War Within: The Dark Ages #2
Release date: November 2003
Cover variants: Regular cover
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Andrew Wildman (pencils) Erik Sander (inks)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Hotspot, First Aid, Streetwise, Groove, Blades, Chopshop, Venom, Ransack, Barrage, Jetfire
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Ratbat and his Ultracons have Springer right where they want him!
One of Primus' original 13 Transformers has returned to Cybertron to wreak his revenge. The Fallen, as his is known, plans to open the mystical Well of Sparks and gather together four key warriors to initiate a process called the 'unbinding'. To help him achieve his goals he has recruited three ambitious Decepticons - Bludgeon, Bugly and Mindwipe and promised them great power if they serve him well. After a great close up shot of The Fallen, with flame eminating from his body, Bludgeon chances his arm and says it is about time they got a taste of these rewards they have been promised. The Fallen places a huge hand over Bludgeon's face and exposes a bombardment of dark imagery and creations from beyond his understanding. It is just a glimpse but enough to leave Bludgeon wanting more.
Elsewhere, in a heavily industrialised region of Cybertron called the Tagan Heights, Wreckers are hunting for Ratbat and the Ultracons. This Decepticon off-shoot has been making bold moves of late and could hit the big time if they were to seize the manufacturing power of Tagan Heights. Springer and his team are determined to stop that, but as they search they are unaware of Ratbat circling overhead in his bat-plane mode. Springer leaps high up to a vantage point and then screams down to his troops to retreat! They have got the unstoppable powerhouse, Devastator, heading their way!
In the capital city Iacon, word has reached the Protectobots that the Constructicons have violated a treaty banning combined robots and have got back together to serve the Ultracon faction. This is a disturbing development and will inevitably lead to other special teams being forced pick sides. Back at the Heights Springer gets caught by a lucky blow from Devastator and careers into a tower. He is ensnared by cables and confronted by Ratbat (in a swanky new robot mode) before he can break free. The Deluxe Insecticons are there too.
A quick scene change sees The Fallen's disciples plotting to lure Grimlock and the other three 'targets' into their hands. Meanwhile the Protectobots have arrived at Tagan Heights and merged into Defensor! The ground trembles as two giants battle and it enables Springer to break free and get to his gun. Back at Autobase, the scientist Jetfire finds everyone gone and scenes of combiner carnage filling the monitor screens. Things have certainly hotted up while he was in deep space!
Andy Wildman is doing a great job with the artwork. The opening page close up of The Fallen looked awesome and I really enjoyed seeing Mindwipe's robot mode. I am sure it was not coincidence that he looks like Batman. Some of the backgrounds are a little plain but it is not a major gripe, at least the panels are easier to follow than some of G1 comics which have been confusing. As I mentioned in comments for the previous issue, Wildman's style (like it or not) is very distinctive and you can spot it straight away. His work this time around doesn't look that different to the regualar Dreamwave efforts, which I think could be down to the inkers, and is a shame. The reason they hired Andy is surely because he draws Transformers in a different way to everyone else. I wasn't much of a fan of his work in the Marvel comic (I know plenty of others were) and I do like what he has produced here, but it would be boring if every artist was uniform, so I feel I want to defend his right to be different.
Storywise this is an excellent instalment. It is populated with characters that I really like such as The Wreckers, Bludgeon and the Constructicons. I am also glad to see the Protectobots getting some limelight after only appearing briefly in G1 volume II and not at all in the opening volume. What would really cap it off for me is if Furman had got Impactor in the story as leader of the Wreckers. That would be a great hark back to Target 2006, one of the writer's finest works on the Marvel UK Transformers, and maybe he can feature in some future issue, if only in a cameo role.
The idea of giving Mindwipe a robot mode is inspired. I always thought his weak physical form was a major disadvantage when he led the Decepticons for a period in the Marvel G1 story. Ratbat rose through the ranks rather than seizing power in a show of brute strength, and that made for a refreshing change, but he was quickly offed by Scorponok. This Ratbat would probably offer more of a fight, but it does beg the question of why he swapped his robot mode for a cassette form in the intervening years? The fact that he is in charge of a faction (along with Springer) is a nice tribute to the Marvel series. A little trip down memory lane for some us there. As is the Wreckers still using using their famous "Wreck and Rule!" battle cry.
Finally, how cool is it to get Jetfire into the story? He has always been a controversial figure because of his brief spell in the Decepticon camp in both comic and cartoon series, and I will be looking forward to seeing what Dreamwave makes of him.