Ravage attacks Mark Twain... 'nuff said!


In the "high, arid wastes of Death Valley", a lonely stagecoach encounters Frenzy (or possibly Rumble), who is standing guard near the Decepticon factory. He (rather politely) tells them to turn around and leave, but the occupant of the stage, Jacob Lee Bonaventure, tells him he may have business with Frenzy's employer. (We later learn that Bonaventure is Vanflint's superior.)

Frenzy escorts him to Starscream. Bonaventure, while trying to track down Bumblebee's origins, has learned a great deal about the Decepticons' activities, though he has apparently not realized that there are two factions of Transformers. He offers to be Starscream's intermediary in dealings with humans. As Starscream no longer has Tobias Muldoon to serve in that role, he accepts. Bonaventure states that he doesn't really care about Starscream's long-term goals, so long as he makes a profit. (In this scene, Starscream wears a body with two engines per wing, as opposed to the one-engine-per-wing body he wears previously and afterwards. No explanation is provided.)

In how many comics do you get to see Mark Twain fighting a giant robotic cat? Not enough, I say.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Muldoon is telling his story to Stanford Merriweather, Kitty Merriweather, and Mark Twain. The Merriweathers think he's delirious; Twain is slightly more credulous. The conversation is interrupted by Ravage, who bursts through the window, apparently intending to kill Muldoon. Twain fends off Ravage with a chair while Muldoon makes sure the Merriweathers (and their servants) get to safety. Muldoon then covers their retreat with a decorative sword and shield, until Ravage pitches him through a window. Ravage briefly gets caught in debris while exiting the house, which is rapidly filling with gas. Twain uses that moment to (apparently) flick his cigar at Ravage, which causes an explosion that flings Ravage into the bay. Merriweather is shocked, but now fully believes Muldoon's story, and promises to use his connections to get the Army and the President involved.

In how many comics do you get to see Squawkbox do anything at all? Not enough, I say.

Back at the Decepticon factory, Bonaventure and Mister Vanflint watch new Decepticons being assembled (or modified), and marvel that all this came from investigating one little yellow locomotive. Starscream overhears, and demands more information. Vanflint recounts how they investigated (the deliveries to the middle of nowhere were the primary clue). Starscream concludes that the yellow locomotive is Bumblebee, and that the Autobots are active. He orders Squawkbox to telegraph the news to all Decepticons.

Elsewhere, a lone Autobot crouches by a telegraph line. He intercepts a signal, and goes running off to convey the signal to the rest of the Autobots (badly startling a human and his horse). (This one-page scene is very ambiguous, but this synopsis best fits events.)

At John Henry's camp, Brawley and Cletus are singing a song about Henry. He acts displeased, but is smiling. Bumblebee comes to tell Henry that he and the Autobots are leaving, to fight the Decepticons. Henry says that humans have a stake in this fight too, and wakes his crew, telling them they're riding with a new gang now.

At the Decepticon factory, an Army company arrives, to find it deserted. They telegraph their findings to Muldoon and his companions, who are aboard Merriweather's private train. Tobias correctly deduces the Decepticons plans, and they set out to intercept them (and, apparently, send instructions to the Army).

Meanwhile, the Autobots, Henry, and his crew, are barreling east, as Brawley adds a new verse about Bumblebee to his song.

Featured characters

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Autobots Decepticons Humans


"Soon, and with your aid, the Earth will become as our homeworld of Cybertron — a technoarchy ruled by efficiency, logic, mathematics, and science."
"And profit. Let us not disregard the benefits of profit."

—Starscream and Jacob Lee Bonaventure

"If seeing clockwork pumas is a symptom of dementia, then we are all bound for Bedlam, sir."

—Mark Twain

"I never let a man fight my fights for me. You just let me get my hammer, friend. You're gonna need some muscle with your iron."

—John Henry

"We stop their train's progress or surrender our will to their mechanical ministry."

—Tobias Muldoon

"Bumblebee was an engine forged from Pittsburgh iron
Had a furnace for a heart and a bellyful of coal
And he'd win or he'd die tryin'
Lawd Lawd
He'd win or he'd die tryin'"



  • Death Valley is arid, but it's not "high". It, in fact, includes the lowest spot in North America.
  • Bonaventure offers to be Starscream's "discrete" agent. He means "discreet".
  • Mister Vanflint is called "Vanfleet" here. We've decided to stick with the former name.
  • Some of the rail cars being pulled by the Astrotrain incorrectly bear the Autobot logo.
  • Timing is once again weird. Presumably the events "Squawkbox sends a signal" and "an Autobot intercepts it" through to the end of the issue happen in very short order, which means that the Decepticons must have abandoned their factory very quickly. Also, since mobilizing the Army would take some time, several days at least must have passed between Ravage's attack on the Merriweather household, and the cavalry arriving at the factory. (These days apparently fit into the story right after Ravage's attack.)
  • As mentioned above, in one scene, Starscream wears a body with two engines per wing, as opposed to the one-engine-per-wing body he wears previously and afterward. No explanation is provided.

Items of note

Covers (3)

They're actually both looking for characterization.
Let's see what you can see...

This article is in need of images.

Specifics: RI cover

— All by Guido Guidi

  • Cover A: Starscream and Ravage
  • Cover B: Squawkbox sketch
  • Retailer Incentive: Starscream sketch

Squawkin' the box


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