Shockwave has taken over the leadership of the Decepticons and Megatron is his prisoner. The one-eyed freakazoid has taken up residence in the Ark and his first attempt at redecorating his new temporary home involves hanging up all the deactivated Autobots like slabs of beef.
Bob Budiansky
Alan Kupperberg
Alan Kupperberg
Nel Yomtov
Release date
Autobots featured
Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Windcharger, Huffer, Wheeljack, Gears, Prowl, Bluestreak, Ironhide, Hound, Trailbreaker, Sideswipe
Decepticons featured
Shockwave, Megatron, Starscream, Thundercracker, Ravage
Humans featured
G B Blackrock, Josie Beller, Charlene Welles, Monty Hall, Mrs Shumway
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Wheeljack, G B Blackrock, Josie Beller, Charlene Welles, Monty Hall, Mrs Shumway
Locations featured
Mount St Hilary and the Oregon coast, USA
Story synopsis
Aboard the Ark, Shockwave observes a myriad of television screens, assimilating images from various films, soaps, quiz shows, sporting events and news broadcasts all at once. He shows particular interest in a news report from a revolutionary new oil-drilling platform. The reporter interviews the proud owner, multi-millionaire industrialist G B Blackrock, as well as the spirited main designer of the rig, the computer programmer and prodigy Josie Beller. Shockwave’s plans for conquest of the planet begin to grow, as does his contempt for what he sees as very primitive lifeforms.

He leaves the room and strides across a big chamber, where above him the Autobots hang upside down like slabs of beef, deactivated and dissected. In the next room the Decepticons are being reanimated one by one. And across the room, strung up on the wall in a web of cables, is Megatron. He is just coming round to consciousness, and immediately informs Shockwave that he will now resume his command. But he is surprised when Shockwave blames him for the Decepticons’ recent defeat and claims that only his intervention saved the day. Thus, Shockwave declares that he is taking over the Decepticon leadership.

Shockwave orders Megatron to tell him the events that led to the current situation. Megatron, clearly biding his time, plays along, and tells Shockwave of how after the assault in space four million years ago, the Autobots and Decepticons became stranded on Earth. He relates to Shockwave the ransacking of the nuclear power plant, the construction of the fortress, the kidnapping of Sparkplug and the subsequent double-cross that led to the Decepticons ingesting poisonous fuel.

Megatron swears that he will have his revenge on Sparkplug, but Shockwave chastises him for wasting energy on such matters. He decides that Megatron is prone to letting emotion cloud his command, and also accuses him of outright incompetence. He reiterates that he is now in command, and if Megatron has a problem with that he can expect to meet the same fate as the wrecked Autobots. Megatron, silently fuming, secretly tries to slip out of the bonds that bind him…
We finally embark on the continuation of the story left hanging at the end of issue 8, and the wait is worth it. Budiansky slips off the editorial chores to now write the comic, and makes a big impression with his first story. The opening scene that switches from Shockwave watching dozens of TV channels, to the morbid devastation of the Autobots, up to his confrontation with Megatron, is a brilliant scene setter, and is skilfully written. Having Megatron usurped so early in the series by Shockwave really shakes things up and goes against expectations, as does placing the Autobots in such a dire predicament. The power play between the two leaders is subsequently very involving, as is the backbone of the story, where all hope seems lost for the Autobots. Interestingly, this story trounces the two Furman offerings that precede it.

The only main thing that lets it down is Kupperberg’s art, which in the main looks like it could have been scrawled by a three-year-old. His depictions of the likes of Megatron and Starscream are so one-dimensional it’s almost painful. In more capable hands the scene of the butchered Autobots could have had a lot more shock value, and some of the Autobots are unrecognisable (Yomtov’s erratic colouring doesn’t help). However, it is clearer to tell what’s going on in his simplistic drawings than the cluttered panels of previous US artist Frank Springer. And the cover is a true classic, lifted from issue 5 of the US comic.

The comic includes a feature called ‘Robot War’ which is basically a summary of all the events leading up to this issue. It also marked the start of ‘Soundwaves,’ a page devoted to Decepticon Soundwave answering readers’ letters.

