky, Jessie, "O", Mitchell Roland, Doris Roland
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Sideswipe, Mitchell Roland, Doris Roland
Locations featured
Oregon, USA
Story synopsis
Ravage informs the Decepticons of the alliance between the Autobots and the Witwickys. At Megatron’s command the Decepticons soar away from their new fortress base in pursuit.

Prime and the Autobots arrive at Sparkplug Witwicky’s garage and bid him and Buster greetings. But all of a sudden the Decepticons attack from the air. Prime assigns Bumblebee to protect the Witwickys, and the Autobots transform and retaliate against the Decepticons, the street erupting into a war zone. Megatron easily trounces Bumblebee and snatches Sparkplug. Buster screams for help and Prime comes to the rescue.

Whilst the two powerful leaders clash Sparkplug runs for cover but gets grabbed by Starscream, who quickly transforms and flies away. Seeing that the human is captured, Megatron orders his Decepticons to depart. As Buster pleads with the Autobots to save his father they all suddenly collapse, helpless and drastically in need of fuel, leaving him to question how his father will ever be saved…
Remarks
An enjoyable and significant issue, as Sparkplug and Buster become further embroiled in the Autobot/Decepticon war and things begin to escalate. This issue contains genuine thrills as Sparkplug gets snatched by the Decepticons and Buster cries out for help. Prime and Megatron’s first proper fight in the comic is handled flamboyantly, and the whole battle scene between the two sides is handled better than the last shootout in issue 2.

There are several chinks here too though. Why would Prime assign the weakest Autobot to protect the humans? Its further questionable as Prime even has a numerical advantage, though this is poorly reflected in the Autobot/Decepticon battle. The dialogue still has its clumsy points too - witness Sunstreaker’s exposition regarding Sideswipe ( “Ever eager for battle, my brother has rashly employed his energy-draining rocket backpack!” ) And the art still has its fair share of eccentricities. For instance, Prime is missing the lower part of his right leg in the panel where he hurls the engine at Megatron. Yomtov’s colouring continues to be way below average too.

All in all it’s the best issue so far though. However, that isn’t saying much.

This issue was reprinted in Collected Comics 1, The Complete Works Volume 1, and the Titan Trade Paperback ‘Beginnings.’
Character development
Again Mirage’s dissatisfaction with the Autobot cause shows through. He’s portrayed as a warrior who, more or less, would rather he was not involved in the war in the first place (“I’d prefer to leave this mess entirely and go retro-wing gliding back on Cybertron!”). It is this part of his nature that leads him try to reason with Ravage: “Brother Transformer this is madness! …Who benefits from this battle? Back on Cybertron we could be enjoying the good life!” His Universe entry lists this aspect of his character as a serious weakness: “He's unsure of the Autobots and their cause, and consequently cannot always be fully trusted.”

Sideswipe is shown leaping into battle quite literally, as well as in front of his other colleagues, ever eager to trash Decepticons (“Take a look at this De-scrap-ticon!”). His profile states: “he often acts without consideration of the consequences and takes a special delight in plunging into extremely dangerous situations.”

This issue offers a brief early glimpse of Sunstreaker, who appears every inch the warrior in battle: “I like my opponent to see me… before I slay him!” The 1987 Transformers Annual text story State Games would provide further background to his warrior nature as millions of years ago on Cybertron he fought as a gladiator. Sadly, Sunstreaker will receive little more characterisation than seen in these early issues.
Trivia
The Decepticons have constructed a fortress base from the technology they ransacked from the Harrison Nuclear Power Plant. It is only half-completed at this time. The fortress bears a striking resemblance to Castle Decepticon, Megatron’s home back on Cybertron.

The script confirms here that Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp’s jet modes are based on “F-15 jet fighters.”

We discover here that Sunstreaker and Sideswipe are ‘brothers’. In the Transformers sense, the term ‘twin’ is used differently than the human sense of the word. It refers to two Transformers of a very similar specification.

It takes just one punch from Megatron to render Bumblebee unconscious. “Overconfident fools!” he bellows, “They entrusted the human to their weakest member!” Bumblebee’s profile confirms his main weakness: “Bumblebee is physically the weakest of the Autobots and the most easily damaged.”

Prime’s trailer is visible throughout the battle outside Sparkplug’s garage. This would happen several times in the comic and was in marked contrast to the cartoon series where the trailer would continuously disappear inexplicably into thin air.

Retro-wing gliding appears to be a leisure activity that Mirage and other Transformers partook in back on their homeworld.

Sunstreaker uses an electron pulse gun.

Sideswipe uses a rocket backpack to enable him to get airborne. Apparently it is not very energy efficient.
Good quotes
“Why do I persist in trying to reason with you, when the only language you understand is…violence!” Optimus Prime.
Bad quotes
“You self-righteous dolt!” Megatron.
Mistakes
Jazz is coloured in Hound’s green and blue colours.

Ratchet is seen amongst the Autobots driving into Sparkplug’s yard, even though he was actually back at the Ark continuing repairs.
Story rating
4 star
Art rating
3 star
Media
Reviewed by
spiderfrommars

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