The Insecticons arrive from Cybertron, and Bombshell takes control of a Hoover Dam worker. The worker, using Megatron, takes over the dam. Meanwhile Skids returns with Donny Finkleberg and news of the Autobots arrived from Cybertron (which Finkleberg obtained while still a captive of the Decepticons). Prime sees the story of the dam on the news and sends the newly built Aerialbots into action, although only Silverbolt's personality programming is complete. Meanwhile the spacebridge appears, along with Ramjet, Thrust and Dirge, and a giant drill that begins to bore through the dam. Damn! (see what I did there?)
Issue
089
Writer
Bob Budiansky
Pencils
Don Perlin
Inks
Ian Akin & Brian Garvey
Colours
Nel Yomtov
Release date
29/11/1986
Autobots featured
Optimus Prime, Jetfire, Ratchet, Skids, Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Silverbolt, Slingshot, Fireflight, Air Raid, Skydive
Decepticons featured
Megatron, Bombshell, Shrapnel, Kickback, Dirge, Ramjet, Thrust
Humans featured
Ricky Vasquez, Carmen Vasquez, Maria Vasquez, Billy, Donny Finkleberg, Lyle Scoggins
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Ricky Vasquez, Carmen Vasquez, Maria Vasquez, Billy, Lyle Scoggins
Locations featured
Boulder City, Black Canyon, Nevada and Mount St Hilary, Oregon
Story synopsis
It’s the 4th of July, and Ricky Vasquez is saying goodbye to his wife and daughter before heading off to work. Unknown to them all, Bombshell is spying on them in his insect mode. The Decepticon suddenly flies down and ‘bites’ Ricky. None of the family realise, however, and Ricky drives off.

However, it transpires that Bombshell has injected a microscopic cerebro shell into Ricky’s bloodstream. It travels up to his brain, and anchors itself. Suddenly, Vasquez no longer has a mind of his own…

He drives the car onto a desolate dirt road where he is met by Megatron, Shrapnel and Kickback. Bombshell, who hitched a ride too, transforms to robot mode and reports to Megatron. He explains that Vasquez is the engineer at the nearby dam, and that he’s now under his mind-control, hence they can use the facility to pump energy to Cybertron. He then proves his power over the human by ordering him to lick his feet! Then Megatron and the Insecticons transform and board the car, and Vasquez continues his journey to work.

The car soon arrives at Hoover Dam, and Ricky disembarks and obeys Megatron’s instructions to head for the control room. On reaching it, Kickback breaks the door down, and the dam’s control staff are greeted by the sight of their colleague standing there wielding Megatron in gun mode. He orders them to turn off the dam immediately.

Meanwhile at the Ark, Optimus Prime is having a wound treated in Ratchet’s sick bay. Skids has brought Donny Finkleberg to see Prime, and the human informs him of the seven Autobots that were mistakenly transported to Earth by the space bridge (in issue 69).

Prime asks Jetfire to escort Finkleberg to the supposed location of the Cybertronians to check the story out. Bumblebee then contacts Prime, and brings to his attention a news report from Hoover Dam. Prime, realising that its Megatron’s handiwork, dashes out of the sick bay, even though Ratchet hasn’t finished patching him up!

Outside the Ark, Prime meets Wheeljack who is testing out the brand new Aerialbots, who were completed by using the technology stolen from the Decepticons (in issue 71) and then granted life from the Creation Matrix. The Aerialbots transform and report, and Prime gives their leader Silverbolt orders to get over to Hoover Dam (as they are the fastest Autobots), though human lives must be protected no matter what. Silverbolt gives his word that no harm will come to them, and the five Aerialbots take off. As they depart Wheeljack mentions that he hadn’t finished programming the personalities of Silverbolt’s comrades. Prime says they had no choice but to send them, and hopes the decision was the right one.

The commotion builds outside Hoover Dam as the media descend on the crisis, and Ricky’s worried wife and daughter arrive, assuming he is a hostage. However, they then see a journalist holding up his picture and naming him as the gunman!

Inside, the mind-controlled human continues to give orders. Shrapnel patches into the dam with his electrical powers, and Megatron gives the order to contact Cybertron.

Moments later, one and all are amazed as the huge space bridge materialises out of nowhere, right next to the dam! Ramjet, Thrust and Dirge fly out, and transform to their robot forms and land on the rim of the dam.

