Transformers UK: Issue #2
Story: The Transformers (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Machine Man
Cover date: 4th October, 1984
Script: Ralph Macchio
Artwork: Frank Springer
Rating: Art / Story
New characters: Skywarp, Frenzy, Buzzsaw, Laserbeak, Ironhide, Huffer, Cliffjumper, Bumblebee, Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, Brawn, Mirage, Bluestreak, Jazz, Gears, Hound, Windcharger, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Trailbreaker, Buster Witwicky, Sparkplug Witwicky, Jessie, 'O'
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
The first Autobot-Decepticon battle on Earth takes place at a drive-in movie with hundreds of human lives in the balance!
The Ark's probe gathers data about the machines that exist on Earth and returns to the crashed ship where Auntie (the onboard computer) starts to rebuild the fallen Transformers. The Decepticons are the first on their feet and helpfully introduce themselves to the readers with a brief summary of their abilities, before transforming and fleeing off. The Autobots also rise and introduce themselves (only in the US print though) and gather in front of Auntie's monitors to learn to study images of their new world. Bustling highways only reinforce their mistaken view that Earth is awash with mechanical life similar to themselves. Optimus permits a small contingent consisting of Prowl, Brawn, Cliffjumper, Hound and Bumblebee to journey to the nearest connurbation and observe these 'earthlings' more closely.
They transform into vehicles and scare the wits out of a hitchhiker when he notices they are driverless. As night falls they arrive at a drive-in movie where 17 year-old Buster Witwicky is parked up with his girlfriend Jessie, and gooseberry mate 'O' who asks the couple to stop kissing so he can watch the film. Suddenly the Autobot Bumblebee hits the back of their car and Buster gets out to find out what the driver of this clumsey VW Beetle is playing at. He finds no driver but has no time to investigate further as, without warning, the Decepticons attack! The Autobots transform into robot modes and fight back, with Brawn battering Laserbeak and Cliffjumper clipping Starscream and Thundercracker's wings with his glass gas gun. As Prowl blasts Soundwave he realises that the countless small beings he sees running for their lives are in the real Earthlings! No wonder the cars didn't move to defend themselves when the Decepticons attacked!
Meanwhile Buster discovers that the yellow bug is wimpering like it has been hurt. He gets in and finds no ignition or pedals but the car allows him to steer it away from the battle and to safety. Buster takes Bumblebee, whom he discovers is injured and leaking fuel, back to his father's auto-workshop in the hopes of repairing him. But he has always been more of an academic than a grease monkey and doesn't have a clue where to start. Luckily Sparkplug Witwicky has been awakened by the commotion coming from his garage and comes to investigate. He thinks Buster must interested in cars after all and has been fixing them on the side! The youth protests that it isn't a car at all but is alive! With this Bumblebee speaks, and pleads with the humans to help him for he is dying!
This is a lot more like it! After the necessary introductions it is not long before we witness the first major run-in between the warrior factions. And what better place for the chaos than a densely populated event, and with screaming humans fleeing in terror from these giant alien machines! The seeds of the series are laid here as it dawns on the Autobots that they have unleashed a devastating war on these people and must strive to protect them, with their lives if necessary! Of course the Decepticons have no such compunctions and will readily rape and pillage the planet's resources with no thought for the inhabitants. As such they clearly have the upper hand, despite being fewer in number, and it is the age old story about the righteous path being the most hardest.
Just a thought: are there still drive in movies in America? I would love to go to one. The subplot with Buster and Bumblebee contains the beginnings of their close friendship, and shows that Transformers can be vulnerable too in their own ways. Bumblebee in losing fuel is like a human who is bleeding to death and has placed himself at the mercy of these strange creatures, perhaps sensing something in Buster that leads him to instinctively trust him. The characters in this series are beginning to be defined and of course the pages introducing everyone helps. For some reason though the two pages concerning the Autobots were not published in the UK comic, presumably for reasons of space.