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Spotlight: Hardhead

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With Hardhead in tow, Nightbeat retraces his steps on Gorlam Prime, while the Autobots piece together clues about the Expansion.

Synopsis

Nightbeat is worried not only about his missing memories, but that his entire state of mind might be a danger to the Autobots. As he investigates this mystery, he takes Hardhead with him to eliminate Nightbeat if he loses control. They travel to Gorlam Prime, where Nightbeat discovers that the planet seems to be in suspended animation, and evolution has accelerated from organic, to techno-organic, to possibly fully technological. As they head toward the excavation site, Hardhead follows Nightbeat, giving him a clear shot if he needs it. Unfortunately, on the way, they encounter a large group of Micromasters who begin shooting at them. Or, more precisely, at Hardhead, as they seem strangely uninterested in harming Nightbeat. Hardhead escapes by jumping from the freeway to crash through the lower suspended freeways down to the ground.

On Corata-Vaz, the Wreckers are fighting a futile battle against Thunderwing, while Prowl and Optimus Prime observe from the Garrus-9 penitentiary. Optimus requests a report from Jetfire, who says that there's a large energy spike coming from the cavern Thunderwing's guarding that they can't categorize. He also reports that Omega Supreme has identified their "mystery Cybertronian" as being Cyclonus, and that he, along with Galvatron, was on the first Ark. Optimus remembers that the first Ark's destination was the Benzuli Expanse, and says that's where they'll start investigating.

Meanwhile, in the Dead Universe, Jhiaxus reports to Nemesis Prime that the three Nega-Cores and their guardians have all been activated. However, Cyclonus drew a fair bit of unwanted attention while activating his Nega-Core, and Nightbeat found his way back to Gorlam Prime. Nemesis seems unconcerned about the results of Cyclonus's mistakes, but tells Jhiaxus to see to Nightbeat personally.

Hardhead and Nightbeat enter the excavation site on Gorlam Prime while trying to elude the Micromasters. As they reach the end of the entryway, Jhiaxus suddenly takes remote control of Nightbeat, making him turn and point his gun right between Hardhead's optics. Jhiaxus speaks through Nightbeat, saying that the detective is now "theirs", and Hardhead has no place in the future they're planning.

In the Orcibe Cluster, Arcee arrives at what appears to be the aftermath of a major fight. After scanning for lifeforms, she discovers that Banzaitron is still alive amongst the wreckage, and forces him to tell her what happened. He tells her someone came and took Monstructor, but each of Monstructor's parts has been tagged, so if Arcee works with him they can both get what they want. Arcee tells him that she'd follow him into the Abyss if the trail lead to Jhiaxus.

SpotlightHardhead HardheadsHeadshot

Not just a name, apparently.

Back on Gorlam Prime, "Nightbeat" shoots Hardhead point-blank... and is amazed to discover that Hardhead lives up to his name, as it accomplishes nothing but producing a smoking pinhole in his optics. He then sics the Micromasters on Hardhead, who attempts to do battle with them but is eventually pushed back into almost entering the massive Dead Universe portal. "Nightbeat" monologues about the Dead Universe and how Hardhead should just accept that his time is up and choose which way he wants to go out. Hardhead responds by executing Nightbeat with a head shot, then diving headlong into the portal, ready to meet whatever change lies beyond it.

Jhiaxus screams in fury about their "instrument" now being gone, and Nemesis states that he'll now have to do what Nightbeat was intended to do: eliminate Optimus Prime.

Cloudburst, Landmine, Groundbreaker, and Waverider arrive at the Benzuli Expanse to find that the entire surrounding area—planets, stars, etc.—is now gone, with a literal nothing in its place. When they report this to Jetfire, along with the fact that all probes and drones sent into the "nothing" cease to function as soon as they cross the event horizon, Jetfire ponders, then says to Cloudburst that the four of them "just volunteered".

Optimus tells Jetfire that he's not sure about using this technology again, but Jetfire says they need to risk it to gain information on the anomaly. Optimus agrees, then receives a transmission from Dealer on a priority channel. Dealer says that he's been monitoring the current situation, and he thinks that all of the answers they seek lie in the Magnificence.

Featured characters

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Autobots Decepticons Others

Quotes

Nightbeat: "I want you to watch me like an Ardurian Roc, and if I lose control, even for an instant... eliminate me."
Hardhead: "Sure."

Hardhead: Great ally both when you need your back watched and when you need it shot at.

Errors

  • In the bottom-left hand panel on page 12, Nemesis Prime's faceplate appears to have been drawn incorrectly; usually it has a differently-colored piece coming up from his chin. In this panel, it is drawn as one solid piece, like Optimus Prime's faceplate.
  • "Banzai-Tron" was written as such in Arcee's lifesign readings, but is otherwise parsed without the hyphen as "Banzaitron".

Items of note

  • Cameos: Nosecone, Lightspeed, Scattershot, Afterburner, Galvatron (on monitor), Cyclonus (on monitor and later in flashback), Hound and Ultra Magnus (both in flashback), Treadshot (dead member of Banzaitron's crew).
  • Nightbeat's license plate number is "M1N-3RV4".
  • Roche's original cover had a background of skulls.
  • The inhabitants of Gorlam Prime are apparently an experiment of Jhiaxus's to prepare a template for the universe, where a species can withstand even the worst extremes in preparation for merging the Dead Universe with the "living" one. Based on the masses of Micromasters in the panel where this is explained, they're the final result of Gorlam's evolution.
  • Two of the inhabitants of Gorlam Prime look like they're dressed up as Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.
  • This isn't the first time Hardhead's been charged with possibly having to eliminate an ally.
  • The flashback scene of Cyclonus was previously used as the sketch cover to Spotlight: Cyclonus.
  • Nemesis Prime has the Matrix with him, explaining why Optimus has never displayed it in the IDW continuity before.

Covers (3)

PicsNeeded
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This article is in need of images.

Specifics: RI cover
  • Cover A: Hardhead amongst rubble, second part of 4-issue image by E. J. Su (main image of this article)
  • Cover B: Animated style of Hardhead by Nick Roche
  • Cover RI: Text-free "virgin" version of Cover A
Spotlight Hardhead b

I'm hard as a rock.

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