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Both factions awaken and the Decepticons escape. The Autobots realise they are now on a live world, but think that machinery is the native species. The Autobots go on a recon and end up at a drive-in cinema which confuses the hell out of them. The Decepticons attack, and the Autobots realise that humans are the planet's natives. In the middle of it all is bloody Buster Witwicky who takes an injured Bumblebee back to his dad’s garage unsure of what he is.
Issue
002
Writer
Bill Mantlo (Plot) Ralph Macchio (Script)
Pencils
Frank Springer
Inks
Kim DeMulder
Colours
Nel Yomtov
Release date
04/10/1984
Autobots featured
Optimus Prime, Huffer, Ironhide, Sunstreaker, Hound, Prowl, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Brawn
Decepticons featured
Megatron, Soundwave, Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage, Buzzsaw, Laserbeak
Humans featured
Buster Witwicky, Sparkplug Witwicky, Jessie, "O"
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Huffer, Ironhide, Sunstreaker, Hound, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Brawn, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Frenzy, Buzzsaw, Buster Witwicky, Sparkplug Witwicky, Jessie, "O"
Locations featured
Oregon, USA
Story synopsis
The Ark rebuilds the Autobots and Decepticons and gives them the ability to change their shapes into Earth vehicles and weapons, mistakenly assuming the machines on the planet are its dominant lifeform. After a roll call of all his able warriors, Megatron orders his Decepticons to retreat so they can plan and plot anew.

Optimus Prime decides that the Autobots must learn as much about the planet as possible and sends Prowl and a small squad of Autobots on a reconnaissance mission. Prowl's squad come across a drive-in cinema where they assume the ‘earthlings’ (which are actually only parked cars) are in the middle of a strange ritual.

Before they get the chance to make formal contact, Bumblebee accidentally crashes into the back of a car containing Buster Witwicky, his girlfriend Jessie and his best friend “O”. Then the Decepticons attack, badly injuring Bumblebee and sending the humans running for cover.

The Autobots fight back and in the ensuing firefight Prowl realises that the earthlings are the organic lifeforms running for their lives and not the mechanical objects they had thought previously. He has no choice but to lead a retreat, as it’s clear the humans are being endangered and are unable to defend themselves.

In all the confusion Bumblebee has been left behind. But Buster hears the little Autobot’s cries of pain and drives him back home. His father Sparkplug, mechanic by trade, wakes up in the middle of the night to find Buster and the robotic alien in his garage…
Remarks
From this second issue the UK comic would become partly black and white for awhile, which was a shame as all the US stories supplied were in full colour. The story loosens up a bit from the previous issue, as a lot more characters are introduced and the Autobots and Decepticons have their first skirmishes on Earth.

The dialogue is still overly wordy and the action a little laboured but the twist with the Transformers assuming that the likes of cars and planes are the dominant race of Earth at least gives the writers a starting point of sorts. The scene where each Decepticon introduces himself purely for the benefit of the reader is pure nonsense though (a similar scene for the Autobots did not see print in the UK issue).

Frank Springer’s art is still inconsistent, though it has to be said that the horrible inking doesn’t help. He seems tied down to the designs of the toys, so that characters like Ironhide and Huffer look odd and ungainly.

Not the most entertaining story then, but of curiosity value.

This issue was reprinted in Collected Comics 1, The Complete Works Volume 1, and the Titan Trade Paperback ‘Beginnings.’
Character development
"Optimus, this world is fascinating. My reconnaissance missions will be far more exciting than mere logistics gathering,” says Hound cheerfully, and so would begin his love affair with the planet. His Universe entry expands on this: “Hound would just as soon be sniffing around the Grand Canyon or Big Sur as he would a secret Decepticon base. Perhaps more than any other Autobot, Hound takes pleasure in being on Earth. Unlike his home planet, which is entirely composed of metal and machinery, he finds the natural wonders of Earth endlessly fascinating.” It also says that his “bravery, fearlessness, and loyalty are unwavering” and that is emphasized here when he takes the time to look for Bumblebee, worried for his safety, before taking on Ravage head on. He refers to Bumblebee as “little one” and “small friend” suggesting some kind of fatherly role over the younger Autobot. Vitally, Bumblebee also mentions Hound’s tracking talents, stating that no-one spots things like he does.

