|Marvel U.S. > Issue #56|
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|Marvel UK > Issue #240–242|
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Some British guy starts writing the title. This won't last...
In Ratchet's nightmares, the dead walk. Because he has failed to restore them to life, they have become the un-life, and thirst for his spark. As the scrambling corpses pile over him, Ratchet decides he deserves to die for his failure, and gives in to his attackers as they violently — RATCHET!!
Suddenly, he startles awake. Optimus Prime has come into the medical bay and shaken Ratchet out of involuntary systems shut-down. Prime has been desperate to replenish his ranks after Starscream's rampage through their forces, but he starts to realize how much an effect the stress has had on Ratchet. He orders the surgeon to take some downtime, but worries his demand for troops might have already damaged Ratchet's sanity. Ratchet, in turn, shows that he has hardly been comforted by Prime pep-talk, and laments the lack of any real advanced medical technology, like he's heard exists on Cybertron now.
Meanwhile, on that very planet, a mysterious figure is addressing the Micromaster Sports Car Patrol. As these tiny Decepticons demonstrate they are ready for their covert mission and show off their faction-switching insignias, the figure contacts his other agents on Earth, the Air Strike Patrol, and tells them to begin their part of the mission.
The Air Strike Patrol stage an attack at MacDill Air Force Base, taking the humans hostage while making empty demands for the new mid-air refueling jet being unveiled. Unknown to all involved, their only true purpose is to get the Autobots' attention. They succeed. Despite their low numbers, Optimus Prime feels compelled to gather a strike team and take a shuttle down to Earth to defend the humans.
With the Ark virtually deserted, the Sports Car Patrol teleport in using a new trans-time dimensional portal. Working from a nearby circuit panel, Blackjack reprograms some crucial systems to give him remote control over the fallen Autobots. He animates them and provides a voice in order to physical and psychologically batter Ratchet into submission. With his recent nightmares coming to life around him, Ratchet almost submits to his attackers, but manages to shake loose his guilt and fight back. He breaks free and prepares to hit the emergency cut-off switch to short-circuit the "zombies", but hesitates at doing any more damage to their systems.
Fortunately for Ratchet, the choice is taken out of his hands. Blackjack's psychological torture was supposed to force Ratchet to tear apart his fallen comrades with his bare hands in order to survive, breaking him mentally. Instead, the Micromaster is forced to shut down the reanimates before they kill Ratchet, and he ceases to be of any use. Time for Plan B. Stepping out of the shadows, Blackjack and friends introduce themselves as the Autobot Sports Car Patrol. Claiming to be on their way back to Cybertron, the Micromasters offer to take Ratchet with them and let him make use of their shiny new med-tech.
Ready to jump at the chance, Ratchet quickly attempts to contact Optimus Prime and receive permission. Static on the line prevents him from getting through, however. Ratchet decides to go to Cybertron anyway, and brings the bodies of Jazz, Goldbug, and Grimlock with him to be the first revitalized. He immediately realizes his mistake when the Patrol leave Blackjack behind on the Ark, though, and his suspicions are confirmed when the Micromasters turn their guns on him as they rematerialize. Whatever worries he had, they are soon trumped by the arrival of his old nemesis... Megatron!
- Originally published: September, 1989
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
- There are several glitches on page 4. It is apparently supposed to be Road Hugger who says "Right on!", as the next text bubble suggests, and Blackjack discussing the need for subtlety and sneakiness in that panel and the next. Also, the text bubble about what Blackjack excels in would make more sense switched with the one about changing their symbols.
- Even assuming he got suspicious at the end, Ratchet is not very bright. Someone reanimates the fallen Autobots by remote control and turns them against him then, out of nowhere, some Transformers he's never seen before step out of the hallway and offer to take him on a magical journey. Right — when was the last time you EVER saw an Autobot wearing purple?
- There are a few problems with page 15 as well. The third panel seems to suggest Road Hugger remains on the Ark. However, two panels later, he is shown with Detour and Hyperdrive on Cybertron. Also, Ratchet asks "Why aren't they coming with us?", but only Blackjack is actually left behind.
- On the last page, Yomtov colored one of Ratchet's hands red and the other one is black. Way to go, Nel.
- Blaster's corpse is consistently drawn with a damaged left arm, yet when he was killed in US #50 (which was also penciled by Delbo) he only had a chest wound.
Items of note
- This is the first U.S. series issue scripted by Simon Furman, who took over the run from Bob Budiansky.
- According to his intro for Dark Designs, the first of the two Generation 2 comic collections, Furman indicates that when he took over the US book there was a general assumption it was going to be cancelled imminently due to slumping interest and sales. Instead, sales of the comic subsequently took off, rising to 90,000 copies a month by the time the comic was eventually cancelled twenty-four issues later.
- Likewise, the Dan Reed cover of this issue marks the first time a UK Transformers artist would provide original material for the U.S. comic. Reed would later be followed on the book by true Brits Geoff Senior and Andrew Wildman.
- The inactive bodies of Blaster, Goldbug, Omega Supreme, Jazz, Hound, Perceptor, Grimlock and Sludge are shown in Ratchet's workshop.
- Transformers Universe profiles for Battletrap, Blot, Cutthroat, Rollbar, Goldbug and Wide Load are found after the main story.
- Starscream's devastation of the Autobot forces occurred in U.S. #50.
- Megatron installing flip-change faction symbols on his minions is suitably ironic, as Shockwave had the Predacons use the same trick on him in U.S. #25.
- Ratchet's attempt to contact Optimus Prime will be shown from Prime's perspective next issue.
|Specifics: UK covers|
- U.S. cover: The Air Strike Patrol by Dan Reed
- UK issue 240 cover: Darkwing, Dreadwind and the Mechannibals by Andrew Wildman
- UK issue 241 cover: Thunderwing emerges from the sea by Geoff Senior
- UK issue 242 cover: Assault on the Ark by Jeff Anderson
- None yet identified.