Transformers: The War Within – The Dark Ages #6 Review

Reviewer: Iain Burnside
Story Title: N/A

Written by: Simon Furman
Penciled by: Andrew Wildman
Inked by: Erik Sander & Rob Armstrong
Colored by: Alan Wang
Lettered by: Ben Lee
Editor: Adam Patyk
Publisher: Dreamwave

Words cannot begin to express my displeasure at this book. However, that’s why I am not being paid the big bucks to do these reviews – for my words – so I fear I shall have to give it a bash. If anyone at Dreamwave is reading this however, be warned, it will not be pretty. Although, in a strange way, I have to thank you for printing such dribble as I am still suffering from a rather nasty cold and so it is always nice to try and make myself feel better by putting down other people. That’s the moaning-faced bastard approach to medical care in Scotland and it works quite well, I feel.

Anyway, the book kicks off with Shockwave tracking down the terrible trio of Bludgeon, Bugly and Mindwipe, the disciples of The Fallen. This time he has brought back up in the form of Trypticon, Soundwave, Ravage and another four or five guys that cannot be made out. Page three and we have our first piece of shoddy artwork from Wildman… well done, Andy! Oh yeah and one minor quibble – the stars should remain in the sky not scattered across the entire page over everyone’s bodies. They may be Transformers but they are still not that tall, okay?

Meanwhile… WITHIN (heaven forbid Dreamwave should ever tire of that little joke)… The Fallen still has Grimlock, Jetfire, Blitzwing and Hot Spot tied up for some kinky sex games at the Well of All-Sparks, ready for the grand unbinding. He continues his manic spiel, sounding like a cross between a Bond villain and Michael Stipe, as Grimlock comes out with the one decent line of this entire mini-series (“What he onabout down there?”) and Jetfire starts pissing his robo-panties. Actually, I am being too harsh on Jetfire. At least he steps up to the plate and takes on the mantle of being the narrator for this strange little ceremony. Apparently the weird little MacGuffin that The Fallen has them tied up to is unlocking the seal of Primus (the Transformers God) by leeching power directly from their spark cores. I suppose that combining the power sources of a warrior (Grimlock), a scientist (Jetfire), a triple changer (Blitzwing) and a combiner (Hot Spot) is supposed to represent the combined might of the Transformers race as a whole. Strange how Blitzwing’s triple changer process was not meant to have been perfected until much later on in Dreamwave’s TF timeline though. Hell, even Hot Spot’s combiner process is still malfunctioning. Ah hell, who am I to stand in the way of poor storytelling?

Up above, Swoop and the rest of the L.S.C. scope out the ‘battle’ between the Decepticons and, er, three little robots, before informing Prowl and the Autobots of what is going on. Both sides decide to join in for a bit of a barney as they have miraculously realised that the Well of All-Sparks lies beneath the ‘battle field’. Quite what makes this a battle is beyond me, as is how such a huge piece of architecture can go over-looked for millions of years. Chalk up another one in the “Logic? We don’t need no steenkin’ logic…” pile for Furman, I suppose. Anyway, after they manage the mammoth task of taking out the three midgets of doom, Shockwave accepts Swoop’s offer of a truce until they figure out what is going on underground. That must be one hell of a truce then because it is never adequately explained.

The combined forces of the Decepticons and the L.S.C. (who are apparently representing the Autobots now… must have missed that minor political shake-up that ruins the basic premise of The Dark Ages) charge down through the blast doors to where The Fallen has their comrades held prisoner. Grimlock has managed to escape because, hey, he’s Grimlock and Furman wants to nosh him. Jetfire continues whining because he’s Jetfire dammit and there ain’t no way that the Transformers: The Movie version of Ultra Magnus is going to outdo him in the bitch stakes. Actually, I am being too harsh there. It is one good piece of in-house continuity to have Jetfire transform himself from the hesitant little runt seen here into the proud warrior currently seen kicking ass and chewing bubble gum in the Generation One ongoing series.

So, at the moment we are hovering on this book being merely boring and a tad implausible. From this point onwards all semblances of cohesion and justification for charging people money to read this crap goes right out of the window. For starters, the two robots that Grimlock takes out of the Well look absolutely nothing like Blitzwing or Hot Spot. And if he is capable of taking them (or whoever the hell it is) through the door to the outside then I am certain that Shockwave and Swoop should be capable of coming through to the inside. Then there is the hokey dialogue of Jetfire’s as he continues his narrator status despite having no audience left to address. Seriously, even I could come up with something better than “What’s down there? And why do I feel with such utter certainty… we shouldn’t know. Not yet.” It reads like fan-fic of the most diabolical quality. He then finally decides to try and get in radio contact with Prowl back at Autobot Base, where he is still sitting about letting everyone else do all the hard work, and can conveniently get in touch with them thanks to a very poor drawing of Trypticon blasting the doors in some more, presumably breaking some more of The Fallen’s precautions.

Jetfire then orders Bumblebee at the base to activate some sort of remote containment field around The Fallen. As seen in the previous issue when he stole Blitzwing from an Autobot holding centre, these fields are not very effective at keeping him contained for very long. It also raises the question of why the Autobots don’t simply use these fields on any Decepticon that starts raising some s*** but if Furman and Dreamwave don’t want to think outside the box I suppose the audience is not meant to either. So sure, I can play dumb. The really insulting thing is that Jetfire seemingly knows that by keeping The Fallen occupied for a few precious seconds that he will allow Primus to destroy the irritating little Muppet. This promptly seals up the Well once again, which is in turn sealed up by Shockwave, who finally managed to come through the door. Push or pull, Shockers, it ain’t that hard a choice…

So, other than some unnecessary epilogue dialogue from (who else) Jetfire, that’s yer lot as far as The Dark Ages are concerned. The really annoying part is the sheer laziness and/or stupidity of Dreamwave in their publishing schedule. You see, had anybody caught the preview of Dorling Kindersly’s upcoming Transformers: The Ultimate Guide that had been kicking around online then they would already know who The Fallen was and what his connection to Unicron was. You see, apparently he was one of the first 13 Transformers created by Primus. He turned against him to side with the ying to Primus’ yang, namely the Chaos God Unicron, and both were then sent into a black hole by Primus. Unicron was sent flailing to the far-end of the universe to begin his quest for vengeance against Primus, who was still in Cybertron form, and The Fallen was stuck in limbo until Megatron’s space-bridge tests were disrupted by Optimus Prime back in issue #1 and he was somehow freed and returned to Cybertron. Having that knowledge explains a hell of a lot about this series. It almost helps it to make sense. The one thing that it cannot do is excuse the fact that absolutely none of that is explained or even vaguely hinted at in the series itself. Hell, would it have been so hard for them to have had some exposition strewn across issues #2-5? It isn’t as though anything of great importance happened there. Even if they managed to con me out of another £2.15 by adding a seventh issue to properly summarise what was going on it wouldn’t have been as bad as this. Thankfully they managed to redeem themselves by putting Megatron on the letters page this month, but this entire series has been a colossal waste of my time by ruining such an excellent initial premise. If there is to be a War Within vol. 3 then they had really better pull their socks up.

Ah well, Trans Fans, here’s looking forward to May 11th and the promise of a really good Transformers video game AT LONG LAST!!!