Generation 2: Issue #2
Story 1: All or Nothing
Story 2: Ghosts
Cover date: December 1993
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Derek Yaniger, Manny Galan, Geoff Senior
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Spike returns to renew his bond with Fortress Maximus and hopefully stop Megatron!
The Autobots won't be leaving with a cache of alien weapons if this guy has any say in it!
While Prime and the Autobots were in deep space battling Decepticon imperial forces, their old nemesis Megatron has been running amok on Earth. Readers of GI Joe #139-142 will have seen him attacking Cobra's fortress and then cutting a deal with the terrorist outfit whereby he promised to give them the Ark and its Cybertronian technology in return for a new and upgraded body. Now armed with a new tank mode and re-sprayed green, he destroyed Steeljaw, Chase, Brawn and Override, who were sent by Prime to stop him, and then double-crossed Cobra by stealing the Ark and a brilliant human scientist named Biggles Jones.
As this issue opens Scarlet and Snake-Eyes watch the Ark disappearing into orbit, while a disappointed Cobra Commander withdraws and consoles himself that he has possession of some alien technology that he can use to further his goals. And the Protectobot leader Hotspot finds himself the last remaining Autobot on Earth. Aboard the Ark, Megatron is in a triumphant mood. He is watched by the human female, Dr Jones from her glass prison, and also by Spike Witwicky who has sneaked on board. Spike finds the deactivated Fortress Maximus in a storage room. He looks a little worse for wear but perhaps together they can succeed against Megatron where the other Autobots failed. Spike puts on his headmaster suit and suddenly a mysterious figure points a gun at his head!
On Earth Hotspot transforms and races alongside the Cobra convoy, determined to prevent Cybertronian technology falling into enemy hands. He scores two direct hits against Cobra vehicles but looks to be outnumbered and running low on power. Meanwhile Spike discovers it is Skydive who has him covered. For some reason the Aerialbot doesn't remember him, so he demonstrates his good intentions by transforming into Max's head, and combining with the headmaster leader. Fortress Maximus confronts Megatron and blasted in the shoulder, rendering him disorientated. Megatron steps up his counter attack reigning down blow after blow.
Back on Earth, Hotspot is not faring much better as he goes wheel to wheel with Cobra. He gets some unexpected help from Snake Eyes who leaps on to the convoy and dispatches several enemy troops. But Hotspot is almost out of energy. He may have destroyed the Cobra's captured technology, but if he allows himself to be taken prisoner and dissected it will all have been in vain. So, in an act of selflessness and duty, he commits suicide and self-destructs!
Fortress Maximus pleads with Spike not to fight on and give him the strength to defeat Megatron. But its easier said than done as the Autobot is battered, on fire, and sporting a nasty hole in his chest. Skydive swoops in plane mode and unloads his weapons fire to buy Max some time. He staggers off to the Ark's antimatter conversion chamber in order to blow up the ship. Max implores his human partner to set him in motion and get clear but Spike refuses, insisting they are in this together. With that, they charge into the field and explode along with the engines. Megatron is last seen running through the ship with the fireball gaining on him.
Skydive, however, escapes along with Dr Biggles Jones and they return to the surface for a rendezvous with GI Joe. The Autobot pays tribute to his fallen comrades, Fortress Maximus and Hotspot, hoping that when his time comes he will be as brave as them.
It seems Cobra aren't the only ones anxious to get its hands on some alien weaponry. On a barren world in deep space, Prime's small band of Autobots is in pitched battle with Bludgeon's superior forces. Each side is hoping to steal some ancient alien technology that is rumoured to there for the taking below ground. For all Prime's noble words about preventing it falling into Decepticon hands, Bludgeon guesses correctly that this is more about giving them an advantage in the war against the wider Decepticon empire.
Not far away, Hot Rod strays into an enormous cavern which gives him the creeps. It's almost like he's disturbing the dead by being here. He tries to access the technology but fails, it is too alien for him to make progress, so he goes back to the surface to find and massive fang-ridden monster bearing down on the stunned Autobots and Decepticons. One con fires at it and is instantly destroyed by the creature's eye beams. Bludgeon orders his troops into retreat, but Prime holds firm, believing that Hot Rod has somehow created this illusion. But when Hot Rod denies all knowledge its time for them to high-tail it out of there too. For now they will have to rely not on superior technology to win the war, but sheer guts and determination.
Furman warned us last issue that this comic was going to be pitched at a more adult audience, but even so I was still shocked by Hotspot's suicide. It's not the sort of thing I'm used to in Transformers, especially from a main character, even a fringe one in this case. I suppose there are precedents, like Inferno setting his stricken ship on a collision course with the enemy lines in Legacy of Unicron, and even Prime's idiotic insistence on forfeiting his life at the end of his video game battle with Megs in Afterdeath. But the way Hotspot bites the dust is particularly sudden and graphic. I found myself leaping out of the chair shouting 'they can't do that!' - I mean, how will the Protectobots form Defensor without Hotspot? I'm not convinced the sacrifice was entirely necessary either, because Snake Eyes had joined the fight and started turning the tide. It's almost like his death is simply to shake the readers up and demonstrate that anything can happen, and even toy range characters aren't safe.
Perhaps more disconcerting is the demise of Fortress Maximus. It's one thing having him blow up, after all he can be conceivably rebuilt, but surely in Spike's case death means death. I don't think it's a good idea for the comic to burn its bridges like this.
Yaniger's art isn't as good as in issue 1. That issue was strikingly different. This one looks bland, especially the lack of detail in the human character's faces. Then you get to page 8 where Manny Galen takes over it slides even further down hill. Megatron looks like he's on a dentist poster on one panel where he's displaying perfect dentures! Think about it guys, why does a robot need teeth when it doesn't eat? Let's be a bit more inventive here.
I'm also perplexed as to how Skydive has forgotten who Spike is after they served together under Optimus Prime during Marvel's G1 series. I could understand if this was a wholly separate series but its not. There are plenty of plot elements in this issue that have been picked up from where G1 left off: namely the Ark being exactly where Ratchet crash-landed it, and Bludgeon commanding the Decepticons. And for some reason Spike now combines directly with Max, so what's happened to Cerebros?
I'm pleased to see old G1 plot threads being picked up and the issue does have its moments but all in all it's disappointing. The art could be better, and is only saved by another good effort from Geoff Senior in the short-but-sweet back-up story.