The mentally unstable Galvatron, together with Megatron, proceeds to massacre the poorly planned Wrecker/Mayhem alliance, resulting in heavy losses for the supposedly crack units. Springer and Carnivac manage to hustle Scourge and Ravage, but ultimately the Wreckers and Mayhems are forced to retreat – Carnivac is appalled by this, and swears vengeance on any remaining 'bots. Meanwhile, Optimus Prime, using the Matrix as a medium, manages to unite the present and future Transformers, who in turn fashion a plan to send Galvatron back to his own time.
Galvatron, Chop Shop, Battletrap, Megatron, Flywheels, Carnivac, Ravage, Scourge, Scorponok, Soundwave, Hun Grr, Rippersnapper, Blot, Mindwipe, Triggerhappy, Snapdragon
Topspin, Venom, Chop Shop
A fast and furious opening follows directly on from last issue. Galvatron and Megatron jump down from their vantage point right into the middle of the recently formed Cybertronian alliance gathered below. An immediate declaration is made: Galvatron intends to kill anything that moves.
There is an eerie calm as the fight lets up for a split second. Verbal sparring kicks off between the two uber 'cons and Carnivac. The atmosphere is electric, something will give any second... Galvatron starts to lose his composure, going off on a tangent, mentioning events he thinks he remembers seeing as Megatron, events which have yet to take place. He cuts himself off mid conversation, clearly uneasy at the ‘memory’ he has moments earlier divulged.
Galvatron's anxiety lasts a nanosecond. He launches a savage attack on Battletrap, breaching his chest and hurling him through a wall, inducing apparent stasis lock. In the immediate aftermath Flywheels is incited to attack. The Duocon's clumsy charge is promptly battered away. The rest of the Mayhems swarm on Galvatron, and Venom quickly becomes another instant target, taking a particle blast full in the chest.
As Galvatron proceeds to dismantle the Cybertronian Decepticon elite, Springer urges The Wreckers into the fray. They fight side by side today, he reminds them, they cannot stand idly by. The issue is ordered but The Wreckers have company, as Megatron blocks the path to Galvatron! The Wreckers move, the vastly misguided Topspin strides forward to take Megatron by himself. His underestimation of the Decepticon leader is immense. The result is his brutal death - in an instant - his head blown to pieces. There is a lull in the action and Megatron roars in triumph. He then launches himself into the remaining Wreckers, raining blows on the shocked group.
Springer manages to avoid the fracas, but having taken up a decent position daren’t risk firing on Megatron for fear he’ll hit one of his comrades. He’s overtaken by a moment of stone cold sober frankness - The Wreckers and Mayhems have vastly underestimated the job at hand, their planning has been amazingly inadequate. The situation is a total disaster and Springer knows it.
Carnivac manages to pull clear of the rout engulfing his squad and joins Springer, and is also visibly shaken and having trouble coming to terms with the rate of the massacre. The field commanders argue in the midst of their falling comrades. Neither accept blame for the tactical ineptness that has lead to their battering, they only stop when it dawns on them that they have an audience: Ravage and Scourge!
Galvatron’s two other rogue Decepticons stand slyly grinning at their entertainment, apparently unarmed - to the untrained optical sensor! Carnivac motions to attack but Springer holds him back and fills him in: Scourge is packing heat. He’s a Targetmaster, and his companion Fracas is perched on his shoulder - should Carnivac attack, Scourge would have no trouble cutting him down.
Scourge, now revealed, immediately arms himself with the rapidly transforming Fracas and proceeds to hold the two squad leaders at gun point. A close proximity blast from Fracas would result in death for either him or Carnivac and Springer knows it. He reacts quickly – the situation demands it - The Triplechanger speedily reasons that the calamitous situation they all face (the time storm) must have something to do with the absent Cyclonus. The outburst is enough to prolong the situation. Scourge hangs on Springer's words, much to Ravage's fury. The seeds of doubt have been sewn in Scourge’s mind...
We cut to the present/future Autobot/Decepticon coalition, who are still listening to Optimus Prime. The origin of the time storm is explained, the imbalance is caused by Cyclonus and Scourge and this era’s headcount is top heavy by two. The gathered Transformers decide to go after the two Decepticons that are causing the imbalance. Optimus Prime explains that he is unable to help them. His co-presence with Rodimus Prime would add a third imbalance to their time and only hasten time’s demise.
Meanwhile, Galvatron continues to make short work of the opposition. Venom is torn apart by him, whilst Megatron continues to make short work of the Wreckers, trampling over Inferno’s leg.
Springer, to his credit, has kept Scourge and Ravage out of the fray. However, he is rapidly running out of options as Scourge seems unable to make his mind up over which side to fight on. Springer chances on being able to psych out his opponent. A string of mind games allow him a slip of a chance. He seizes on Scourge's indecisiveness and uses himself as a robot bullet, launching himself into him. Ravage immediately pounces on the prone Wrecker but is promptly downed by a shot from Carnivac. Springer revels in the teamwork show - there is hope yet!
In the immediate aftermath of said event, Springer collects himself and issues an immediate retreat. Carnivac is furious, swearing against it - a Decepticon warrior never runs from a fight. His mind is changed an instant later as Chop Shop, only metres in front of him, is felled by an anonymous but incredibly large blast through the chest. Carnivac issues a sudden and panicked retreat and legs it with Flywheels and Catilla. He is shamed, inwardly seething and silently vowing to kill any remaining Autobots. These are orders – but now come with the added bonus of covering his cowardly behind!
Megatron suggests a brief rest period in the aftermath of the battle. Galvatron immediately disagrees: "That's what we did last time!" It’s another flashback to an incident that has yet to occur - again the ‘flashback’ is ignored, but is Galvatron slowly losing the plot?
