Dreamwave Comics "War and Peace" #1

in 2003, Comic Book Review, Generation One

Dreamwave Comic Books

General Information
Publication Date: April 2003
Written by: Brad Mick
Pencils by: Pat Lee
Inks by: Rob Armstrong
Backgrounds by: Edwin Garcia
Colors by: Espen Grundetjern, Alan Wang, Rob Ruffolo
Letters: Paul Villafuerte

Synopsis:
Optimus Prime has felt a pull towards a remote location on the Alaskan shore. However, the Decepticons are there as well! A fierce battle has erupted. The Autobots are taking a beating when an Autobot pod is uncovered. Optimus thinks this ends the battle - until the Decepticon Scourge exits the pod!

Scourge begins to tell the Autobots and Decepticons that the factions are no more, until he is blasted - by Shockwave! From Shockwave's ship, the Decepticon triple changers, Sandstorm and Broadside emerge. Shockwave explains that he has become the leader of Cybertron and that he has eliminated factions such as the Autobots and Decepticons. The Transformers are unified now and Cybertron is a large energy production machine.

Megatron is not pleased with any of this and he attacks Shockwave. The Cybertronians then move into action and begin pummeling Autobots and Decepticons alike. At one point, Blitzwing is about to blast Optimus when Grimlock smashes the tank's barrel! Megatron tries to take on Shockwave, but he gets blasted and his systems begin to fail.

The Autobots are being beaten down and choose to retreat with Trailbreaker using his force field to cover the retreat. Shockwave tells the Decepticons that they can join him or die. They choose to do so as Shockwave stands on a defeated Megatron.

In the woods, the Autobots are beaten - but not defeated. Optimus wants Prowl to escort the Autobots back to base, but Prowl volunteers to stay in the field - telling his leader that the Autobots need him more back at the base. Trailbreaker, Hound, Cliffjumper and Mirage remain with Prowl for reconnaissance.

At the Cybertronian ship, the Decepticons get on board. Shockwave tells Starscream that he doesn't trust him. On the ship, Shockwave tells Soundwave to activate Rumble and Frenzy while everyone else goes to the CR Chambers. The chambers will repair wounds and download the rules of the new Cybertronian society. Starscream is not happy at the prospect of being brainwashed however.

As the ship lifts off, Shockwave gets a signal from another team. Shockwave tells the commander of team Dion to capture Optimus Prime and the Autobots. The commander of team Dion promises they will not be a problem. Blitzwing is told to aid team Dion.

Back at the Ark, Ironhide is being repaired as the Autobots argue over what to do. Gears feels they should give this new Cybertronian peace a chance. Prime is not as trusting. Bluestreak supports Optimus, recalling his own past with the Decepticons. The Autobots continue to argue until Grimlock steps in saying it is time for action, not words! Not all the Autobots are happy to see him, but Ratchet is confident Optimus will ultimately make the right decision.

Meanwhile, Prowl and the Autobots on recon have come under attack by Thrust, Ramjet and Dirge! Prowl prepares to fight back until Mirage appears from behind him and tells him everything will be alright. Behind him is another familiar face: Ultra Magnus!

Meanwhile in Alpha Centauri, Rumble and Frenzy watch over the damaged Megatron. He awakens but he is not the only Decepticon awake! Starscream opens up the ship's cargo hold, sucking the other three Decepticons out. Megatron tries to hold on, but Starscream shoots him in the head, sending him tumbling into space and certain doom!

To Be Continued...

Story:
Welcome to a new continuity. We saw in the first Generation One mini series by Dreamwave that some things were going to be different. Superion is destroyed in the early 2000's. Omega Supreme and certain Autobots who were staples of the Generation One cartoon and comics are nowhere to be found. What we have is a very boiled down cast, which made some wonder just where the heck certain characters were. And boy, if they're going to build Autobot city, they need to get cracking!

Now we've found out that the Autobots and Decepticons have really been isolated. No space bridges or warp gates here folks. They are completely aware of this new Cybertronian rule, which is very interesting as we get to see "new" characters on a "united" Cybertronian front rather than taking sides.

The supreme strength of this story is that the characterization is amazingly strong. Optimus Prime feels like the wise leader he should be. Megatron is the dangerous, powerful villain he should be. Prowl advises Optimus, Ironhide is ornery and while Mirage just wants to go home, Bluestreak is still haunted by his city being destroyed. All these characterization points were written very well and show that writer Brad Mick has a true love and care for these characters.

