Transformers UK: Issue #23
Story: The New Order (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Machine Man, The Chromobots, Planet Terry
Cover date: July 27th, 1985
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Alan Kupperberg
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
The shocking fate of Optimus Prime is revealed - and Buster Witwicky may be the Autobots' last hope!
The Autobots have been defeated and their lifeless bodies strung up in the Ark. The victorious Decepticons now guided by the cold logic of Shockwave, plan for their eventual world domination... but unknown to them a lone Autobot has escaped the slaughter.
This scene shifts to the hospital where Sparkplug Witwicky is being treated for a mild heart attack. The Autobot's Chief Medical Officer Ratchet (who was recently mistaken for a regular ambulance and whisked away) now returns and is greeted by Buster. The youth tells him that the Decepticons are most likely dead after Sparkplug poisoned the fuel he made for them. Ratchet is delighted - but not so happy when a group of baffled hospital staff start poking around inside him, looking for a hidden tape deck that might explain how he is talking!
As Ratchet puts the terrified staff to flight Buster goes back inside to say goodbye to his father. Sparkplug has been pondering his recent brush with death and has become convinced that involvement with the Autobots is too dangerous for his family. He makes Buster promise to say his goodbyes and have nothing more to do with the Transformers, and the youth tearfully agrees. Meanwhile back at the Ark Shockwave reveals more of his plans to Megatron. He intends to extract the legendary Creation Matrix from the mind of Optimus Prime, and use it to create a new generation of Decepticon warriors. With their help Shockwave will conquer the Earth and drain it of resources. He now transforms into space gun mode and flies out of the Ark to put the first phase into action.
Soon after, Ratchet and Buster approach the Autobot base where they are shocked to find Rumble and Frenzy standing guard. Ratchet decides he must find out what has become of his comrades even if he should die in the trying. Buster has a better idea - he is small enough to sneak past the Decepticons and get into the Ark. He does so and is shocked to find the Autobots laying deactivated. Crucially Optimus is not among them and the youth hopes that Prime has somehow escaped the massacre. He turns a corner and finds the dismembered head of the Autobot leader wired up to machinery. Amazingly Optimus still functions.. and pleads for help.. Buster is the Autobots' last hope!
With the Autobots all deactivated I didn't think there would be much scope for development but Bob Budiansky is doing a great job. What a fascinating concept: the heroic forces defeated, the victorious Decepticons free to conquer the Earth, Optimus Prime to be used for some dark purpose, and the only opposition in the form of the medic Ratchet and 17 year-old Buster Witwicky. Truly this pair have the odds against them - and making things even worse, Buster has been forbidden by his dad to get involved! This was actually the first Transformers comic I ever bought (although I later got some back issues at a jumble sale) and was inspired to buy it after watching the cartoon in the daily kid's TV line-up. I realised fairly early that this storyline was a lot darker than anything the cartoon had produced and was hooked!