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Acupolco was never like this...

Marvel US issue #39

(Story also appears in: Marvel UK issues #158-159)

Script: Bob Budiansky
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inks: Dave Hunt
Lettering: Bill Oakley
Colors: Nelson Yomtov
Editor: Don Daley
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Cover: Jose Delbo


Synopsis

As Buster Witwicky slowly comes to, he quickly realizes he is far from home. The giant Decepticon robots looming over him was a good clue. Shockwave and Ratbat debate the fuel-efficiency merits of keeping the young human alive, with Shockwave defending his position by pointing to the human naval fleet just off the coast of their new island base. He correctly believes that Buster will serve as an effective human shield against any reprisal by Triple-I or the military. As Forsythe and Barnett find themselves stymied by the Decepticons, Walter calls home to Oregon to alert Sparkplug Witwicky of his son's fate.

At that very moment, Spike Witwicky has returned to his father's hotel to inform him that he's going to search for Buster. As Barnett's call comes through, Spike surprises his father by "tracing the call" just by holding the phone wire in his hands. He's forced then to reveal his new status as an Autobot Headmaster, and takes his father outside to introduce him to his new partner, Fortress Maximus, and the Targetmaster troops currently under his command. As Spike is doing the introductions, though, there is dissention in the ranks, especially with Kup who disapproves of their overly-sentimental new leader.

As the Autobot turbo-transport arrives at the island, Kup insists Fortress Maximus remain behind and provide covering fire for the Targetmasters, lest his sentiment interfere directly with the mission. Kup should've been more worried about the island itself interfering, though, as massive cannons and blaster-weapons pop out of the sand and began unloading on the Autobots. Kup and his men are driven back into the water, as the island's impenetrable dome forms above the sand, revealing it's true form as a giant spacecraft.

In order to save his brother, Spike combines with Fortress Maximus and leaps onto the island craft as it begins shooting out of Earth's atmosphere. As the Decepticons inside detect his presence, Shockwave triggers an elaborate defensive mechanism that flips Fort Max off the side of the rocket and directly in line with a palm tree that spears him with a missile. Damaged, Cerebros splits off from his larger partner, only to be forced into combat with Shockwave himself, who has left the rocket to defend his precious logic from the illogical actions of the Autobot. A blast from Shockwave's gun mode cripples Cerebros, and Spike is forced to separate off once more, leaving himself very vulnerable. However, he manages to remotely line-up Max's guns to target Shockwave, blasting him back into Earth's gravitational pull, where the Decepticon begins to burn up in re-entry.

Spike has a brief moment of reunion with Buster through the island's transparent casing before Ratbat fires the rockets and takes the ship far beyond Spike's meager propulsion capabilities. As he and his components are picked up by the Targetmasters' transport, Spike laments the loss of his brother. Despite that, his take-charge attitude and success against Shockwave earned him the respect of his fellow Autobots, and Kup officially welcomes Spike onto the team.

Errors

  • Forsythe and Barnett incorrectly identify their former Autobot captives as numbering seven total, not six.
  • The entire island was being held back by Fortress Maximus's weight alone?
  • Why wasn't Buster sucked out through the top of the island when it opened up to fire the palm tree?

Items of note

  • Spike's trick with the phone makes it clear that binary-bonding bestows Headmaster partners with more than just transforming ability.
  • In the US comic, Shockwave is sidelined by his injuries from this issue, and indeed believed dead for years until he eventually turns up again in US #65. In the UK, however, this incident has virtually no longterm effect on the character, and he continues to lead the Decepticons for some time.
  • Though it's glossed over, one can assume the Autobots stopped off at the naval fleet and collected the Throttlebots from Barnett and Triple-I around this point, as the robots were back with the Autobots by the Underbase Saga.
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