Tracks comes to grief in a back passage.
N.B. No credits are given at all.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Tracks has run into Rumble in an alley in Greater Portland whilst both are on missions for their respective leaders. The Decepticon is tough and smashes Tracks in. He leaves Tracks for dead but the Autobot manages to transform to his car mode before losing consciousness. Tracks's failure to return to the Autobots causes Optimus Prime concern and he sends Jazz to investigate.
Tracks has been found in the alley by J.D., a youth looking for a getaway car. He and his friend Mark Brookes have agreed to carry out a robbery using Mark's father's gun. Mark has stolen the gun from his father's top drawer whilst J.D. has been given the job of stealing the car. J.D. drives Tracks to Lou's Bar where he picks up Mark and they proceed to a supermarket. J.D. holds up the store but a cashier presses an alarm button and he accidentally fires the gun. The two flee to New York City.
A week later the Autobots have still not found Tracks when Cosmos tells Prime that he has been monitoring human law enforcement computers and spotted reports of a crime wave in New York by two youths wanted in connection for a hold-up in Greater Portland and driving a car that sounds like Tracks. Prime orders Inferno, Grapple and Hoist to travel to New York City and recover Tracks.
Late at night in New York ten-year-old Danny Phillips is awake in bed, reading through "his most prized possession... his scrap book", containing newspaper clippings about many subjects including the space shuttle and UFO sightings. His latest clipping is about sightings of robots in the state of Oregon. He is doing so secretly as his mother is determined to prevent Danny developing a reckless thirst for adventure like his father, who died testing a rocket ship for NASA, and she believes Danny will go the same way if she doesn't stop him. Consequently, she steers him away from science fiction, astronomy, spacecraft and the like.
The next day Danny is out doing errands for his mother when he sees a blue Corvette Stingray pull up and two men get out and go into the bank. Danny recognises the insignia car and soon realises that it is the same as used by the robots in the newspaper story. He charges into the bank, only to find J.D. and Mark holding it up. Danny's entrance distracts J.D. and a cashier pushes an alarm button. Mark worries but J.D. responds that they will be fine if they take hostages and the police know that they have the bomb he now produces.
Elsewhere in the city Hoist, Grapple and Inferno meet up in vehicle form. Hoist and Grapple explain they have tapped into the police frequencies and learnt about the bank robbery. The three Autobots set off. At the bank the police have cordoned things off and brought in hostage negotiators. The Autobots transform to their robot modes and nonchalantly walk towards Tracks. J.D. sees this from inside the bank and panics. The bomb drops to the floor and the timer starts ticking.
The explosion destroys the front of the bank and a fireball engulfs the rest of the building. Hearing that the hostages are still inside, the Autobots go into action. Grapple transforms and uses his crane to get people down from the roof of the building whilst Hoist uses his strength to hold up the floors whilst Inferno pulls unconscious victims to safety. They turn J.D. and Mark straight over to the police and think they've rescued everyone when a woman tells them a young boy is still inside. Inferno charges into the flaming building. Suddenly the remains collapse. After several minutes Inferno rises and walks out, carrying Danny in his arms. Inferno explains he used his own body to shield the boy from the flames. Inferno looks at the little human and smiles as he feels glad to have saved him.
The Autobots return to Oregon, where Tracks is repaired. He debriefs Optimus Prime on the events and asks that if humans behave like the two crooks then aren't they as bad as the Decepticons and deserved to be ruled by them? Prime responds that the crimes of the humans are very different from those of the Decepticons, that many other humans are honest and the Autobots are sworn to protect them. Tracks never forgets Prime's words...
- In the text Mark and J.D. meet at Lou's Bar and proceed to rob a supermarket. However the illustration of J.D. holding up a place with a gun includes a sign that ends "...AR", indicating they are holding up a pub instead.
- Inferno is drawn with hands at the end of both arms. Normally he is drawn with a nozzle in place of his right hand.
- Tracks is transported back to Oregon "on the back of Hoist" instead of being towed by him. Either Hoist has suddenly grown in size or the author meant Tracks was towed by Hoist.
As with many stories in this annual it's hard to place "Missing in Action" in the continuity of the regular comic for sure. The story was written without consideration as to how and when several of the Autobots (Tracks, Cosmos, Inferno, Hoist and Grapple) would be introduced. However, for those attempting the task:
- Tracks, Hoist and Grapple were created on Earth in "Rock and Roll-Out!" in issue #53.
- Cosmos was introduced on Cybertron in "The Smelting Pool!" in issue #66 but is continually accounted for until "Resurrection!" in issue #103.
- Rumble was deactivated in "Command Performances!" in issue #71 and not brought back online until after "Totalled!" in issue #175.
- The Ark left Mount St. Hilary, and thus moved the Autobots away from Greater Portland, in "Child's Play" in issue #141.
- Inferno did not appear in the present day until "Firebug!" in issue #188 and was never shown as part of the Earthbound Autobot crew.
- There is, however, a fan theory that Inferno was one of the Ark's crew who was almost always off panel, similar to Red Alert. This is based upon a possible cameo in the flashback in "Decepticon Dam-Busters!", his presence in this story and the fact that in "Firebug!" his dialogue suggests he is not one of the Wreckers. The fan theory makes him a liaison officer assigned by the Earthbound Autobots.
- Although not seen, Megatron is leader of the Decepticons on Earth. He held this status between issues #1-21, #65-79 and #88-108.
- The sequel, "The Return of the Transformers", has its own continuity issues but features the Aerialbots in the early days of their life. This would place that story somewhere around issue #95 of the comic and in turn places "Missing in Action" about a year earlier.