The 'bots learn that the 'cons are building something big n' nasty in Death Valley. As the 'bots are about to go and sort it out the Mini-Cons ask them to help them retrieve some of their lost comrades from Alaska, leaving Prime with a difficult decision. At Decepticon base, Megatron is having trouble with the Destruction team - they won't give him a full powerlink unless he agrees to let them have a voice. He agrees, but makes Cyclonus the guinea pig for the trial run. Meanwhile, Thrust has found the Alaskan Mini-Cons, but when Cyclonus arrives he attacks him!
Silver Ridge, Nebraska, Alaska, Death Valley, California
The moon-base fallout arrives with an escape capsule crashing into the Alaskan wilderness and being buried under the ice. The Mini-Cons inside (Spiral, Oval, Backtrack, Inferno, Commetor) are knocked into dreamy land.
Going from very hot to very cold, the scenery switches from Alaska to Death Valley as we catch up with Scavenger and a grumpy Smokescreen. I'm perversely curious as to what he means by getting sand in unmentionable places. Exactly how does a machine have 'unmentionable places'? Moving along, the two of them are hiding under a, uh, tent (tent?) and spying on a Decepticon construction project which is basically a rocket/satellite about to be launched.
The desert duo decide that now would be a good time to check in with Optimus, who's informed of the transmission by a surprised Red Alert. The signal is hazy and Scavenger doesn't get out much before the signal collapses. Red Alert says that he can't get it back and asks Prime to clue him in. It seems that there has been a noticeable amount of Decepticon activity in Death Valley and Optimus sent the two to investigate. The Autobot leader then decides to head in full force, but his comments are misinterpreted by an entering Sparkplug as a sign of a rescue mission being prepared. Astroscope explains about the downed capsule and when Prime is reluctant to charge off, the Mini-Con excuses himself and goes to make other arrangements. Sparkplug gets a bit irritated and informs Optimus that this decision will probably give some of the moon-base refugees a reason to leave.
Meanwhile, the two main causes of the moon-base disaster are getting better acquainted. However, Megatron finds that the Destruction Team is giving him a little indigestion, due to some failsafes Dualor installed. They disengage and Megatron is ready to play whack-a-Mini-Con when Dualor convinces him otherwise. It may have hurt, but the Decepticon leader was given a taste of "power beyond measure." Dualor offers a trial run in exchange for some authority around the base. Megatron agrees, but decides to draft Cyclonus as a volunteer.
Back in that very cold place, the Adventure Team has arrived at the buried capsule and they are about to start drilling when a rather large problem arrives in the form of Thrust.
Speaking of problems, a rabble-rouser by the name of Rook is creating dissent among his Mini-Con brethren at Autobase. Apparently, the little bugger wants to cut all ties with the Autobots and make themselves nice, isolated targets for Megatron. It starts to look like there is going to be a problem when Sparkplug and Prime enter with an announcement: Prime has been informed of the stranded Mini-Cons and is offering the full resources of Autobase to mount a rescue mission. Smooth, Optimus, smooth.
Getting back to that large problem, Dune Runner blasts Thrust pointblank in the face, which only gets the Decepticon ticked off. He starts tearing up the landscape as he flies after the three and Dune Runner falls victim to a hole blown open. Ransack and Iceberg get taken out by something moving faster than Blurr's mouth. It turns out to be none other than Cyclonus on a Destruction Team trip. Thrust resents the interference and whines to Megatron, but the Decepticon leader merely gives a standard 'I don't give a crap' and hangs up. Thrust then decides to get to work, but Cyclonus, looking insane, decides to make the tattletale his new punching bag.
Back in that warm place, Laserbeak arrives with the message that Prime is busy pleasing his Mini-Con constituents and that the deserted duo will have to deal with the launch themselves. Kinda late, considering the satellite has already taken off. The satellite/laser takes its place in orbit, leaving Megatron to end the issue taking aim at a certain cold place...
A fairly solid issue from Furman that deals with some problems caused by the moon-base story arc. However, it is rather simplistic and cartoon-esque, but some little touches like Megatron's scene with Dualor, and Cyclonus going nutso elevate it.
A couple of troubling questions though. First, why would Smokescreen and Scavenger just allow the satellite to take off? Shouldn't it have been fairly obvious that it needed to be destroyed? And just why was a cloth tent used for camouflage? No real problems other that that. Plenty of good stuff in the issue, like Optimus dealing with Rook which not only shows how effective Mini-Cons can be when given personalities, it also shows how sometimes you have to bow to image in order to keep everyone under one banner. Kudos to Furman.
Guidi's art is its usual level of solidity here and everything flows nicely. He has a good sense of scale, shown by the 'giant' image of Thrust looming over Dune Runner. The generic backgrounds are a bit bland, though.
Optimus Prime shows a bit of his 'commander' side this issue by revealing that he sent Smokescreen and Scavenger to the satellite launch area in secret. He's ready to charge in once word comes from Scavenger, and is still reluctant once Astroscope informs him of the capsule, but eventually he bows to the pressure - best not to give the Mini-Con agitators like Rook any kind of excuse to use on the sheltered former inhabitants of the moon-base, especially since this gives him a clear edge over the Decepticons.
