Throughout the original cartoon and early Marvel and later Dreamwave comics, Sunstreaker wasn’t really featured much. He was usually overshadowed by his more popular team mates like Iron Hide, Prowl & Jazz, hell, thanks to the live action movies, even his twin brother Sideswipe has gotten more exposure. It doesn’t help being the same color as arguably one of THE most iconic Transformers, Bumblebee. I guess there is only room for ONE yellow Autobot.
Fortunately, in the current IDW Transformers comic universe, Sunstreaker featured prominently in a couple of major storylines which for better or worse, highlighted and expanded on his personality that was established with his toy bio. And just like that, he became a real interesting character.
In the IDW universe, Sunstreaker was part of the initial team led by Prowl who landed on Earth, where they secretly assimilated themselves into modern day society in order to monitor any developing Decepticon activity….pretty straight forward stuff. But unknown to them, the Autobots themselves were being monitored by a special secret human organization called the Machination who were aware of their existence. And during a special covert ops mission (ok he was taking a human ally named Hunter home), the Machination made its move, ambushed Sunstreaker and seemingly destroyed him. But this was just what they wanted the Autobots to think.
Instead of being destroyed though, Sunstreaker was whisked away to their secret headquarters where he was decapitated, disected and reversed engineered to produce Sunstreaker clones. His ally Hunter didn’t fare any better as he was used as a guineapig for their Headmaster program, which basically enabled humans to transform into Transformer heads and merge with the clone bodies and control them. The exact details are kinda sketchy now since its been awhile since I read all this, but for some reason, the original Sunstreaker head had to be kept “alive” with all his clones linked to him in order to survive.
Now if being decapitated and made into some central living brain wasn’t bad enough, for the ultimate egotist who prides himself at being unique, having your body cloned just adds insult to injury. In the end, in order to escape, he has to cooperate with Hunter and become a headmaster himself. Now for most Autobots, being a headmaster would be a cool thing, you get the best of both robot and human worlds. But for Sunstreaker, who basically looked down at humans as lesser beings, being “bonded” to one basically sucked. In the end though, the Autobots are able to reverse the process, and Sunstreaker got his original head and body back together and everyone was happy….or so we thought.
Fast forward a few years later, in another major storyline called “All Hail Megatron”, the Autobots are all apparently gone and the Decepticons have taken over the Earth (after destroying cities and killing thousands of humans in the process). Turns out the Autobots have been defeated, exiled on a dead Cybertron with their leader Optimus Prime clinging to life himself. It turns out that the Autobots got themselves in this dire situation because they were betrayed by one of their own, and who the traitor is is the “big” mystery that they have been trying to figure out.
After throwing us a red herring in the form of the “usual suspect” Mirage, it is finally revealed that Sunstreaker is the traitor. Now what made this turn of events just PERFECT was not that they fooled us into thinking that the traitor was Mirage, but that Sunstreaker had the perfect motive for betraying his friends. As it turned out, his experience back on Earth of being violated and experimented on by humans against his will and being forcefully bonded to one of them totally F*%#ed him up.
The fact that he didn’t really care much for them to begin with didn’t help either. His hatred for “those” humans just festered and grew inside till he just hated humans as a race and wanted to be as far away from Earth as possible. Fueled with this hatred, he went to the Decepticon Starscream and together they put together a plan that would be mutually beneficial to both of them. He would supply them with the means and intel to ambush the Autobots. In this orchestrated ambush, Starscream would assasinate Megatron and the defeated Autobots would be exiled to Cybertron. To Sunstreaker it was a win win, Megatron would be defeated and the Autobots would depart from Earth leaving the humans at the mercy of the Decepticons. To seal the deal, Sunstreaker had only one request: for what they did to him, he wanted the Decepticons to kill all the humans, every single one of them.
In the end of the story arc, as usual the Autobots are able to recover and find their way back to Earth and defeat the Decepticons, but Sunstreaker is not with them. Before their return, back in Cybertron the Autobots are attacked by a swarm of mutant Insecticon rejects, and in an attempt to redeem himself, an amazingly remorseful Sunstreaker sacrifices himself by staying behind to blow up a bridge that the swarm is crossing. Unfortunately for him, in order for it all to work, he ends up blowing himself up as well.
Luckily for my favorite Transformer, no “comic death” is really ever permanent. It turns out Sunstreaker didn’t actually die…being a robot, he just went “offline” at the bottom of a pit buried under blown up insecticon scrap. He is eventually found and repaired (for a good amount of time, he only remains partially repaired, unable to transform or use his legs making him dependent on moving around on a hover chair) by an ancient Autobot named Alpha Trion and ultimately makes his way back to the Autobot ranks with his new insecticon mutant pet Bob (no…really) where apparently all is forgiven.
to be continued...