Dreamwave Comics: "The War Within" #4

in 2003, Comic Book Review, Generation One

Dreamwave Comics

General Information:
Title: Transformers The War Within #4
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:
Deep below Cybertron, Optimus Prime awakens as the ancients tell him that Cybertron is older than he can imagine. He looks for Megatron, but aside from the Decepticon leader's sword, there is no sign of him.

At Kolkular, Starscream "laments" Megatron's loss. He wants to further Megatron's plan now, by making Cybertron into a new image: his!

Underground, Optimus tries to find some more information, but this time his reflection isn't talking. Suddenly, Megatron (literally) bursts onto the scene and they two begin to battle. He promises to rip the Matrix from Prime if he doesn't surrender it!

At the Tri-Torus Loop, Kup, Wheeljack and Ironhide meet Grimlock. He explains to them that they are not returning to Iacon, and that Jazz is already in the process of moving critical artifacts and hardware. Ironhide tells Grimlock that he is beginning to sound like a certain Autobot leader.

Megatron continues to pummel Optimus, explaining to him that the Matrix is not just a window to Cybertron's past, it is a source of incredible power from the very primal days of Cybertron itself. He tries to convince Optimus that there is glory to be had with Cybertron mobile again. Optimus doesn't buy into it, and begins to turn the tables on the Decepticon leader.

At the Decepticon base, Starscream analyzes Megatron's plan and finally decides to start the mechaforming of Cybertron: starting with Iacon!

At Iacon, the Guardian Robots are falling one by one as the Decepticons push their attack. Shockwave decides to make one final push to the high council itself!

Below, the two leaders continue to battle, tearing each other apart bit by bit. However, when Megatron tries to rip the Matrix from Prime's chest, the power of the Matrix knocks him back, overloading his mind!

Above, Grimlock and his team have reached the edge of a cliff, a large opening into Cybertron's inner depths. He and his team mates jump into the abyss to see if Optimus need their help, and if he is worth saving at all!

Below, the Matrix power overloads Megatron but Optimus is unaffected. Suddenly, the two are no longer on Cybertron but rather on a strange, unfamiliar organic planet...

To Be Continued

Review:

Story:
One of the things that I enjoyed most about Simon Furman's work on the original Transformers series was his ability to string the audience along, and then suddenly slam something in your face that you never expected. This issue is a great example of that. Sure everything progresses from the last issue. Starscream seemingly takes control (although Shockwave doesn't seem to happy about that), Grimlock and his team get (somewhat) to where Optimus is and Optimus and Megatron continue to have philisophical discussions while they pummel each other into the ground.

The ending is the real shocker, as we see Prime and Megatron seemingly brought to Earth, but not just any Earth, but one in our time frame! Knowing that Earth won't exist in that state for millions of years really helps bring home the point that the Matrix is more than just a big, over glorified hard drive. It truly contains power beyond just the "wisdom of the ages". In fact, it takes that old phrase and adds a level by showing us that the Matrix has some type of driving force behind it, it is not just a device to be accessed when needed and we see that the Matrix is trying to direct Prime towards his destiny.

Artwork:

Part of the appeal of War Within is seeing familiar characters in slightly unfamiliar forms. Don does this very well this issue while blending classic characters faithfully. While we get to see the vehicle modes of Tantrum and Ransack, we also see Guardian Robots in battle, knowing that in the end, only one will
survive.

The fighting between Optimus and Megatron is the centerpiece here. Their battle is brutal, and Megatron is shown as being a bit more spry than he is usually portrayed. The depiction of this battle is probably one of the most violent confrontations between the two leaders since their fight in Transformers: The Movie. The important
emotional factor here is that we know Megatron is very powerful. His visual presence is enough to explain that, but we also know his mental fortitude is strong as well. He is tested, whereas Optimus is not. That adds to every hit that Megatron gets in, because we wonder if it will be the last. Depicting all this visually is not an easy job, but it is one that Don has done well.

Neat Stuff:

  • The Decepticons with Starscream in the beginning are supposed to be Motormaster, the Battlechargers and Swindle. All were deliberately colored differently at the last minute due to some concerns about continuity. However, in the next issue, this would be rectified. This sequence may be colored correctly in the trade paperback.
  • It's great to see a female Autobot in action, this firmly grounds females as a part of the "new" Transformers continuity.
  • The three tanks firing on Iacon are: Quake (top), Brawl (front) and Onslaught (long wheeled vehicle). However, they're all miscolored.
  • The axe wielding robot is Broadside, based upon the toy design (making it look a lot better than the toy itself!)
  • In the same sequence, the dead Decepticon is a Diaclone Robot fortress-X (although his colors make him look like Hun-Grrr).
  • When the Autobots are loading up the ship, we see Powerglide, Beachcomber and a Jumpstarter (yellow, like the foreign releases) hard at work.
  • As Grimlock looks over the Loop, take a look at the battle pattern/explosions in the distance, they are a homage to a similar scene in Transformers: The Movie.
  • In the next panel, note the lamp posts - they are based on Soundwave's appearance in "More than meets the eye".
  • Ransack (deluxe Insecticon) and Tantrum (the classic Predacon) make vehicle mode appearances as they battle the Guardian Robots.
  • When Megatron is about to smash in Prime's windshield, take a careful look at the dashboard to see a bobble head of Elita-1.
  • In a silly/cute easter egg, Optimus Prime has a mud flap with the outline of a female on it in vehicle mode. The female is, of course, Elita-1.

A great turn of events really helps make this issue shine. If you've read up to here, don't stop now, keep buying this series!