Release date: August 2002
Cover variants: Autobot, Decepticon, Devastator (2nd print)
Writer: Chris Sarracini
Artwork: Pat Lee (pencils) Rob Armstrong (inks)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Brawn, Red Alert
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
The Autobots are down and it falls to Optimus Prime to stop Devastator!
Having outlived his usefulness Spike has been locked up in a cell at the Pentagon under the orders of General Hallo. He kicks the door demanding to be freed but it seems like nobody is listening. Then note is pushed under the door saying "3 o'clock be ready"!
In north west Canada a couple of lovebirds are taking a romantic stroll through the snow-covered woods. Suddenly an unnatural crackling sound fills the air and they see the cyber virus turning everything into metal! They run for it and bump into the Autobots who tell them to go home and lock the door. The humans run off screaming and have quite clearly been scared off all robots by TV coverage of the latest Decepticon attack. Wheeljack deals out some hoses which will work by converting each Autobot's energy into anti-virus. Unfortunately the weapon will make each Autobot the weaker the the longer they blast, so it is essential they nail this thing fast. As the blasting begins Jazz gets a communique from Trailbreaker saying the situation in San Francisco is desperate: Superion is down and they need reinforcements. Even if Jazz could spare anyone it would be too late as a quick jump over to the battle scene sees Trailbreaker getting stomped into the asphalt by Devastator!
Sideswipe and Sunstreaker attack the giant but get swatted away like flies, so it falls to Optimus Prime to enter the fray! Prime drives as though on a collision course and transforms at the last moment in to robot mode. He remember his words to Spike earlier, that leaders never cease to be soldiers, and launches himself at Devastator and unleashes a barrage of weapon's fire in the giant's face! The titan wobbles and then collapses into the harbour where he is swallowed by the sea! Megatron tells Prime it is time they had a talk.
At the Pentagon 3pm is approaching and Spike is 'scared to death' that an executioner will be coming. But when the door opens the person standing there is not who he expects. The scene cuts back to the Autobots blasting the virus and Cliffjumper drops to the ground exhausted. A tank gun barrel taps the side of his cranium: the Canadian military has arrived demanding that the Transformers withdraw! Spike's mystery helper turns out to be the janitor he spoke to earlier. He smuggles Spike out in his maintenance trolly and wheels him into an office where they can talk. He hands over a secret document about the Lazarus Project, which his own brother had worked on. About five years ago General Hallo and an engineer called Adam Rook had tried to create their own transforming robots. But their designs were flawed so they begin to devise ways that they could capture the actual Autobots and Decepticons and reprogram them. The perfect way to do it was to sabotage the Ark II launch and round-up the deactivated Transformers once the world thought they had been destroyed. The problem was that Rook went AWOL and took the technology with him. He set himself up as 'Lazarus' selling Transformers to the highest bidder. The janitor never had the guts to expose the plan, even after his own brother was killed for knowing too much, and Spike is disgusted. He leaves in search of a reckoning with Hallo.
Meanwhile Megatron makes a final plea to Optimus to take a good look at the humans he tries so hard to protect. What selfish, dishonourable creatures they are when the chips are down he reflects. As if to back up the point we see terrified people running around screaming, leaving their neighbours trapped in rubble to save themselves, while another guy throws a motorist out of his car and escapes in it. Looters are helping themselves to the contents of an electrical goods store and reporters are on the scene to capitalise on the chaos. Megatron says forget the humans and Autobot and Decepticon can pool their resources and escape Earth. For a moment Prime seems to seriously think about it, but it may be immaterial anyway for, at the Pentagon, General Hallo is preparing to dump a nuclear missile on San Francisco!
Does General Hallo have the authority to launch nuclear missiles? I thought this can only be approved by the US president. I am not sure what the point of nuking San Francisco is either. A good many Transformers have flight capabilities and could escape the blast, and the only certain outcome is that a hell of a lot of people would be killed. Not to mention all the radioactive fallout on American soil.
Prime's showdown with Devastator was awesome to behold. It reminded me of his single-handedly defeating the Decepticons at the battle of Autobot City in TF:The Movie, and also of Megatron versus Predaking in old Marvel comics. It really shows that Prime is one hell of a tough robot. His archenemy Megatron is also a lot more cerebral than the cartoons give him credit for. His little sermon about the evils of mankind was very convincing, and explains how he was able to rally so many to his side in the first place, using fear, manipulation, strength and persuasion.
We get an explanation for who Lazarus is, but I think most fans expected something more shocking (like him turning out to be Buster or Sparkplug) given the build-up. Still at least it leaves the way open for Buster to feature at some future date. Finally, are Canadian tanks a match for the Autobots? I would have thought not, but then again Earth's military did defeat the Decepticons once according to issue 1, and they may well have developed weaponary that is up to the task.