The rift in time and space continues to grow, causing all manner of geological problems on Earth. Deep underground an earthquake leads to the Decepticon Ravage being woken from his ‘slumber’ – read the kicking enforced on him by Skids in issue 75. Lucky for him, Galvatron decided to build his base in the catacombs next door (convenient!). Meanwhile, the present day Autobots prepare themselves for an assault on Galvatron. Prime calls on Highbrow to voice a theory he has been working on, but nobody is present to answer him. Is that bad? Cue ambush by the present day 'cons on the shuttlecraft serving as the Autobots base...
The time storm grows, with catastrophic effects on Earth’s geography. One of several massive underground tremors wakes the Decepticon Ravage from stasis-lock (where he’s been since falling down a mine in issue 75 whilst battling Skids). Falling rocks threaten to bury Ravage again, but he finds shelter in a convenient crack in the wall. The crack is actually an entrance to an underground base. Ravage explores, and is quickly introduced to Scourge and Fracas, then Galvatron!
An interlude reveals future Autobot Leader Rodimus Prime preparing for time travel.
Cutting back to the present day, Optimus Prime holds council with his warriors. A conclusion is reached - Galvatron is the time anomaly. To end the storm, he has to be returned to his normal time. Prime turns to Highbrow for exposition, only to find that he is absent.
Yards outside the Autobot shuttle, Highbrow is questioning his actions following his scalping of Scorponok (in the '89 Annual). Whilst he questions his decision not to kill Zarak, he is set upon by Scorponok’s cronies. They want his head back!
Another interlude shows Rodimus Prime initiating the jump sequence.
Twenty miles from the rest of the Earthbound Autobots, three worried faces scout the local area in preparation for the Xaaron sent reinforcements from Cybertron. Under the brunt of the time storm, Broadside, Inferno and Sandstorm face up to the enormity of their problem. Whilst Broadside is bullish, his comrades are not.
Meanwhile, the subject of their conversation, Galvatron, briefs Ravage of his situation. He once was Megatron, but that doesn’t mean that him and Megatron cannot co-exist!
Outside the shuttle, all hell brakes loose. Highbrow battle bravely - most noticeably decking Snapdragon with Scorponok’s head! However, Scorponok’s loyal troops gain the upper hand. Off balance having dodged a jet attack, Skullcruncher is able to clobber Highbrow to the ground. As Weirdwolf and Skullcruncher move in for the kill, Highbrow is bailed out in the nick of time. Fortress Maximus clips both 'cons with one shot giving the rest of the gathering Autobots enough time to rush out and engage the enemy force.
As the battle rages, Highbrow and Prime have words. Highbrow is shamed by his actions - in his eyes he has endangered the lives of many comrades by harbouring Scorponok’s head. Optimus Prime is having none of it. He rallies his crest fallen comrade with a compassionate speech regarding the Autobot coda. Compassion and the value of life is what makes an Autobot. All life is sacred.
It is not the battle that interrupts Prime’s noble speech. Rodimus Prime and a crew involving Red Alert, Ultra Magnus, Kup, Blurr and Arcee, arrive from the future with a flash of blinding light. For a moment, there is calm. The mass substitute process then takes effect. Optimus Prime and five of his warriors (Highbrow, Snarl, Hardhead, Brainstorm and Blaster) are swept off to Limbo, vanishing in spectacular light.
In the heated aftermath, the present day Autobots are quick to point the finger. The future soldiers are murderers. The impostors must be killed!
Issue 200 is an enjoyable enough edition. Plus points: some interesting dialogue and character development. This is the second exposition issue in a row, setting up the circumstances on present day Earth and mainly featuring present day Autobots and Decepticons.
A number of recent plot threads are picked back up. The reinforcements from Cybertron are no doubt the Wreckers, setting up a rematch against Galvatron and co following on from the exploits of Wrecking Havoc (issues 172 and 173). Highbrow gets caught up with Scorponok’s Decepticons, who have obviously pursued him following the events in All in the Mind (1989 Annual) and Megatron is now an ally of Galvatron, following their battle in Altered Image (1989 Annual). By the end of the issue the majority of the cast for the story have been established, with the added bonus of action to boot. But this was issue 200 though. Maybe it could have been a little grander?
At times the plot seems forced. Ravage conveniently wakes right next to a massive underground base. The Decepticons turn up for Scorponok's head just as Highbrow is having a mini-crisis over it. Scourge's behaviour in this issue is 100% inconsistent with his reaction in Dry Run.
The convoluted plot gets a little silly at the end. Time Wars was set up as a massive extravaganza – it was obvious that major events were going to take place… but the Autobot Vs Autobot shenanigans simply don’t wash with me. Ironhide in particular, considering what he says, shows a massive plot inconsistency by not knowing what has happened to the present day 'bots during the time travel episode. Fortress Maximus jumping to the snap decision to give out death instead of analysing the situation is also odd in my book.
And the final line of dialogue in the 200th Transformers issue? “Gnnnn.” Underwhelming.
I’m not that big a fan of Robin Smith as an artist. He does nothing wrong per se, I simply prefer other artists' renderings over his more chunky 'bots and 'cons. Some of his panels are a little uninspired. There is a lot of dialogue and it often seems panels are left sparse to fit it all in. Other panels seem lacking in zip. Smith is workmanlike and lacks dynamism. It is a shame Wildman didn't carry on following last issue.
One final thing I do like is the large variety of characters involved. Also worth noting, the issue features a spanking wrap around cover courtesy of Lee Sullivan!
This issue was reprinted in Collected Comics 18 as well as the Titan trade paperback 'Time Wars.'
Inferno never struck me as the quitter type, but here he comes across like that during his conversation with Broadside and Sandstorm.
There is a fair bit of character development for Highbrow, who seems to be a favourite of Furman’s. It’s mainly thought process stuff, developing his feelings on the conflict between the two factions and his problem with balancing his morals with the bigger picture of the war.
Galvatron himself hints at a tendency for mood swings – he has been relatively calm and collected of late, but now insists he’s going to kill most other Transformers. Is this inconsistent scripting, or simply a hint at Galvatron’s descent to madness?
It is somewhat odd that Scourge is now in cahoots with Megatron, a Decepticon who recently turned his close colleague Cyclonus into a headless corpse (Dry Run issue 189). There's no doubting Scourge is evil, but he blatantly cared when Cyclonus was destroyed and I find his apparent acceptance of Megatron hard to accept.
Prime is consistent as the master tactician with a heart. The other Autobots (for instance Ironhide and Fortress Maximus) are less convincing, and seem pretty gung-ho, running into battle against the future Autobots.
The comic reaches the groundbreaking mark of 200 issues! It comes with a wraparound cover poster and a free booklet of facts and figures.
The script mentions that whilst Ravage was asleep his shattered circuitry re-knitted itself. In other words, given enough time, Transformers naturally heal.
This is the last time that any Autobots travel back in time in the comic.
The rift in time and space affects Earth's weather patterns. Earthquakes, tornados and lots of rain seem to be the order of the day.
“Because you acted out of compassion, spared an enemy? Emotion – mercy. These are what put we Autobots above those we fight. Sometimes in the heat of battle even I forget those things. By your example, you shame us! We are sworn to preserve all life. We must always remember to temper anger with thought.” Optimus Prime.
“Gnnnn.” Rodimus Prime.
“An intruder!” Scourge.
“We are attacked!” Fracas.
I can think of no reason why Ironhide doesn’t remember the mass substitute incident that he witnessed in Target 2006 (issue 78).