At Autobot HQ, Slamdance is boring the Turbomasters with the exciting tale of how Starscream didn't kill him when he slaughtered the Council of Elders. Meanwhile, Nightbeat and friends are having a bit of trouble bringing in one of the clones, due to the fact that he can download funky weapons upgrades from a central mainframe, a bit like they used to do in that "Centurions" cartoon. Whilst this is going on, Perceptor has realised that if Megatron is alive, then Optimus may be as well, and has whisked up a Plot Device that will supposedly help them find him, by way of some complicated portal hoo-ha. Over at Casa de Cepticon, Shockwave's attempts to reverse-engineer the clone technology have been scuppered by his machine going boom. It's not Rumble and Frenzy's fault, though - they're too busy being frightened by creepy explosions whenever they mention Grimlock's name. Under strict instructions not to touch Perceptor's Plot Device, the Turbomasters have sensibly decided to go chasing each other about. Flash is winning, up until he drives into the portal thinger and lands up on another planet. Whoops.
Issue
Vol 3 003
Writer
Simon Furman
Pencils
Joe Ng
Inks
Ferd Poblete / Tracy Ho / Erik Sander
Colours
Josh Burcham / Rob Ruffolo / Eric Burns
Release date
01/12/2004
Autobots featured
Slamdance, Eject, Rewind, Perceptor, Blaster, Nightbeat, Getaway, Hosehead, Slapdash, Joyride, Boss, Flash, Hurricane, Scorch, Cliffjumper, Jazz, Prowl
Decepticons featured
Shockwave, Starscream, Rumble, Frenzy, Trypticon, Bugly, Mindwipe
Humans featured
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Locations featured
Nova Cronum, Iacon and Praxus, Cybertron and Quintessa
Story synopsis
Slamdance is telling the Turbomasters - Boss, Flash, Hurricane and Scorch - all about the incident at the Chamber of the Ancients when Starscream executed the council. He thought he was going to die too, but it turned out that Starscream wanted him alive so his could tell the tale. Slamdance also fell through the collapsing floor of the chamber and discovered a sentient mainframe, possibly ‘The Source’, the collective consciousness of Cybertron.

Perceptor interrupts Slamdance’s story to take the Turbomasters away for an important meeting. They’re keen for action but he has a different plan – a mission to find Optimus Prime.

Meanwhile at Nova Cronum, Nightbeat’s squad have surrounded a Seeker clone, which seems to have shut itself down. A cautious Nightbeat reports the situation back to Blaster at base, and he is told to proceed with securing the clone. As Nightbeat approaches with an inhibitor claw the Seeker suddenly comes alive! Seeing the threat, it activates a veritable arsenal of weaponry all over its body. When it grabs Nightbeat the rest of the Autobots hesitate, not sure what to do.

The clone opens fire on Getaway. Siren and Joyride shoot at it, but their weapons have no effect. A worried Blaster hears the carnage unfold and frantically asks what’s going on, as the clone throws Nightbeat against a wall and then takes aim at the other Autobots…

At Iacon, Perceptor talks the Turbomasters through the disappearance of Prime. Originally their leader was assumed destroyed, but now that Megatron has returned Perceptor is confident that the two Transformers had been transported somewhere else. He goes on to explain to the somewhat sceptical Turbomasters that he’s in the process of tracing that location through Infraspace, and that a portal will soon open. Perceptor then leaves the briefing momentarily when he’s informed about the clone running riot at Nova Cronum.

Over at the Decepticon HQ, Shockwave returns to the clone lab to find that his equipment has melted down. Rumble and Frenzy try to explain that they didn’t touch anything and that it isn’t their fault, but Shockwave is not pleased and sends them on their way. However, an explosion occurs, and a huge face forms itself out of the metal of the wall.

At Nova Cronum Hosehead takes the Seeker on, but finds that his own weapon is turned against him. Siren and Joyride then transform and ram the clone, and it is thrown backwards and impaled on a shard of metal. But it isn’t done for yet, and detaches and hurls a bomb which takes out the two Autobots.

Slapdash is seemingly the last ‘bot left, and crawls across the ground as the Seeker steps over him, preparing to strike the killing blow. But it suddenly halts, and Slapdash turns to see that Getaway has recovered and attached the inhibitor claw to the clone’s back, immobilising it.

Back at base Blaster is despairing over what he thinks is a failed mission. But then Getaway’s transmission comes through, explaining that the clone has been captured. Blaster is overjoyed, but Perceptor remains mindful, knowing that much still lies ahead.

