Dreamwave Comics: "The War Within: The Dark Ages" #4

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, Alan Wang and Rob Ruffolo
Letters by: Ben Lee

War Within: Dark Ages Issue #4 Cover
Synopsis:
At the Praetorus Wharf, the Autobots are taking a beating. The Decepticon mobile battle station, Trypticon is pummeling the Autobots with his firepower. It's clear the giant has the Autobots outgunned, so Prowl orders the Autobots to try to outrun the beast. The Autobots try to drive away from Trypticon, but he manages to show he's not some slow, plodding Transformer as he crushes a tunnel that Skids tries to get through!

Orbital Tours State: Uraya
Grimlock and four of his fellow Lightning Strike Coalition members (Swoop, Snarl, Sludge and Slag) are racing to an all together different site: the neutral territories, where Jetfire and Shockwave are planning to meet. Everyone but Grimlock wants to take on Trypticon instead, but Grimlock is insistant. He believes Jetfire is a traitor for dealing with Shockwave. The others continue to protest however, and Grimlock seems to reconsider his stance.

The Neutral Territories:
Jetfire and Shockwave finally meet, agreeing to share data to figure out what is going on all over Cybertron. Suddenly, a series of blasts strike Shockwave! As Jetfire stares in horror, Bludgeon, Mindwipe and Bugly race onto the scene!

The Praetorus Wharf:
Reinforcements have arrived, but they may not be enough. Trypticon manages to absorb the Autobot firepower easily.
His weaponry even taxes Trailbreaker's forcefield to the max. The Autobots try to use whatever tricks they can to win (including Hound's holograms), but the situation still looks grim.

The Neutral Territories:
Shockwave has recovered and he tries to defeat Bludgeon, but the Decepticon has gained some new skills and manages to best Shockwave. Jetfire draws his weapon - but suddenly his will to fight fades! Bludgeon explains that Mindwipe has used his powers to hypnotise him. The Decepticons prepare to take Jetfire to the Fallen - until Grimlock arrives!

In no time, Grimlock tears through Bugly, Bludgeon and then Mindwipe (who's powers don't seem to affect the future Dinobot leader). Jetfire wakens from his stupor and tries to explain what is happening. Grimlock does not want to hear it however as he thrashes Jetfire too!

The Praetorus Wharf:
While Grimlock went to the Neutral Territories, the other four members of his team have gone to aid the Autobots. While the firepower they lay on him is impressive, it still barely registers with the giant. When he receives a distress signal, he simply transforms into a large vehicle and speeds away. Swoop is infuriated, demanding he return to fight - but Trypticon doesn't listen.

The Neutral Territories:
Jetfire tries to dodge Grimlock's attacks as he explains that there are hidden machinations going on behind the recent escalations in hostilities on Cybertron. Grimlock doesn't listen however. We learn that it was Grimlock who sent Trypticon the distress signal (using a stolen Decepticon code) and that Jetfire is one of his last "loose ends". He is about to finish off Jetfire when the Fallen appears! Grimlock tries to strike him with his sword, but the ancient Transformer manages to catch the sword - with his hand!

To Be Continued...

Story:
While the last couple of issues seemed more focus on the Wreckers, we get to focus on the other Autobots and Decepticons this time around. While the more moral/political/sociological implications of Transformer technology and segregation are fun topics from the last issues, this issue goes for action and pushing the story forward.

This issue feels a bit more rich than the last because of the characters tossed into the mix. Trypticon is hardly a Decepticon to be ignored, and he is written wonderfully here. Instead of the more dumb-monster-like Trypticon of the cartoon show, we get the more intelligent Trypticon first written by Bob Budiansky in the original Transformers comic book. He takes a genuine (if not perverse) pleasure in his work, and he clearly has a powerful ego to go along with his powerful body.

Other wonderful little touches of character include:

  • Hound's use of his holographic capabilities.
  • Trailbreaker's use of his force field.
  • Mindwipe's use of his hypnotic abilities.
  • Snarl commenting on Trypticon's ugly (read: dinosaur like) form. Snarl never liked his dinosaur form.
  • Bludgeon's newfound confidence, perhaps he has begun to study Metalikato?
  • Grimlock's comment about why everyone underestimates him.

I think it gives fans a powerful sense of connection to stories they already know to see Transformers acting or using abilities that fans are familiar with. This episode is filled with such moments. There's not much "new" about the characters (save for Jetfire), but rather, we get to see the beginnings of what we know will be patterns of behavior far down the line.

It was also great to see Bludgeon and the gang in action, actively going after the Fallen's "chosen ones". However, it does kind of worry me that we're up to issue four and we still do not know who the Fallen is, why he even needs Bludgeon and gang and why Jetfire and Grimlock are so important to his work. Of course, this could all easily be explained in the next two issues.

Artwork:

The artwork seems to be a lot more tight and strong in this issue than the previous three. The use of disorderly, sharp angled panels during Trypticon's initial assault is perfect and helps add to the chaotic sense of the battle. Everything about the art (from pencils to colors) seem less muted than previous entries. It seems that Wildman is getting much more comfortable with drawing this crew now.

Unfortunately, whether it's in the hands of the artists or not, we don't get very good looks at the pre-Dinobot forms. We do get a good look at Swoop, and a bit of Slag - but not much else. Then again, this could change in the next two issues.

There's only one drawing which really seemed off. In the initial battle with Trypticon, I'm quite sure the red Autobot who talks about the energy exhaust looks like hs'e supposed to be Sideswipe, but the head design is quite a bit off.

Final Thoughts:
This feels like a stronger issue than the previous one, but at the same time it only moves the story forward a tiny bit. It feels like by issue 4 we should have gone a bit further by now - but the next two issues may still surprise us!