The Insecticons are a group of insectoid troublemakers that Megatron trusts as far as he can throw Devastator. The Insecticons also display a wide array of unique abilities including eating both organic and inorganic matter for energy, creating clones of themselves, weather control, and cerebro-shells.
The original Insecticons were...
These were followed by a set of "Deluxe" Insecticons:
Post-G1, several more characters have been retroactively added to the group:
- Hungarian group name: Álcarovarok (literally "Decepticon-insects")
- Portuguese group name (Brazil comic): Insecticus / Inseticons
- Japanese group name: Insectron
- Italian group name: Mini-Insectors
- Hebrew group name: Harakrikim
Individualistic, greedy, and arrogant, the Insecticons consider themselves a species unto themselves and have only a tentative on-again/off-again alliance with the main Decepticon forces, mainly when Megatron can bribe them with the energon they need to maintain their clone hordes.
Shrapnel, Kickback, and Bombshell launched in an escape pod from the Nemesis as it crashed after shooting down the Ark. Landing in a swamp, their identi-computers damaged, the three gained alternate modes based on local insects, and may have gained their strange abilities from a few millennia of independent evolution on a strange world.
Eventually reunited with their Decepticon comrades, the three warriors put their powers on full display, as well as their willingness to "eat and run". The Insecticons would frequently become a part of one scheme or another, and then would betray/be betrayed by Megatron, resulting in fighting between the two factions.
After the Battle of Autobot City, the three Insecticons found themselves battered and broken, and on the wrong end of the "weight" jettisoned from Astrotrain. All three appeared to be reformatted by Unicron into new bodies, with some debate over who became who. Despite this, the Insecticons were still often seen in the Decepticon army throughout 2006, which can be seen as either:
- a) a function of their cloning abilities, or
- b) a function of bad crowd filling by animators.
- c) the real Insecticons survived and their clones got turned into the Sweeps (which somehow function as clones) and Thundercracker and Skywarp became Scourge and Cyclonus.
Marvel Comics continuity
The Decepticon warriors Bombshell, Shrapnel, Kickback, Dirge, Thrust, and Ramjet were seemingly high-ranking officers under the command of Lord Straxus, Lord High Governor of Polyhex. Shrapnel served as Straxus's Executive Officer, and was presented as a cruel, sadistic being, with no notable sign of a speech impediment. It was he that supervised the technicians who received- and eventually decoded- a transmission from Soundwave on Earth, and later he who was given the distinctly thankless task of assisting Straxus in the management of the Space Bridge project.
The six appeared to serve as Darkmount's security in some fashion, since Shrapnel personally captured the Autobot Scrounge and brought him to Straxus- and, later, after Blaster had been deliberately taken prisoner, it was Shrapnel who brought him before the tyrant in the Space Bridge construction hangar- only to be assaulted by a less-than-grateful Decepticon leader. Later, all six were observed flying into battle against Autobot intruders.
At this point, the Insecticon trio transformed into forms which appeared to very closely resemble their later Earthen modes- albeit without any visible shifting of mass (i.e. Shrapnel is still the same size as in his robotic mode, as evidenced when he seizes hold of Scrounge). Later, during the attempt to assassinate Emirate Xaaron (itself in reality bait for the Wreckers' Operation: Volcano), Kickback does apparently reduce in size, so it's possible that the Insecticons already have this ability, but that it is optional, in the same way that Soundwave appears able to decide on a whim what size he wishes his alt-mode to be on any given day.
After the fall of Darkmount and the crippling of Straxus, the trio continued to be influential figures in the Cybertronian Decepticon Army, and were part of a battle unit regarded by the Autobots as being some of the Decepticons' deadliest killers- specifically, Bombshell, Shrapnel, Kickback, Dirge, Thrust, Ramjet, Blitzwing, Octane, and Macabre - so much so, in fact, that Emirate Xaaron planned the dangerous Operation: Volcano to lure them into a deadly trap, believing that the extermination of this group would deliver a great psychological blow for the Resistance.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on one's allegiance, after Roadbuster had tricked a doomed traitor Autobot into passing on fake information to a typically murderous Shrapnel, Operation: Volcano began to fall apart as a result of events on Earth. First, Ultra Magnus was removed from the Wreckers' strike force to travel to Earth, and second, after Kickback had completed reconnaissance, Megatron himself contacted the Decepticon attack group and ordered the Insecticons to report to Earth- immediately. Unwilling to risk disobeying Megatron, everyone but Macabre returned to Polyhex.
Significantly, during these events, the trio are twice referred to as Insecticons by name, suggesting both that Cybertron does possess insect life, and that their forms are indeed already based upon it- an implication absent in the US strip.
The three Insecticons were sent to Earth via a repaired or rebuilt Space Bridge, where they fell under the command of Megatron, who altered them making minor modifications in order to allow them to transform into the likenesses of Earthside insects. Megatron intended to make use of the Space Bridge to revitalise Cybertron, by connecting a vast drilling pipe transdimensionally between Earth and a massive turbine and generator complex constructed on Cybertron, and drilling through Hoover Dam to do it. To this end, he utilised the Insecticons' unique talents- Bombshell used one of his Cerebro-shells to take the mind of one of the Dam's technical staff, Ricky Vasquez, Shrapnel's electrical powers were used to remote-operate the Dam's electrical machinery, and Kickback... kicked a door down.
When the Aerialbots on their first mission intervened, both the Insecticons and their three Strike Plane comrades, also having travelled to Earth, fared badly against them. Shrapnel's antennae were twisted, courtesy of Air Raid's torque rifle, and ultimately Ricky Vasquez' free will and love of his daughter were enough to allow him to overcome Bombshell's cerebro-shell entirely, pulling Megatron's trigger and destroying the drill. Battered, Shrapnel and Kickback somewhat unceremoniously carried a still fulminating Megatron off into the distance. Meanwhile, however, Bombshell, having seen an opportunity in his small insect-size, attached himself to the Aerialbot leader Silverbolt, and returned with him to the Ark in secret.
