Starscream is gone. The Underbase is gone. The truce between the Autobots and the Decepticons is gone. Whats left and whats next? Where do we pick up? We find out in issue 51: The Man in the Machine! But first, lets check out this cover.


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With issue 51 we are presented with a cover that I don’t find all that miss leading. The updated Transformers logo on the very top of the issue could be overlooked if you’re not paying close enough attention. Fortress Maximus is seen, headless, at a ski resort holding up the cables of a ski lift in an effort to protect the humans on board while two Decepticon Pretenders pounce into attack. Fortress Maximus‘ head lays before him in the snow while skiers swoosh by. “Slaughter on the Slopes!” is written in a snowy, icy, white font. I like the cover. Not the best i have ever seen but far from the worst, that’s for sure. 


Issue 51 kicks off with Spike Witwicky caught in one of his dreams. He is being chased by mechanical everything before he wakes up with a start in his bed in his fathers new home in Oregon.


When morning arrives Spike is out of the house as fast as can be after saying hello to his dad and brother. He he is off on a spur of the moment ski vacation where he plans to get rid of his Headmaster control helmet. His thinking is that the helmet might be responsible for his evil dreams and he just wants to get back to his old normal life.


While Spike travels to San Francisco to pick up his friend and ski buddy, Cliff, he stops at a junkyard and tosses the helmet inside. Shortly after leaving the area, Carnivac and Snarler, two Decepticon Pretenders, appear in the junkyard in search of Fortress Maximus. They are on a mission from Scorponok, who wants Fortress Maximus’ human component dead. With leftover residue inside the helmet the Pretenders are able to start tracking Spike.


As Spike and Cliff now drive off to the ski resort, spike falls asleep and fall right back in to his nightmare. He again wakes up with a screaming start and Cliff is just looking at him with a weird expression on his face.


The next day the two are able to finally hit the slopes, but it is not long before they have their first encounters with the two Pretender Beasts. For a moment the two are able to how race the Decepticons on their skis. Spike and Cliff toss their jackets into a ravine in hopes that this will confuse the Decepticons. It works, but only for a short time.


Spike and Cliff find shelter in a small cave where Spike unloads his secrets to Cliff. Cliff uses his recent self-esteem therapy to tell spike that his dreams are about him running from his “Other Self”. In this case, Fortress Maximus.


Next, spike falls asleep and in his dream allows himself to call into the pit. At the end of which he finds himself face to face with Fortress Maximus. This event triggers something to allow Spike to regain his psychic link with the Autobot. Spike is now able to call down Fortress Maximus from his storage space aboard the Autobot Ark.


By this time the Decepticons have found Spike and Cliff. Running through trees to try and slow down their pursuers, spike leads Cliff off a cliff and into Fortress Maximus’ waiting hands. Using just his mind, Spike guides the Autobot remotely into battle with the Pretenders. The signal is lagged however giving the Decepticons the advantage. The Pretenders split from their shells and start attacking Fortress Maximus from all sides and in doing so collapse a chair-lift that Fort Max has to support to save human lives.


Spike retrieves his control helmet from the Pretenders and commands Max to release his Headmaster armor which automagicly assembles around him. Spike combines with Cerebros, and then with Fortress Maximus and fights back against the Decepticons unhindered and sends the Decepticons running away.


My Thoughts On This Issue

I feel like I just read a classic Transformers adventure. The down side to these kind of adventures is that they often feel forced and this one is no exception. I just felt like I had to hang on and go for the ride.

Two things stick out for me from the get go and I wish they where positive things. Spike’s needing to get out of his father’s house right away in the morning came off as rude to me. The matter was not helped by the fact that I didn’t feel his father or brother put up much of a fight to stop him. On the other hand, one could read between the lines that Spike had just been through a war and letting him go do something “normal” might be thought of as a good thing by his family.

I also found myself wondering how Sparkplug got a new house? Where is that story? Honestly, this would most likely not have bugged me if IDW had not made such a big deal pointing out everything Sparkplug had gone through in the IDW Transformers Classics collection. He has every reason, in my mind, to be an overly protective father of his children right now, be we don’t see that. There was a lot opportunity for Sparkplug’s character development that was just not explored.

I know, I know. I am asking way to much form a kids comic.

So whats everyone’s thoughts on this issue? I have really been enjoying reading your comments and responding to them. So please let me know your two cents.

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The host of the YOSHICAST and TRANSMISSIONS Podcast. Transformers enthusiast and comic book collector.