Brawn can clearly look after himself, and he’s depicted as a very tough nut in the midst of battle (“Get close to me, ‘cause I can take the brunt of their firepower without flinchin’!”) as well as having an Up-and-at-‘em attitude (“When do I get to start throwin’ punches?” and when Prowl gives the order to assume defensive configurations: “Now yer talkin’ my lingo.”). According to the Transformers Universe: “He is the most macho of the Autobots. He delights in challenges and when he faces one he becomes fully alive.”

Prowl’s character is a little constipated in this issue, with constant talk of his “logic circuits” and borrowing too literally from his profile: “Prowl has the most sophisticated logic centre of all the Autobots, giving him the ability to analyze any combat situation almost instantaneously and then advise on the optimal course of action.” This sense of logic leads to him prioritising the human lives over Bumblebee’s, though arguably any responsible Autobot would do the same. His character would still maintain an air of superiority in future issues but would be slightly less socially stunted.

Starscream is a clear show off and boaster: “As the fastest, most maneuverable of Decepticon jet flyers, I, Starscream, shall continue to accumulate Autobot body-counts.” The seeds of his belief that he’d make a better leader than Megatron are already being sown here. First he argues as to why the Decepticons don’t take on the Autobots straight away aboard the Ark, then later he confides to Thundercracker: “I told Megatron this frontal attack is foolish… guile and stealth are far more effective than missiles in the long run.” His profile backs this up completely: “He looks down at Megatron for being antiquated in his military strategy. Starscream believes the Decepticons should rely more on guile and speed rather than brute, destructive force to defeat the Autobots.”

Thundercracker on the other hand has no wish to openly defy Megatron like Starscream has. He says: “We have to follow Megatron’s way Starscream. It’s been successful up to now.” His Transformers Universe profile paints him as a Decepticon not altogether convinced of his own cause, but “usually his fear of Decepticon leader Megatron compels him to overlook these doubts.”

Ironhide accuses Huffer of pessimism: “It’s hard enough to keep everyone’s gears in gear without you gummin’ up their motivation circuits.” Huffer’s Universe entry reads: “He says very little and when he does speak, it's usually to grumble.” Huffer would have a fair few appearances in the first 50 issues, usually in these sorts of moods, before his character was more or less forgotten about.

Cliffjumper gloats: “Ha! I hope my comrades have witnessed my triumph!” It would seem that the ever eager Minibot is a bit of a show off.

Buster’s relationship with his father Sparkplug is more or less defined from the start. Buster is a hard working student, his Dad is a hard working blue-collar mechanic. He is also a single parent, and shows concern for his boy’s future. What doesn’t quite work however, is the fact that Sparkplug believes his son is wasting his time on study (“You’ve always got your nose buried in a book… and that bothers me.”) with a philosophy that people learn by living, not reading. That’s all well and good, but his stance is certainly not that of a typical responsible parent.
Trivia
The Transformers’ ability to adopt the likenesses of Earth’s machines and weapons shows they have, to an extent, an amazing adaptability amongst different cultures. On Cybertron these forms gave them mobility, versatility and added firepower. But on Earth they also crucially offer disguise and thus work as an effective defence mechanism.

The Ark’s knowledge of the civil war was erased. This offers a clue as to why ‘Auntie’ cannot differentiate friend from foe when she awakens in issue 19.

The Decepticons are outnumbered by Autobots almost 2 to 1. Perhaps several Decepticons were damaged beyond repair in the Ark crash (there certainly seemed more of them in the previous issue, and of unknown configuration).

Megatron mentions that “One of our mightiest is missing.” Presumably he means Shockwave, who stayed behind on the Decepticon spaceship in the initial assault, and who would eventually make his presence felt in issue 8.

Megatron declares: “This world possesses enormous untapped fuel resources… resources we can exploit in our struggle against the Autobots.” With this mission statement so begins a common theme in the comic series: the Decepticons constant attempts to harness Earth’s energies and the Autobots’ ongoing quest to thwart them. He also announces his intentions to prevent any alliance between the Autobots and the inhabitants of Earth. This is a crucial difference from the cartoon, here the Autobots would mainly get only animosity from the humans, in contrast to the easy ride they get in the TV series.

The Ark’s central computer seems sentient, and even has a name, Auntie. Here it is shown transmitting pictures from across the world on monitor screens which the Autobots seem to then download. Apparently this takes a few hours, and “the Autobots stand motionless, their memory receptors absorbing masses of information.” Auntie would later make an appearance in person in issue 19.

