When Sparkplug is kidnapped, it's up to Gears and Spider-Man to save him.
The Decepticons bring Sparkplug Witwicky to their fortress and Megatron deliberates internally on Starscream's loyalty. The Decepticons demand that Sparkplug create a method to convert gas into fuel compatible with their forms. A Korean War vet, Sparkplug equates his capture to his time spent as a POW in Korea and refuses, until he's forcefully persuaded.
Back at the Witwicky garage, Buster and his friends are wondering what to do next. Optimus orders everyone back to the Ark for fuel and repairs, inviting Buster along the ride. When they arrive, he marvels at the size of the Autobots' HQ.
Soundwave, Rumble and Starscream are out stealing components for Sparkplug's fuel conversion process, and their crime spree attracts attention from the press and world governments. As camera crews and the military surround the Decepticon fortress, photojournalist Peter Parker decides to use his alter ego, Spider-Man in order to get some better shots of the action. He runs into Gears and after a short tussle, Gears proves that he's a good guy when he saves a crowd of humans from getting squashed flat by a tank. The Autobots team up with Spider-Man to break through the line of reporters and soldiers and an all-out battle breaks out between the 'Cons and the 'Bots.
Meanwhile, Gears and Spider-Man are making their way into the fortress. After a short scrap with Ravage, Gears and Spider-Man break in and steal Sparkplug from under Megatron's nose. The Decepticon leader shoots out the floor beneath them and while Spider-Man saves Sparkplug, Gears' weight breaks the web Spider-Man tried to save him with and he plummets to the earth below.
On their return to the Ark, Buster and Sparkplug are reunited and the Autobots say goodbye to Spider-Man. Ratchet brings Gears back to a functional level and he informs the Autobots that the Decepticons got what they wanted out of Sparkplug. Dad, say it ain't so!
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
- Many coloring errors throughout.
- Shockwave is among the Decepticons in 2 panels.
- On leaving the Witwicky garage, Optimus Prime instructs Hound and Sideswipe to ride in his trailer since they are low on fuel. But Hound is seen arriving back at the Ark under his own steam.
- The issue's cover shows Megatron's earlier character model, with a rounded head and a trigger on his Fusion cannon.
Items of note
- Cameos: Startled onlookers, traffic cop, security guard, trucker, the President of the United States and his adviser (voices only), Russian adviser (voice only), reporters, United States military
- Advertised as part 3 in a 4-issue limited series.
- As one of the issues written during the period when the series was considered to be part of the mainstream Marvel Universe, this installment features a guest appearance by Spider-Man in his black symbiote costume, complete with a footnote that dates the story as occurring before the issue of his own title in which he disposed of the suit.
- A much shorter guest appearance by U.S. 1 can be seen in the background as the Autobots drive down the highway.
- The art was changed in this issue to make many characters more like their cartoon counterparts (e.g. Bumblebee, Ratchet, etc.)
- In "Man and Machine, Part Four", when Spider-Man web-swings off Megatron, the scene is said to be directly inspired by the cover for this issue.
- U.S. cover: Spider-Man webbing Megatron by Michael Golden
- UK issue 5 cover: Thundercracker and Sparkplug by John Ridgway
- UK issue 6 cover: reuse of art from U.S. issue
- None yet identified