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. Alright another review! What I remember as a kid was wow this was a break! Four months of the intense Underbase saga with the last issue being a double issue I had thought and still do think this was a ease back into the comic series. I thought as a kid this was a great breath of fresh air and just a simple classic issue. I thought the cover was cool. I did think Spike friend was a dweeb and thought it would have been a better story in Buster went with Spike. I mean Spike just saved this kid you know. As a brother I would have been right there behind my brother after saving me from Decepticons! That friend was such a tool that it really distracted me from the story as an adult. He really servers no purpose and the story would have been better with Buster as he is a character you know. As a kid I did not even care about this friend of Spike’s you just read and were happy to have the issue. However, as an adult it is a glaring hole. Aw well. I do agree with you on your points that I did not see. 1) Spike was a jerk to his family, this will stick out some time later so remember this. 2) You are right how did Sparkplug get his house – I know I would like to be put on that program if we ever find out! 🙂 Keep the reviews coming in!

    1. You bring up a very good point Tim. This issue felt like a break after the whole Underbase Saga. I wish I could have more strongly looked at this issue that way, because I think it would have been much more enjoyable for me to read if I did. I guess just the whole opening family pit threw me off from the get go. And Spike’s dweeb friend was a bit of a put off. I look at him as a classic background character that we’ll probably never see again. By classic character I mean, think back to background characters actors form movies like, Pirates of the Caribbean or even Ghostbusters.

      Thanks for your comments! I’ll do my best to keep the reviews coming especially if you’re going to keep reading and commenting.

  2. It was a pretty solid standalone issue. It seemed the issue was just a ‘let’s put the key players here on the slopes – and see what happens’ setup (but honestly, what stories aren’t setups like this? I too wonder how Sparkplug got a nice house. Not to nitpick since this was a kid’s book – but even as a kid, I felt sorry for a widower who nearly died of a heart attack, had his business destroyed, and had his kid taken away by these aliens.

    I can actually forgive Spike for ducking out on his family. But what really didn’t seem to fit was his disposal of his bond to Fort Max. In earlier issues, he saw directly one being sacrificed his life for him. He saw firsthand the conflict – and the need for Fort Max, and how the Autobots put themselves at risk to save his brother. I thought him just abandoning the gang and throwing away his link was kind of a dickish move. I get it – it’s sort of like when Spiderman occasionally goes through his “I’m not going to be Spiderman any more” – but in this situation, it makes him seem like a selfish prick than a protagonist you can empathize with. Of course he turned around at the end of the issue, but it could have been handled far more effectively.

    1. You bring up an interesting view point. Interesting because I never saw it like that. I always saw spike’s accepting to be come one with Fortmax as a means to an end. Essentially, I interrupted Spike’s boding with the Autobot as a means to an end to get his brother back. That was it. So, when he wanted to get rid of his connection with the giant robot, and because he believed it was causing him night terrors, I could totally understand why he wanted to ditch the helmet. I just would have gone about it a better way.

      Thank you for showing me an alternative view point on this one.

  3. Good review, and Okay I’m going to nit pick a little, why did you keep saying Metroplex at the beginning instead of Fortress Maximus? sorry 🙂 it is silly but just wondering

    1. Nit pick away! One of the things I love about having you and others comment on my reviews is that often I am being presented with ideas or points of view I just didn’t think about the first time through. I think that by doing this I, as well as other readers, are getting a fuller experience regarding each issue. So nick pick away.

      My Metroplex / Fortress Maximus mistake. I have a couple of resins for this. The second one is probably going to be the answer you are looking for.

      1. I am Dyslexic. I make all kinds of mistakes all the time when I write. I just love to write so much that I keep at it. I run everything I write though several different spelling and grammer checking programs before I publish. Even still, things are missed. Words like ‘to’, ‘too’, and ‘two’, for example, still trip me up all the time. So in short that is part of the answer. I wish I could afford to hire an english major to review everything I write before I post it, but I am not there yet. With that said, when readers point out my mistakes politely like you did, I have no trouble going back and fixing them.

      2. I’m currently reading a LOT about Transformers right now. Along with reading comics and writing reviews for this blog, I’m also reading comics and reviewing them for the Transmissions Podcast weekly show. I’m reading lots of Transformers news on line daily so that I’m as prepared as I can be when it comes to recording that podcast. I have a huge cloud of constantly new Tranfsormers information in my head and when I went to write this post, I just got Fortress Maximus mixed up with Metroplex. But thank you for pointing out my mistake and I have since corrected it.

      1. If you really appreciate these reviews please check out
        If you think this is a nit pick the guys really let Youseph know when he makes a mistake! Youseph always comes up with a good come back though. It’s funny because when I read Metroplex I already knew what you meant. I always think you make those mistakes because you don’t want to appear to be an all out expert on all that is Transformers, which you know you can not hide. BTW Youseph you guys got to bring back John Paul! One last thing Youseph is right Spike always made it a point once Buster was found he was out many times.

      2. I actually appreciate your telling us about your dyslexia. I have to admit, I assumed that some of your mistakes were generated by laziness, or lack of education. That shows that I should not smugly think ill of people. Sorry about that!

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