Dreamwave Comics: "The War Within: The Dark Ages" #6

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: Alan Wang
Letters by: Ben Lee

War Within: Dark Ages Issue #6 Cover
Synopsis:
Orbital Torus State, Protihex:
Bludgeon and his warriors are under attack. Shockwave blasts Mindwipe and Bugly, but Bludgeon moves in to attack, thinking Shockwave has come alone. However, the Decepticon leader points out how illogical that would be as Trypticon, Soundwave, Ravage lead the charge of a small Decepticon army!

Underground:
The Fallen is feeling victorious. The Seal of Primus is being hit with the energy from his four captives. He explains that the experiments in warp gates allowed him to escape his prison, freeing him to do his master's bidding. Jetfire watches all this in horror and tells Grimlock that something beyond anything they understand is happening, and that it must be stopped!

Above ground:
Swoop is flying above the battleground, watching Shockwave's forces fight Bludgeon's. He reports back to Prowl, telling him that he still hasn't found Grimlock or Jetfire - but that Shockwave links the two. He also detects the energy source underground being used to break the Seal of Primus. Bumblebee sees it on his sensors at Autobase, but has no idea what it is. Prowl finally agrees to send in troops to investigate, and Swoop meets up with the Dynobots to prepare their own assault.

Underground:
The Fallen continues his rant, explaining he needed four unique Sparks to break the Seal of Primus. Jetfire keeps trying to reason with Grimlock, telling him that the beam is extracting power straight from their Spark cores. He tries to explain to Grimlock that he knows they've had their differences, but that he needs to listen. Meanwhile, Grimlock breaks free of his bonds!

Above ground:
One by one, Bludgeon's forces fall to the combined Autobot/Decepticon strike force. Swoop and Shockwave agree to put their differences aside and give chase. Bludgeon thinks he has escaped, but suddenly Skywarp teleports in and blasts him! The Decepticon returns to the surface, telling the Autobots and Decepticons that the platform is returning to the surface.

Below again:
Grimlock is busy freeing himself as Jetfire tells him to listen to what he's saying.

Outside the room, Shockwave leads the charge until they reach a door with unknown markings. Trypticon destroys the door, but The Fallen believes he is victorious...

Inside the chamber, Grimlock grabs Hot Spot and Blitzwing and takes them away through a warp gate. Jetfire stays behind, trying to figure out a way to undo what The Fallen has done. He tells Autobase to prepare a containment field near him, and he dives down to where The Fallen has begun unleashing the power under the Seal. The containment field works in the limited area, and The Fallen is about to attack Jetfire when the hand of something greater than himself attacks and destroys him! When it is all over, the Seal is secure again and the others break in just in time to find a victorious Jetfire standing alone.

Later, the Autobots and Decepticons both agree to seal the chamber, using a lock that requires someone from each faction to unlock. Grimlock and Jetfire reconcile, each having felt that something much greater than themselves is coming!

Story:
It's not exactly new to see Autobots and Decepticons banding together to fight something greater than themselves. However, this issue is really interesting because aside from Bludgeon's forces and The Fallen himself, the Transformers in this issue really don't have a clue what it is they're fighting for. I kept expecting the cliche "Shockwave will just pretend to go alone until he acquires the power he needs to conquer all!!! Muhahahaha!" routine.

But it never came.

Rather, we see that in some innate way, all the Transformers know that the Seal of Primus simply should not be broken under any circumstances. It is something so deeply programmed into the Transformers that even the power-hungry
Decepticons know that The Fallen has to be stopped. I'm sure some measure of vengeance is involved since Bludgeon did attack Shockwave previously, but in the end, sealing the chamber and giving each side a device to unlock the chamber was a surprise gesture.

I found it interesting that by getting what he wanted in breaking the Seal of Primus, The Fallen fell by his own creator's hand. It was cool seeing Primus in a bit of a cameo, and it shows that he is very much still aware of what's going on rather than being a slumbering figure. Of course, this begs the question: did the force field Jetfire have erected really contain Primus' energy enough that Unicron didn't notice? With the tiny image of the Dark God at the end, I wonder if this is simply foreshadowing some tiny bit of consciousness on Unicron's part as to Primus' location.

Artwork:

It took five issues to get here, but a good balance was finally struck between Wildman's pencils and the final colors and inks. Now don't get me wrong, some detail is still lost, but not as much as previous issues. But we get a lot more of the intricate details like cracks and lines on the Transformers. This can be seen on Mindwipe on page one and with almost any scenes with Jetfire in them.

One thing that came to my attention (and I probably should have noticed it before) was that Wildman uses "splash pages" very sparingly. In fact, here I'd say we have basically two: page one and the scene where the Decepticon army charges in. The rest of the time, his focus is on delivering several panels that convey action, rather than one pretty picture that we're supposed to extrapolate everything from. To me, this is important as comic books are a sequential art, and while splash pages are nice, they should be used
sparingly.

One scene kind of sticks out like a sore thumb however. Once Bludgeon is defeated, we see Skywarp talk to Shockwave.
In the background, a Decepticon stands next to Slag in one panel, then in the next Slag punches him out. In the original script, the Decepticon (whom we learn is Shrapnel, more on that in a moment) is supposed to say something to Slag, then the punch, then Soundwave and gang have to try to stop the scuffle. The thing is, the way the scene is drawn, you never see Shrapnel say anything to Slag. It's like Slag sees him, doesn't like him for some reason and just punches him for nothing. It made for a comedic scene, but it didn't make much sense until I read the script.

Another thing that bothered me about that scene was that Shrapnel is painted mostly a light purple with a lot of yellow parts. The two "antannae" coming out of his chest are brown. While Shrapnel does have yellow and purple as colors,
he doesn't have brown, and the yellow was excessive enough that for a moment I wondered if this was an oddly drawn Chop Shop.

Overall, the best art of the mini-series is in this issue, despite the oddities mentioned above.

Quick Hits:

  • The text on the Seal of Primus reads (in highly stylized lettering) "Til all are one".

Final Thoughts:
Overall, this series wraps up well - but it also leaves a lot open. Obviously for a few million years Cybertron would not be found by Unicron, but is that because he is off in some distant part of the galaxy so far he needs more time to reach Cybertron? Time will tell.