The war is over! The Decepticons have won, thanks to Megatron's Aerospace Extermination Squadron. With the Autobots being held prisoner for slave labour, Megatron feeds Starscream to his fishies as punishment for denying ol' Buckethead the privilege of killing the High Council himself. Meanwhile, Shockwave tries to modify Megs' cloning tech, but is having difficulty due to not being allowed to know its origin. Megatron then has a bit of a tiff with the unseen powers behind his revolution, during which a small cadre of Autobots implement a plan to capture one of the clones.
Issue
Vol 3 002
Writer
Simon Furman
Pencils
Joe Ng
Inks
Ferd Poblete / Tracy Ho / Erik Sander
Colours
Josh Burcham / Sig Torre / Rob Ruffalo
Release date
01/10/2004
Autobots featured
Ultra Magnus, Wheeljack, Grimlock, Trailbreaker, Sunstreaker, Getaway, Kup, Jazz, Cliffjumper, Brawn, Nightbeat, Hosehead, Siren, Slapdash, Joyride, Blaster, Ramhorn, Rewind, Eject, Dogfight, Override, Perceptor, Grandslam, Raindance, Boss, Flash, Hurricane, Scorch
Decepticons featured
Megatron, Ratbat, Shockwave, Starscream, Bombshell, Octane, Scrapper, Barrage, Chop Shop, Ransack, Soundwave
Humans featured
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Boss, Flash, Hurricane, Scorch
Locations featured
Praxus and Nova Cronum, Cybertron
Story synopsis
The Age of Internment has begun. Megatron surveys Cybertron from his command tower in Praxus, announcing the dawn of a new glorious era. The conflict is over with most of the Autobots now rounded up thanks to his army of Seeker clones.

Also in captivity is Starscream, who Megatron has imprisoned in a tank full of Piranacons! Whilst Starscream begs and pleads with him, he’s told that executing the High Council stole Megatron’s thunder and hence he is being punished!

Shockwave interrupts to give Megatron the latest on his attempts to adapt a variation on the cloning technology that Megatron has mysteriously appropriated. As they examine the cloning assemblage Shockwave admits he’s having trouble understanding the advanced alien technology. Megatron simply gives him ten cycles in which to find a solution.

Meanwhile in Nova Cronum, a fleet of Seeker clones scan the area. They’ve detected a life signal and open fire! Getaway runs from the exploding building, transforms and drives off. The Seekers immediately give chase.

Over at one of the internment camps, a group of Autobots are led deep below ground. They enter a huge cavern where a crowd of Autobots are being forced to drill into the rock. An exhausted Cliffjumper collapses, and Octane and Barrage are about to flog him when Brawn intervenes, clattering them. But a pair of Seekers quickly zap him out cold. Ultra Magnus observes all this happen, but then without a word continues drilling.

Elsewhere, Getaway dodges the blasts of his Seeker pursuers with some dramatic driving, but eventually a well placed shot sends him crashing into some rubble.

Back at Megatron’s base, the Decepticon leader is in the middle of a communication with his yet-to-be-revealed co-conspirators. He tells them everything is going according to schedule, and when they question him he dares them to come put in an appearance, knowing they wish to remain in hiding for the moment. He tells them he is no one’s lackey, and then checks in with Soundwave who informs him that they have now reached the core of Cybertron!

At Nova Cronum, the Seekers approach the spot where Getaway landed. Suddenly they come under fire from a cloaked squad of Autobots, led by Nightbeat. Getaway transforms and joins the fray and the Seekers start to fall under the Autobots’ firepower.

The plan is to bring a Seeker back alive for study, but the success of the mission depends on the Seekers not summoning reinforcements. Nightbeat radios back to the resistance base, asking if they’ve managed to block the transmissions. He’s replied by Blaster, who confirms that the signal has been jammed.
Remarks
The stage for this issue generates interest throughout. The Autobot/Decepticon dynamic is rather reminiscent of Marvel’s Return to Cybertron saga, with the ‘cons almost having total supremacy, though back then writers did seem able to admirably cram in a lot more story in a lot less space.