Then a massive drill appears, and starts to bore its way into the dam wall!
Remarks


Well, this is all pretty run of the mill stuff. We’ve already come to expect tame little excursions from Budiansky at this point, but after the sheer epic events of Target 2006, this issue is something of a shock to the system, perhaps a lot like a deathly hangover the morning after the night of one tremendous party. We know Budiansky is in full swing when he opens his little tale with a human family cosily going about their business. The gulf between the UK and US material has become quite obvious now, though thankfully the issue still flows on well from last issue, thanks to Furman’s machinations in Target 2006’s epilogue. However, from a UK standpoint, another ‘Decepticons taking over dam’ story feels unnecessary and repetitive after Decepticon Dambusters (issues 29 and 30).

A scene that does stand out however, is where Bombshell instructs the mind-controlled human to get on his hands and knees and lick the Decepticon’s foot. This cold act of sadism is somewhat at odds with the rest of the story’s tone, though its good to see the writer shed some light on the evil the Decepticons are capable of. Megatron seems a bit more sinister than usual too, though his plan feels a little out of character. Megatron’s more known for going in guns blazing, rather than his guile and subtlety, and the value he places on yet another fleshling (after the Robot Master incident) is worrying. And talking about Robot Master, since when did Finkleberg know so much about the Cybertron Seven?

Also, how come Vasquez walks straight past a security guard without bringing attention to himself? He’s wielding a Walther P38 (ie. Megatron)! Doesn’t really wash with me…

The last two pages of narration drags a fair bit, and provides a bit of a lumpy end to the action in this issue. Admittedly it does have some nice flourishes, for instance describing the Decepticon jet warriors as “gleaming steel gargoyles” standing on the edge of the dam.

But at the end of the day this plot can be pretty much summed up the same as the average G1 cartoon episode: Megatron tries to steal Earth energy and the Autobots try and stop him. There’s nothing original here to get excited about. This is all topped off by fairly ordinary art.

This issue was reprinted in the Titan trade paperback, ‘Showdown.’
Character development
Megatron makes it clear that his dream of sucking Earth dry is now becoming a reality, and he’s gone about achieving this in an efficient fashion in recent times, working closely with the Decepticons on Cybertron to get the use of new warriors, the drill and the space bridge. He’s eager to get on with it, telling his warriors, “enough of these games,” and getting them on their way. Interestingly, his plan to infiltrate the dam with the human is definitely subtler than his usual schemes (compare it to his attack on Sherman Dam back in issue 29). Utilising the no doubt energy draining drill seems something of an expensive gamble too.

Optimus Prime doesn’t seem fussed that he might catch an infection from Donny being in the surgery, and later when he finds out about the latest crisis, he dashes out of the surgery even though Ratchet hasn’t finished patching him up! Clearly Prime takes injuries in his stride, and pays his own health little regard, preferring to focus on other matters. He’s pleased to see Skids still alive, and to make sure Finkleberg’s on the level, he sends him with Jetfire to seek out the Cybertronian Autobots. He also makes a difficult decision, deciding to send the Aerialbots to stop Megatron, even though their programming isn’t completed. They’re the only Autobots fast enough to get there on time, but Prime knows it’s a risk: “We made the only choice… now we must pray it was the right one.”

Bombshell proves to be resourceful. He spied on Vasquez for several days, learning about his role at the nearby installation. Seeing a way to pump energy output from the dam to Cybertron, Bombshell ensnares Ricky’s mind and takes him to Megatron to help the Decepticon leader achieve his current schemes. This is where he proves utterly sadistic, relishing having Vasquez under his mental control and giving him depraved commands like licking his feet and so forth. All the Decepticons present find watching these acts hilarious. Actually, asking the human to lick his boots shows an understanding of human biology on Bombshell’s part, and also a knowledge of how to demean human beings. Who knows, maybe he took a course.

Shrapnel shows impatience as he waits for the human to arrive.

Ratchet doesn’t have much time for Finkleberg, asking that he be removed from his surgery. Finkleberg’s recent escapades probably have a lot to do with his grudge: “How can we believe him? As Robot Master, he went on television and lied about us, gave all the Autobots a bad name.” The medic says rather viciously, “let me do a little corrective surgery on him… I’ll get the truth out of him piece by piece!” He’s also not afraid to put Prime in his place when it matters: “You may be commander of the Autobots, but in my sick bay you’re just another patient!”

Silverbolt’s concern for human life shows through from the start: “I’ll do everything in my power to avoid harming this planet’s people.”

Donny Finkleberg finally does the right thing and tells the Autobots about the Cybertron Seven. He’s as grumpy as ever though, and wants to go straight home afterwards. However, when Ratchet doubts his story, Donny is keen to prove it.

