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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
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DREAMWAVE TRANSFORMERS COMIC ISSUE GUIDES

War Within - Volume 2 - The Dark Ages

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#1

[cover] [cover]
Cover A: Don Figueroa
Cover B: Pat Lee

Cover Date: October 2003
Script: Simon Furman
Pencils: Andrew Wildman
Inks: Erik Sander
Colours: Espen Grundetjern, Rob Ruffolo & Ramil Sunga
Letters: Benjamin Lee
Later Reprinted In: Transformers - The War Within Volume 2.

Synopsis: Optimus Prime and Megatron are gone - taken though the Spacebridge by Prime, their destination and status unknown. Both sides of the civil war have now split into further factions. Meanwhile, a dark entity known as the Fallen recruits Bludgeon, Bugly and Mindwipe to his cause. Meanwhile, Grimlock's Lightning-Strike-Coalition takes a substantial amount of energon from under the nose of Starscream's Predacons. The Fallen instructs his new acolytes to capture Grimlock.

Notes: The faction that counts Prowl, Skids, Perceptor, Hound, Blaster, Tracks, Jazz, Huffer, Cliffjumper, Gears and Sideswipe among its number isn't yet named - though it would be fair to assume they're known as the Autobots. The L-S-C includes Grimlock, Swoop, Slag, Sludge, Snarl, Ironhide, Wheeljack and Kup. The Predacons include Starscream, Motormaster, Flywheels, Skullgrin, Hun-Grr and Krok. The Dreamwave departure of Prime and Megatron is vastly different, and for now includes only them - it's probable it's not the pair's final journey from Cybertron. There are no Pretender shells yet.

Transformers Featured [in rough order of appearance]: Optimus Prime, Megatron, Prowl, Grimlock, Jazz, Kup, Swoop, Hound, Tracks, Huffer, Blaster, Perceptor, Skids, Bludgeon, Bugly, Mindwipe, "The Fallen" [first appearance], Starscream, Motormaster, Hun-Grr, Flywheels, Hardcase [first appearance, disembodied head], Slag, Snarl, Sludge, Krok, Wheeljack, Ironhide.

Review: Wow. Very impressive, and in a more cerebral way than the first volume's opener was. Without the emphasis firmly on "gosh, look at this character design!", a splendidly mult-layered and brooding setting is established, and you can feel the unrest and wariness on show. Wildman's work is quite simply his best on Transformers so far, tempering his unique Marvel style but still providing renders laden with emotion - check the tired looks on the faces of Prowl and Hound. The pace is placid, and the Fallen at this stage is little more than a flashy visual, but it's an interesting start - let's just hope the standard can be maintained this time round.

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#2

[cover]
Cover: Don Figueroa

Cover Date: November 2003
Script: Simon Furman
Pencils: Andrew Wildman
Inks: Erik Sander
Colours: Espen Grundetjern & Rob Ruffolo
Letters: Benjamin Lee
Later Reprinted In: Transformers - The War Within Volume 2.

Synopsis: The Fallen and the Chaos Trinity continue their preparations. Meanwhile, Springer's Wreckers are attacked by Devastator, the latest weapon Ratbat has added to his Ultracons. News of this reaches the Protectobots, who engage him as Defensor, hoping to prevent an arms war. Elsewhere, Jetfire arrives back at a deserted Autobase.

Notes: The Wreckers include Springer, Sandstorm, Broadside, Whirl, Roadbuster, Twin Twist and Topspin. The Ultracons include Ratbat, the Constructicons, Ransack, Venom and Chop Shop.

Transformers Featured [in rough order of appearance]: Bugly, Bludgeon, Mindwipe, "The Fallen", Springer, Roadbuster, Whirl, Twin Twist, Topspin, Broadside, Sandstorm, Ratbat, Devastator, Hotspot, Streetwise, Blades, First Aid, Groove, Chop Shop, Venom, Ransack, Defensor, Jetfire.

Production Notes: The sub-title "The Dark Ages" was actually erroneously omitted from the cover of the comic; the image above is a promotional one.

Review: Another fine comic, but it's possibly a little too slow still - if each issue's going to effectively study a pair of factions, the actual narrative's going to be a little rushed. But that's something to worry about later for now, and Furman's script is great, and this series is just about the most original thing he's done since G2. The idea of the combiners being an arms race is a fantastic observation of their role in past Transformers media, and even the toyline. Wildman's art is once again superb, firmly pummelling the notion he's only capable of drawing humans in armour being emotional, without losing his gift for expression. The only chink in the art is Ratbat's rather bland character model, which looks too much like Hordak in drag. Overall, though, it's superb.

