Since Marvel Comics' Transformers series were primarily written by Bob Budiansky in its early years, the writer was able to present his origin for the Dinobots as he had originally conceived it. Hence, when the Ark crashed on Earth four million years ago, it was followed down to the planet by the Decepticon Shockwave, who touched down in the prehistoric region of Antarctica known as the Savage Land. The Ark's computer detected his presence on the planet, and its scans of the Savage Land led it to believe that dinosaurs were the dominant life form. Thus, it reconstructed Grimlock and his troops into dinosaur forms, in order to battle Shockwave. Unfortunately, he slyly outmaneuvered them and managed to pick them off at a distance with his superior firepower; knocking them into a tar pit one by one. With their final strike the battle ended in a stalemate as the Dinobots made him fall in the pit along with them, buried under a rock slide for several million years.
In 1984, when Shockwave was accidentally reactivated by an Autobot probe and took command of the Decepticons from Megatron, Autobot medic Ratchet entered into an uneasy alliance with the deposed Decepticon leader, agreeing to recover the Dinobots so that they might defeat Shockwave again. Ratchet pulled a double-cross, however, and had the Dinobots attack Megatron instead, resulting in a battle that ended with Megatron's disappearance.
Grimlock steadily grew more and more displeased with Optimus Prime's leadership, and eventually broke his Dinobots away from the main Autobot faction. After a prolonged period living in self-imposed exile, the news of Optimus Prime's death brought Grimlock back to the Autobots. After proving his worth by defeating the Decepticon Trypticon, Grimlock was elected leader of the Autobots.
It soon proved that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Grimlock developed into a tyrannical ruler who led the Autobots with an iron fist. His policy towards Earth and its inhabitants were vastly different from Optimus Prime's – instead of viewing them as objects of protection, Grimlock expressed a disdain for humanity, viewing them as an inferior species unworthy of their protection. Under Grimlock’s leadership, the Ark was repaired and made space-worthy again.
In issue #32, titled "Used Autobots", Wheeljack completed work on his Geothermal Generator, which used the heat from the volcano the Ark had crashed in to generate energon cubes. Although Wheeljack thought this would impress Grimlock by reducing their dependence on human help, Grimlock seemed to think the Autobots should just take what they need from the humans.
Blaster and Goldbug could not endure Grimlock's leadership any more, and set out on their own, only to have Grimlock mark them as traitors. Blaster was hunted down by the Protectobots and later the Dinobots themselves, and placed under imprisonment and torture.
When the Autobot Headmasters and Targetmasters arrived from Nebulos, Grimlock refused to recognize the authority of Fortress Maximus and failed to establish an allegiance with his group. This proved to be the last straw for the Autobots under Grimlock's command, who collectively conspired to overthrow him, arranging for Blaster to challenge Grimlock for leadership. During their battle on the moon, the Decepticons took advantage of this weakness in the Autobot ranks and interrupted the duel with an all-out assault. With all Autobots now under attack from their mortal enemies, Grimlock and Blaster put their differences aside and fought alongside each other against the Decepticon horde. Subsequently, Fortress Maximus orchestrated the recreation of Optimus Prime as a Powermaster, and Grimlock stepped down as leader.
Grimlock and the Dinobots were destroyed during the battle against Starscream while the villain was super-powered by the Underbase.
Grimlock was seen among the Autobots being repaired on the Ark when Optimus Prime sent Landmine and Cloudburst on their mission to obtain computer chips to repair fellow Autobots in issue #52, "Guess Who The Mechannibals Are Having For Dinner?"
Grimlock's body was seen among the deactivated Autobots Ratchet was doing his best to revive in Transformers #56, "Back from the Dead".
After a short time, Grimlock (along with Jazz and Bumblebee) was rebuilt by Ratchet as a Pretender. Ratchet shortly after was lost in a transport incident while taking out Megatron, and was thus unable to continue his work restoring other Autobots in stasis lock (Ratchet later returned, physically merged with Megatron). Grimlock swore to one day find a way to revive his Dinobots.
Under the leadership of Powermaster Optimus Prime, Grimlock proved to be a loyal and powerful Autobot, daring even to battle the Matrix-powered Decepticon Thunderwing during the Matrix Quest. However, he was still obsessed with quickly reviving the Dinobots, a goal which put him at odds with Optimus Prime, who advocated patience in the search for a way to rebuild the fallen Autobots. Grimlock finally lost patience, stole the bodies of the Dinobots and a shuttle from the Ark, and piloted it to the planet Hydrus Four, where scientists had developed a new fuel called nucleon. It was more powerful than energon and capable of bringing dead Transformers back to life, but it was unstable and could have unforeseen consequences. Grimlock was unwilling to subject his Dinobots to anything he would not go through himself, and thus decided to test the fuel on himself first. When no ill effects were apparent, he used it to revive the Dinobots, and brought enough back to revive the remaining fallen Autobots.
The Dinobots returned to Cybertron with the nucleon, and arrived in time for the battle with Unicron. Their arrival, and their reviving the fallen Autobots with Nucleon, was an important part of Transformer victory that day, but Optimus Prime once again lost his life, sacrificing himself to destroy Unicron, and once again naming Grimlock as his successor with his dying breath.