One of the most interesting characters is, of course, Shockwave. He combines elements of the comic book Shockwave from the classic Marvel series and the television show version. He is the guardian of Cybertron, but this Shockwave took it one step further to become its ruler. However, he doesn't rule it from an emotional point of wanting power, he rules it like an efficient machine - doing away with potential threats such as a war.

Starscream is another character who is very strong despite not being in a lot of the issue. We see him pull a variation of the scene with Megatron in Transformers: The Movie. This time however, it seems if Megatron is going to meet a planet gobbling world, it's going to happen a lot sooner than 2005.

On the betrayal front, it's great to see Grimlock back among the Autobots. I think his defection was one of the silliest parts of the first mini-series and it's great to see him back where he belongs. It's also great to see not all the Autobots are automatically hugging him at the door upon his return. Grimmy's been naughty and the Autobots aren't going to forget that any time soon!

A great touch by Mick are some key words tossed around in the dialogue and text. CR Chambers, Stasis lock, Sparks and Breems are all terms originating from either Generation One comics or the Beast Wars series. One could even argue that we are seeing the beginnings of the universe that will shape into the Beast Wars universe in 300 years. Who knows? Maybe we'll get more clues as the series continues.

Notes:

  • Ultra Magnus' team is team "Dion", which was the name of a Transformer who was a friend of Orion Pax, the robot who became Optimus Prime in the original series.
  • There is one continuity boo boo: the commando team is supposed to be from Cybertron and "new". However, in the first series,
    Blitzwing appeared in issue #5 as one of the Decepticons in the flash back sequence.
  • Another possible continuity boo boo is the appearance of Wheeljack who supposedly "sacrificed" himself in the first mini. I do allow for the chance that he was brought back to life since (unlike Superion) his body was intact at the end of the mini series.
  • It would seem writer Brad Mick is using a bit of the "toy continuity" here by having Scourge be a Cybertronian fugitive rather than a spawn of Unicron (unless they're going
    to squeeze a very interesting sub-story for him with Unicron in the next five issues). In the toy, his tech specs never indicated that he was anything but a regular
    Decepticon warrior as it would seem he is here.
  • The character "ability" continuity is wonderfully preserved here. Mirage can turn invisible, Trailbreaker has his force field, Octane uses a blow torch gun while Brawn is the tough and strong little Autobot. These little touches add up to a lot of good scenes in this issue.
  • It seems odd that Ultra Magnus would ally himself with such blood thirsty Transformers as the ones Shockwave has working for him. They obviously enjoy their brutal work a lot while an Autobot (esp. Magnus) would not revel in such pleasures. Either Magnus has something up his sleeve or he's very different in personality than the one we've known form G1.

Artwork:

Pat Lee has done a great job with the artwork in this issue. He still relies heavily on the toys as reference models and his robots are a bit "puffy" looking, but their physical presence is very much felt in this issue. He manages to throw in some cool visual cues such as Megatron seeing "Stasis lock immenent" when falling unconscious, Prowl's "heat sensative" faction sticker and the
mechanical details underneath the glass panel on Shockwave's chest are awesome touches and much appreciated.

The panel layouts are also strong. The action scenes have panel after panel overlapping, creating a sense of frenzy that allows us to empathise with the characters in these sequences. Battle sequences are quite visceral, with characters being being severely damaged such as Ironhide's gaping back wounds. Great work on the art!

Final Thoughts:
"You are a relic Prime - part of an age long past. Autobot, Decepticon - these are outmoded concepts. The war is over. And it is time for you and your kind to take their place in the new glorious Cybertronian Empire!" Jhiaxus (Transformers Generation Two, Issue #1)

"No longer are its inhabitants forced to pledge allegiance to the Autobot or Decepticon causes..."

"The war has ended. All that remains is my new order--an establishment that has allowed Cybertron to both thrive and evolve. With the looming threat of the Autobot/Decepticon war removed, Cybertron has finally found peace." -Shockwave (Generation One Volume 2, Issue #1)

These two quotes may not be exactly similar, but they carry similar themes. Elimination of the Autobot and Decepticon factions in the name of a more efficient, unified race. It also partially illustrates a problem with the first issue. In many ways, it plays out as half Marvel's G2 series and half Transformers: The Movie. Although very fanboy-friendly, some lines are either directly lifted or variants of lines from the movie. I liked the issue, partially because it gave much more characterization to the Transformers than the first mini-series did, but mostly because it reminded me of stories that have already been done. I'm hoping the rest of the series goes in an unexpected direction rather than continuing to retread stories that have been done before.