Meanwhile, the Turbomasters are indulging in a bit of racing, as they tear about the complex after each other for fun. Flash manages to evade the others, but without realising he drives into the portal just as it materialises, teleporting him across the galaxy instantly. He crashes onto a weird alien planet…
Remarks
The Age of Wrath continues in a fast paced action-packed vein that entertained this reader after one reading, but disappointed a little on subsequent visits due to a lack of much meat on the bones of the story. It’s another slim read and there seems to be little time for character moments. The end result is one of observing a lot of cool well chosen characters in action, but never really getting under any of their skins.

A slight exception is Blaster, whose characterisation is probably more revealing than any of the others. He’s pretty emotional, and thankfully not the stereotype from the cartoon or Dreamwave’s G1 series. While he doesn’t approach the coolness of Budiansky’s version, he’s certainly not as ineffectual as Furman’s written him in the past, and Blaster has an important role to play and shows some potential.

On the other hand, the Turbomasters still have a bit to prove. It may be only their first issue but a group of Autobot warriors who spend their time playing hide and seek isn’t all that inspiring. Still, I’m keen to see what can be done with these overlooked Transformers. It’s a shame there’s no Magnus or Megatron in these pages though.

The action centrepiece of the issue is the fight to secure the Seeker. Parts of it are undoubtedly exciting, but other parts lack clarity. Autobots seem to stand around and do nothing, and Slapdash ends up on the floor for no apparent reason. The amount of technobabble used throughout it seems excessive, meaning you really have to take the writer’s word for it as regards to what is happening. In any case these scenes seem to take up far too much of the issue.

On the subject of the Seeker clones, they seem somewhat reminiscent of the X-Men’s sentinels in their ability to adapt to their opponents’ powers. Bad guys of this variety can be a bit frustrating, and being immune to absolutely everything can defy logic a little.

The scene where Shockwave rattles Rumble and Frenzy is fun though. It’s also nice to see Shockwave as Megatron’s subordinate once more. The end of the scene, where a face forms in the lab wall, is a cool and spooky moment, and a neat one to debate.

The mystery of Optimus Prime’s location is diverting enough. However, the whole ‘searching Infraspace for Prime’ plot strand bears a rather strong resemblance to the retrieval of Megatron and Ratchet from Unspace in the Marvel comic. Thankfully ‘The Descent’ is also intriguing, hinting at some kind of mission for ‘The Source’.

So while the issue gets by mainly on Furman’s usual sense of style and flair, it would be nice to see a little more substance. Admittedly with the massive location switch at the end, the plot immediately thickens. What was to come next was pretty much common knowledge within fandom - the Quintessons would put in an appearance and Prime would return. It’s a shame it had to prematurely end here then – with Dreamwave’s collapse the concluding 3 issues of Age of Wrath would go unpublished by the company.

This is most likely Ng’s best issue for Dreamwave. Sadly the inking quality seems to vary from page to page, but when the pencils, inks and colours do gel, it is outstanding. Joyride’s alt. mode is a little disappointing though, looking very similar to his Earth based mode.
Character development
Blaster gets pretty flustered amongst the confusion when the clone attacks the Autobot squad. When he thinks they’ve failed he’s obviously depressed about it: “It… can’t end like this… it can’t! Not now, just as we’re finally ready to kick back. All this… hiding, gathering, preparing… and we fall at the first hurdle.” However, when things turn around he’s elated: “Yee-hah! Didn’t I tell you it’d be alright..? Never doubted ‘em for a moment!”

Nightbeat is suspicious and careful in unpredictable situations. With the clone seemingly deactivated he states, “in my experience, it’s never that easy.” When he’s left with no choice but to move in, he comments: “‘All or nothing, eh?’ Way I see it… that’s just one small stumble from ‘do or… die.’

When the clone goes hostile and the other Autobots hesitate, Slapdash simply says, “Shoot it now!” Siren is immediately more concerned with their mission and the fate of Nightbeat, whilst Hosehead seems confused. Getaway is the first to go down, but reacts in time to save the day at the end.

Perceptor is the cautious type: “Only a carefully staged, intricately planned strike is an option. One false step, one rash ploy… may bury us – permanently this time.” His priority is finding Optimus Prime, and he admits how desperate things are: “given the dire state of current affairs, we have to try.” After the clone is appropriated Perceptor doesn’t get carried away: “This… was the easy bit. The descent and subsequent objective… are positively suicidal.”