Bombshell planted a cerebro-shell in the head of Optimus Prime, current head of the Earthbound Autobots. The shell failed to take full effect for unknown reasons, but did permit Megatron and Soundwave to tap into and monitor Optimus' thoughts- including the Creation Matrix. Thus, Bombshell was indirectly responsible for Megatron being able to give life to the Stunticons, and presumably (though it is never stated) the Combaticons as well.
The point at which he left the Ark is unknown, but the trio continued to make sporadic appearances amongst the Decepticon forces until the Underbase Saga. Shrapnel notably used his electrical powers to remote-control the bridge of a cargo ship at one point, but beyond that, the trio seem to have faded into the background. Although not shown being deactivated or destroyed by Starscream during this conflict, they were still never seen again. They may have been taken out of action at this point, or possibly during the preceding inter-faction fighting. It is also possible that they simply chose to lie low for a while.
The Insecticons Chop Shop and Venom, although not specifically identified as Insecticons at any point in this continuity, were part of the Decepticons' original Mayhem Attack Squad, which was sent to Earth in fragile alliance with the Wreckers to hunt down and destroy Galvatron in late 1988-early 1989. Predictably, few of either group survived the encounter with the future Decepticon, and these Insecticons were apparently slaughtered - either by Galvatron or by the clone of Megatron with whom he had formed an alliance. As the story never presents a full roster of the Mayhem Attack Squad, it is possible that Ransack and Barrage were also members, but the numbers given make it impossible for them to have been also present and killed off-panel.
During one alternate future, Shrapnel and Scavenger attempted to kill Daniel Witwicky on the planet of Junk in the year 2006, but this particular timeline was rewritten when Galvatron time-travelled back to 1987 to escape Rodimus Prime.
The three original Insecticons were among the Decepticons recruited- and possibly reactivated- by Megatron on Earth during the Decepticon Civil War there, while Optimus Prime was focused on the approaching threat of Unicron. Although initially loyal to Megatron, they were bested in combat by Starscream - then theoretically under Shockwave's command- when he infiltrated Megatron's base. Starscream subdued the trio using an electrically charged flyswat known as a Rustbug Hoop- thereby proving the existence of Cybertronian insect life- and more or less blackmailed them into joining forces with himself and Soundwave in their plans to reunite both Earthbound Decepticon factions by disposing of Megatron and Shockwave and taking their place.
Bombshell's cerebro-shells, now apparently grown somewhat more reliable, were used at least twice during this period- once to drive the Aerialbot gestalt Superion into running amok , and later to rewrite the memories of journalist Irwin Spoon, ensuring the continued success of Soundwave and Starscream's smear campaign against the Autobots.
Dreamwave comics continuity
Shrapnel, Bombshell, and Kickback, along with Soundwave and Ravage, were sent by Megatron to assassinate the new Autobot leader, Optimus Prime. They failed when Optimus royally kicked their asses. In their Cybertronian modes, Shrapnel transformed into a jet, and while the others were not seen to transform, Bombshell appeared to have the parts to become a tank while Kickback looked to possibly transform into a type of dragster. The remaining Insecticons caused terror throughout Cybertron and joined Shockwave's attack on Iacon. Chop Shop was seen to transform into a wheeled vehicle (with pincers) while Venom became a jet.
During the Dark Ages, the Insecticons split among the Decepticon splinter groups. Venom, Chop Shop, Ransack and Barrage joined the Ultracons, while Shrapnel, Bombshell, and Kickback remained with the Decepticons under Shockwave. Although the Decepticon forces were eventually reunited, the former Ultracon Insecticons were reduced to a vampirism, capturing Micromasters and draining them of Energon. By this point, they looked to transform into their Earthen modes somehow.
Meanwhile, Shrapnel, Bombshell, and Kickback went to Earth by Shockwave after the Ark crash-landed on the planet. They were to guide Earth's development and prepare it for conquest (real logical choice there, Shockwave) but were followed by the Dynobots. We're not entirely sure of the sequence of events, but it appears that the Insecticons played dead until Grimlock and Slag got bored and wandered off. It's assumed they gained their insect forms around this time.
In the present day, after the fall of Shockwave's regime on Cybertron, San Desto, taking control of the town and growing an army of Insecticon clones. A team of Autobots assisted by the Earth Defense Command managed to defeat them.the Earthen Insecticons resurfaced in
Timelines: Descent into Evil continuity
By the time of the events of Descent Into Evil, the remnants of the Insecticons had been widely dispersed, apparently lacking access to their cloning abilities. The Decepticon general Deathsaurus, seeking to provide the Decepticon/Predacon Alliance with the means to return the balance of power to their favor, established a research facility on Ceti Alpha Seven. In this lab, the surviving Insecticons Buzzclaw and Dirge were analyzed, and their genetic cloning ability unlocked once more. The resultant Virulent Clones fought against an Autobot team sent to destroy the base, but were ultimately destroyed along with their base, and possibly Buzzclaw.
IDW Hearts of Steel continuity
Kickback, Bombshell, and Shrapnel robbed a train carrying cash and bullion from the Denver Mint, on Starscream's orders. They delivered the stolen property to Starscream and Tobias Muldoon the following morning.
In vehicle mode, the three Insecticons combine to form a single fanciful locomotive, called the "Insectrain" in the concept art section of the trade paperback collection. Whether Insectrain is a true gestalt combiner like Devastator, a Micromaster-style combiner (combined altmodes with no emergent personality), or just three robots hooked up in a train, is unknown.