Script: Simon Furman
Art: John Ridgway, Mike Collins
Comic writer Simon Furman has done pretty well out of Transformers.
Contracted by Marvel UK to write filler-stories to pad-out the short-supply of US strips, Furman became so successful that he eventually landed the gig writing all the original US stories too. Ultimately (I gather) readers in the UK wound-up reading a US reprint by Furman, followed by an original UK story by Furman (which the Americans didn't get), followed by another US reprint by Furman.
Of course, like all good writers he began to stretch himself. He'd put stuff into the American stories specifically because he knew what was coming-up in the UK ones. While Marvel UK had a reputation for presenting incomplete runs, Simon Furman was making the polar opposite true. Truly, Transformers became a series that was much better collected in the overseas reprint. (so long as they were being published in the correct order) How many other titles can you say that about?
Yet, Furman's very first Transformers strip hits the ground by screwing-up continuity right from the second page.
According to the editorial pages, this story is supposed to be set at some point during the first eight issues. However, in just one panel at the start of the story, Megatron - the leader of the Evil Decepticons in those early issues - flatly challenges any such notion:
And there it is. According to Megatron above, the Transformers have already had their battle with Spider-Man (in issue #6), so that narrows the point at which this new story can take place to just sometime during issues #7 and #8. The final battle at the Ark takes place throughout #8, so that just leaves sometime during #7.
On the sixth page of #7, Ratchet departs from the Ark to take Buster and Sparkplug to the hospital, so for him to still be around to appear in this new story, these events must take place within pages 1-5.
However, as those pages feature Buster and Sparkplug continuously present at the Ark, while they are paradoxically absent throughout this story, then... then there's no point in the narrative at which this can take place. Even Skywarp, who was damaged in #6 and remained so throughout #7 and #8, is present in this one.
Best guess? The editorial was wrong. This is a story from their future. And I'm not going to read any of the later ones, so that settles it.
However there is another way of reconciling all this, and for this alternative we only need to turn over a single page from the Spider-Man reference to read this...
Yep, maybe the rest of this five-issue story is just Brawn's dream!
How else can we explain the sudden appearance in #15, for two lines only, of brand new Autobot character Ralph, sorry, I mean Red Alert?
And that's it, now he's gone, not to be seen again until #29. He's like Private Sponge on Dad's Army.
Who did you think you were kidding Mr Megatron?
The Transformers (G1, UK) #1-8: The Transformers / Power Play! / Prisoner Of War! / The Last Stand here.
The Transformers: Man Of Iron (G1, UK) here.
The Transformers (G1, UK) #18-21: Raiders Of The Last Ark here.