[image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image]

#3

[cover]
Cover: Don Figueroa

Cover Date: December 2003
Script: Simon Furman
Pencils: Andrew Wildman
Inks: Erik Sander
Colours: Espen Grundetjern, Ramil Sunga & Rob Ruffolo
Letters: Benjamin Lee
Later Reprinted In: Transformers - The War Within Volume 2.

Synopsis: Ratbat and Springer continue to fight as Devastator and Defensor battle in the Tagan Heights. Meanwhile, at the Virtue Forum, Jetfire tries to work out what's been happening. Prowl has taken a unit to investigate a new Decepticon mobile assault base. They find it - Trypticon - and are clearly outmatched. Meanwhile Springer reasons with Defensor, but is caught be Devastator. Back at Autobase, Jetfire contacts Shockwave to compare notes on what's causing so much unrest on Cybertron. Elsewhere, the Protectobots have separated, and take down Defensor. At the LSC base, Grimlock monitors Prowl's distress calls, and Jetfire's contact with Shockwave.

Notes: Jetfire used to be a Decepticon in this continuity too.

Errors: Trypticon was briefly glanced in the first series, despite claims he's recently been built.

Transformers Featured [in rough order of appearance]: Springer, Ratbat, Devastator, Defensor, Jetfire, Bluestreak, Trailbreaker, Prowl, Sideswipe, Cliffjumper, Gears, Skids, Jazz, Trypticon, Whirl, Broadside, Roadbuster, Topspin, Twin Twist, Shockwave, Blades, Hotspot, First Aid, Groove, Streetwise, Grimlock.

Review: It's a great read with some nice action pieces, but there's no real feel of the big picture... The combiner battle seems to be effectively over, and while it's a nice illustration about the downside to really huge robots in a fight, it doesn't really seem to be going anywhere... And the non-appearance of the Fallen is a bit of a bad sign, as there are now just three issues to explain it all. It's also a bit worrying that at the halfway point we're having 'new' characters like Trypticon thrown in. Still, most of the faults aren't with this issue per se, it's just beginning to take on a few too many characteristics of the initial War Within series for comfort.

[image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image]

#4

[cover]
Cover: Don Figueroa

Cover Date: January 2004
Script: Simon Furman
Pencils: Andrew Wildman
Inks: Erik Sander & Rob Armstrong
Colours: Espen Grundetjern, Alan Wang & Rob Ruffolo
Letters: Benjamin Lee
Later Reprinted In: Transformers - The War Within Volume 2.

Synopsis: Trypticon routs Prowl's team, who scatter. Prowl sends off an SOS, which is picked up the LSC, who debate what to do about it. Meanwhile, Jetfire meets to talk with Shockwave. However, Bugly, Mindwipe and Bludgeon jump them, paralysing Jetfire and preparing to take him to the Fallen. Grimlock arrives and frees him, before attacking him as a traitor. Autobot reinforcements join Prowl against Trypticon, as do the remainder of the LSC, but the Decepticon only withdraws when it receives a distress call from the neutral territories, where The Fallen arrives and prevents Grimlock from finishing off Jetfire.

Notes: Jetfire and Grimlock clearly have some history. Trypticon belongs to Shockwave.

Errors: On the middle frame on page 2, Skids' face looks very abortive. In the next frame, Jazz hasn't been coloured. Skids must be daft to think he can escape down a tunnel right under Trypticon's nose. Just after Jetfire's hypnotised, he gets Bludgeon's line. It's very silly that Trypticon has time to argue with whoever calls him back, while not finishing off the Autobots.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Jazz, Cliffjumper, Prowl, Trypticon, Sideswipe, Skids, Gears, Slag, Sludge, Snarl, Swoop, Grimlock, Jetfire, Shockwave, Bugly, Mindwipe, Bludgeon, Trailbreaker, Hound, Mirage, Tracks, The Fallen.

Review: After the divergence of the past couple of issues [a fun divergence, but a divergence none the less] we get back to the central plot of what exactly the Fallen's up to, and it doesn't disappoint. There's a good balance of action and intrigue here, and the Trypticon fight sequence is the best Furman's scripted in years. I actually can't believe it's the same guy writing Energon. Well, I can, but it's a shame he can't be arsed with the latter. Highly recommended.

[image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image]

#5

[cover]
Cover: Don Figueroa

Cover Date: February 2004
Script: Simon Furman
Pencils: Andrew Wildman
Inks: Erik Sander & Rob Armstrong
Colours: Alan Wang & Ramil Sunga
Letters: Benjamin Lee
Later Reprinted In: Transformers - The War Within Volume 2.

