Nightbeat shows off his fashion sense.

Generation One (Marvel UK) > Issue # 230-231
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Nightbeat stars in his very first mystery as the next Decepticon menace is introduced.


Playback body

Philip Nightbeat, in Farewell, My Headmaster.

Having recently joined the Ark's crew on Earth, the Autobot detective named Nightbeat receives a chance to test his mettle when a mysterious Autobot corpse is found on a deserted California beach. Taking his partner Siren to the scene of the crime, he finds a mysterious figure has beaten them to the investigation. Siren's noisy...existence alerts the figure to their presence, and the suspect hightails it out of there with two vehicles. Nightbeat sends Siren to retrieve the snooper, while he does some snooping of his own.

As Nightbeat continues his investigating at the corpse, Siren corners the two vehicles in an alleyway, only to learn they are Autobot Transformers named Hosehead and Horsepower. The corpse was actually a friend of theirs named Playback, but before more explanations can be exchanged, Horsepower is blasted through the chest by a cyclone cannon, signature weapon of Thunderwing, heir apparent to the Decepticon throne!

While Siren is running in fear of the Decepticon Pretender and Nightbeat is interpreting his clues back at the beach, they piece together what has happened. Hosehead, Playback and Horsepower were Decepticon prisoners on Cybertron, deliberately set loose on Earth. As part of his test to achieve higher rank in the Decepticon hierarchy, Thunderwing had been tasked with hunting them down as prey.

Playback rise

Thunderwing Marlowe, in The Autobot in the Lake.

After leading Thunderwing back to the beach and Nightbeat, the three Autobots confront the considerably more powerful Decepticon. Thinking quickly, Nightbeat detaches his Nebulan counterpart Muzzle and temporarily reanimates the dead, headless body of Playback. Momentarily caught off guard by the shambling corpse, Thunderwing is unprepared when Muzzle suddenly disconnects and leaps clear, radioing his larger body to blast the corpse's power supply. This triggers a massive explosive inferno inches away from Thunderwing. Although the Decepticon's shell protects him from direct harm, it is also superheated from the blast, cooking the more vulnerable robot inside. Thunderwing is forced to dive into deeper waters in a desperate attempt to cool himself down.


Script: Simon Furman
Art: Lee Sullivan
Letters: Helen Stone, part 1, Stuart Bartlett, part 2
Apologies: Raymond Chandler

  • Originally published: 12th August - 19th August, 1989

Featured characters

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Autobots Decepticons Nebulans

Items of note

  • Nightbeat indicates he and Siren only joined the Ark's crew two days ago.
  • When or how Hosehead and Nightbeat got binary-bonded to Lug and Muzzle on independent occasions is unknown.
  • Muzzle's trick with Playback indicates that, while a Headmaster robot might die if their head is destroyed, a binary-bonded Nebulan partner might be able to survive by simply attaching to a new body.
  • The title and general ambiance are an homage to Raymond Chandler's classic detective novel The Big Sleep. It's likely that Playback's name was chosen based on another Chandler novel, Playback.
  • The story was originally published in black and white. It was coloured for a reprint by Euan Peters in issues #330-331, which later appeared in the 1993 Winter Special. The reprint in the Perchance to Dream trade paperback is once more in black and white.

Covers (5)

  • Marvel UK #230: Nightbeat wearing a trenchcoat and fedora. Art by Andrew Wildman.
  • Marvel UK #231:
  • Marvel UK #330:
  • Marvel UK #331: Action Master Prime in front of an Autobot casualty. Art by Andrew Wildman.
  • 1993 Winter Special: Megatron "Spotlight". Art by Andrew Wildman. Re-use of the cover of issue #243.
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