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It's all come down to this. With The Fallen about to summon Primus from his long slumber Prowl, Shockwave, Swoop and their respective commands must join forces and stop The Fallen in time. Or Jetfire and Bumblebee could solve this whole problem on their own. Whatever works.
Issue
Vol 2 006
Writer
Simon Furman
Pencils
Andrew Wildman
Inks
Erik Sander / Rob Armstrong
Colours
Alan Wang
Release date
01/04/2004
Autobots featured
Prowl, Hound, Trailbreaker, Jazz, Skids, Cliffjumper, Grimlock, Swoop, Snarl, Slag, Sludge, Jetfire, Bumblebee, Hotspot, Kup
Decepticons featured
Shockwave, Trypticon, Bludgeon, Bugly, Mindwipe, Soundwave, Ravage, Bombshell, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Kickback, Shrapnel
Humans featured
Primus, The Fallen, Unicron
Origin of
Death of
First appearance
Locations featured
Orbital Torus State Protihex, The Well of All Sparks, Iacon
Story synopsis
And now the epic conclusion of War Within Dark Ages! Shockwave opens up this action packed issue with an opening salvo that blasts Bugly and Mindwipe to the ground. Shockwave then looks for Bludgeon, remarking that, “if there is, among you, an intellect worthy of consideration, I suspect it is his.” The sword wielding Decepticon than appears and slashes at Shockwave while commenting that although he wonders how Shockwave survived their last encounter and tracked them to Protihex, he never should have come alone, to which Shockwave replies: “that would be illogical”. At this point Shockwave’s Decepticon reinforcements appear, consisting of Trypticon, Soundwave, Ravage, and many others.

Deep within Cybertron, at the Well of the All Sparks, The Fallen makes his final preparations for The Unbinding. He states that Megatron’s experiments with space bridge technology are what allowed him to escape his underspace prison, and that when The Unbinding is complete, Primus’ inner fire will guide the Chaos Bringer to Cybertron!

Jetfire is having trouble accepting the theoretical and metaphysical implications of the above but tries to convince Grimlock to work with him to fight this impending doom.

Back above on the surface, the Chaos Trinity of Bludgeon, Bugly and Mindwipe are having touble fighting off the Decepticon advance, even with the help of automated weaponry. High above them Swoop monitors the battle, while reporting back to Autobase and Prowl. The two Autobots agree to send forces in to aid Shockwave and find Grimlock and Jetfire.

Deep in the well, The Fallen’s preparations are just about complete as the energies of the four unique sparks form the key that unlocks the seal of Primus. Jetfire tries to convince Grimlock to try and stem the flow of energy from their bodies, but Grimlock will have none of that, and instead uses brute force to break his way free of the bindings holding him down.

Up above, Bugly has fallen, and now Mindwipe and Bludgeon are all that remain. Mindwipe tries to convince Bludgeon to retreat, but unbeknownst to him, Bludgeon has already retreated to deep below the surface, leaving Mindwipe to be blasted by Shockwave at point blank range. At this point Swoop descends, along with the Autobot reinforcements, and with Shockwave’s approval, they combine forces to head after the Fallen. Shockwave also sends Skywarp to intercept Bludgeon. Using his teleportation abilities, Skywarp manages to get ahead of Bludgeon and blast him, knocking him offline. Skywarp then reappears on the surface, informing Shockwave that the elevator that will take them down will appear shortly. At this point Slag decides to sucker punch one of the Decepticon troops for the hell of it in a hilarious moment.

Deep below, Grimlock is about to attack The Fallen when Jetfire convinces him not to, telling the LSC commander that he has a plan to contain whatever The Fallen is about to do. Meanwhile, The Decepticon/Autobot forces reach the door to the well, and although it is locked, Trypticon uses his full arsenal of weapons to try and punch a hole in the door.

Grimlock takes Hotspot and Blitzwing through a nearby portal to the outside door where the Decepticons and Autobots are trying to get in. Jetfire then hops down to The Fallen’s level, while at the same time telling Bumblebee back at Autobase to prepare a level one containment field for immediate use.

Jetfire then confronts The Fallen, while at the same time Bumblebee activates the field. The Fallen laughs, noting that the field cannot hold him for very long. Jetfire then states that the field isn’t meant to hold The Fallen, to which The Fallen realises that the field is meant to contain the force he is about to unleash. At this point Primus' massive hand, wreathed in light, appears, and grabs The Fallen. The Fallen screams out as he is sucked below the seal, where he vanishes without a trace.