It’s a very interesting situation, with the Autobots either in camps or part of a resistance, with Megatron ruling from on high, setting new plans in motion and conspiring with an unseen menace. It’s a good progression from the previous issue as a lot has changed, and you get the sense of some time having passed, making it the second scene-setting issue in a row. That said, it’s a quick read, with dialogue at a minimum and action to the fore. By now Furman really has succumbed to Dreamwave’s policy of visuals over the meat of a story or character. Thankfully we do still have good ideas and a pace that creates a sense of excitement (the Autobot attack on the clones is nicely done). There’s a lot of the technobabble in the script that Furman’s been fond of using lately too. It sounds good but of course doesn’t really mean a thing to the reader.

Ultra Magnus seems to have been brushed aside rather quickly. The first issue seemed very much to be his story, but now he’s taking a back seat. Magnus’ characterisation last issue wasn’t of the strongest individual, so his fans won’t be happy to see him as Megatron’s skivvy in this one. He does nothing as Brawn is attacked, and he graces the cover looking at his most ineffectual. Personally, I’m interested in where the character will go from here.

It’s Megatron who takes up a fair bit of airtime this issue, which is no bad thing, as Furman can write good Megatron dialogue in his sleep. It’s great that Megatron immediately punishes Starscream, as letting him off yet again would stretch credibility to breaking point. He stamps his authority not only on Cybertron, but on the issue, and as he answers back to his new unseen allies (multiple spoilers outside the strip have already revealed these to be the Quintessons) it gives the impression that although this ‘con has likely made a deal with the devil, he’s definitely in charge at the moment.

It’s fantastic that Nightbeat is back in a Transformers comic again, and playing an important role. Interesting to see Blaster too, though at this point I’m cautious as to what Furman’s take on the character will be like.

Joe Ng is on good form, you just have to get used to his chunky style of drawing Transformers. I particularly like the way he draws Getaway’s transformation sequence and he makes Magnus’ face very expressive. Megatron looks fab on his throne, and Getaway’s escape from the Seekers, though taking up too much of the comic, does look great. The panel where Nightbeat and his squad put in an entrance is nicely drawn. Blaster looks good on the last page in a more than adequate group shot. Ng falters occasionally, mainly when portraying a degree of motion: see Cliffjumper collapsing, or Brawn grabbing Octane. However, on the whole the art, coupled with the colours, comes across as pleasantly glossy and stylish.
Character development
Megatron’s long term dreams are finally coming true: “All that do-or-die nonsense done with, an end to the interminable cycle of insurrection, resistance, uprising. The dawn of a new glorious era… of total Decepticon supremacy! Cybertron as it was always destined to be – remade, realigned, reshaped… according to the will of Megatron.” It would seem that he wasn’t one to always revel in war, more that it was a means to an end: “This tiresome conflict… all that intricate, elaborate planning and execution, ground out over countless campaigns and protracted seige… and in the end all it took was fleeting brute force.”

He’s quick to dish punishment out to Starscream now that he’s back. Apparently Starscream’s execution of the High Council stole his thunder, and, “denied me a triumphal declaration of supremacy that would have resounded across the length and breadth of Cybertron.” However, he also admits that he punishes him simply, “because I can!” In contrast, he puts an amount of faith and trust in Shockwave, who he assigns to adapt the cloning tech. Shockwave’s actions for the Decepticon cause were likely less selfish than Starscream’s in Megatron’s absence, and Megatron possibly knows this. However, he doesn’t mention the ceasefire, something Megatron can’t have approved of. And he gives Shockwave no allowances, providing him with a strict time limit in which to get results.

Megatron’s had help, though his co-conspirators are yet to be revealed. We do know that their goals are “mutually compatible” as Megatron goes about the subjugation of Cybertron. He certainly doesn’t let them order him about: “You need me! …I am the power, I am the dread voice that commands!”

Starscream reverts to grovelling/whimpering mode as he’s punished by Megatron. “Mighty Megatron… why are you doing this to me?” he asks, and, “I’m your loyal servant, your good right hand. I…don’t… deserve this!”

Shockwave, leader of the Decepticons in Megatron’s absence, now serves his master loyally once more. It seems that after The Great Shutdown (see G1 Vol 2) Shockwave’s ambitions rise considerably. For now, Shockwave works on the cloning technology for his leader, but it involves, “supposition and guesswork, neither of which I favour,” and he admits that it, “may be beyond even my intellect.”

