This cover wins the award for "Most Blatant Case of False Promotion" in the history of the series.

Marvel U.S. > Issue # 48
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Marvel UK > Issue #196–197
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Read on, but only if you're willing to tempt madness...even death.


Buster Witwicky finds himself being chased by strange creatures through an alien landscape. He suddenly takes a laser blast to the chest... only to find no damage has been done at all. A moment later, Ratbat and the Decepticons re-materialize around him. It seems they had developed a new full-sensory holographic projection system called Realvision and needed a guinea pig to test it. Starscream announces that they are now prepared to review the Autobot tapes, which captures Buster's attention. Of course, Ratbat sends him back to his cell instead of letting him observe.


Eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin'...

Ratbat and Starscream activate the Realvision and find themselves holographically present on Cybertron more than four million years ago, near the dawn of the Cybertronian Civil Wars. They witness a convoy of Autobots, consisting of the Triggerbots and junior command officer Optimus Prime. Prime, it seems, has come up with the idea of enlisting the aid of High Circuitmaster Boltax and his vast font of knowledge, in the hopes that it can be used to end the war before it grows out of control. As the Autobots negotiate their way through several traps on the road to Boltax, they remain unaware that Megatron and the Triggercons are dogging their every move.

Back in the real world, Buster uses the time-honored "air shaft trick" to break out of his cell in order to get a look at what's on the tapes.

In Realvision, Optimus and his soldiers approach Boltax's Temple of Knowledge. The Circuitmaster's disciples allow Optimus alone to pass through and see Boltax. The Circuitmaster does not offer Prime any direct aid, but instead instructs him to seek what he's looking for inside the Underbase. (As each Transformer mind carries a DATAbase, the Underbase is said to be a collection of knowledge that UNDERlies all dataBASEs.)

Buster enters the Realvision scenario just as Optimus begins to bathe in the light of the Underbase and Megatron blasts his way in through Boltax and the disciples. Confronted by Megatron, Optimus Prime informs his enemy that the knowledge and power of the Underbase is too much for any one being to possess. Megatron blows Optimus Prime away and heads toward the Underbase. Badly injured, Optimus manages to manipulate the temple's controls and launch the Underbase on a never-ending course through space instead of letting Megatron claim it.

With the Realvision over, Ratbat and Starscream review what they've learned and recognize the power of the Underbase is not a myth, as it is generally thought in the present. What's more, Soundwave informs them that the course calculations within the cassettes tell that the Underbase will be passing through the Earth's solar system within a week's time. Ratbat and Starscream both begin to scheme on how to capture the power of the Underbase for themselves (though Starscream does show some rare discipline by using his inner monologue instead of broadcasting his treachery for everyone to hear).

As Buster prepares to sneak off and try to warn the Autobots, he runs head-first into a wall and is discovered by the Decepticons...


Script: Bob Budiansky
Art: Jose Delbo
Inks: Danny Bulanadi
Colors: Nelson Yomtov
Lettering: Bill Oakley
Editor: Don Daley
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

  • Originally published: January, 1989

Major characters

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Autobots Decepticons Humans



  • Not really an error, but Starscream and Buster both come across as really, REALLY thick considering how hard it is for them to grasp the Realvision concept. We bet they both shout "Don't go upstairs!!" during horror flicks, too.
  • Assuming the "molten mercury mines" are literally molten mercury, it's worth noting that mercury is "molten" at room temperature and boils well below the melting point of steel. Liquid mercury might cause a short-circuit if it gets at live wires, but it's not much of a hazard to Transformers.
  • Although this is common in Transformers Generation One, Optimus Prime is given a Cybertronian truck mode, yet his robot form remains completely the same. In addition, Backstreet, Dogfight and Overdrive all had Earthen alt-modes while on Cybertron.
  • More or less, the title page is extremely misleading, considering the encounter with Prime and Megatron is in a flashback.

Items of note

  • Part 2 of the Underbase Saga
  • Following functions given on their toys' bio cards, for the Realvision experience, Raindance provides the video and Grand Slam the audio.
  • Transformers Universe profiles for Brainstorm, Chromedome, Crosshairs and Searchlight are found after the main story.
  • In the UK printing, the US cover is used as an interior page that is placed immediately after Megatron shoots Optimus Prime. This page doesn't mesh well with the other pages, since it exaggerates Optimus's injury, and since the art style is completely different from that of the other pages. Filler, anyone?

UK printing

Covers (3)

  • U.S. issue 46 cover: Megatron and a defeated Prime by Jose Delbo
  • UK issue 196 cover: Dogfight and Optimus Prime attacked by Art Wetherell and Stephen Baskerville
  • UK issue 197 cover: Optimus Prime being blasted by Stephen Baskerville


Aunt Ethel's knitting went unrecognized as a potent Decepticon weapon.


And for an encore, this was a FOUR-STAR story! Ha! Ha! Ha!


  • None yet identified.
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