Meanwhile, above ground the time storm comes to a head over a human city. Chaos ensues!
The issue is one long rampage, with a clever pause half way through which serves as a nice lull as well as allowing for useful exposition and an update to last issue's events. The action scenes are handled pretty well, but there are a few creases that could have done with ironing out. Its a great demonstration of why Time Wars is as popular as it is – it’s an adrenalin rush, featuring lots of well paced action. Not perfect, but enjoyable none the less.
Error one: though not beyond plausibility, the premise for the fight is trying. It is a troubling idea that Cybertron’s finest warriors could be so easily duped into such an extremely dangerous situation. The characters involved have fought a guerrilla war for millennia and yet show foolhardy battle tactics. Fair enough, The Wreckers believed they were only after one Transformer, but as a crack unit they should be prepared for all eventualities. That they behaved as they did is very frustrating.
The pauses are handled well, there is a genuine feeling of anticipation during the lulls in combat, Carnivac gets a fair portion of air time and begins the building process of becoming a fan favourite. The action is gripping, if at times contrived – see:
Error two: Topspin's death. It was totally uncharacteristic: "I am a highly respected warrior, well placed in the Cybertronian Autobots' crack military unit. I have no idea just how powerful Megatron is." This reviewer doesn’t buy that for a second. It could have been handled more convincingly, and is made even more stupid by the fact that Topspin spends a panel talking about what he is going to do, rather than just shooting Megatron in the face. Rubbish.
Where is present day Magnus? His absence beggars belief. He couldn't assist The Wreckers in Wrecking Havoc because he was otherwise busy in Deadly Games, but this time he has been conveniently forgotten. Perhaps Furman didn't want the added headache of two Magnus' in one story, with all the other stuff going on. Time Wars seemed to have been set up as the final face off between two of the comic's most popular characters – Galvatron and Magnus' grudge had existed several years, and Magnus’ epilogue to their last fight left the readers full of expectancy. His none appearance is seen by many as a huge anticlimax. A later attempt to rationally explain Magnus' absense in story terms would have been welcome. Could he be dead? Off world? Imprisoned? - the fact that his close comrades the Sparklers are in captivity in issue 192 could mean he could have been as well. Lush possibility for fan fic at any rate, one this reviewer has been working on himself!
After Topspin's death the issue perks up a lot. Springer and Carnivac’s face off with Galvatron’s cronies is nicely handled, high in dramatic tension as Scourge ponders his options. This issue also starts off the Springer/Carnivac dynamic that will become a much-loved plot arc in the future. The plight of The Wreckers and Mayhems is plausible once you get over the initial set up. They’re in way over their heads so have to run. One thing worth mentioning is that The Wreckers fought Galvatron, Cyclonus and Scourge to a standstill in Wrecking Havoc (175-176) so you would expect them to fare a little better then they did in this issue, especially having had their numbers doubled.
Only two of the four Deluxe Insecticons are part of the Mayhem Attack Squad. What happened to Barrage and Ransack?
Debate rages amongst the fandom over the legitamacy of Galvatron's memories. This is given more exposure in the trivia section.
Dan Reed’s art is pleasing. I’m not his biggest fan, in that I prefer several other Transformers artists to him, but he has a highly dynamic, distinguished style that whilst you might not think would work well with robots (let me explain – his style is quite organic), actually does. I especially like his Transformer technological and structural backgrounds, they are beautiful in the way they really differ from human architecture – they genuinely look alien, whilst remaining highly interesting.
His art can be a bit scruffy, but it never lacks character. Reed's style can be recognised fondly for the use of artist licence when depicting key characters or moments. The close up of Megatron (with vampire teeth and demonic eyes) after he kills Topspin is the scariest picture of Megatron we'll probably ever see! Unconventional but impressive! Whilst on the subject of art, Andy Wildman’s cover is fabulous.
This issue was reprinted in Collected Comics 18, as well as the Titan trade paperback 'Time Wars.'
Overall, not a massive amount of time is granted to many of the cast in this issue. Instead the main focus is the dynamic between embattled squad leaders Carnivac and Springer, as they struggle to come to terms with the problems they face.
Mayhem squad leader Carnivac is initially very cocksure, displaying an amazing amount of confidence before the battle with Galvatron begins – he can envision no way for his side to lose and is happy to indulge in a bit of verbal sparring with two of the most dangerous Decepticons ever. The initial conflict completely changes this attitude – but what is pleasing is the way in which it changes. Cockiness is replaced by disbelief, but this quickly turns to ruthlessness and renewed aggression! There have been instances where apparently ruthless Decepticons have fled from far less than what Carnivac is in the thick of. True, he cannot believe what has happened, and also true, he refuses to acknowledge that his overconfidence played a large part in the downfall of his squad… but he is not prepared to run for a second. You get the impression that Carnivac is part of an elite - he will not buckle from his task and he will not back down from a confrontation, a true warrior to the end. In many ways he comes across as a foot soldier equivalent of Soundwave. He’s a zealot, totally dedicated to both the idea of being a fearless warrior and to the Decepticon cause.
His mutual respect for others like him is demonstrated when he covers Springer – who is technically an enemy – due to the kinship he feels towards him. However, his dedication to his badge is such that even though he considers himself an honourable warrior, he is still preparing to follow orders to the letter and shoot Springer in the back later, once his job is done. And he is sure that the job will eventually get done!
Springer, his partner in crime for the event, continues to mould himself into the courageous, compassionate leader that we have previously witnessed – able to set a glowing example to his troops in the face of some pretty lethal situations, and situations don’t come much more lethal then the one he finds himself in now. He still displays slightly na