Playback isn't live, he's on tape!
Playback isn't alive, he's a tape!
Marvel Comic continuity
Playback was an Autobot prisoner of war on Cybertron. He was released, along with Hosehead and Horsepower, to be hunted by Thunderwing as part of a Decepticon High Command test to see if the hunter was fit to become high commander of the Decepticons. Playback was the first of the three Autobots to die, left to rot on a beach, which attracted the attention of the Autobot detective Nightbeat. While his noisy partner Siren chased after Hosehead and Horsepower, Nightbeat investigated Playback's body, determining that the dead Autobot was a Decepticon prisoner of war.
Further investigation was interrupted when Siren and Hosehead returned with Thunderwing in tow. Nightbeat's Headmaster unit Muzzle linked up with Playback's corpse, frightening the Decepticon enough for the Autobots to destroy Playback's fuel tanks, sending a burning Thunderwing into the sea.
- When pressed for information, Dreadwind said Playblack was once "a Cybertronian Autobot, another of the cassette ones, I think." 
- As the title of the story in which Playback appears is an obvious homage to the classic detective novel The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, it is possible that writer Simon Furman took Playback's name from the title of a different Chandler novel, Playback.