Megatron has decided that the most fitting punishment for the Destruction Team is to press them into slavery. Of course, he tries to use their power and reacts with the typical upset when he gets painfully denied. Still, the mere prospect of gaining their supposedly great power is enough to make him spare their lives. However, he isn't foolish enough to take them at their word about the 'trial run' and drafts Cyclonus, not caring what happens to him. Later, he gets so absorbed in his latest scheme that when Thrust calls to complain about Cyclonus, Megatron simply says: "I'm busy... sort it out between you."
Smokescreen and Scavenger aren't fond of the desert locale and Smokescreen complains about the heat and sand. The two are trained to wait for orders, even though Scavenger is unable to re-establish contact with Prime. As such, they don't try to stop the launch, which causes problems later.
Thrust continues to be brassy and sure around others, saying: "I should warn you... Thrust always wins!" He quickly takes out Dune Runner with a ticked-off confidence and is upset that Cyclonus has arrived to spoil his 'fun'. Chasing Mini-Cons is a rather fun game for him: "If it's sport you want, let's play!" He tries to call in papa Megatron after telling Cyclonus to bugger off, but when that doesn't work, he tries to get to work on the capsule while reminiscing about old times. He certainly doesn't hold Cyclonus in high regard, calling him "boot boy." When Cyclonus goes nutso, he's all too happy to rumble.
The Adventure Team apparently have a professional and efficient approach to their work. Very quickly, they locate the origin of the capsule's signal and Dune Runner quickly decides on a way to get them out. He then estimates that by working shifts they'll have the capsule free in 26.2 hours. Dune Runner is also a brassy little bugger, shooting Thrust pointblank and muttering: "You Decepticons....It's all about size!"
Red Alert gets taken completely by surprise by Scavenger's transmission, but is unable to retrieve the signal once lost. He's apparently not high-up enough to know Prime's plans, but doesn't hesitate to ask.
Sparkplug's first impulse once he overhears Optimus is to think a rescue is being prepared for the capsule. Once he learns otherwise, he grills the Autobot leader to avoid giving the newly-arrived Mini-Cons a reason to leave.
Mirage sympathises with the Autobots, but knows that the moon-base Mini-Cons have been too insulated to fully recognise the Decepticon menace.
Dualor is still calculating, and he had enough forsight to equip the Destruction Team with some safety measures for his powerlink. He then coolly negotiates with Megatron for some authority in base management.
Rook seems to be rather Dualor-lite. He does claim that Dualor's methods were flawed, saying: "I say we cut all ties with the Autobots, effective immediately... we're still a commodity. Dualor may have been misguided in some ways, but he was right not to trust any Transformer... Autobot or Decepticon." However, it wouldn't be a stretch to see him believe otherwise. The two certainly share the same view of the larger Transformers and Rook is charismatic enough to get a large crowd ready to follow him out of Autobase.
Astroscope doesn't take Prime's initial decline too badly. Either he sympathises, or is holding his tongue.
Smokescreen and Scavenger must have been sent on their mission right after issue 5, since Prime says that Jetfire reported energy spikes of the space bridge right after they arrived. Not much equipment is shown for their mission except a techno-periscope and a... tent. I just can't wrap my mind around it.
The satellite launcher is a typical rocket construction set-up with one guard and two personnel. Once in space, it detatches from the rocket engine and unfolds its panels.
Death Valley is located in grid nine of the continental southwestern area.
The Mini-Con capsule lands in northern Alaska, 93 miles due west of Barrow.
Coded Autobot transmissions can be bounced along terran wavelengths, but this can make the signal weak.
Space bridge relays can be set up to bounce a traveller back to another location on his planet of origin.
Dualor rigged a failsafe in the Destruction Team that causes a Transformer to experience a very painful electrical system-afterburn once powerlinked. When the failsafe is removed, the Transformer becomes very powerful, but starts acting nutso. This is what happens when Cyclonus powerlinks with them - he has great strength and amazing speed. But they appear to drive him a bit mad, causing him to go on the rampage, unfortunately for Thrust.
The More Than Meets The Eye profiles elaborate on why the Destruction Team have so much power: "Dualor has developed a method of disengaging power dampers while Powerlinking with a Transformer, allowing him to provide a far greater level of power than the average Mini-Con. When the entire Destruction Team is combined with a single Transformer, the results are practically unstoppable."
The Adventure Team is equipped with thermo-torches. They are also able to track the signal of the missing Mini-Cons thanks to an emergency locator beacon on the capsule.
Some Mini-Cons (such as Sparkplug and Astroscope) utilise hover platforms around Autobase to allow for eye-level discussions with the Autobots.
Rook has set up a Mini-Con pulpit to better cause trouble.
Mini-Con weaponry can blind a Decepticon and leave scorch marks when fired at point-blank range.
Wheeljack appears with his crossed out Autobot insignia, since according to his More Than Meets The Eye profile, he defected to the Decepticons.
Apparently, back on Cybertron a common way for Thrust and the Decepticons to get hold of Mini-Cons was to "root out those Mini-Con hidey-holes, laz-torch right through."
Megatron - "Cyclonus, I require a volunteer."
Cyclonus - "Er, well..."
Megatron - "Excellent."
"That was nicely done, Dune Runner. I'd say it bought us, oh - TWO WHOLE SECONDS!" Ransack.