This issue was later reprinted in the Titan Trade Paperback ‘Beginnings.’
Character development

Shockwave is depicted as an emotionless and calculating foe from the start, dictated by logic and little else: “Logic says I must assume command of the Decepticons.” The gulf between his and Megatron’s methods is clear: “Logic dictates there is no place for such emotionalism in a Decepticon commander.” He is very businesslike as he sets his own plans in motion and states the reasons why he should assume command: “Nor is there room for incompetence for stealing energy facilities and not being able to use them, for being fooled by lower forms, for defeat. That is why I now command.” Shockwave is perhaps the more practical of the two; whilst Megatron pillaged a nuclear plant to create a Decepticon fortress that did not solve the Decepticon fuel needs, Shockwave already has his eye on Blackrock’s oil rig. Shockwave hides his ambition well, here seizing control legitimately as soon as he has had the chance. And he clearly doesn’t fear Megatron either: “Should you disagree, I will be forced to do to you what I do now to this fallen Autobot, should logic so dictate.” However, since Megatron is tied up, and not yet at full power, his confidence is probably justified.

Megatron proves to be a calculating Decepticon in his own right too. Here he temporarily goes along with Shockwave, even going as far as to call him commander: “It is your right to demand anything from me. It is my privilege to oblige.” All the while he’s thinking, “Talk, Shockwave… talk while you still can!”

Josie Beller is described as “a computer genius” who is “only a few years out of high school.” Blackrock appears to be a flamboyant and ambitious millionaire businessman type, kind of in the Richard Branson mould. The way he credits her with the hard work while she graciously says that she’s just doing her job, hints at the productive friendship between the two, almost of mentor and student, and also a father and daughter style relationship.
This issue’s story follows on chronologically from issue 8.

The matrix is mentioned for the first time.

The deactivated Autobots appear to be ‘bleeding’ oil. As we learnt in issue 3, oil is more or less a Transformer’s blood.

Shockwave describes the Autobots as “lying dead” which once again poses the question of what is ‘death’ to a Transformer. All these ‘dead’ Autobots will be revived at a later point.

Shockwave has started repairing the Decepticons that were defeated back in issue 8. “Life support systems” repair their injuries.

Megatron describes the Ark’s crew as “a group of the mightiest Autobot warriors.” The original Autobots that were specially selected for the task must have been amongst the army’s elite back on Cybertron.

We learn that Megatron stayed functional in issue 8 long enough to see Shockwave arrive to blast the Autobots.

Shockwave hangs up the defeated Autobots like slabs of beef. It could be some kind of warrior ritual, parading them as trophies. Or perhaps it is behaviour of a more primal nature… where the hunter has torn and dismembered its prey only to hang it up like meat in a butcher’s meat locker. The fact that next issue it is revealed that the Autobots are to be used as spare parts reinforces the fact that they are nothing more than ‘meat’ for the Decepticons’ hunger at this stage.

G B Blackrock’s oil-drilling platform is said to have no equal, able to “extract 50% more oil from the ground than any other operation.” He says “We can refine it, dock tankers, land planes.”

Josie Beller has designed the rig’s “secondary and tertiary oil recovery systems, the semi-automated defence system [and] the refinery’s non-polluting digitised micro-scrubbers.”

Amongst the several pop culture references laced amongst the opening pages when Shockwave watches TV is a scene from American gameshow ‘Let’s Make A Deal’ along with a cameo from the host Monty Hall.

The opening page depicts a scene from the 80s sci-fi TV series “V”. This image was unique only to the UK version of the comic, most likely to give UK readers a more recognisable contemporary reference amongst all the other US ones.
Good quotes
“By the Great Matrix, I will see that human reduced to carbon ash for his treachery!” Megatron.

“Very illuminating. These humans are more primitive than I thought.” Shockwave.

“Brad, I’ve loved you ever since I saw you at my wedding.” Girl in TV soap. Sounds like a great show...
Bad quotes
In the double page spread of the deactivated Autobots, Windcharger is yellow, Trailbreaker is red and Ironhide is predominately blue.
Story rating
6 star
Art rating
3 star
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