The Decepticons look uglier than I remember.

Marvel U.S. > Issue #40
Previous Issue Next Issue
Marvel UK > Issue #162–163
Previous Issue Next Issue

Optimus Prime lives... sorta; the Pretenders are created by Scorponok.


Since Optimus Prime's destruction, Ethan Zachary has been using the copy of Prime's mind he had saved on a floppy disk at that time to play video games. Although Prime is sentient and able to converse with Zachary, Prime believes himself to be nothing more than a computer character.


Nobody will connect the giant alien monsters with the giant alien robots! Heck, we'll practically be invisible!

In an attempt to convince Prime that he is more than this, Zachary tries to phone Buster Witwicky, but ends up talking to his father, Sparkplug. Embittered by recent events,[1] Sparkplug rants at Zachary, then hangs up.

Fortunately, Spike Witwicky bugged his old man's apartment and overhears the mention of Optimus Prime. He, Goldbug, and Brainstorm, on board the Steelhaven, discuss the possibility that Prime might be alive, and Goldbug travels to Earth to investigate. Goldbug traces the phone call to Alternate Reality, Inc., Zachary's computer game company.

Zachary and Goldbug meet, compare notes, and surmise that sending Prime on a mission might help him understand that he is more than a program. They send Prime into the computer of a genetics lab that has been seized by the Decepticons. There, Optimus learns about the experiment by Headmaster Decepticon leader Scorponok to create the Pretenders. Copying the data from this experiment, Prime returns to Goldbug and Zachary, but his computerized presence does not go unnoticed. While Goldbug and Zachary transmit this data to the spacecraft above, thus creating Autobot Pretenders, the Decepticon Pretenders trace Prime back to Zachary's software company and launch an attack. The computerized Prime coordinates the Autobot Pretenders' successful defense of the company's headquarters, and the Decepticons are repulsed. However, this experience does nothing to convince Prime that he is a real, living robot.


Writer: Bob Budiansky
Pencil Art: José Delbo
Ink Art: Dave Hunt
Colorist: Nel Yomtov
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Editor: Don Daley

  • Originally published: May, 1988

Major characters

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Autobots Decepticons Humans




  • Goldbug claims to have seen Prime's body launched in the Earth's sun for burial. When the funeral bier is launched in "Funeral for a Friend!", Bumblebee/Goldbug is not listed among the Autobots present, presumably because he is still a pile of parts, due to events in the G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover. (Although this problem doesn't apply to the UK printing, which didn't include the crossover.) Also, we learn later in the series that the bier was not launched into the sun in the first place.

Items of note

  • The computer game in which Prime fights includes the "Mechabots" as the good guys, the "Bombasticons" as the bad guys, and "Hyper-Fax" (or possibly "Hyperfax") as the land/city/planet that Prime fights to defend.
  • Goldbug's original body was destroyed by Triple-I in #37, and he was rescued by the Autobot Headmasters] in #38
  • The Autobots manage to replicate the innovative and unprecedented Pretender creation process really quickly...
  • Goldbug comments that he is well known for his optical prowess on page 9, but experiences an optical malfunction on page 25...

UK printing

  • The UK issue 162 included the free gift of a Pretenders sticker badge on the cover.
  • In Grim Grams for issue #162, Grimlock attempts to explain why the Seacons exist if Transformers don't know about existence of water and expounds on his extreme distaste for being called "Grimmy Babes".

Covers (3)

Let's see what you can see...

This article is in need of images.

Specifics: UK cover


  • None yet identified.


  1. "Toy Soldiers!" and "The Desert Island of Space!", most notably.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.