Later, the two factions agree to seal off the Well of All Sparks with a special door that can only be opened if both factions permit it. Prowl comments that Jetfire didn’t see what happened inside, but as Jetfire later remarks to Grimlock, the Cybertronians' cocoon of safety has just been destroyed and a larger evil awaits.

And in the background we see a small picture of Unicron…
Remarks
The first War Within Volume, while overall spectacular, had one main flaw, namely a poor conclusion that felt awkward at numerous moments. While not poor enough to torpedo the entire series, it did leave a sour taste in the mouth of many readers. Thankfully, Furman avoids the first War Within’s mistake and produces a conclusion that resolves the story arc while at the same time raising new issues for the Transformers to face in their future.

The issue avoids the pacing issues that hurt War Within Volume 1’s conclusion. After five issues of build up the final battle does not feel forced and instead flows well with the overall storyline. In addition the dialogue throughout the issue fits every character perfectly. Shockwave gets some nice revenge in the opening, and always acts logically, such as accepting the help of the Autobots. Jetfire’s dialogue represents someone with a scientific mindset that is suddenly faced with the metaphysical impact of deities in combat (Unicron and Primus), while The Fallen gets the enjoyable super-villain dialogue that is needed.

More importantly, Jetfire effectively stops The Fallen on his own, which balances out the less than positive impression he's made over the past five issues (namely doing nothing to help Shockwave, pissing off the Autobots, and so on). The lack of Optimus Prime and Megatron is put to great effect here as characters such as Skywarp, Slag, Trypticon, Swoop and others get moments in the spotlight that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Notably, Prime and Megatron do not return this issue either, which is preferable.

The dialogue allows for levity throughout the issue which is very welcome to the reader. From Swoop's casual flippancy (“Oh you know… maximum force, all guns blazing, same old, same old”) to Shockwave’s delicious revenge (“Uhh… alone? That would be illogical”) the humour adds much to the story.

Seeing Slag deck one of the Decepticons has to be one of the funniest moments in Transformers history as well, although it must be granted that the moment in question could confuse some as it comes completely out of nowhere, and the other characters don't seem perturbed by it. On another note, it isn't quite clear who exactly Slag is punching. It could be a miscoloured Shrapnel or a Deluxe Insecticon. It would've been nice to know for sure.

Another fun moment occurs at the end during this exchange between Prowl and Shockwave:

Prowl – “Whatever’s in there stays buried. Until… until…”
Shockwave – “…All are one?”
Prowl – “Catchy. Yeah, something like that.”

It's a neat turn of events that leads to a Decepticon of all things coining this famous phrase and advocating or supporting a unified Cybertron. This does raise some light on Shockwave's behaviour during the G1 Volume 2 storyline, namely his desire to rule a unified Cybertron.

Shockwave shooting Mindwipe through the chest, and Skywarp triumphing over Bludgeon are two further moments to treasure.

On a side note, this ending feels somewhat inspired by the ending of the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the villain is sucked into a ball of flame and sealed for eternity. In addition, the UK Transformers story, City of Fear also has some influences - witness the moment where Trypticon and company are venturing through the Cybertronian depths and Trypticon has to force the door.

The art is good throughout. Although the Dark Ages was a rough transition for many due to the switch from Figueroa to Wildman, and the inconsistent inking and colouring, issue 6 is solid throughout its entirety. Aside from a slight mis-colour of Blitzwing late in the issue, everyone else is spot on, and there are some great moments worthy of note. The opening splash shot of Shockwave blowing away Mindwipe and Bugly is fantastic, and his page 3 reappearance with the Decepticon reinforcements is a sight to behold. Page 13, panel 5 is simply good fun as it shows Slag sucker-punching one of the Decepticons, and finally page 18, panel 3, has a great action shot as Jetfire jumps down to confront The Fallen.

But by far the coolest shot is that of Primus’s hand on page 20, panel 1, wreathed in energy, as it consumes The Fallen, presumably destroying him utterly (though Dreamwave do go slightly overboard on the effects, obscuring the pencils somewhat). Rounding that out with a completely opposite and subtle image is that of Jetfire on the last page, last panel, somberly remarking that somewhere out there is a greater evil. Near Jetfire’s head lies a small image of Unicron, a subtle, but powerful reminder of the Transformers’ destiny.

