War Within: Age of Wrath #3
The book opens with Slamdance telling how he only survived Starscream's attack back in issue 1 because Starscream wanted him alive to broadcast how he had killed the council. Slamdance found a place to hide deep underground, and found "the Source", a sentient mainframe composed of the collective consciousness of Cybertron. With him in the resistance cell are Perceptor, Flash, Boss, Scorch and Hurricane, among others. Apart from resisting Megatron's rule, the group is attempting to find the vanished Optimus Prime in "foldspace". Nightbeat's group examine their captured Aerospace drone, only for it to power up and start teleporting in weapons. A major battle ensues, which seems to exist mainly to demonstrate just how dangerous the Aerospace drones are and making Megatron's conquest of Cybertron with them seem entirely plausible. He has numbers of them, and they're all very dangerous.
Meanwhile, Rumble and Frenzy have apparently badly damaged Shockwave's equipment that was being used to examine an Aerospace drone. He goes off to report, and while Rumble and Frenzy are happy to be in one piece, they're attacked from behind. It's unclear who it is from the issue, but there's what looks like a face on the wall. Having read the plot synopsis for the next issue, I think this was meant to be Grimlock, but I can't remember if I suspected that at the time of publication. I think I may have.
Slapdash and Joyride attempt to take down the Aerospace drone, but it's Getaway who takes the drone down. Or maybe it's Blaster jamming his control signal. Or maybe the thing just shut down. It's not entirely clear. The issue ends with Flash evading the other Turbomasters and driving through Perceptor's foldspace access to end up on what is very clear Quintessa.
And that's it... half a story that was never finished. I enjoyed the two and a half trips into Cybertron's distant past that Dreamwave gave us. I'd like to have seen Ultra Magnus's character arc play out, and see Optimus Prime recovered. Speaking of which, he's on the back cover in an ad for Transformers issue 12, which promises that December is Optimus Prime month. Thanks for nothing, Dreamwave.
Bonus retro review:
20th Anniversary Transformers Summer Special #1
Featuring Pat Lee, Don Figeroa and More!!
So, this is a great little sampler across the various Transformers brands at the time. There's an ad for the playstation Transformers game that started out as Armada. I remember renting that back in the day and borrowing my brother in law's Playstation to try it. Great game. I still remember trying to fight Tidal Wave, or trying to beat Unicron at the end. In any case, the summer special issue has various short stories in it by various artists, beginning with:
G1: Welcome to the Jungle, by Brad Mick and Pat Lee. Megatron is on the planet Beest (yeah, really) to subdue the Predacons. He's fighting Razorclaw, who has lost his sense of identity while on the planet and actually believes himself to be one of the local animals. Megatron rants a bit and takes some damage, but he cows Razorclaw and follows him into the jungle, ordering his Aerospace drones to remain behind. If anyone remembers the Beast Wars episode where that version of Megatron was hunting the bestial Maximals through the jungle, it's a similar idea here. And I can see Megatron engaging in a test of strength up close just to prove who is in charge. He defeats Razorclaw and repairs his personality circuits. He does the same with the other Predacons, and gives them the ability to combine into Predaking. No need for the Enigma of Combination here, it's just engineering skills. Pat Lee's art is pretty good, and as a short and sweet character piece for Megatron that sets up future storylines, the story works.
Energon: Perspective by Simon Furman and James Raiz. Our one glimpse of what Energon might have looked like had the series made it beyond issue 30, this story has Snowcat, Sluglinger and Sharkticon all trying to explain to Megatron how they failed to penetrate Ocean City's defenses or sabotage the Omega Supreme prototype. Each Decepticon lies about what happened, with the visuals giving the true story while the narration gives the Decepticon's version of events. The three are discussing how Megatron took it afterwards when he appears to talk to Slugslinger. Basically, Slugslinger told the best lie, so he gets a promotion. It's a fun story, and I enjoy seeing some solid art from James Raiz.
The centerfold of the book is a big ad for Micromasters, with the "Battle of the Bots" mail in card that lets the reader choose between Robots in Disguise or Beast Wars as the next mini-series. We all know which one won, I hope. I didn't vote.
RID: Ultra Magnus... to the Rescue? Adam Patyk and Rob Ruffolo - Have we ever had any other comics set in the RID continuity? Ruffalo's art leaves a lot to be desired, and the story tries a bit too hard to mimic the cartoon exactly, down to characters calling out their attacks ("Ultra kick!" "Tsunami Blaster!"). But some good clean artwork would have made a world of difference. I'm quite fond of the RID cartoon, but I'm not sure how well it translates to comic form. The meat of the story is RID Magnus swapping insults with Scourge, who he calls a "spray-painted Optimus imitation" among other things. And of course, Sky-byte has to sabotage things with the help of the Predacons so Scourge doesn't look too good.
Fun story that uses the RID continuity fairly well, but awful artwork. A missed opportunity.
Beast Wars - Ain't No Rat by Brad Mick and Don FIgeroa. I'm with Dom: Don Figeroa is hands down the best artist Dreamwave had, and he gives it his all here. Like the Energon story, this is our one glimpse of how Dreamwave's Beast Wars mini-series would have gone, even if a lot of it was recycled for IDW. The story opens as the Autobot shuttle is on the way back to Cybertron with Megatron strapped to the outside. Five of the six surviving Maximals powered down for the long trip, and Rattrap decides to do the same. He's dreaming of a time back during the wars when he borrowed a ground vehicle that Rhinox had built and took it for a spin, only to be attacked by Dinobot II. Rattrap is badly outmatched and tries to appeal to the original Dinobot's memories, but it doesn't quite work out. He's rescued by three non-show Maximals: Optimus Minor, Wolfang and Bonecrusher. They refuse to return with him and meet the others, because they have a purpose beyond fighting. Rattrap's dream/memory ends when Optimus Primal awakens him, and they talk about being glad to leave the insanity behind them.
Now, THAT's the way to draw a comic. Great art, and a story that focuses on the familiar Beast Wars show characters rather than all the others we saw during IDW's mini. It leaves a lot unexplained, with the idea that we'd presumably find out more later on, so it's somewhat unsatisfying in that regard.
One thing I have to give all these Dreamwave Transformers books over IDW is that I always looked forward to the next month, and I often read issues several times. That's not the case these days. I think it's a combination of looking at the hobby differently, and perhaps the success of IDW's line making it feel safe and familiar now as opposed to the "anything can happen" feeling of Dreamwave back in the day. I like both companies' output, but sometimes I miss the fun and the variety of Dreamwave's offerings.