We’re back! Yay. And we’re straight into the story as Ultra Magnus angsts about having (just about) brought peace to Cybertron, but without Optimus. Grimlock then drags him off to chair peace talks between the re-unified Autobots, Shockwave’s Decepticons and Ratbat’s Ultracons. Meanwhile, Starscream and friends plot to disrupt said talks… by killing everybody! As Screamer kills off the High Council in the Chamber of Ancients, the Predacons (not those ones) attack the main meeting, only to get smacked down easily by the combined might of the ‘bots and both ‘con factions. As everybody cleans up, Motormaster finds a grassy knoll and prepares to take out Magnus from safe distance. But Grimlock sacrifices himself to save the big UM. Shockwave and Ratbat shoot down the Stunticon, whilst the dying (cough) Grimlock tells Magnus that it never would have worked between them. But the death-bed scene is interrupted by the arrival of... Starscream! No, wait, it's not Starscream. In fact, it's an army of not-Starscreams... with their leader - he’s big, he’s grey, he’s got a bucket for a head! Guess who’s back, back again. Megs is back. Tell a cloned seeker.
Issue
Vol 3 001
Writer
Simon Furman
Pencils
Joe Ng
Inks
Tracy Ho / Ferdinand Poblete
Colours
Rob Ruffolo / David Cheung / Josh Burcham
Release date
01/09/2004
Autobots featured
Ultra Magnus, Jazz, Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Grimlock, Blaster, Slamdance, Prowl, Tracks, Slag, Sludge, Snarl, Swoop, Wheeljack, Bluestreak, Hound, Skids
Decepticons featured
Starscream, Motormaster, Astrotrain, Octane, Runabout, Runamuck, Dirge, Thrust, Dead End, Carnivac, Snarler, Quake, Shockwave, Ratbat, Ravage, Submarauder, Soundwave, Bombshell, Shrapnel, Kickback, Barrage, Chop Shop, Venom, Skywarp, Fangry, Squeezeplay, Slugslinger, Megatron
Humans featured
Eronus, Neo, Templar
Origin of
Death of
Eronus, Neo, Templar
First appearance
Eronus, Neo, Templar
Locations featured
Iacon and Tyger Pax, Cybertron and Moon Alpha
Story synopsis
Peace on Cybertron finally starts to seem a reality. The Autobots have united under the leadership of Ultra Magnus, and have managed to slowly regain the upper hand and retake their cities and provinces, bringing the majority of the Decepticons to the brink of defeat.

Magnus feels pride at having succeeded where Optimus Prime failed, and even harbours resentment towards the former Autobot leader. Once he idolised him, but Magnus feels that the repercussions of Prime’s sacrifice were initially more harmful than good. In the aftermath, Magnus at first shirked his responsibilities and left Autobase. But in time he swallowed his fears and returned, eventually leading the Autobots towards victory. However, his self doubt always remained.

But the time has come. Grimlock, now a trusted confidant of Magnus, informs him that the ceasefire talks are ready to begin…

Meanwhile on one of Cybertron’s moons, Starscream addresses his faithful warriors and makes it clear that he is not going to surrender. In fact, his group of Predacons are to seize the opportunity to wipe out all their enemies in one fell swoop…

As the historic events unfold back on the planet, Slamdance transmits a news report to Cybertronians everywhere. The inaugural session of the new High Council is about to begin in Iacon, whilst preparations have begun for the disarmament ceremony at Tiger Pax. Shockwave and Ratbat represent the Decepticons and Ultracons respectively, whilst Magnus is there on behalf of the Autobots.

The three Transformers oversee proceedings as command codes disable large-scale weapon arsenals of each faction. They also supply a portion of cyberstatic energy into a ceremonial orb, which Grimlock steps up to take.

But before the formalities are completed, Grimlock is radioed about some suspicious aircraft flying into local airspace. He gives the order to shoot them down, and rushes into action himself, abandoning the ceremony and dropping the orb. Though hit, the craft still come rocketing in, and a huge explosion follows.

