Dreamwave Comics: "The War Within: The Dark Ages" #2
Cover Price: $2.95 (US)
Publisher: Dreamwave Productions
Written by: Simon Furman
Pencils by: Andrew Wildman
Inks by: Erik Sander
Colors by: Espen Grundetjern and Rob Ruffolo
Letters by: Benjamin Lee
Inside the Well of All Sparks, The Fallen is satisfied. He mentions the Unbinding and tells his Decepticon followers that they have done well. Bludgeon is not satisfied with that however. He wants some of the Dark Power that the Fallen has promised. The giant robot grabs Bludgeon's head and gives him a vision of the power he can achieve, and it is great indeed. No longer questioning his new leader, Bludgeon and the others set to work.
Industrial Quadrant East, the Tagan Heights:
Springer and the Wreckers are looking for the Ultracons, believing that they want this district for weapons production. Since it controls over forty percent of Cybertron's manufacturing potential, that is a whole lot of power. The Wreckers prepare to spread out to search for their prey as Springer jumps up to a rooftop for a better view. What he sees is more than he bargained for! He jumps down, transforming into his vehicle mode, telling fellow Wrecker Sandstorm to do the same as the powerful Devastator comes crashing down the street!
Iacon, the Former High Council Pavilions:
The Protectobots are gathered to discuss Devastator's reintroduction into the war. Hot Spot realizes that if the Constructicons have chosen sides, then it's only a matter of time before the war escalates again, with combiners choosing sides. He decides to put a stop to it now!
Meanwhile, Springer and Sandstorm do their best to fend off Devastator, but the giant Decepticon is not easily thwarted. Springer orders Sandstorm to tell the others not to engage as he does not want to risk their lives. Before he can do much else, he is slammed into a wall by Devastator, and winds up on the other side, tangled in wires upside down. The other Wreckers suddenly appear on the scene and begin to fire on Devastator, distracting the giant.
Springer is still helpless however as Ratbat and his Ultracons Ransack, Venom and Chop Shop appear! Ratbat is thrilled to finally have the chance to destroy Springer, who has thwarted his attempts at controlling this sector of Cybertron.
Elsewhere, Bugly and Mindwipe report back to Bludgeon, telling him that their rumors given to the Protectobots have served their purpose. The trio then contemplates capturing both Grimlock and Jetfire!
At the scene of the battle, the Wreckers are not doing well against Devastator. When things start to go critical, the Protectobots arrive and merge into Defensor!
Nearby, Ratbat is about to have Springer destroyed when a ground shattering rumble gets him loose. He is about to blast the Ultracon when they see the source of the disturbance: Defensor and Devastator about to fight!
At Autobot Headquarters, alerts are going off all over the place. Communications from several squads come in, but there's virtually no one manning the controls. Jetfire enters and wonders just what is going on.
In this issue, we find two stories going on at the same time, and both eventually intersect. One is larger than the other (literally) as we explore a smaller scale battle and a larger one.
The smaller scale battle is the fight between the Wreckers and the Ultracons. We are reintroduced to the character of Ratbat. Ratbat was one of Soundwave's cassette robots in Generation One. While the cartoon portrayed him as a bat version of Laserbeak (all squawking and spying with little else going on), the Generation One comic book went in another direction, showing Ratbat as a competent commander who managed resources as efficiently as he could. This portrayal takes the best of both worlds, giving him a somewhat animalistic appearance while keeping the personality of his G1 comic book counterpart. I prefer this portrayal over a screeching winged rat.
Speaking of portrayals, we get a lot of Springer in this issue. While prominant in the G1 cartoon series, he was not much more than the wise cracking guy standing next to Rodimus Prime. Here he is the leader of the Wreckers. Not second in command, not a guy who had to take over for Impactor (although writer Simon Furman would have liked to add in a reference if it had been allowed). He is in control, makes decisions quickly but in such a way that he considers the situation around him. He's a robot of action and leadership qualities, something that is nice to see in this "Prime-less" storyline.
While The Fallen continues to push his agenda forward, we are still not given a full picture of just what he wants.
However, it is interesting to see that he is not all talk. When Bludgeon questions him, he gives a demonstration of power that serves two purposes. One, it allows us to see that he does have some access to a dark power. Two, it offers foreshadowing of Bludgeon's future self as a warrior with a deeply spiritual side.
What I find interesting is that despite all the heroics in this issue, by the end of the episode, the scene in Autobot headquarters pretty much tells us that everything is going to slag pretty quickly. I'm interested to see what role Jetfire will play in helping solve the problems erupting everywhere!
One of the biggest thrills of this issue is seeing the Protectobots in action. While the first War Within mini-series spent a lot of time cramming as many characters into a panel as possible, this series is much more sparse, so when the Protectobots enter the fray, their primarily light colors really stand out. Each of their modes are familiar, but still different enough from their Earth forms that they look like alien vehicles. Hot Spot and First Aid in particular wind up looking much more sleek than their later forms.
The other fun aspect here is seeing Devastator in full action. After having to miss out on him in the first War Within mini-series, it seems Wildman wanted to be sure he got plenty of exposure in this one! Devastator is like a Cybertronian force of nature. He just keeps coming, and swats and crushes anything in his way. Almost all his panels either have him smashing something or contemplating something's destruction.
Jetfire's "new" look is well done. From this issue, it seems like he is heavily based on the Skyfire design from the G1 cartoon show with some Valkyrie details thrown in. His face looks a lot like Skyfire's while parts of his body such as the red armor on his legs are lifted from the Valkyries in Robotech. It will be nice to see more of this character next issue.
I must also say that I really like any of the panels with The Fallen and his gang. It looks like Cybertron's equivalent of Hell itself just took robotic form and then gained some acolytes. The scene showing Bludgeon facing the darkness within was a fantastic touch.
This is very much a set up issue, so the real down and dirty fight between the two combiners doesn't happen until next issue. It's going to be interesting to see what role Jetfire will play in all this madness. A good issue, but I'm sure it's going to be topped!