Release date: June 2002
Cover variants: Mini Autobot and Insecticon
Writer: Chris Sarracini
Artwork: Pat Lee (pencils) Rob Armstrong (inks)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Cliffjumper, Ironhide, Ratchet, Skywarp, Thundercracker
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
The deactivated Bumblebee makes a great football for the Decepticon jets to play with!
Optimus Prime stands in the centre of what was recently an oil drilling platform in the Arctic and which is now a scene of total devastation. He wonders what could have caused such destruction and Spike has the answer for him - Transformers! No energon has been taken and it is all very puzzling, but Spike has talked to the survivors and found out that Grimlock, Bumblebee and Prowl took part in the gruesome happenings and have blood on their hands along with the Decepticons. Prime surmises that they must have been controlled to do such a thing and Spike snaps. It doesn't matter how, the important thing is that whenever Transformers fight, humans seem to get hurt and they can't be reactivated afterwards. Spike is starting to wonder if his father's first impression was correct, that all Transformers are a threat. As Spike skulks away, General Hallo gives Optimus a pep talk - one solider to another. He believes the Transformer war to be about power, which angers Prime because he knows that his faction seeks only peace but is forced to take up arms to defend innocents. The general gets a call from headquarters saying they have pinpointed Lazarus' secret base thanks to a rather large explosion which showed up on the radar. Prime lifts the general off the ground and demands to know where.
The Autobot leader rallies his troops and they roll out, declining help from the human military, and intending to end the war once and for all. Meanwhile Megatron is holding court within Lazarus' compound and has Soundwave working on something fiendish. Dragging Lazarus in chains behind him he orders the jets - Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp to stop kicking around deactivated Autobots and to join them in the main chamber. There they find a huge orb being powered by the life-force of the larger Autobots and captive humans. At the flick of a switch the orb crackles and then spouts a virus that transforms everything it touches into metal and begins to grow and spread. It engulfs Lazarus and turns him into a metal statue whose face is twisted in terror, and flows outside.
Nearby there is a roar of engines and the Autobots drive up and transform into robot modes. They are met by Megatron and his newly restored warriors and he tells Prime, if we can't go back to Cybertron why not recreate the homeworld here? Optimus is aghast at the prospect and what it would mean for Earth, but his archenemy tries to convince him that humans are not worthy of his concern. When they got control of Transformers the first thing they did was use them to kill and they are obsessed with greed and power. Prime ejects his gun from a side compartment and blasts the virus but it merely absorbs the energy burst. It continues to spread, freezing a rabbit in its tracks, and Megatron continues his sermon before dropping a bombshell. Grimlock, the Dinobot leader, is so incensed at being reprogrammed by Lazarus to kill other humans that he's decided to quit being an Autobot and side with Megatron! Prime won't be talked around so easily and orders an attack but the weapons fire collapses the snow verges they are standing on, sending everyone plunging. The battle continues as a helicopter approaches with Hallo and Spike aboard. The general orders phase B to go into operation and drops a bomb on top of the Transformers, followed by a huge white explosion!
The best part of the issue for me is Megatron's arguments about why humans aren't worth saving. He almost makes a virtue of his evil and puts across a convincing argument that may have given many Autobots pause for thought. Grimlock has fallen for it and others might have, but for their loyalty to Optimus Prime. Megs shows himself to be a master manipulator by using the behaviour of Lazarus and his associates as a rallying call to his cause. Lest we forget that it was an alliance between humans and Autobots that led to the defeat of the Decepticons in the first place, so Megatron is tactically driving a wedge between his enemies as well. It proves there is more to the Decepticon leader than just brute strength and a fusion cannon. I have to save though that I am not convinced that Grimlock would go over to the enemy camp in this way. Sure he would be swayed by Megatron's argument that the humans aren't worth his effort, but to actually join the Decepticons? It would have been more realistic for this natural loner to walk out on Prime and go his own way, probably to find the other Dinobots or something. For Grimlock to think such thoughts I would have expected a bit more build up with insights into his thinking.
We get a nice take on the Transformers' war from a human perspective care of Spike early on. From the human point of view these uncontrollable menaces are a threat to everyone, because when a battle breaks out people get hurt. General Hallo is showing himself to be as opportunist as Lazarus in his own way by using Prime, and Spike, and sacrificing the Autobots the first chance they get to be rid of everyone. Talking of Lazarus it looks like he's dead already and we still don't know anything about him. This is a pity and I would have liked to have seen some more from this character, perhaps having Megatron virus him into some kind of cyborg to serve the Decepticons?
Again the story finishes without a 'to be continued' or 'next' box but I am starting to realise that this is because the segments are designed to fit seamlessly into a graphic novel.