A one-shot comic leading towards the events of Combiner Wars, taking place after the events of Issue 35 of The Transformers: Robots in Disguise, written by John Barber and with Livio Ramondelli on art duties.
Optimus Prime travels to Cybertron for an unfinished business and lands in the middle of a triple-murder mystery.
The Transformers: Punishment includes examples of:
- An Arm and a Leg: When confronting the Firecons, Sandstorm blows off Sparkstalker's legs.
- Broken Pedestal: It's kind of mutual between Optimus Prime and the Dinobots. Optimus Prime can't believe they can't let go of the war, and the Dinobots resent being called out on it. It's never really touched upon if they're able to patch things up towards the end.
- Call-Back: Sandstorm asking Prime if he or High Autobot Command knew about all the atrocities committed by the Autobots is a callback to every dirty thing Prowl has been involved with since The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers (and likely way before that). He also mentions a specific event of LSOTW where the Wreckers executed unarmed Decepticon prisoners.
- Died Standing Up, Disturbingly, Treadshot's corpse stays upright as half his head is blown away and the rest smolders down to an endoskeleton.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Acid Storm tells Sparkstalker that no, intimidating and taunting Optimus Prime is a stupid idea even if he is outnumbered.
- Fantastic Ghetto: The 'cons live outside Metroplex, and it's explicitly called ghettos.
- Informed Ability: The Firecons are noted to be immensely powerful soldiers, burning a planets atmosphere so severely, thousands of Autobots died. While it's likely the atmosphere was flammable, it's hard to swallow the Firecons as such a huge threat, partly because such an atrocity is just brought up here, partly because the Firecons themselves are fairly standard Decepticon troops, just with a fire-gimmick.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Sandstorm is horrified when he realizes that he almost executed a defenseless Flamefeather in cold blood. That one's faked, but his reaction to shooting Prime with an Infernus bullet certainly isn't.
- No Respect Guy: Barely anyone gives a fuck about who Prime is these days.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Barricade, although he's mid-level management and dealing with 'bots and 'cons in the upper echelon.
- Red Herring: The Firecons, the Dinobots, and even Barricade. It's really Sandstorm.
- Man on Fire: More like Fire in Robots. The killer's weapon of choice, the infernus bullet, overloads the target's neurosystems and immolates the target from the inside.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: It's politically motivated, to be sure, but Starscream participates in the investigation nevertheless.
- Series Continuity Error: Sparkstalker freaks out over attacking Optimus Prime, thinking he'll be out for revenge. It was Flamefeather who shot at Prime.
- Windblade gives one to everyone about how they all suck for the 4-million year War.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Barricade defies Starscream's order to lay waste to the Decepticon ghetto.
- Token Good Teammate: Barricade is easily one of the most heroic characters, but he's also a faithful Decepticon. In addition, Swoop takes on his traditional role as the Dinobots' mediator.
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Spoken word for word by Treadshot in the opening. Brisko and Wilder, being far more intelligent, immediately call him out on this. Not that it helps them.