Dreamwave Comics: "The War Within: The Dark Ages" #1

in 2004, Comic Book Review, Generation One

Dreamwave Comics

General Information:
Cover Price: $2.95 (US)
Publisher: Dreamwave Productions
Written by: Simon Furman
Pencils by: Andrew Wildman
Inks by: Erik Sander
Colors by: Espen Grundetjern, Rob Ruffolo and Ramil Sunga
Letters by: Benjamin Lee

Cover A by Don Figueroa Cover A, back Cover B by Pat Lee Incentive Cover by Pat Lee Dynamic Forces Exclusive Cover by Andrew Wildman

Synopsis:
Before: in the Polar State of Kaon, Optimus Prime charges at Megatron as he is about to enter the Space Bridge.
However, the bridge is only set up for one person, and as the two leaders enter, it explodes! The two leaders vanish.

After: a portal emerges and a Transformer is thrown down to Cybertron. Flames burn all over his body. He is the Fallen!

On Moon Alpha's spacepor, Kup is think aloud, contemplating the Transformers and the war which has raged for quite some time now. Grimlock tries to silence him until Swoop shows up and reports in. Two transports are on the way, and Grimlock has an ambush to prepare for.

Under the ruins of Iacon, Hound, Tracks, Huffer and Mirage return to Autobase Command. There, Prowl is busy trying to
coordinate Autobot forces against various groups including Ultracons, Predacons and Decepticons. Hound reports that the
new Decepticon Mobile Assault Base is ready and that it will soon strike at Iacon's perimeter. Jazz and Prowl try to
come up with some type of counterforce, but they lament the days when Optimus led the Autobots. Now, the Autobots are broken up into splinter groups including the Wreckers and the Lightning Strike Coalition.

Elsewhere, the three Decepticons Bugly, Bludgeon and Mindwipe try to conjur up dark forces with chants. The Fallen finds them and offers to demonstrate real power. They try to use their dark forces they have summoned against him, but he easily destroys them and convinces the trio to join him.

Meanwhile, the two Decepticon ships approach the Moon Base with Starscream in command. They land to find o greeting party, until the head of one of the Predacons rolls in front of them! Suddenly, Grimlock and the Lightning Strike Coalition ambush the Decepticons! Just as the Decepticons are about to counterattack, Grimlock and his troops retreat!
When they look back to the transports, they see the Autobots have already taken them over! As they take off, Starscream
is infuriated as he yells in frustration.

On Cybertron, the Fallen takes the Decepticon trio into a dark, abandoned tunnel. He tells them the first Transformer he wishes to capture is Grimlock. The Decepticons are nervous about it, but the Fallen is confident they will succeed. The Fallen is happy though as he enters a chamber promising that this is the beginning...and the end!

Review:

Story:
The smartest move writer Simon Furman made in this story was eliminating Optimus and Megatron from the picture. The two represent the pillars of strength for both the Autobots and Decepticons. Without their uniting power, the Autobot and Decepticon factions are free to break into splinter groups, and it makes sense. It also demonstrates (through their absence) just how critical those two characters are to the Transformers story we're so familar with (Autobots versus Decepticons).

I am a huge fan of the concept of many factions among the Transformers. Realistically, on a global scale, with a population of millions (or at least thousands), not every being is going to just align with one or another group. It makes sense that smaller factions would form, including (heh) Predacons.

The Fallen is an intriguing character. I'm sure it's no coincidence that he shows up after Megatron and Prime have
an incident with the Space Bridge. Although he is an original creation, I can't help but think he looks like a 'bot with Skyquake's face and Shockwave heads on his hips. But seriously, his power is interesting as he seems to have no fear of anything despite having not been on Cybertron for ages. He shows no confusion usually associated with "old" characters coming into the "present". This is a 'bot who knows what he wants and how to get it and he sets off on his mission right away.

Artwork:

Andrew Wildman is one of the names which holds a legendary status among Transformers fans. When he took over the
American Transformers G1 title, his style was very distinct and different. He gave his Transformers very human expressions, giving them expressive faces and a very animated appearance in still pictures. However, that art style was for a different company and a different series, so Wildman has tried to adapt his style a bit to suit the "Dreamwave Transformers Universe"

How successful this slightly different approach is depends on your tastes. If you like Dreamwave's style of inking and coloring, this is par for the course. But if you're more in favor of the G1 Marvel books, then this Wildman art may seem different than what you remember.

My personal take, I like Wildman's work a lot. But there are scenes here and there where it seems like his pencils weren't inked right. When the LSC attacks Starscream and his troops, the scene showing Motormaster and Starscream firing back looks off somehow, the perspective is a bit off, especially on Motormaster.

The new designs we are introduced to are interesting, the future Dinobots among them. Cliffjumper looks kind of like a
Throttlebot, Gears most resembles his Earth self while each Dinobot seems to have features that hint at their future selves.
Snarl has "ridges" on his back which will be where his dinosaur plates are, Swoop is a winged vehicle while Sludge has a long cannon (instead of a long neck). Very cool designs, and it's nice to see them brought to life by Wildman and the gang.

However, overall the artwork is good, but I think the team needs to integrate a bit better, which I suspect will
happen in upcoming issues. Don't think I'm down on things, there are many scenes I love in this book. The LSC, the Autobot command center, the Fallen's entrance. These and many other scenes definitely make this eye candy to go along with the story, I just believe the art can and will get better.

Neat Stuff (and errors):

  • Though not identified or shown in the issue, the 'bot on Cover A is the War Within version of Jetfire.
  • Though identified as Mirage, the fourth Autobot in the group led by Hound seems colored more like Blaster.
  • When Grimlock almost calls Swoop Divebomb, it's a reference to an old UK Transformers Marvel comics story where
    the Dinobot known as Swoop was shown to have once been called Divebomb. But he lost the name to the Predacon with that name in combat.
  • Kup's ruminations on a grand destiny for the Transformers is a nice one, since we fans know that they do have a purpose which will not become evident for millions of years.
  • Prowl mentions Predacons, establishing them as a faction and possibly tying in a bit of future Beast Wars continuity.

Dark Ages has started off with a bang, giving us a quick lowdown on just where everyone has gone since the last mini-series, and giving us a new villain outside the Autobot/Decepticon dichotomy to worry about. I'm really looking forward to the rest of this mini-series!