In the computer game the 'bots beat up the 'cons and Prime beats up Megatron. However, the Decepticon leader is a sly old fox and tricks Prime using 'Afterdeath', a 'cheat' code for the game. Prime is, as ever, not easily defeated and still bests Megatron fair and square. Well not the real world Prime admits that he too cheated, by allowing innocent computer characters to perish when he sent Megatron falling to his doom. Behaving like a complete loon he instructs Ethan Zachary to press the button that will destroy him. Thus he goes up in smoke. With Prime as dead as a dodo, Megatron and his cronies leave victorious. The End...?
Bob Budiansky
Don Perlin
Ian Akin & Brian Garvey
Nel Yomtov
Release date
Autobots featured
Optimus Prime, Hotspot, Groove, Streetwise, First Aid, Blades, Defensor
Decepticons featured
Megatron, Onslaught, Vortex, Swindle, Blast Off, Brawl, Bruticus
Humans featured
Ethan Zachary, Cloud-Steppers, Vines, Slimepitters, Metropipers
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Cloud-Steppers, Vines, Slimepitters, Metropipers
Locations featured
Oregon, USA, Metropipe, Slimepit, Vineland, Cloud-Steppes
Story synopsis
The true descent begins with a bit of a command problem. Optimus Prime is ready to take the lead, but Hotspot won't have it, saying he is too valuable. He instead has the Protectobots fan out to patrol the area, thereby leaving Prime completely ALONE and without backup. Before they leave, Optimus reminds them not to allow the game's inhabitants to come to harm.

A mirror-image of this is playing out with Megatron, who orders the Combaticons to fan out and search the area, thereby leaving the 'military genius' alone and without backup. I'm beginning to see why this war has lasted so long.

The scenery changes to First Aid and Streetwise going through Vineland and getting slowed by, you guessed it, vines. Instead of simply blasting his way through, Streetwise carefully lifts the vines out of the way. They are then set upon by Swindle and Brawl. The Combaticons seem to have the upper hand, but are then suddenly grabbed by vines, allowing the two Protectobots to destroy them. The vine-things then thank the two for stopping the 'murderers' and allow them to pass unimpeded. Lesson learned: respect the environment. It keeps you alive. The more you know...

We then switch to Blades and Groove in the Cloud-Steppes. Those two are attacked by Blast Off and Vortex. Several of the game's inhabitants are endangered by the battle and Blades manages to save them. They repay the kindness by releasing some kind of mist that blinds the two Combaticons long enough for Groove to hit them with his gun, causing them to crash into each other. Lesson learned: be kind to the natives. They know the tricks of the terrain. The more you know...

Next, we have Hotspot tromping his way through some swampy terrain. He is then ambushed by Onslaught and the two exchange fire. Several of the inhabitants are present, but are too stupid to head for cover. This prompts Hotspot to take several hits for them. Once down, he is dragged under by the inhabitants, which allows his to come up behind the Combaticon and destroy him. Lesson learned: some crap about being kind to artificial constructs that inhabit a video game. The more you know...

The final part of this RPG rip-off takes place in Metropipe where we find Optimus and Megatron facing each other on a bridge with Prime backed up by Defensor and Megatron all by his little lonesome. The Decepticon is a tad upset about this and tries to take it out on Vortex in the real world. The Combaticon sputters out knowledge of the 'AfterDeath' cheat code and thusly armed, Megatron returns his attention to the game.

Defensor shrugs off his fusion cannon and blasts the bridge, causing him and Megatron to fall to their apparent doom (instead of simply shooting Megatron and being done with it). Megatron then enters the 'AfterDeath' code and materialises right behind Prime! He then shoots the Autobot in the back, causing Prime to almost fall down the crevice. Megatron starts to gloat over Prime, who is barely hanging on. Suddenly, Optimus performs one of his trademark shows of heroism and grabs a pipe which causes the tower above Megatron to fall and knock the Decepticon back into the crevice.

It looks like a happy ending until, back in the real world, Optimus, having received one too many blows to the head, announces that he has lost because the tower had inhabitants which were destroyed. He orders Ethan to destroy him and - Sweet Primus, my eyes! - Ethan presses the button that does so. Optimus Prime blows to smithereens, and Megatron merrily makes off with the Hydrothermocline.

Once the Protectobots have carted away Prime, Ethan reflects on the previous events, but consoles himself with the 'AfterDeath' cheat and writes Optimus' name on a floppy disk.
Heroes Reborn. Spider-Man's clone saga. The Star Wars Holiday Special. All of them crimes against humanity. But, NONE of them come close to this... garbage. In one fell swoop, Budiansky delivers the worst Transformers story ever.

There is hardly anything redeemable in it. No other story is worse. The video game set-up is bad enough, but to have Optimus Prime kill himself over it is just... a slap in the face, to put it mildly. The computer itself is beyond belief. That it could be advanced enough to house the two groups of Transformers, enabling them to feel pain and use their weapons is beyond logic. The holes of simply glossing over Megatron's reappearing act and Ethan not being able to tell the Autobots about AfterDeath just add to the pain. That he can't inform them of it is ridiculous. It's just... there aren't words. They just aren't there.

