Transformers UK: Issue #53
Story: Rock and Roll-Out (Part 1)
Back-up strip: Robotix
Cover date: March 23rd, 1986
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Don Perlin
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Grapple, Hoist, Skids, Tracks, Smokescreen, Walter Barnett
Synopsis:By Adam Hogg
The Autobots' depleted ranks will be boosted by five Autobots who allowed the Ark to copy their brainwaves millions of years ago.
Jetfire finally undergoes the right of Autobrand, officially declaring himself an Autobot as the insignia is branded onto his chest. He then receives a beaker of fuel, containing that donated by all the other Autobots before accompanying Optimus Prime on a tour of the Ark. In sick bay we see many of the recent Autobot casualties, and Ratchet doesn't rate their chances, but as luck would have it five perfectly operational bodies stand lifeless in Wheeljack's lab. Prime and Jetfire watch as Wheeljack positions crystals each containing the coded memories of five Autobots from Cybertron, which are transferred by laser beam into the new warriors. The quintet wake-up as if from a deep sleep, they are Grapple, Hoist, Smokescreen, Skids, and Tracks, and all had allowed their minds to be encoded prior to the Ark's mission four million years ago. Should reinforcements have been necessary they would have been activated, and now their services are needed on Earth. Bumblebee is given the task of show them around, but Grapple will remain to work on a special project for Optimus Prime. The five depart toward the town, while a distance away a fleet of navy vessels arrive at the Decepticon controlled Oil Rig.
G.B. Blackrock stands on deck with Walter Barnet, a member of the government agency Triple III, both watching for signs of what the robots are up to. The Decepticons in question are Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp who have been ordered to remain on the captured rig and await their newly-returned commander, Shockwave. Talking of which, a huge blasts creates a gaping hole in a cliff face Shockwave's gun mode flies out towards the rig, skilfully evading a barrage of fire from the ships! He transforms and reveals his new toy, a power siphon which converts most energy sources into Energon Cubes (this is the first time we see Energon cubes in the comic apart from the questionable Dam-Busters story). This device will free them from relying on isolated outposts like this rig, but as he talks his every word is being eavesdropped by the navy. Shockwave continues to mention a huge release of sonic energy scheduled for release nearby which they shall be there to seize. As the Decepticons prepare to leave, the navy commander orders the fighters into the air. As they engage the escaping Decepticons though, Shockwave blasts an energon cube thrown by Skywarp, filling the sky with a blinding light allowing the Decepticons escape unscathed.
The next day in Oregon, Bumblebee and his trainees try to blend into the heavy traffic at a busy pass. Bumblebee tells them how they can hide their Autobot badges if necessary (although Autobots rarely use this ability) and also create an illusion of a driver - a mannequin springs up on the driving seat at each Autobots command. After explaining such things as a speed limit, Bumblebee takes them into a Blackrock petrol station where we have a light hearted scene with the fake humans and the petrol workers (hehehe)!!!
The Autobot casualties, Hound, Bluestreak, Gears, Cliffjumper, Huffer, Jazz and Trailbreaker, were all deactivated during Prime Time in the US continuity. However for UK readers they survived and instead copped it during the Dinobot Hunt. Despite Ratchet's bleak appraisal all will be back for future battles. The writer has found a novel way to introduce these five new Autobots, by having their personalities transferred from crystals into custom-made bodies. I'm not sure why this option was chosen rather than simply having Prime give them life with the Matrix. It begs the question of whether the five are copies of Transformers who once existed on Cybertron - and may still exist, or they left behind their bodies to be housed in the crystals. There seems little point in them doing this. Apart from anything else if they had been required for the original Ark mission (see issue 1) the Autobots would have had to build bodies for them, when they had their hands full blasting asteroids.