Flash wants to get more proactive: “When are we going to see some action..? I’m tired of all this standing still.” He also suggests, “we’d be better deployed elsewhere, out in the field… instead of, y’know, fetching and carrying.”

Scorch is easily outsmarted by his Turbomaster comrade, when he insists, “he came this way! I’m sure of it, “when in fact Flash had already doubled back.

Boss is slightly pessimistic about Perceptor’s plan: “It’s a mighty big universe out there… how do you go about tracking down one lone Autobot? He could be anywhere.” Even after an explanation of the method behind it he remains dubious: “If… he’s still there. If… he’s even still alive.”

The Turbomasters collectively seem a little immature (in both their actions, and most likely their age) as they indulge in a bit of ‘tear ‘n’ chase’ around the base whilst they wait for Perceptor to return to the briefing.

Slamdance has a habit of recounting the same story several times, and here it’s his close brush with death at the hands of Starscream and subsequent discovery of ‘The Source’.

When Shockwave’s equipment malfunctions, he’s quick to suspect Rumble and Frenzy of incompetence. It’s possible he fears his leader’s wrath for any failure: “we are now considerably behind schedule and Megatron will not be pleased.”

Rumble and Frenzy seem pretty scared of Shockwave, as they plead innocence and try to explain what went wrong with the imploding apparatus. They’re pretty relieved when he doesn’t punish them, and they pass the time by reeling off various Transformers names alphabetically.
Trivia
The ‘Think-Tank’ is some sort of Autobot meeting chamber.

‘The Source’ is a sentient mainframe and “the collective consciousness of Cybertron itself,” suspended in a cavern beneath the Chamber of the Ancients.

‘Sub-cycles’ are a measure of time, as are ‘Ngs.’ Of course a ‘Ng’ is also a Dreamwave artist, namely Joe Ng, the artist of this very issue! Not likely a coincidence.

The Autobots utilise an ‘inhibitor claw’ to immobilise their captors and prevent transformation. Furman last referred to this device by name in UK issue 84.

The Seeker clone, by accessing a ‘subatomic hyper-cache’ can enable a ‘processor upgrade’. This involves downloading ‘tactical augmentations’ in the form of a mass assortment of extreme firepower, as well as retractable cutting/slicing weapons. The clone is also able to deflect the weaponry the Autobots use on it. An attempt to ‘hyper-stimulate’ its hardware by an Autobot is also unsuccessful, turning it against the user. It also has bombs and ‘nano-regeneration’. Basically it can adapt to most hostile situations very quickly as shown by statements such as: “Building threat/response model.”

Siren uses a ‘cryo-gasblast’.

Joyride utilises a ‘versa E M pulse.”

The Kaon space bridge detonation (as seen at the start of War Within Volume 2 issue 1) took place in Cycle 11667.

The dimension between two space bridge portals is referred to as Infraspace. In the Marvel Transformers comic it was dubbed Unspace.

It is possible to trace someone who has been transported (and lost) through a space bridge. Perceptor explains: “passage through a space bridge establishes an imprint on the vector topography of the trans-dimensional mapper. That imprint, or at least a resonant facsimile thereof… is currently being pushed further and further out from Cybertron on a locked, parallel course through Infraspace. Sooner or later it will reach a point of correlation, whereupon a new portal will open.”

Rumble and Frenzy mention several Transformers names for the first time. They are Galactica, Geronimo, Gizmo and Glasnost.

Shockwave’s apparatus has been, “draining, measuring and probing tiny fragments of the cloning energy matrix” and implodes. According to Shockwave, all might not be lost: “hopefully, what operational data on the process has already been gleaned from these AE troopers can still be utilised, the prototype inter-link salvaged.” But unexpectedly another explosion follows, and some kind of liquid metal face forms in the wall, which could indicate some kind of virus/infection.

Siren and Joyride both have a “ramming speed” as well as a “reverse thrust” capability. Presumably most land vehicular based Autobots have this ability.

Though Getaway is knocked out he’s eventually able to revive himself when bringing his tertiary systems online.
Good quotes
“They’ll never think to look for me… here?!” Flash, just as he inadvertently drives through a space bridge and crashes on a distant planet.
Bad quotes
Mistakes
Story rating
6 star
Art rating
7 star
Media
Reviewed by
spiderfrommars

Read more