There are a few things to note about the entire Dark Ages mini-series, now that it is concluded.

Firstly, as with the prior War Within series, this material is clearly aimed at those who have some understanding of the Marvel comics, particularly the origin of the war between Primus and Unicron. Those who are new to the Transformers mythos, or solely (and regrettably) watched the cartoon, will not nearly enjoy this series as much, particularly the appearance of characters such as Bludgeon, Shockwave (he was quite boring in the cartoon, no arguing about it) and The Fallen.

In addition the series has a sense of a pyrrhic victory for the Cybertronians, for it is never truly known whether or not the Fallen succeeded in alerting Unicron. Although it is safe to say that Cybertron wasn't fully "lit up like a beacon", perhaps Bumblebee's forcefield didn't fully shield Primus?

Sadly, the lack of no-name background characters is a problem throughout the series. Although the 'red-shirt' phenomenon can be humourous, war stories do need random characters to get killed to flesh out the plot sometimes. Dropshot fulfilled this role in Armada, while Overload did the same in the first War Within. Admittedly Hardcase and friends attempted to fill this role in the first issue of this volume, but it was not enough and the sense of an epic planetwide conflict suffers as a result. Though this is supposed to be a sort of guerrilla war period of Cybertronian history, it would have been nice to have more background characters overall.

Finally, fans should be shocked with the way Dreamwave handled this series. Not only were elements of Furman's dialogue removed from issue 6, but Wildman's superb art was repeatedly screwed up by very poor inking and colouring.
Character development
Prowl, like Shockwave, is logical about how to deal with The Fallen, namely, join with the Decepticons and aid them. It is also interesting to note that he and Shockwave appear to get along really well during their brief chat at the end of the issue. Perhaps their similar and logical mindsets both realise that in working together they achieve the real purpose of the Transformers?

Where Jetfire tries to fight The Fallen using more subtle attempts, Grimlock decides to think with his fists and brute force. This is a nice touch as at this point Grimlock’s 'rage' hasn’t been influenced by Optimus’ guidance.

Shockwave is logical, and may have a sense of humour behind that cold mask of rationality. One can almost sense the smugness as he responds to Bludgeon’s verbal sparring by mentioning that coming alone would have been illogical, as the Decepticon reinforcements arrive. At the same time Shockwave has a grudging respect for Bludgeon: "If there is among you, an intellect worthy of consideration, I suspect it is his."

In addition, Shockwave holds Bugly and Mindwipe accountable for crimes against the planet. This is an interesting touch as it appears Shockwave sees himself as guardian of Cybertron in some sense, which will play a role in Dreamwave’s Volume 2 mini-series.

Shockwave has no qualms about siding with the Autobots to stop The Fallen: "I propose a temporary cease fire, a pooling of resources." He also has the foresight to send Skywarp ahead to sort out Bludgeon, and then takes temporary command of both the 'bots and 'cons.

Bludgeon is arrogant… and yet just enough of a coward to know when to run and abandon his allies. He's overconfident and underestimates Shockwave. He finds time to thank Shockwave for his faint praise though, and fights on as the odds stack up against him, for a chance of getting his 'reward' of dark power from The Fallen. The Dark Ages has shown him to be quite the loudmouthed little warrior, and whilst he's certainly fast and relatively strong, its good the way he's written as 'younger' - later as a Pretender he will become more silent as well as more adept at his craft.

The Fallen, consumed by his imminent victory, appears to have grossly underestimated the Cybertronians as noted when he misunderstands Jetfire’s containment field at first. He likes the sound of his own voice, and drones on and on with a religious like fervency.

Jetfire behaves as any scientist/logician would if faced with the metaphysical truth of deities battling for the fate of the universe: “Look whatever’s happening here is beyond even me. Theoretical, metaphysical stuff I’m… just not quite ready to accept.” Yet he is able to pull himself together to fight The Fallen, just in the nick of time.

