Earthforce is the name of a cell of Autobots commanded by Grimlock and stationed on Earth to counter the rising threats of Megatron, Starscream and Soundwave, and Shockwave and their respective armies. Grimlock formed his group as a reaction to Optimus Prime's command regimen, which he interprets as weak and counter-productive to ending the Decepticon menace.
Earthforce's base of operations is in northern Canada. They get into lots of not-so-serious hijinks.
Marvel Comics UK continuity
After Galvatron (uh, one of them) revived Prowl, Ironhide, Wheeljack, Sunstreaker, and Silverbolt on the Ark, intent on mind-controlling them, they rebelled and sealed Galvatron away in the Ark's medbay. As Unicron neared Cybertron, Optimus Prime dispatched Wheeljack and Prowl to the Arizona desert to investigate Decepticon activity. Musing about the simplicity of the old days, they stumbled across Megatron, the Constructicons, and the Stunticons, deep into a plan to detonate Earth's atmosphere and convert it into Energon.
Meanwhile, the Dinobots were ambushed by Shockwave, Starscream, Ravage, and the Battlechargers, demanding to know how Grimlock was able to revive them without using the Creation Matrix. In the middle of the Dinobots' retaliation, Optimus Prime interrupted them angrily, asking them to be mindful of the humans' civilization and to adhere to the Autobot Code.
Back on the Ark, Grimlock once again announced his dissatisfaction with Prime's leadership and threatened to take his Dinobots and leave the Autobots for good. Optimus Prime dismissed Grimlock's behavior as a tantrum, prompting a battle between the two that ended in stalemate. Conceding to Grimlock partially, Optimus Prime allowed Grimlock to be the Autobot Commander on Earth, so long as he played less rough than usual. A group of Autobots entered the room and announced that Prowl and Wheeljack had foiled Megatron's plan to detonate a deadly heat-trapping gas in Earth's atmosphere, but were in danger and needed backup. With Prime's blessing, these Autobots joined the Dinobots to form the Earthforce.
Ironhide and Bumblebee found and destroyed a partially-constructed duplicate Devastator, under construction because the Constructicons had lost the ability to combine. Jazz and Sunstreaker, meanwhile, found that Prowl had neutralized the gas days ago and was enjoying the relaxed pace of south Louisiana.
Prowl later followed Megatron back in time to the era of the Underbase Saga, to stop him from recruiting the Seacons to his cause. After few minor altercations and incidents , several of the team managed to disrupt the Decepticons' Enclave, preventing their splintered enemies from uniting. They then joined up with the Survivors to help them back up Carnivac's solo attack on the Mayhem Attack Squad; they took the surviving Mayhems prisoner, and welcomed Carnivac into their ranks.
The Decepticon Civil War continued, but Soundwave and Starscream both began working against their alleged commanders - Soundwave even had Megatron lured into an ambush. They set up a clash between Megatron and Shockwave, then let the Autobots attack them while they took control of the Decepticon factions and united them into a single army under dual leadership (both plotting to backstab the other later). The Autobots fortified their headquarters, though a flaw in their design caused them to temporarily switch the defences off, thus leaving them vulnerable to a massed Decepticon assault. The Autobots foiled the plot, partly due to the Survivors' presence, and Soundwave took the opportunity to mention to the Decepticons "look how bad Starscream's plan was, clearly I should be in charge!"
Optimus Prime came to Autobot Earthbase for an ill-timed inspection visit, just as Slag was driven to run wild by a cerebral circuit flaw, causing many hijinks as the other Dinobots struggled to keep his condition secret from the Autobot leader. Prime also inspected the base's "bodyshop", which was used to reanimate the long-inert Tracks (over Grimlock's violent protests). After Prime's visit, the imprisoned Mayhem Squaddies managed to escape, viciously injuring Inferno in the process.
The Decepticon Civil War flared up again when Megatron & Shockwave put out a contract on Starscream's head, knowing he'd blame Soundwave and go after him - and either they or their assassins could finish off whoever remained and take control of their armies again. The plan failed when the Autobots got involved: Snarl had fallen ill with Corrodia Gravis and with Starscream as the only compatible Transformer who could provide Snarl with the needed circuit-boost, Grimlock was required to order his troops to protect Starscream from his enemies. Eventually, Snarl's body gave out regardless, requiring drastic measures to save his life.
When Bombshell implanted a cerebro shell to send Superion on a rampage, the Autobots recruited a human reporter to get the shell out. They gladly gave him a tour of their base and full interviews in gratitude, but another cerebro shell ensured that the story he wrote painted the Autobots in a negative light.