Ricky Vasquez is very much a doting family man. He’s a hard worker too, going to work on the 4th of July (with a sense of responsibility: “Someone’s got to be at the dam to make sure it keeps running… a lot of people depend on it for electricity, holiday or not”), though he does promise his wife and daughter that he’ll be back in time to take them to the fireworks. When put under Bombshell’s mind control, this ordinary nice guy turns into an unfeeling zombie.
Trivia
This story is set on July the 4th. This could mean that issue 93’s Christmas story takes place at some point after the whole RAAT arc (which starts here and ends in issue 95).

Megatron is working with the Decepticons on Cybertron, and utilises the space bridge, organises the new recruits from the homeworld and sets in motion the plan with the drill. It’s unclear exactly who Megatron is liasing with – the initial contact was with Straxus in issue 68 (and Megatron mentions him again in issue 79), though last issue Megatron was seen giving the orders to Dirge. Though Straxus is seemingly killed in issue 69, we find out that he in fact survived in issue 98. This could mean that Straxus is still co-ordinating things behind the scenes on Cybertron, and that his uneasy relationship with Megatron (as seen during issues 98 to 103) may have already started.

Bombshell’s cerebro-shells can be used on humans. He injects a tiny capsule into the host which, according to the Transformers Universe, “travels through the blood until it reaches the brain, whereupon it opens up and releases tens of thousands of connecting wires. The wires coil around nearby neural dendrites until the brain's conscious functions are effectively rerouted through the cerebro-shell, which puts the mind of the victim under the remote control of Bombshell.”

Shrapnel carries a grenade launcher gun.

The Insecticons apparently arrived on Earth 3 days ago. Ramjet, Thrust and Dirge arrive this issue. According to Target 2006, these six Transformers were part of the Decepticons’ ten deadliest killers (the others being the Triple Changers and Macabre).

Ratchet’s sick bay apparently needs to be a sterile environment. The Autobot medic is concerned by Finkleberg’s presence because humans sweat: “If moisture gets into Optimus Prime’s wound it could start a rust infection.” He insists that the human is ‘dehumidified’ first, though this doesn’t happen.

The wound apparently needs welding shut as it is leaking. It appears to be able to heal over time.

The Insecticons’ Earthen modes are tiny, the size of real life bugs. Ramjet, Thrust and Dirge resemble Earthen jet planes now. Apparently Megatron adapted the new alt. modes.

The Decepticon drill is 100 feet thick.

According to UK continuity, Prime’s wound was inflicting during his time in Limbo (the dimension he was displaced to in Target 2006, and eventually shown in issue 100). In the original US version, its actually just a flesh wound that Prime suffered during the assault on the ‘con base in issue 71.

Ricky Vasquez is chief engineer at Hoover Dam.

Shrapnel controls the dam by shooting twin streams of electricity from his antennae and linking with the computer’s circuitry.

Bombshell can signal Cybertron by broadcasting a frequency that interdimensionally jumps from Earth to Cybertron. The transmission is answered within seconds.

The space bridge appears to be in full working order after the attack in issue 69. Spanner’s fate is uncertain, but it’s possible that the scientist continues to suffer, wearing the space bridge as his form and enduring a never-ending living hell.

Bumblebee is seen in the Ark’s communications centre. This room was also seen in issue 35.

The Aerialbots finally make their first appearance in the flesh. Up till now we’ve had sketches, dream sequences and schematics (in issues 61 to 65). Work on them apparently started in issue 65, and the combination technology was stolen from the Decepticons in issue 71. They’ve since been granted life from the Creation Matrix. However, Wheeljack has not completed programming their personalities (apart from Silverbolt), the repercussions of which we see next issue. Whether this means their programming from the Matrix was unfinished, or that fine tuning to Transformers’ characters goes on after the Matrix has induced life into them, is not clear.

The location of Hoover Dam is encoded into the Aerialbots’ mapping circuitry before they depart.

According to the park ranger, Hoover Dam’s 17 generators provide up to six billion kilowatt-hours of electrical energy per year to approximately 20 million people across the Southwest of America. It also provides irrigation and drinking water for California, Nevada and Arizona. It’s 600 feet thick at its base and 720 feet tall.

Hoover Dam is a real life landmark, built during the Depression on the Colorado River at Black Canyon on the Nevada-Arizona border. The world-renowned structure is a National Historic Landmark and has been rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders.
Good quotes
“The removal of Earth’s energy resources is no longer a dream… it is destiny.” Megatron.

“He’d eat nuclear waste if I asked him to. Fleshling, there’s a grease spot on my foot. See if you can clean it… with your tongue!” Bombshell demonstrates his power over his human victim.
Bad quotes
Mistakes
Story rating
5 star
Art rating
5 star
Media
Reviewed by
spiderfrommars

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