Original release date: October 2nd, 1984
Back in ’91, this was the first issue of the US comic series I ever read, when it got released in Hungary.
Looking back, this is one of the more bizarre covers, with Spiderman swinging around Megatron, in the process of wrapping him up in his web-strings, while a group of purple-coloured Decepticons watch in the background, probably as surprised as the average reader picking this up in the shop.
The top left box shows Gears this time, hinting at him having a role to play in this issue. As with last issue, the bottom left has a box with Spiderman swinging in front of a white background.
The story continues pretty much where it left of, showing the Decepticons returning to their base, with their captive Sparkplug Witwicky. There, Megatron reveals to Sparkplug that they need him to convert gas into fuel they can use to survive.
The Autobots – having failed to protect Sparkplug – return to their base for refuelling and repairs as well, with Buster accompanying them. As they return, Ratchet mentions that something was found in the Arks’ memory banks, but with the current situation, that has to wait.
Back at the Decepticon base, Sparkplug has – after some “convincing” – agreed to help Megatron with the fuel conversion and a few Decepticons go out to gather the required materials and equipment. This of course draws attention to them, resulting in the military and news media gathering around the Decepticon fortress, one of the reporters being Peter Parker (who quickly changes into his Spiderman costume to get a closer look).
While the army proves to be no match for the Decepticons during some small skirmishes, Spiderman stumbles upon Gears on a recon mission. At first he believes Gears to be another one of the bad guys, but a quick save of some people being in danger of getting squashed by a tank (thrown by a Decepticon), convinces him that there is more to it. After meeting up with the rest of the Autobots, Spiderman helps them get through to the front line where a battle between the Autobots and Decepticons breaks out.
This works as a distraction, as Gears manages to infiltrate the Decepticon fortress together with Spiderman. After (temporarily) disabling some of the remaining Decepticons on guard, they find where Sparkplug is being kept. As back luck would have it, Megatron is in the same room and while they manage to get a hold of Sparkplug, Megatron shoots out the floor beneath them, causing Gears to plummet (as the fortress is built on the side of a mountain) and crash to the ground. While the Autobots gather his pieces, Spiderman returns Sparkplug safely to them.
Back at the Ark, Ratchet brings Gears back to “Minimum Operating Level”, who then reveals to the Autobots that Megatron “got what he wanted”, ending the issue with Buster looking at his dad, imploring him to say it isn’t so.
Thoughts on Content
Starting with this issue, the characters where portrayed to look like their cartoon models instead of the toys. As I originally hadn’t seen the first two issues, this wasn’t something I noticed, but I wonder how readers back then reacted to it… colouring issues still remain an issue in several panels (in some cases arguably because they used a non-final colour scheme).
We learn a bit more about Sparkplug this time, that he is a war veteran, which seems to have given him good enough nerves to not freak out for the time he was a captive of the Decepticons (though eventually he couldn’t refuse to go along with what they wanted from him). Ratchet also drops a hint about an upcoming story development.
When the Autobots arrive at the battlefield around the Decepticon fortress, we learn that the military doesn’t (well, CAN’T, really) distinguish between the factions, as they open fire on the Autobots once they transform to reveal their robot modes.
This issue is a rather special case with Spider-Man being present and taking part in the action, but thankfully after this issue the series pretty much moved on to be in its own universe, mixing this series with too much of the other Marvel stuff just wouldn’t have worked.
The issue kept the story rolling forward nicely, still stacking the odds against the Autobots overall. The guest-appearance of Spiderman feels out of place in retrospect, but it made for a fun rescue operation. The art improved (mainly through the Transformers being drawn and coloured (mostly) according to their toys), though there were still noticeable errors here and there, like Optimus Prime being drawn with a visor/goggles over his eyes on the last page and several miscolourings.