The Ark’s revival drone looks exactly like the transformed combat deck module of Optimus Prime’s trailer.

Peculiarly, in the middle of a potentially volatile situation the Decepticons have time for a long, drawn out roll call where each character boasts about their individual abilities in turn. Here in one fell swoop we learn of Skywarp’s powers of teleportation, Thundercracker’s sonic booms, Starscream’s air superiority, Rumble’s “low frequency groundwaves”, Frenzy’s “high pitched soundwaves”, Ravage’s great stealth, Buzzsaw’s sharp beak, Laserbeak’s optical lasers and Soundwave’s mind reading abilities. Apparently these little speeches were the result of a rule enforced by Hasbro at the time, which insisted that all individual characters were clearly introduced.

The US version of this comic includes an Autobot roll call as well, which is even more drawn out and more unwieldy than the Decepticon one. Clocking in at 2 pages, and useful in helping the reader get their bearings as well as debuting all the Autobot characters in one go, its still understandable why it was cut from the UK strip. This omitted part of the story would later be polished up and warrant inclusion in the 1986 Transformers Annual.

The US version summarises the following:
Ironhide is “old and ornery” but has a “steel-alloy skin” and “a bunch of new liquids” to test out in his “water gun.”
Huffer has “stress testing sensors and mathematical skill to rebuild the Ark.”
Bumblebee only requires “a drop of fuel to run” and his “little levers love a good swim.”
Sunstreaker is “the sleekest Autobot in the bunch” and has “ground-to-air missiles.”
Cliffjumper is fast and uses “glass gas” to make “any Decepticon brittle as ice.”
Brawn claims to be the strongest.
Sideswipe uses his arms as piledrivers.
Mirage has an electro-disruptor that interferes with Decepticon circuitry and makes him appear to be where he isn’t.
Bluestreak is as fast as, and talks like a “bluestreak.”
Prowl has “endless patience” and a “logic centre” that “dictates the most advantageous course of action in any situation.”
Jazz has a “photon rifle and overhead flame-throwers.”
Hound has an “infra-red radiation collector” which makes him “the best tracker on or off Cybertron” and a “hologram gun” that “projects terrain maps.”
Windcharger can scrap Decepticons with his “magnetic arms.”
Gears can be utilised as a “mobile transport unit.”
Ratchet is the doctor who would “rather be partying than tinkering.”
Wheeljack has his shoulder cannons and loves to mess with gadgets.
Trailbreaker has a “force-field projector.”

Laserbeak, Buzzsaw and Ravage are shown as ‘talkers’ from the word go. But as the comic went on they would display this ability on and off in a fairly inconsistent manner.

Soundwave appears to briefly fly in his tape deck mode.

Prowl says, “What we are seeing is non-machine life, as hard as that may be to accept.” This gives the impression that the Transformers have never come across organic lifeforms before. Either their explorations in space have only met with other mechanical civilisations, or they have never really ventured out from their home planet at all.

Hound fires missiles at Ravage, which scare him away. But it’s in fact a neat trick involving three-dimensional holograms from his turret gun.

Cliffjumper hypothesises that the drive-in cinema is in fact some sort of religious ritual. This confirms the Transformers as a race who understand the concept of religion, and that some of them may even practise it themselves. Later in the series we will learn of the Transformers’ very own god, Primus.

Bumblebee’s vehicle mode has no key, ignition or gas pedal.

Buster is in the “Literary Scholarship Program.”

Bumblebee is described as a youth. In other words, some Transformers are older than others, and those that are younger can display similar characteristics to younger humans. i.e. “the exuberance of youth” as Hound puts it.

Optimus Prime describes knowledge as the Autobots’ greatest weapon, highlighting their, or at least his, different approach to war.

A Transformer’s eyes are called “optical sensors.”
Good quotes
Bad quotes
“The Autobots, too, though groggy, have arisen from their stasis.” Optimus Prime.

“The gas coats me, making my metal as brittle and breakable as glass!” Starscream.

“It will only be a matter of time before my concussion cannon strikes, and there will be two less Autobots clanking around.” Soundwave.

“ You learn by livin’ …not reading.” Sparkplug's rather questionable philosophy on the perils of getting a good education.
Mistakes
Soundwave appears to be in Megatron’s colours during his shootout with Cliffjumper and Prowl.
Story rating
3 star
Art rating
3 star
Media
Reviewed by
spiderfrommars