Dreamwave Comics: "The War Within" #3

in 2003, Comic Book Review, Generation One

Dreamwave Comics

General Information:
Title: Transformers The War Within #3
Cover Price: $2.95 (US)
Publisher: Dreamwave Productions
Written by: Simon Furman
Pencils by: Don Figueroa
Inks by: Elaine To
Colors by: Rob Ruffolo
Graphic Design by: Kevin Lee
Letters by: Dreamer Design

Synopsis:
Our tale begins with Starscream ruminating on the nature of being a Decepticon, which he sums up in one word: pain. Be it the fighting in Arenas, being fashioned into warriors or other challenges, he explains to Skywarp and Thundercracker. The two don't want to hear it however. Skywarp is enraged that Starscream baited Grimlock by telling him their plan. Thanks to him, Grimlock set a trap and they only escaped using Skywarp's teleportation ability. The two leave the Decepticon Air Commander to ponder whether he has grown fond of the pain.

Elsewhere, Soundwave reports to Megatron on his status. He and the Insecticons have not yet found Optimus Prime yet, but their search continues.

Optimus Prime, meanwhile, is walking through parts of Cybertron he never knew existed. Suddenly, he encounters a ghostly image of himself telling him that he has a greater purpose than he thinks. Suddenly, Ravage attacks!

Meanwhile, Iacon is in the middle of a desperate struggle as its defenses are being torn apart by Shockwave's army. Prowl and Jazz are wondering why the Decepticons are attacking Iacon, their strongest point. Prowl speculates that everything that's happening is connected somehow.

Back at the Decepticon base, Starscream confronts Megatron, asking him what his grand plan is. Megatron hesitates, but then begins to explain just what is going on. He explains that Cybertron was once mobile, a starship. He had to engage the repair mechanisms to get the engines to work, but in order to do so undetected, he had to form a distraction: the Decepticon uprising. His goal is still to change Cybertron into a war world, but he needs one thing to power such an engine: the Autobot Matrix. Starscream laughs at this, but Megatron strikes him down and warns him never to question him!

As Megatron's explanation goes on, Optimus takes on Soundwave, Ravage and the Insecticons. They try to ambush him, but he manages to tear through them one by one until Soundwave reports back to Megatron right as Optimus knocks his lights out.

Meanwhile, at the Orbital Torus State of Uraya, Grimlock is abut to return to Iacon but receives a transmission from Prowl to divert with his team. he gives Grimlock a special mission: one hes's not going to like.

Underground, Optimus is amazed at how complex the tunnels of Cybertron are, but he is even more amazed that he can navigate them so easily. Suddenly, Megatron appears on the scene, armed to the teeth. The two trade barbs on a bridge until Starscream appears, destroying the bridge at both ends! The two leaders fall to an uncertain fate...

To Be Continued

Review:

Story:
Two words describe this issue: build up. Although there is action in this issue, it's clear that much of it is to explain to us just what Megatron's plans are. We also get to see Starscream's arrogance displayed here as well. It was a cool idea to tie in the one shot War Within comic (where Grimlock confronts the Seeker jets)
to this issue, it helps give us a more defined timeline of events. Starscream begins to become more of a force to be reckoned with in this issue, a position fans have seen him in over and over again in the Generation One comic books.

Optimus Prime's journey is one that we fans take with him. We know what he is going to become, but the key here is what led him from wanting to abandon Cybertron to wanting to stay with it. As we see bits of his destiny slowly dawning on him, we can feel a twinge in our collective fan minds saying "Yes! Don't you get it yet? There's so much more than what you think!", and drawing that kind of reaction points to great work on the part of Simon Furman.

The action in this issue is nicely done. More so than in issue one, we are being given a look at Optimus Prime's fighting abilities. As heavily armed as Soundwave and the others are, Optimus makes quick work of them.

We also get to see Megatron take action himself rather than sitting back and just planning. It's interesting to watch the interaction between Prime and Megatron. Unlike past ineeractions whee the two had known and battled each other for millions of years, they are both unknowns to each other right now. This is heavily reflected in Megatron's behavior. Probably the biggest indicator of this is Megatron actually trying to convince Optimus Prime that his path is the right one. The way he talks about Cybertron being mobile again sounds more like a salesman pitch than a threat. The Megatron of millions of years later would never even bother trying to convince Optimus of such a plan (at least, not whole heartedly). Megatron also underestimates Optimus' fighting ability, believing him to be a weak warrior who will be beaten like Sentinel Prime was. It is nice to see Optimus turn the tables on Megatron, even if only for a little while.

The rest of the issue is mostly dedicated to getting chess pieces into place. Starscream decides to get proactive, Grimlock and his team head to Optimus' location while Prime and Megatron are sent to a place that looks a lot like Earth. Since this is the middle of the mini series, it is an appropriate place to do this.

Artwork:

Don Figueroa's work improves with each issue. This issue really gives him a lot of action scenes to work from, and he has a way of making his characters look very dynamic, even if they are just standing still. We also get to see clearer interpretations of characters such as Cliffjumper, Huffer, the Decepticon triple changers and Ravage. We also get to see Don's interpretation of Megatron in full battle mode, which is a very nice touch, incorporating elements of the original Megatron toy.

My favorite sequence is Ravage's first fight with Optimus. Ravage is quick, and as good of a warrior as Prime may be, he has great difficulty keeping up with the smaller and faster Decepticon. Prime's frustration becomes our frustration as we keep hoping Prime will score a hit until Ravage disappears into the darkness.
Very nicely done.

Neat Stuff:

  • When Shockwave is attacking, we get to see the other three seekers: Thrust, Dirge and Ramjet as well as two of the "deluxe" Insecticons from Generation One. Because of legal issues with the original manufacturer of these toys (Bandai), these toys were never used in Generation One's cartoon series. Seeing them in battle (albeit briefly) is a cool touch.
  • FIRRIB takes to War Within as we get to see a blue Cassette-Bot with pile driver arms. But is it Rumble or Frenzy? According to artist Don Figueroa, it's Rumble.
  • As the Decepticons pummel Iacon, you'll see the words "Are all dead" etched into the side of a building. This is a homage to the classic Transformers #5 issue
    which featured Shockwave having inscribed those words in the wall right under the Transformers logo to form the phrase "The Transformers are all dead".

War Within #3 acts as a bridge issue, and does an admirable job of it. If you haven't purchased it already, go now!