As a confused Slamdance loses his live feed, he is joined in the Chamber of the Ancients by Starscream, who has made his entrance by blowing a hole in the roof. Without hesitation, Starscream executes all the council members on the spot!

Meanwhile, Motormaster and the rest of Starscream’s army charge on Tiger Pax, expecting to find everyone dead. Instead, they are met by a force of Autobots and Decepticons who quickly begin to make short work of them. As the Predacons fall one by one, Motormaster slips away from the battle and advances alone.

Up ahead, everyone is still in one piece. Grimlock had managed to save everyone by ordering the containment zone of the orb to be expanded, thus acting as a force shield.

As his fellow ‘cons surrender, Motormaster finds a vantage point up above the commotion and takes aim at Magnus. He fires, but Grimlock acts quickly, shouting out a warning and taking the full brunt of the deadly blasts. Shockwave and Ratbat quickly take out Motormaster as Grimlock collapses on the ground in a heap. Magnus runs to his side, and Grimlock manages to say he wouldn’t have suited peacetime anyway. With that, he is gone. Magnus lets out a cry of anguish.

But with no pause for breath, hundreds of cloned Seekers start to walk out of the mists, surrounding the Transformers present. And leading this ghostly army is… Megatron!
Remarks
More War Within! Always a welcome sight. Furman once again brings back the oppressive atmosphere that sets this series apart from other current Transformers titles. The issue certainly grabs you from the start. The Autobots have won, the Decepticons have lost. What happens now?

The characterisation of Ultra Magnus is certainly interesting, though perhaps not to everyone’s tastes. He comes across as scarred, bitter and vulnerable, yet has clearly led by example to heroically almost defeat the Decepticons once and for all. But the opening monologue borders on melodrama, with his emoting close to whining, and the scene is a good example of Furman’s recent insistence on not using thought balloons in his Dreamwave work. It means the exposition-laden opening pages don’t come across very naturally, with Magnus basically ranting at a hologram.

His bitterness towards Prime is a surprise, as is his strong reliance on Grimlock, but it all adds depth to the character, and Magnus works well as a contrast to the brash Dinobot. But you have to wonder, despite making Magnus’ victories known, was this the best way to reintroduce the character? And we learn that he left Autobase after Prime’s ‘demise’ - what exactly was this heroic Autobot doing with himself over all these years?

Some people are tired of Furman’s over-reliance on Grimlock in his stories. I’m not. While killing off Grimlock in this issue seems a blatant answer to Furman’s critics, it seems an empty gesture, what with the fact that Grimlock can’t stay dead if the character is running around in present day stories anyway. But the character is still a commanding presence in this issue from his first scene to his last – trust him to steal the show yet again!

Disarmament talks, decommissioning, assassinations, terrorism and ceasefire agreements put a real life spin on fantastical events. The likes of Northern Ireland and Iraq spring very prominently to mind, as characters talk of a “road map for peace” for instance. The application is welcome – all these years we’ve been reading a comic about war, so lets bring in the practicalities of it, regardless of the fact that we’re dealing with giant shapeshifting robots from another planet.

Of course, Decepticons agreeing to a ceasefire is something of a stretch, and talks of a new Golden Age seem wildly optimistic. That it is the logical Shockwave and the expedient Ratbat at the forefront of the talks helps believability a little, but perhaps not quite enough.

Nice to see Motormaster in a large-ish role. Other supporting characters, like the reliable Shockwave and Starscream, are chosen well. It’s good to see the likes of Carnivac after all these years, and that Soundwave gets to say something for once (a rare thing indeed at Dreamwave). Slamdance is a clever tool used by Furman in the middle of all this, giving him a legitimate way of narrating exactly what is going on.

Motormaster’s failed assassination attempt provokes a strong feeling of d

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