Synopsis: The Fallen defeats Grimlock, and takes him and Jetfire away. His group now need two more Transformers to perform the unbinding. Bludgeon, Bugly and Mindwipe set off for the third, with the Fallen handling the fourth personally. Back at Iacon Autobase, the Autobots lick their wounds when the LSC contact them about Grimlock's disappearance. However, their attempts to piece things together are interrupted when the Fallen breaks into level Zero of the base. Meanwhile, his acolytes capture Hotspot, and shortly after the Fallen takes Blitzwing from the Autobase. The Fallen now prepares the unbinding, planning to break the seal of Primus and release chaos.

Notes: There was a period in Cybertron's history named the Golden Age - possibly the era before the civil war started. The Triple Changer process was one of Shockwave's experiments, and Blitzwing would seem to be the first to undergo it - note that just because other 'Triple Changers' such as Octane and Springer have been seen before in the series doesn't mean they're Triple Changers yet. The Autobot Science Harmonium worked on a lot of the combiner experiments, with Mass Intellect being one of the big problems. Devastator was the first combiner. Defensor has a compartmentalised neural processor to avoid the combined form being as dumb as Devastator.

Blitzwing is kept in cell D-43 - a reference to the 1985 Japanese figure, which was coded 43.

Errors: Several very indistinct faces in some of the smaller frames. It might just be rushed art, but Sunstreaker's chest design is different in every frame. Blitzwing's hands are teal when we first see his cell, and purple when The Fallen releases him.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Grimlock, The Fallen, Bludgeon, Jetfire, Mindwipe, Bugly, Shockwave, Trailbreaker, Prowl, Ratchet, Skids, Hound, Sideswipe, Swoop, Snarl, Slag, Jazz, Sunstreaker, Mirage, Blitzwing, Bluestreak, Tracks, Blades, Streetwise, Hotspot, First Aid, Gears, Bumblebee.

Review: A great issue. What exactly the unbinding is is still a little murky, and it does seem a little bit similar to Shockwave's plans in the second G1 mini, but that aside, this is a great issue. There are some superb ideas, and some fantastic characterisation - especially for Hotspot and Swoop. It's well-paced, and though Wildman's art has slipped, possibly not helped by heavy-handed inking and some very below par [by DW's standards, at least] colouring, it can still really tell a story.

[image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image][image]

#6

[cover]
Cover: Don Figueroa

Cover Date: April 2004
Script: Simon Furman
Pencils: Andrew Wildman
Inks: Erik Sander & Rob Armstrong
Colours: Alan Wang
Letters: Benjamin Lee
Later Reprinted In: Transformers - The War Within Volume 2.

Synopsis: Shockwave's Decepticons track The Fallen's acolytes. Meanwhile, at the Well of All Sparks, The Fallen continues to try and summon his master. Both Jetfire and Grimlock are now online, and begin to plan what to do. Above, the Autobots and the LSC mobilise also. They form a brief truce with the Decepticons, and head below, having knocked out the acolytes. Meanwhile, Grimlock is free. He releases the others, then heads off with the offline Blitzwing and Hotspot. Jetfire is able to set up a containment field on the Seal of Primus. The field overloads, and Primus himself dissipates The Fallen. The assembled Transformers seal the chamber, coding it so it can't be opened without one member of each faction present. Jetfire, however, ponders that a bigger war is around the corner.

Notes: The Fallen's master is plainly Unicron.

Errors: On page 12, the end of Soundwave's rifle is blue. Hotspot's coloured wrong, while Blitzwing's hands are white again. I think that's a hugely miscoloured Shrapnel who gets clobbered by Slag.

Transformers featured [in rough order of appearance]: Mindwipe, Shockwave, Bugly, Bludgeon, Trypticon, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Thrust, Ravage, Soundwave, Bombshell, The Fallen, Jetfire, Grimlock, Kickback, Hound, Prowl, Jazz, Swoop, Bumblebee, Trailbreaker, Skids, Sideswipe, Snarl, Slag, Sludge, Shrapnel [?, see Errors], Hotspot, Blitzwing.

Review: A fine conclusion, though one which benefits from re-reading, preferably several times. The Unicron/Primus mythology is used cannily, with things unseen and unmentioned, rather than used as heavy-handed hints for "guess what's happening next arc!". The pacing remains solid, and Jetfire's an entertaining lead character. There's actually lots of decent character work within, especially for Shockwave and Grimlock, with some nice little bits for lots of others. A superb series.

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