At some point, with the Matrix still lost and a Decepticon alliance ruined beyond repair, Optimus decided to search for the original site of the Underbase - having discovered it was linked into the centre of Cybertron and thus to Primus, they intended to use the site to tap into Primus' energies and use it as a substitute for the Matrix against Unicron. Six of the team were either called in or had already rejoined Prime's main force aboard the Ark, and were dispatched to the Acid Wastes to search. There they came into conflict with the mad Decepticon known as Megadeath. Facing up to personal demons, they defeated him and found the Underbase site.
Part of an attempt to help sell Europe's Classics line of reissues, the Earthforce stories intentionally harken back to the simpler era of Transformers' early years. The Earthforce stories share much in common with the main Marvel Comics UK continuity from which it branched. Optimus Prime is in his Powermaster form. Grimlock has recently revived his Dinobots and several Autobots. Several stories references the imminent coming of Unicron. Many threads tie directly in from previous stories, such as the remaining Wreckers from the Time Wars and their various dramas with the Mayhem Attack Squad.
However, many of these tie-ins were referred to in advance of them actually occurring in the continuity proper. It appears to the reader that writer Simon Furman knew vaguely what was going to happen in the future of the comic, so although he wrote these stories with this future in mind, when these links came to be, there was no possible place or loophole for these events to occur. For example:
- Galvatron II could not have possibly awoken several Autobots on the Ark prior to the Unicron War. (Though there is room for debate as to exactly which Galvatron this is.)
- Megatron, Starscream and Soundwave, and Shockwave could not possibly have been feuding on Earth.
- The second Decepticon Civil War did not include a third faction led by Megatron.
- There's no room in the Marvel US/UK timeline between Grimlock reviving his Dinobots on Hydrus Four and the arrival of Unicron on Cybertron for Grimlock to return to Optimus Prime, get in a fight with him, and end up on Earth for an extended period of time fighting Megatron and Shockwave and Soundwave and Starscream while all of them are confirmed as being elsewhere.
- Quite obviously, the alliance with Scorponok didn't collapse, and the Autobots didn't have access to a font of Primus-born power when Unicron attacked.
Interestingly, Grimlock's Earthforce cast shows up in "On the Edge of Extinction!" as Grimlock arrives from Earth on the Ark. Though the presence of most of them could be explained by the need to push their Action Master toys (and it seems to be the only reason Blaster is there, as he was not an Earthforce character), the appearances of Skids, Ironhide, Silverbolt, and especially Sunstreaker are conspicuous, considering the Earthforce stories. (Sunstreaker's only prominent use in the Marvel Comics was in Earthforce. He was offline for most of it otherwise.) Wheeljack mentions they are freshly returned from near-death by Nucleon, quickly eliminating any possibility for Earthforce to have recently occurred.
But that's not the end of the continuity headache, oh no. Before Earthforce started and when US-UK continuity was still around, there was a storyline of the Mayhem Attack Squad hunting down Decepticon defectors Carnivac and Catilla. Bludgeon killed Catilla and an enraged Carnivac swore vengeance. But he got the vengeance... during the Earthforce stories, with the Earthforce cast playing a role in the final story and Carnivac joining them afterwards. So... does this mean Carnivac didn't get his revenge in the non-Earthforce timeline? Or did he get it differently? Or was it pretty much the same (off-panel), but with the US cast instead of the Earthforce cast? Arrrrrrg.
On the plus side, it means in this continuity, the Autobots were waiting for Unicron and (via the Underbase site) had access to a Matrix-like way of killing him - so the battle against Unicron was a whole lot shorter in this timeline.
Simon Furman has since stated that a key part of the problem was that due to publishing deadlines, the altered format of the UK comic and the shorter US stories, he found that attempts to write UK strips tying into the concurrent US stories proved near impossible as the UK comic kept interrupting the US strips with reprints of old UK stories in order to widen the gap in publishing. This in turn meant that the UK stories often pre-empted upcoming surprises in the US strips. Consequently he abandoned efforts to tie the two strips together. He has since stated that even he finds it hard to place the Earthforce stories.
- According to the Prey trade paperback collection, Earthforce is stationed in northern Canada because Simon Furman really likes polar bears. This is why there's one drawn in nearly every establishing shot.
- ↑ Question Why do you feel continuity suffered more instead of less, between Marvel UK and US when you took over the US book? "The problem was, we were badly out of synch with the US material reprints by the time I was also writing the US comic. I was trying my hardest to craft semi-crossover stories (like the Deathbringer two-parter with US #65) and then the UK comic would run a batch of old UK reprint material and completely throw it out. I realised I was making matters worse (and more confusing) and not better, and pretty much stopped trying to directly tie the two together. TransFans.net - Interviews: Simon Furman - Part 1 'The Past'.
- ↑ "...because (if I’m brutally honest) I didn't try too hard to make it work in the first place. By that point, I was just trying to tell a bunch of fun UK stories that didn’t necessarily impact on the larger (US) storyline. How was I to know 15 or so years later people would be trying to reconcile it all?" Ibid.