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A group of sentient warring robots land on Earth. When they reawake, their battle begins anew... 117 years too early!
The story opens on prehistoric Earth, in the opening years of an ice age. The Autobots and Decepticons fight their war here, using dinosaur and insect altmodes (most of them distinctively spiky). These "Ice Age Wars" draw to a close as the cold gets worse. Some of the Autobots retreat into a cave, and place themselves in stasis lock, to wait for external conditions to improve.
Millions of years pass. The glaciers that forced the Transformers into stasis lock recede, and humans gradually take over the earth's surface...
Bumblebee is woken by the sound of hammering. He investigates, and spies on a crew of humans, including John Henry, laying track. The year is around 1867; the Autobots have slept for a long time.
Meanwhile, aboard the paddle-wheeled steamship Enterprise in San Francisco Bay, Mark Twain and Jules Verne prepare to witness a "marvelous exhibition." The S.S. Vicuna, a primitive submarine, rises from the waters, crewed by its inventor, Tobias Muldoon. He stands atop it, extolling its virtues, until it suddenly sinks under him. (Why it sinks is unclear.) It falls to the bottom of the bay, where we see Skywarp, apparently just emerging from stasis lock, inside a glass-domed underwater base. (Possibly the impact of the Vicuna is what wakes Skywarp.) Muldoon is financially ruined; Verne is inspired.
That night, as Henry and his crew eat dinner, he states his dislike of job-stealing machines, and swears to go to his grave a'hammering. Bumblebee, Ratchet, and Prowl observe this. Ratchet and Prowl believe they should go back to sleep, and wait a century before making contact with humans, but Bumblebee instead approaches the camp, to inspect one of the locomotives. Henry and his crewmate Cletus investigate, and find a mysterious little yellow locomotive on a siding. It has no driver's cab, and they conclude it's some new job from back East. Henry takes an immediate dislike to it.
That same night, Muldoon is forced to report his failure to one of his investors, Stanford Merriweather. Merriweather is upset, and puts Muldoon to work in the kitchen of one of his hotels. We see that Muldoon has a (reciprocated) romantic interest in Stanford's daughter, Kitty Merriweather. Later, he wanders the docks, musing out loud about how his prospects (both romantic and financial) look bleak. A bellowing voice asks him if he would truly give up so easily. Suddenly, the ironclad ship next to him transforms, and Shockwave tells Muldoon that he will assist him in reshaping the future of the Earth.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Stand aside, y'all. My hammer's fixin' to fall, and all God's Earth is my anvil."
- —John Henry
"[Machines] driven by the contained pressure of heated water. Simple but effective."
"I am the end result of a science beyond your understanding. I am here to serve you in the exploration of all that is possible on your world. I am a living machine. I am an automated lifeform. I am called Shockwave."
- Merriweather tells Muldoon to do $40 worth of work in the kitchen. Adjusting for inflation from 1867 to 2007, this is about $530. It's unclear if Merriweather is expecting him to work off the debt for the meal he just ate, or for the investment in the submarine, but $530 is either far too much or far too little, respectively. It's also an awful lot of dishes to wash.
Items of note
- Cameos: Green Ironhide(?) and unknown Decepticon, a large battle scene with many unknowns: some recognizables include Prowl, Bombshell, Optimus Prime, Cliffjumper, Bumblebee and Soundwave; more Autobots in cave, including, Huffer, Ratchet, Gears, Bluestreak and Blaster; Captain of the Enterprise (no, not that one).
- The initial credits didn't list, the inker, additional artists or additional colorists.
— all by Guido Guidi
- Cover A: Montage of John Henry and Bumblebee
- Cover B: Bumblebee wraparound sketch
- Retailer Incentive: Shockwave wraparound sketch