Before Grimlock could celebrate his new position, however, the Nucleon's effect on Transformers became apparent. Grimlock began to experience brief bursts of immobility, his joints locking, which reached a peak when he became completely paralyzed in Cybertron's wastelands while he and the Dinobots were under attack by monstrous creatures from beneath Cybertron's surface. Realizing that Grimlock had become trapped in a "chrysalis" stage, Prime's Powermaster partner, Hi-Q, tapped into and accelerated the process, completing Grimlock's evolution into a more powerful "Actionmaster" – but the enhanced power came with a price: Grimlock was now no longer able to transform into dinosaur mode.
At that point, Cybertron was believed to be dying as a result of the battle with Unicron, and the Autobots and Decepticons were co-operating to evacuate. However, the Decepticons had a hidden motive: to escape, and leave the Autobots marooned on the dying planet. Grimlock and the Dinobots were the only ones among the Autobots who saw through the Decepticons' false pretense of peaceful co-existence and suspected the plan of mass betrayal. When the Decepticons sabotaged the Autobots' ships and fled the planet, Grimlock saved the Autobots. He revealed that he had captured Decepticon ships after a strike against them before the voyage to Earth, and had hidden them away. Thanks to those ships, the Autobots were able to flee Cybertron and follow the Decepticons to the planet Klo for a final showdown. Unfortunately Decepticon leader Bludgeon had discovered the Autobot homing beacon and laid a trap for them. Grimlock's stubbornness meant the Autobots walked right into it, decimating them. Grimlock was one of the few survivors, and when Optimus Prime returned, recreated by the Last Autobot, Grimlock participated in the rout of the Decepticons.
While the monthly Transformers comic was published in the United States, its sister title in the United Kingdom reprinted its stories, and included many of its own original tales, interspliced with the running American narrative. The author of these stories, Simon Furman, was particularly fond of Grimlock, often using him for his original stories, and even using the character for responses on the readers' letters page. Furman truly transformed Grimlock, from the brutish tyrant of the early American comics into a noble anti-hero.
Set in and around the U.S. stories, Grimlock and the Dinobots were the stars of several stories while self-exiled from the other Autobots, including In The National Interest where they tried to help expose the Robo-Master hoax. When leader of the Autobots, Grimlock was involved in assisting Action Force battle Megatron in London and attempted to kill the Predacon Divebomb in order to silence embarrassing facts about Swoop's past.
Towards the end of the series, the UK comics began a break-away storyline that branched off from the continuity of the American stories, beginning with Grimlock's decision to once again break his Dinobots away from the main Autobot force. Tired of Prime's pacifistic approach to protecting Earth, Grimlock was joined by several older Autobots like Prowl and Wheeljack, who had just recently been reactivated, and longed for the older, simpler days. Under Grimlock's command, they formed the Earthforce, a pro-active Autobot group based in Canada who regularly battled the two Decepticon forces under the commands of Megatron and Shockwave.
Issue #279 of the Marvel U.K. Transformers comic featured a story called "Divide and Conquer!" where Soundwave lead the bulk of the Decepticon forces on Earth against the Autobot Earthforce headquarters while Starscream attacked an oil tanker. Sent into battle by Prowl, the Dinobots routed the main Decepticon forces while Springer lead the Autobot Survivors, Broadside, Inferno, Skids, and Carnivac to defeat Starscream.
There was no specific ending for the Earthforce crew, but the issue of nucleon was resolved in a one-shot text story contained in the final Transformers annual (a hardback book containing new material released each year). Of the Dinobots, only Slag retained the ability to transform, until the discovery of new nucleon allowed all the Transformers previously empowered by it to regain their transforming abilities. The place in continuity of this tale is hard to determine. It followed on from the events at the conclusion of the American series, yet cannot fit in with American continuity as it puts Megatron in a situation he cannot possibly be in.
A few years after the conclusion of the original Transformers comic, the line was given a shot in the arm with the release of the new Transformers: Generation 2 toyline and an accompanying comic. Grimlock's toy was re-released for the G2 toyline in several colors including blue, but he continued to appear in his original grey color scheme for most of his appearances in the G2 comic.
With his transformation capabilities restored (the explanation for which was not offered in the American series), Grimlock was Optimus Prime's second in command in the so-called Generation 2 series, aiding in the Autobots' war against the "second generation" of Cybertronians led by Jhiaxus. However, he remained as rebellious and aggressive as ever, though it proved to be a mixed blessing - at one point his urge to combat Jhiaxus's forces led him and his troops right into a trap, while at another time, his willingness to defy Optimus Prime's orders and launch an all-out attack saved Prime from certain death at the hands of Megatron. When the Autobots and Decepticons united against Jhiaxus and the threat of the Swarm - a destructive by-product of Transformer reproduction - Grimlock was the joint leader of the ground troops as Prime and Megatron fought on other fronts, and survived the brutal conflict.
Grimlock appeared in his blue Generation 2 form in the short lived UK. Generation 2 comic series.
Years later, writer Simon Furman offered an "unofficial" conclusion to the Generation 2 storyline with "Alignment", a text story available exclusively through the British Transformers convention, Transforce, in 2001 and 2002. In the story, Grimlock is killed while trying to distract the Leige Maximo.
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