Has Ultra Magnus given up all hope? Now bereft of Grimlock, his closest confidant, he wordlessly gets on with his work for the Decepticons, offering no resistance at all. He doesn’t even come to Brawn’s aid. It’s likely that the character is somewhat tortured, or he might just be being pragmatic, as until an opportunity presents itself, resistance is futile.

Getaway is pretty talkative as he’s chased by the clones. “You get full marks for persistence!” he tells them, as well as, “I’m almost flattered. Three of you, one of me, “ and, “Don’t take this the wrong way… I really want to be alone!” His More Than Meets The Eye profile does state: “his greatest asset is his ability to stay absolutely cool under pressure.” He acts as a great decoy here, dodging multiple blasts and leading the clones into an ambush, though he does comment that his comrades left it a little late, saying he, “may have extra endurance and a whole heap of redundant systems to call on… but I’m not indestructible!”

Nightbeat seems to be an effective squad leader as he co-ordinates the ambush on the clones: “concentrate your fire! Keep it tight and targeted!”

The likes of Octane, Bombshell and Barrage show great relish in ‘motivating’ their Autobot prisoners. When Cliffjumper collapses Barrage asks, “lying down on the job, Autobot?” and Octane adds, “that’s a punishable offence around here. But then… pretty much everything is!” Both are eager to beat him on the spot.

Enslaved like many of his Autobot comrades, Brawn snaps when he sees Cliffjumper at the mercy of some sadistic ‘cons. As he attacks Octane, he says angrily, “You… need a short, sharp lesson, ‘con!” and, “I’ve had enough!” For his trouble he gets an electric shock that deactivates him.
Trivia
Megatron calls his Seeker clone army his Aerospace Extermination Squadron.

Starscream is caged in a tank of fluid filled with Piranacons, a form of punishment dished out by Megatron. The Piranacons, like Sharkticons, may well hail from the planet Quintessa, giving a clue as to whom Megatron is working with.

Megatron now has cloning apparatus. The primary cloning assemblage is made from technology even Shockwave has trouble understanding. It has a “self-replicating energy matrix” and it, “employs radical and considerably advanced variations of fissure-density mechanics.” It’s proving difficult to adapt the process to make any distinct variation on it.

The clones either communicate via radio or telepathically, as they are shown conversing without speaking throughout.

The clones are able to locate Transformer life signals through sector sweeps and realigning sensor nets, and can ID a Transformer on sight. They assign a ‘Threat Factor’ to their targets (Getaway is a ‘3’) and can calculate speeds and vectors, predict time of interception, and lock their trajectories and range finders. They can also administer powerful electrical shocks to ‘pacify’ opponents. They can contact ‘command central’ at any time though an enemy can block this transmission.

Large amounts of Autobots are now assigned to internment camps. The group we see here are part of a ‘structural reinforcement assignment’ in Sector Six-Blue, and are work party Gamma-Zero-Three of Internment Camp Pi.

They seem to be drilling to Cybertron’s core. Already the “primary shaft has been sunk” leading the excavation to target depth.

Getaway mentions that he has a ‘proto-hatcher.’ Protoforms were first introduced in the Beast Wars cartoon, where it often showed one Transformer overseeing the transition of another Transformer from a protoform in a pod into a new body. If we used G2 as a source instead, the hatching may allude to the budding reproductive process first seen in that comic.

The clones have a ‘mobility clamp’, no doubt to restrict the transformation of their prisoners. This sounds similar to the ‘inhibitor claw’ shown in UK issue 84.

Perceptor seems to have designed a ‘null-field cloak’ that can be used on several Autobots at a time. The clones cannot see them when it’s utilised.

‘Orbital Torus State’ Praxus, where Megatron seems to have set up base, was Prowl’s home before the war (see War Within Vol 1 issue 1). According to the Ultimate Guide it is one of the Tri-Peninsular Torus states, along with Protihex and Uraya.
Good quotes
“Oh there was a dash of kick and a pinch of struggle, the usual ridiculous spark of hope… but I soon snuffed that out!” Megatron.

“Here we are again, Autobots… just another day in paradise.” Kup, who I sense is being sarcastic.
Bad quotes
“Hey… I’m jammin’, I’m jammin’.” Blaster.
Mistakes
Story rating
6 star
Art rating
7 star
Media
Reviewed by
spiderfrommars

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