The War Within #3
Release date: December 2002
Cover variants: Regular
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Don Figueroa (pencils) Elaine To (inks) Rob Ruffolo (colors)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Ramjet, Dirge, Venom, Chopshop, Blitzwing
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
Megatron wants the Matrix and is ready for a showdown with Optimus!
"From day one it has been about pain" says Starscream somewhat philosophically. It is Megatron's way of controlling his troops and part and package of being a Decepticon warrior, whether inflicting or receiving pain. The jets have just survived an exploding building by virtue of Skywarp teleporting them outside, and he is not in the mood to listen to Starscream's ramblings. Gathering up Thundercracker, the pair of them transform and leave this "loser" to it.
Below ground Megatron is receiving a transmission from Soundwave on Optimus Prime's imminent approach. The Decepticon leader orders a quick and efficient execution and then his warriors are to retrieve the Matrix, which is a vital ingredient in Megatron's plans as we are to find out. Ravage has Prime's scent and the rookie Autobot leader knows it, but the further he travels within Cybertron the more distracted he is getting by voices from the Matrix. They describe themselves as the 'seekers', those who came before in search of the same answers as Optimus. Namely: what is the purpose and meaning of Cybertron? This is something Optimus Prime needs to know before he can abandon the planet. Oh and two more words of wisdom might be 'behind you'! Prime turns and catches the feral Ravage leaping.
A quick scene change takes us to Iacon where Shockwave and a battalion of Decepticons are wreaking destruction. Inside the high council pavilion Jazz, Prowl, Bumblebee and Tracks are co-ordinating the counter attack and manning the gun turrets. What a time for Prime to go missing they think. Meanwhile Optimus has his hands full fending off his fierce attacker, whose claws are sharp enough to rip an Autobot's steel skin. Megatron continues to over see all this and gets some unwelcome questioning of his plans by Starscream. He tells his flippant lieutenant that Cybertron is to be transformed into a cosmic dreadnought and the attacks on Iacon and elsewhere are merely to deflect attention from the plan. However for Cybertron to become mobile it will need one hell of a power source - and that is where the Matrix comes in! Starscream thinks it is madness, Megatron has flipped and bought into a myth he reasons. But the Decepticon leader is not in the mood to have his genius questioned and promptly lays Starscream out with a punch. Likewise Prime is tearing into the Insecticons one by one before punching Soundwave's lights out and cutting off the transmission to Megatron.
Meanwhile Grimlock is cruising in his tank/truck mode through the orbital Torus state of Uraya. He gets a call from Prowl saying that the Decepticons have made a tactical error. By concentrating their attack on Iacon and leaving their other strongholds weakened and the Autobots will exploit it. Prowl has a special mission for Grimlock's group and it is one he is not going to like. Within Cybertron, Prime continues to navigate the labyrinth of tunnels and finally comes face to face with Megatron on a narrow bridge overlooking a bottomless pit. Megatron demands the Matrix and Prime refuses, then an explosion rips a hole in the bridge. Prime thinks Megatron has gone insane and is trying to kill them both, but then the culprit reveals himself, it is Starscream attempting to rid himself of two threats at once. He opens fire again and both Prime and Megatron and seen plunging to their possible doom.
I am not quite sure what is happening on the opening page but I am guessing it is Starscream's creation. His arm is being welded and sown together by machines and probably would have been a painful process if he could feel it. The idea is that pain has been a companion throughout his existence, sometimes keeping him in check, and other times to be used as a weapon to further his ambitions. The little metaphor pops up at the end of the comic too when Starscream tells Megatron "It's all about pain" before blasting him off the bridge.
I rather like the part with Prime speaking to the ghosts from the past. If you consider that the sparks of dead Transformers get absorbed into the Matrix it figures that Optimus should hear from them from time to time. This is consistent with the birth of Rodimus in the Movie where he hears Optimus Prime tell him to arise. We also know from previous stories that the Matrix is the essence of the God Primus - who is enemy to Unicron and the core of Cybertron. So anyone who has read past Marvel stories by Furman will have an idea of this and the part where the voice is talking about the 'meaning' of Cybertron, ie its purpose in the grand scheme of things, will make a little more sense.
It is nice to see some little featured characters, like the Deluxe Insecticons, who barely showed up even in the weekly Marvel UK comic. And then there is the triple changing Blitzwing who has not one but two retro Cybertron modes. I like the way Don Figueroa draws his bashed-up robots too. He gives them a shattered and sometimes tearing effect (just look at Bombshell getting punched out) which is what you would expect if gigantic, powerful Transformers were to trade blows. I am a little puzzled as to why Megatron is so wrapped up in this idea to turn Cybertron into a mobile fortress. Why bother now of all times? Wouldn't it be better to conquer the planet and consolidate it under Decepticon rule before swanning off around the galaxy? If the Autobots are still a major threat the Decepticons wouldn't be able to do much conquering when they reached other worlds anyway.