Grimlock still wants payback and is ready to go for The Fallen again, but Jetfire finally gets through to him, and convinces him otherwise. Jetfire's been very patient with Grimlock these past few issues, and here it finally pays off (though he does practically have to beg). His convincing argument, good judgement and brave actions in the end are enough for them both to put their differences behind them. Jetfire is smart enough to think of a plan, knowing they can't fight the Fallen, but can defeat him another way. At the end of this issue Jetfire realises a far bigger war is looming, but he chooses not to tell the others about what he saw for some reason.

This issue offers us more insight as to why Grimlock and Jetfire don't get along. It appears it's more to do with their similarities than their differences, and regards both of their dalliances with the Decepticon way. As Jetfire puts it: "We both stood the wrong side of the line, saw the lure or logic of the Decepticon expansionist ideal. I remind you of who and what you almost were." This helps us understand why Grimlock was so eager to execute Jetfire for treason originally, even though it remains pretty hypocritical.

Swoop's casual flippancy in the face of imminent destruction is a welcome touch. Where Prowl, Shockwave and Jetfire see the need to work together to save Cybertron, one can almost see that Swoop is in this for the glory of saving Grimlock and for the thrill of the fight. Swoop does a commendable job leading the 'Dinobots' in Grimlock's absence. He comes to the Decepticons' aid, and is able to reconcile differences with Shockwave quickly in his usual down to earth manner.

Ah, even in the midst of an alliance it appears you can count on Slag to never hold back. When next to one of the Decepticons, Slag decides to knock him down, and most likely just because he may have looked at him funny.

Mindwipe's a bit of a coward really ("No... wait for me!") , though we knew that from his whimperings near the end of the original Marvel run.
Trivia
An Autobot Priority Code is referenced as Alpha-Alpha-One.

The level one containment field was also utilised last issue against The Fallen, where it failed. Here Autobase projects it to where Jetfire is by locking onto his position. As the Well of All Sparks is in "an extreme state of dimensional flux" the field has only a limited field range. The containment field allowed Primus to destroy The Fallen without being detected by Unicron. Autobase has the ability to project such an energy field an enormous distance away from HQ.

The Decepticons and Autobots agree to seal the chamber and erect individual energy barriers, one per faction. Thus the only way to unlock it is with the agreement of all factions involved.

Unicron is The Fallen's master.

Megatron’s experiments with Space Bridge technology unlocked The Fallen’s prison. The Fallen was trapped in 'Underspace.'

The Fallen’s machine drains unique energy from Jetfire, Hotspot, Blitzwing and Grimlock to unlock Primus’ seal. These four sparks are chosen as the Angles of Dissolution due to their unique genetic differences and potential. These differences could be in their personalities or abilities. Grimlock might represent strength or rage; Jetfire, logic; Hotspot, compassion, and Blitzwing, evolution or progress. However, this is all conjecture and we have no way of knowing for sure why these four were chosen.

Skywarp is able to teleport over large distances and through solid ground.

If a Transformer reroutes the power from their life support to their internal dampers, they can stem the flow of any power being siphoned off them for a while.

There was apparently an incident with a cerebro shell (unspecified) that cemented Grimlock's dislike of Jetfire.

The door to the chamber of The Well of All Sparks has markings on it not on any known database.
Good quotes
“Bugly, Mindwipe, you are hereby held accountable for crimes against this planet!” Shockwave.

“Uhh… alone? That would be illogical.” Shockwave.

“Cybertron burns, your creations thrash blindly and wildly in a churning cauldron of conflict. This is my master's design, etched by me on your worldskin. A chaotic stigmata... to mark his second coming!" The Fallen.

“Here’s Shockwave, large as life and twice as ugly.” Swoop.

“Oh you know… maximum force, all guns blazing. Same old, same old.” Swoop.

“Oh, sorry, missed that… on account of whole breaking free thing!” Grimlock.

Mindwipe – “Bludgeon? No… wait for me! Don’t-”
Shockwave – “Too late.”

“Shockwave said you were fast… I’m faster!” Skywarp.

“Puh-ri—muu—fhhh—eeeeuerr!” The Fallen.

Prowl – “Whatever’s in there stays buried. Until… until…”
Shockwave – “…All are one?”
Prowl – “Catchy. Yeah, something like that.”
Bad quotes
Mistakes
Blitzwing is slightly miscoloured at the end of the issue. He is pink rather than purple.

Shrapnel is miscoloured.

Prowl refers to Protihex as Altihex.

Story rating
7 star
Art rating
7 star
Media
Reviewed by
Computron