Friday, September 30, 2016


Writer: Simon Furman | Pencils: Andrew Wildman | Inks: Erik Sander
Colors: Espen Grundetjern, Rob Ruffalo & Ramil Sunga | Letters: Benjamin Lee
President: Pat Lee | VP/Editor-in-Chief: Roger Lee

The Plot: Optimus Prime and Megatron are lost in a space bridge accident. Meanwhile, a being called the Fallen appears in the wake of their disappearance. Eventually, the Transformers splinter into several factions smaller than simple Autobots and Decepticons. In the ruins of Iacon, Hound reports to Prowl that the Decepticons' new mobile base is nearly complete. Elsewhere, the Fallen recruits Bludgeon, Mindewipe, and Bugly as his disciples.

Later, Grimlock's Lightning Strike Coalition steals a shipment of Energon from Starscream's Predacons. Beneath Cybertron, the Fallen tells his followers to go after Grimlock, then leads them into a hidden chamber.

Continuity Notes: An undetermined amount of time has passed since the first WAR WITHIN mini-series, and I'm only saying that here because there are literally no other continuity notes to be found in this issue. Simon Furman is clearly looking straight ahead at this point.

G1 References: The space bridge, an interplanetary teleportation system, is an invention of the original TRANSFORMERS cartoon series, though it later played a role in the Marvel comics as well (where it was artistically literalized as an actual glowing suspension bridge for some reason).

Grimlock nearly calls Swoop "Divebomb" in one scene, a reference to a tale from the U.K. comics in which the character had that name "stolen" from him by a Decepticon.

BEAST WARS References: While the name Predacon technically originated in G1 for a combiner sub-group, its use here as the name for a full faction of evil robots brings to mind the villains of the BEAST WARS toyline and TV series.

Body Count: A Decepticon called Hardcase is killed by Grimlock's Lightning Strike Coalition.

My Thoughts: WAR WITHIN: THE DARK AGES was supposed to be the thrilling reunion of Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman, the creative team who guided Marvel's TRANSFORMERS through its final twenty or so issues. But the experience left a bitter taste in Wildman's mouth, as I recall, as he complained about the Dreamwave team inking and coloring all traces of his distinctive style out of existence.

It's hard to say he's wrong, looking at this issue. It fits in great with the Dreamwave house style, but the question then becomes, why bother to hire Andrew Wildman for this project? Aside from a few faces here and there, there's nothing about this work which evokes his previous TRANSFORMERS material. (And that's not because he changed his style; check out TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE, published nearly a decade after DARK AGES, to see Wildman evoke his original run perfectly.)

But there's more to a story than the artwork, though in this case that's not saying much. Furman is still in "decompressionist" mode, and as a result all we have here are a few very short scenes setting things up without any real payoff. Going back and forth between these TRANSFORMERS comics and John Byrne's FANTASTIC FOUR, it continually astounds me how much Byrne usually crams into an issue, even if it is one part of an arc, compared with Furman's excruciatingly minimalist approach.

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