The War Within #5
Release date: February 2003
Cover variants: Regular and incentive
Writer: Simon Furman
Artwork: Don Figueroa (pencils) Elaine To (inks) Rob Ruffolo (colors)
Rating: Art / Story
First appearance: Onslaught, Mirage, Hot Rod, Firebolt, Fortress Maximus, Highbrow
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
The future belongs to Headmasters and the Targetmasters!
Ironhide abseils into the pit that was formed when a huge plume of fire burst out of the ground in issue 2. He joins his comrades Wheeljack, Kup and Grimlock below and the Autobots start taking readings and blasting their way to the source of the eruption. The chances are they will find the hidden Decepticon base there. Kup questions Grimlock about his well-known hatred of authority figures, asking if there was anyone he respected. It turns out there wasn't - not Optimus Prime, Sentinel Prime and definitely not Megatron. That's what makes Grimlock such a "badass" in his own words.
In Iacon a raging battle is being fought between Shockwave's Decepticons and gigantic Omega Sentinels with the guardian units coming off worse. The atmosphere in the high council pavilions is tense as Prowl and co prepare for a last stand against the invaders. Below ground Grimlock and his group follow a massive power reading all the way to the engines which Megatron has built to power Cybertron's cruise through the cosmos. They are amazed that the Decepticons were able to create something of this magnitude without anyone knowing. But somehow they must put it out of commission before the whole planet is torn apart. Kup spies Starscream ordering around the Constructicons and telling Scrapper he wants the planetary turbines fired up. Never mind what Megatron's plan was, he's not coming back, insists the wily usurper. Grimlock leaves his men to destroy the turbines while he goes deeper underground in search of Optimus Prime.
The Autobot leader meanwhile is caught up in a holographic vision of the future from the Matrix. He and Megatron find themselves looking at Autobot City, Earth, followed by water and green hills, the likes of which neither has ever seen. Then they see the battle at Sherman Dam (from the cartoon series and Marvel UK #29 and #30) and the likes of Bumblebee, Hound, Starscream and Thundercracker in their familiar earthen modes. The visions have been triggered because Megatron broke the casing of the Matrix container while battling Optimus, and he now continues his attack.
Scrapper tries desperately to warn Starscream that it would be incredibly dangerous to fire up the turbines without extensive and delicate planning. His foolhardy new boss isn't interested and merely repeats the order, adding that Motormaster will bust Scrapper up if he carries on arguing. Moments later the Constructicons make their way to the turbines where they run into Ironhide and the others!
A quick scene change sees Prime and Megatron battling again as the images around them become Nebulos where the Headmasters and Targetmasters are doing battle. Megatron is sure that this means his plan to cut Cybertron loose among the stars is fated to happen. Then the visions fade as Grimlock pulls Prime out of there. Optimus says he can't allow Megatron to escape with knowledge of the future and Grimlock agrees. He tells his boss that the time has come for him to prove his leadership credentials by slaying Megatron - and if not he (Grimlock) will bury Prime in this pit. Nice. As Optimus trundles off with Grimlock's energo sword we see Prowl getting defeated in the battle for Iacon and more fighting in the Decepticon stronghold. Then Starscream hits the trigger and the planetary turbines roar into life. and start to generate a massive earthquake on the surface of Cybertron!
If Starscream is the number two robot in the Decepticon camp and the biggest threat to the leader, then Grimlock is his opposite number in the Autobots. He doesn't like leaders, we get that established at the start, and he'll personally dump Prime if he doesn't come up to scratch apparently. Whether he would be powerful enough to do that is another matter. I loved the way his torpedo launcher became a grappling hook with a wire of energy trailing behind it that the Autobots could use to climb down. Very imaginative, and good to see those accessories like the launcher and Energo Sword featuring. I am not sure about Grimlock referring to himself as "badass" though. It was obviously there to make fans think "Cool! Grimlock Rocks!" or some similar sentiment but this is Cybertron millions of years ago not the present day streets of the USA so it strikes me as out of place.
The Omega Sentinels are obviously less intelligent members of the Omega Supreme family. I wonder how come Omega got to be an Autobot while these guys are just automated cannon fodder? I suspect there is a story in that. Interesting that the Combaticons, Stunticons and Constructicons are all on Cybertron in the War Within period, and not created on Earth as in the Marvel continuity. It opens the door for lots of other characters not traditionally associated with the back story to appear. Indeed this starts to happen in volume II with Ratbat, Springer, Mindwipe, Bludgeon, Bugly and others starring. Another question is whether the Headmasters and Targetmasters are likely to have their story told. All in all this is another solid instalment of the War Within and the story seems to be progressing towards an action-packed conclusion.