Ah those crazy Wreckers are at it again. Seems Ratbat and his crew of Ultracons have managed to snag an alliance with Devastator and only Springer and his elite crew stand in their way. I feel sorry for the Ultracons. Not to be outdone by the Wreckers return to comic prime-time, Jetfire enters stage right decked out all spiffy like.
Issue
Vol 2 002
Writer
Simon Furman
Pencils
Andrew Wildman
Inks
Erik Sander
Colours
Espen Grundetjern / Rob Ruffolo
Release date
01/11/2003
Autobots featured
Springer, Roadbuster, Whirl, Topspin, Twin Twist, Broadside, Sandstorm, Hotspot, Streetwise, First Aid, Blades, Groove, Jetfire, Defensor
Decepticons featured
Bludgeon, Bugly, Mindwipe, Ratbat, Devastator, Chop Shop, Ransack, Barrage, Soundwave
Humans featured
The Fallen
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Locations featured
The Well of All Sparks, Tagan Heights – Industrial Quadrant East, The Former High Council Pavilions, Autobase – Iacon, Cybertron
Story synopsis
Deep within Cybertron, The Fallen is satisfied with the work Bludgeon, Bugly and Mindwipe have carried out for him in activating the Well of Sparks. But Bludgeon isn’t interested in The Fallen’s gratitude, and he asks where the dark power that they were promised is.

The Fallen responds by grabbing Bludgeon’s face in his mighty hand, and firing a powerful bolt into him. Bludgeon sees a flash of nightmarish images before coming round, and The Fallen explains that he was given a glimpse of the dark power that resides within every Transformer. If Bludgeon serves him well, next time he will show him everything. Suitably inspired, Bludgeon and his comrades get to work…

Meanwhile, Springer leads his band of Wreckers through the industrial quadrant of the Tagan Heights. The site has ripe potential for full-scale weapons production, and Springer’s not about to let it fall into enemy hands. He orders his troops to fan out whilst he and Sandstorm take a different route. Using his leaping ability, Springer jumps onto the roof of a nearby building to get a better vantage point. But he sees something that instantly makes him jump back down again, and he orders Sandstorm to transform and move! Suddenly crashing through the buildings behind them comes the giant form of Devastator, who stomps after them!

Elsewhere, the Protectobots gather after being given a tip off that the Constructicons have sided with the Ultracon faction. Knowing this could signal escalation in the conflict, Hotspot orders his team members to roll out…

Back at the Tagan Heights, Devastator is still chasing Springer and Sandstorm. Then they bravely turn and fight, but the gestalt is too big and powerful. As Springer leaps up and shoots Devastator in the face, Devastator just swats him like a fly, and he is sent reeling, his body smashing through a nearby building. Next Devastator turns to deal with Sandstorm, but then the rest of the Wreckers arrive, and engage the giant in battle.

When Springer comes to his senses he finds that he’s got tangled upside down in some hanging cables. He looks up to see Ratbat and his warriors surrounding him. Ratbat, whose Ultracon forces of late have been kept at bay by Springer’s Wreckers, looks forward to killing the Autobot off for good…

Within Cybertron, Bugly and Mindwipe report back to Bludgeon, telling him that one of the targets has just fallen for the bait. He responds by telling them Grimlock will then follow, and that he will inadvertently bring the third target with him…

Meanwhile, Devastator takes on the might of the Wreckers all at once. But then the Protectobots arrive on the scene and combine to form Defensor!

And nearby, as Ratbat moves to execute Springer, the ground suddenly shakes, knocking him and his followers to the floor. Springer falls out of the cables and grabs his gun. But then they all look up as one to see the awesome sight of Devastator and Defensor as the two titans take each other on in battle.

Meanwhile, Autobase is deserted, as the various screens flash the latest images of the conflict escalating across the planet. Entering the command centre, Jetfire wonders just where everybody is…
Remarks
In this second issue of the Dark Ages, the focus switches expertly to a different cast of leading characters. It’s this kind of scope that sets this volume of War Within apart from the intense first series (which concentrated on mainly just four characters – Prime, Megatron, Grimlock and Starscream). It depicts a war that is complex and messy, in which many different characters are embroiled, complete with their own agendas. The result is that we see the many smaller stories that make up the big picture.

It’s great to see Furman at the controls when we see the return of Springer and the Wreckers, and Ratbat gets a speaking role in a Transformers comic for the first time in a decade and a half. Furman also reintroduces the Protectobots to the mix, as well as a new Decepticon faction, the Ultracons. Focusing on the combiner teams in this second volume is a wise move – it shows a clear shift in progression for the Transformer race as the stakes are raised over the years that have passed since Volume 1.

He writes Ratbat’s character true to form (and Ratbat’s new robot mode looks very cool). However, his character seems radically different to the mute cassette Brad Mick used in Volume 2 of the G1 comic. However, the blame there can lie with Mick’s underestimation of the character. It’s just a shame that there was a little bit too much red tape for Furman to reunite the Wreckers in the text properly. Okay, not including latter day recruit Inferno is one thing, but the absence of fan faves Impactor and Rack n’ Ruin reeks of Dreamwave severing any ties to Marvel-only characters.

The Unicron and skull imagery that The Fallen imparts to Bludgeon is intriguing, suggesting a connection between the mysterious new Transformer and Unicron, as well as to Bludgeon’s future powers of metallikato and swordplay.

