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Hearts of Steel issue 4

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The Autobots must stop the Decepticons from reaching New York City.

Synopsis

On a railway in Arizona, the Army has set up a blockade. As the Astrotrain approaches, the commander gives the order to fire. However, the Astrotrain is moving too fast for them, and barrels right through the blockade.

Elsewhere, Tobias Muldoon, the Merriweathers and Mark Twain are driving Stanford's private train as fast as they can, to intercept the Decepticons. They pull into a station to take on coal and water, and spot "one peculiar-looking locomotive". They confront Bumblebee, John Henry, and the Autobots, but they all quickly realize they are on the same side, and the two teams join forces. The telegraph operator at the station, seeing the mechanized giants, telegraphs his boss, Jacob Lee Bonaventure, with the news. Bonaventure is aboard Astrotrain, but isn't worried, as he has faith that Starscream has plans for this eventuality. And, indeed, as Bonaventure and Vanflint watch, Scourge deploys from one of the boxcars, taking on his altmode of an armed blimp, and sets off to intercept the Autobots.

Aboard Merriweather's private train, Merriweather and Twain commiserate about the joys of fatherhood while shoveling coal into the engine. Aboard Bumblebee, Henry and Muldoon talk about the difference between Autobots and Decepticons (while shoveling coal), until Cletus notices Scourge approaching. Scourge begins to drop bombs, so the two trains speed toward the protection of a tunnel. Muldoon runs back over the tops of the Autobots, concerned about Kitty on the following train, but is halted when Sideswipe (or Ironhide, see below) partially transforms out of boxcar mode, and shoots holes in Scourge. The two trains make it to the tunnel (and Tobias makes it to Kitty) just as Scourge collides with the cliff above the tunnel, and explodes. Merriweather states that he now fully approves of Tobias' interest in Kitty.

As Bumblebee and the rest of the Autobots emerge from the tunnel, a shell strikes the cliff overhead, blocking the tunnel entrance with boulders. Merriweather's private train and its passengers are trapped inside. The Autobots set to work clearing the rubble. Some distance away, Starscream orders another salvo of artillery. Prowl and Ratchet direct the debris-clearing work, mentioning that there are humans and Autobots inside. The next round strikes several of the Autobots directly (particularly Gears, poor slob), temporarily incapacitating them, and John Henry and Bumblebee set off alone to stop the Decepticons. Astrotrain resumes his progress, but Bumblebee manages to catch up on an adjoining track. He gets ahead of Astrotrain, and Henry uses his hammer to flip a switch, directing the Astrotrain, the Decepticons, Bonaventure, and Vanflint over a cliff, presumably to fall to their destruction.

Later, John Henry, Brawley, and Cletus clear enough rocks to free the Merriweathers, Muldoon, and Twain. The Autobots have already left, to return to their slumber, and to resume their war in the future.

Featured characters

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Autobots Decepticons Humans


Quotes

"It's a devil train outta Perdition!"

—Anonymous soldier, re: Astrotrain

"The inventiveness of these Decepticons is limitless. A never-ending genesis of gears and engines and devices."

—Jacob Lee Bonaventure

"Now them Decepticons is headin' for the Yampah in a hurry. An' I hope they hit ever' rock on the way down."

—John Henry

Errors

  • Ratchet states that there are Autobots trapped in the tunnel, but the Autobots later leave without clearing enough rubble to free anything Autobot-sized.
  • And, hey, it would have been nice if they'd helped some more with that rubble-clearing, y'know?
  • The Autobot train is shown as consisting of Bumblebee, Prowl, and two boxcars between them, which is not enough to account for the presence of Ratchet, Ironhide, Sideswipe, and Gears.
  • Scourge crashes into the tunnel cave... while flying backwards.
  • It was pretty dumb of the Seekers to be attached to the train when it crashed, instead of just flying above it.

Items of note

  • Cameos: Army soldiers, unidentified Decepticons in train mode.
  • For unclear reasons, the Autobot who shoots down Scourge identifies himself as Ironhide in the original comic issue, but as Sideswipe in the trade paperback collection.
  • The "Decepticomments" section has readers' mail answered by "Chris Rail".
  • The sketches of Ratchet on cover B were also in the trade paperback.
  • On the Decepticon train, there is a large cannon that resembles Megatron, as seen in Guido's sketches.

Covers (3)

Hearts of Steel 4b

Boxcar Willie Ratchet

— All by Guido Guidi

  • Cover A: Montage of Tobias Muldoon, Astrotrain in train mode, and (possibly) Astrotrain in robot mode by Guido Guidi
  • Cover B: Ratchet sketch by Guido Guidi
  • Retailer Incentive: Cover A uncolored sketch

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