Friday, August 19, 2016


Story: Simon Furman | Pencils: Don Figueroa | Inks: Elaine To & Don Figueroa
Colors: Rob Ruffalo | Letters: Dreamer Design | Pre-Press: Kell-O-Graphics
President/Art Director: Pat Lee | VP/Editor-in-Chief: Roger Lee

The Plot: Millions of years ago on Cybertron, Sentinel Prime is killed in battle with Megatron. Meanwhile, Autobot forces under the command of Grimlock fail to defend Orbital Torus State Altihex from a Decepticon attack. As the Autobot council chooses a new Prime, Grimlock meets with Prowl and Jazz and tells them that the Autobots need a more militaristic leader to combat Megatron.

Later, the Matrix is bestowed upon the new Prime, Optimus. Decepticon assassins attempt to stop the ceremony, but Optimus Prime defeats them. Elsewhere, Megatron prepares to battle his new rival.

Continuity Notes: This issue establishes in Dreamwave's continuity that Sentinel Prime was Optimus Prime's predecessor as Autobot commander and that Optimus Prime was a simple archivist before the Autobot Oracle chose him as Sentinel's successor.

Bluestreak notes that before joining the Autobot cause, he was a Cybertronian merchant. Later, Prowl states that the city of Praxus was his home before the Decepticons destroyed it.

As Optimus Prime enters the Autobot "Oracle Tank", he sees visions of Starscream and Shockwave.

G1 References: Pre-Optimus Prime works as an archivist in Iacon, Cybertron's "hub capital". Iacon debuted in the pilot episode of the original TRANSFORMERS cartoon series as the Autobots' Cybertronian base and was subsequently adopted by Simon Furman for the British G1 comics (and eventually the American ones as well when Furman took over writing them).

Indeed, much of Furman's work here digs into the world-building he did as writer of Marvel U.K.'s TRANSFORMERS. Terminology such as "hub capital" and "orbital torus state", as well as the name Sentinel Prime, all debuted among his previous issues of both the British and American Marvel series.

Of note also is that the pre-Prime version of Optimus is never called by name here. The original G1 cartoons named him Orion Pax, and that's the name the more recent IDW comics have gone with as well, but in Dreamwave's continuity, the name is unrevealed.

Body Count: An Autobot named Overhaul is killed during the battle of Altihex. Later, though he doesn't die, Autobot Skids loses a hand when the Decepticon assassins come for Optimus Prime. In that same battle, all three unnamed assassins are killed.

My Thoughts: When THE WAR WITHIN debuted in 2002, launching alongside the final issue of the inaugural Dreamwave Generation One mini-series later to be known as PRIME DIRECTIVE, it brought a certain air of legitimacy to the fledgling company's acquisition of the TRANSFORMERS license. Up to this point, Dreamwave had been a little independent company run by fanboys, churning out new TRANSFORMERS comics set in the universe with which they'd grown up (and up to this point, those comics had been pretty awful).

But, with WAR WITHIN #1, celebrated TRANSFORMERS writer Simon Furman returned to the franchise and suddenly Dreamwave seemed more "real" -- at least to me. Even if the G1 comics were still bad, they didn't have that air of fan fiction anymore. Simon Furman had signed on to write for the company, lending some much-needed authenticity to Dreamwave's overall output.

It had been nearly a decade since Furman had last written a mainstream TRANSFORMERS comic, simply because the license had been dormant since Marvel dropped it in 1994. He hadn't entirely left the franchise in that time, turning out some convention-exclusive work and some scripts for the BEAST WARS TV series, but for all intents and purposes, this was a big deal.

All that said, I'm not sure this issue lives up to the high expectations set upon it. It's not bad, but it feels very... quiet. This may be in part due to the artwork of Don Figueroa, here producing his very first professionally published comics work. The Decepticons razing a city to the ground doesn't feel as huge as it should. Even the full-page splash of the "inauguration" of Optimus Prime leaves something to be desired -- though I suspect that's because this isn't the Prime we know, yet. He's a humble, defeatist archivist and he's not drawn in his iconic Earth mode as a cab-over semi truck.

But we'll cover the artwork and characterization in greater depth as we move along. For now the most important thing to note about this issue is its importance to the overall history of the Transformers: the return of Simon Furman to the world of TRANSFORMERS comics in the twenty-first century.

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