A possible downside of this issue is that it feels a little slim, and flies by very quickly. Also the lack of background characters means the series is already losing some of the epic feel it seems to strive for.

With his work here, Wildman easily elevates himself to the top ranks of Dreamwave’s artistic talent (after an ever-so-slightly shaky start last issue). Sure, his methods don’t quite fit the Dreamwave style, but he does put in the extra effort to get the necessary mech-style qualities and articulated robot hands. At the same time his usual eccentricities are thankfully apparent, with both expressive faces and body language. He depicts the heavily industrialised Tagan Heights quadrant vividly and there are several more delights: Devastator making a ‘smashing’ entrance, the well choreographed battle that follows (including Devastator giving Springer a mighty slap), Defensor and Devastator fighting, and a beautifully detailed final picture marking Jetfire’s debut.
Character development
Bludgeon is downright sarcastic when addressing The Fallen: “Well gee, thanks. Not that we don’t appreciate all this gushing praise, but, y’know, we’d prefer some more tangible reward.” When he’s then given a ‘sample’ he has a complete turnaround: “Y’know… all of a sudden I feel inspired… let’s get to work!” He certainly seems a younger, brasher version than the Bludgeon we know from the Marvel run. But he is still shown able to orchestrate things from behind the scenes very well, as through misinformation and the like he brings the ‘targets’ out in the open.

Hotspot is concerned by the escalation of the conflict due to the introduction of combining groups. On hearing news that the Constructicons have chosen a side, he decides its time his group act as well, by taking Devastator on in battle. Though this in itself would appear to be just another act of escalation, Hotspot seems to hint that the Constructicons must be defeated before other gestalt groups follow their lead. He does seems reluctant to blow their cover and combine, but defeating Devastator is a priority: “The heat’s been turned way up… and it’s down to us to stamp it out.”

In the heat of battle Springer barks orders efficiently and with conviction, keeping his head in the face of great adversity. It’s unclear why he insists the rest of the Wreckers to not get involved when Devastator puts in an appearance though. Perhaps he is in the middle of formulating a plan, or just doesn’t want to endanger them. However, naturally his Wreckers do disobey his direct orders. They must feel that rules are there to be broken, as they don’t seem prepared to abandon their leader just because he orders it, and they also love a good fight (as well as being quite capable).

The Fallen is still preparing for The Unbinding, and is having his new disciples do all the running around for him. He guarantees their service by giving Bludgeon a taste of the dark power he possesses, promising the rest once they serve him dutifully.

Ratbat has desires for conquest: “This planet is ripe for exploitation.” He’s keen to kill off Springer who has thwarted his attempts to extend Ultracon territory for some time. He’s not interested in torturing Springer though, as he says he prefers expediency.

Chop Shop is the vicious sort. If he’d had his way the ‘cons would have paraded the shattered bodies of The Wreckers in front of Springer’s eyes, before pulling them out.

Jetfire makes his entrance this issue and the scientist has just been on a routine metallurgical survey. This suggests he likes to balance scientific study with his duties as an Autobot. He expresses concern that after being away for just a short while he’s come back to chaos, and a deserted Autobase.

Even though we don’t see Grimlock in this issue, we get a nice description of his character from Bludgeon: “The key to Grimlock is his own delightfully skewed sense of right and wrong, crime and punishment.”
Trivia
40% of Cybertron’s manufacturing potential lies within the Tagan Heights, a hotly contested piece of land between the Wreckers and the Ultracons.

Springer is leader of the Wreckers faction.

Ratbat is leader of the Ultracon faction. They are based in Polyhex.

Polyhex was a location first introduced in the Marvel comic, where it was home to the Decepticon stronghold of Darkmount, ruled by Lord Straxus.

Ratbat has a humanoid robot mode, and a batwinged creature alt. mode.

Springer is shown using his leaping ability. According to More than Meets the Eye issue 6, “he can use his legs to leap .5 miles straight up.”

Springer orders his Wreckers to fan out using “search pattern theta.”

The Constructicons have sided with the Ultracons.

Bludgeon appears to generate images of Grimlock and Jetfire out of smoke using his magic.

Sandstorm mentions ‘nano-bugs,’ presumably a Cybertronian indigenous lifeform.

Sandstorm can fire missiles in vehicle mode.

At this point the Combiner teams have a degree of autonomy, with several of them presently not allied. They were originally produced as a response to the escalating arms race. Apparently, Devastator was the first off the production line, and regardless of being the combined form of the six Constructicons, he isn’t too bright, suggesting the combining process does somehow temporarily degrade or dilute the intelligence of the team involved. As Sandstorm says: “Six of the sharpest minds on Cybertron mushed into ‘Devastator smash.’”

We hear the immortal Wrecker battle cry of “Wreck and Rule!” in the Dreamwave comic for the first time. This was their motto back in the Marvel UK comic.

The news that the Constructicons sided with the Ultracons was leaked to the Protectobots somehow through Bugly and Mindwipe.

Combining is referred to as “co-functional interlock.”

This issue’s front cover does not include the ‘Dark Ages’ subtitle underneath the title.
Good quotes
“All the heroes are dead, Springer. And momentarily… you will be too!” Ratbat.
Bad quotes
Mistakes
Story rating
7 star
Art rating
8 star
Media
Reviewed by
spiderfrommars

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