There is some neatness to the issue, with Perlin's splash page of Prime blowing to pieces, and Megatron's muted reaction, but it is totally overwhelmed. Budiansky puts in some okay tension with Megatron's desperation over his troops being trashed, and some sneakyness with the cheat code, but as I said before, it's completely overwhelmed.

Budiansky's motives for eliminating Prime are a bit misty (I personally believe it was the result of a drunken bet with then Gi-Joe writer Larry Hama), but we do know some things for sure. Since Prime's toy had been taken off the market and he was eliminated in the movie, his days were surely numbered. The real tragedy is that Furman had made some interesting headway into the Prime/Megatron dynamic and this story undid all his hard work and potential stories. The status quo wouldn't get a chance to return until G2.

This issue was reprinted in the Titan trade paperback "Showdown".
Character development
Optimus Prime has gone insane. That's the only way to explain it. His problems from Limbo finally got to him. Or the lobotomy from Wheeljack last issue. Or mind altering drugs. Why else would he kill himself over a FRIGGIN' VIDEO GAME!? Lord. He couldn't go on the rampage, so he used his compassion as an excuse to kill himself. His cherished principle of not allowing innocents to be harmed as a result of the civil war was merely a cover. How else can you explain his missing the fact that the 'innocents' harmed aren't even real! And then leave Earth to Megatron's tender mercies... along with the Hydrothermacline no less. It was all that time around the humans, I know it.

How else can we explain it? Prime cherishes his principles, even when only in theory. Here he ultimately decides he must die as per the original conditions of the game because he chose to cheat: "I violated the Autobots' most cherished principle - I knowingly harmed innocents because of our conflict with the Decepticons." Even though incredibly the 'innocents' were merely computer generated, perhaps Prime feared the part of himself that was willing to act in such a fashion and doubted his continued viability as leader. It's not a stretch of the imagination to conclude that Prime is having a mental breakdown of sorts here though.

At least Megatron is his usual self, always ready to cheat. He gets angry at the Combaticons for getting killed, but that's usual for him. He sees warriors as dispensable, as evidenced by, "I don't care if I smash you into molecular dust in the real world! I need you in the game!" The way he orders off the Combaticons is typical of his military 'strategy'. There was the immediate contrast of Prime wanting to charge ahead and Megatron wanting to lag behind. His response to Prime's suicide was a bit subdued compared to next issue.

Hotspot's command abilities need some scrutinisation as he left Optimus completely alone. He dutifully followed orders to protect the inhabitants of Slimepit, and it nearly cost him.

Streetwise seems very observant of his surroundings. He was careful not to harm the vines in Vineland.

First Aid, in contrast, simply wanted to blast his way through.

Blades is more concerned with fighting than with civilians caught in the crossfire. But, he was good enough to take the time to save the Cloud-Steppers.

Groove is one to enjoy the landscape.

Onslaught demonstrates a clear contempt for the weak.

Ethan was very biased for the Autobots, though he does commit the punishable by death crime of pressing the joystick that kills Prime. It shows that Optimus can really sway a person and Prime's influence is obvious in the narrative: "Optimus Prime was the greatest, most noble being he had ever met in his entire life."
Optimus Prime stays dead for some time. He doesn't come back properly until issue 177, as a Powermaster. By that time, the world of Transformers will have changed irreversably.

The insides of Prime's left arm consist of mostly wires and gears.

Autobot personalities are apparently simple enough to be encoded on a floppy disk. The old kind.

First Aid uses a decrystalliser cannon. His Universe entry states that it, "disrupts the crystalline structure of most metals, reducing their tensile strength and making them vulnerable to fracture."

Streetwise fires compressed air. According to the Universe, it is an air-compressor cannon, mounted on his trunk in vehicle mode.

Groove can shoot light bursts from his photon pistol. He's a hit at parties.

Defensor has a force-field and his cannon shoots fireballs. According to the profile it, "shoots 2000 degree Fahrenheit bursts of blue fire up to 1.5 miles."

Vortex's rotor creates a suction that can pull targets towards it. His Universe entry states it as a powerful weapon and that, "he can whirl his rotor blades fast enough to create wind funnels that spin at speeds of 200-300 mph, powerful enough to lift a locomotive off its rails."

Blast Off uses an x-ray laser, Swindle a scatterblaster and Onslaught a sonic stun gun.

Defensor is not phased by Megatron's fusion cannon, which is capable of taking out Predaking (see issue 108). He was utilising his force field though.
Good quotes
Bad quotes
"I am the one who lost the game, not Megatron. Press it!" Optimus Prime, committing suicide. Sigh.
On the bridge, Optimus introduces Megatron to Defensor as if the gestalt wasn't there last issue.

This whole damn issue is just one big mistake.
Story rating
1 star
Art rating
4 star
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