With volume one and volume two released in 2002 and 2003 respectively by the now-defunct Dreamwave Comics, ‘Transformers: The War Within‘ was re-released in 2009 by IDW Publishing as a complete omnibus. Simon Furman wrote both volumes with art by Don Figueroa for volume one and Andrew Wildman for volume two.
Megatron unites the Decepticons on Cybertron, recruiting from a gladiatorial ring and murdering Sentinel Prime, the current leader. Prowl attempts to control the Autobots, but the rogue warrior Grimlock is acting on his own. The Cybertron High Council decides to give the Matrix of Leadership in an attempt to unite the planet, giving it to a young data collector known as Optimus Prime. Since he is not a warrior, the Autobots are hesitant to follow him, especially Grimlock, but after Prime shows no fear in confronting Megatron, he manages to earn their respect. However, Jetfire and Shockwave figure out that the Fallen is coming and a new dark age is coming for the Transformers.
Dreamwave Comics came at a time when Hasbro had moved on from Generation One. We had some good shows like Beast Wars and Car Robots, but also bad shows like Beast Machines and Energon. It was a shame they went bankrupt because if you are a Transformers fan, this era of the comics is gold.
Simon Furman is a brilliant writer. He does not pull punches and leans into the “this is war” angle totally. It is brutal and tough with no hint of political correctness or fatigue. He ramps the plot up with all of the favorite characters from Optimus Prime to Megatron to Grimlock to Star Scream. Sure, it deviates from the original animated series, but it still pays homage to it and relies on it for a lot of its lore. It made both the first volume and “The Dark Ages” volume two that much more exciting.
Both Don Figueroa and Andrew Wildman are brilliant artists. They do not cut corners or phone it in. The character designs, the backgrounds, and even just the landscape of Cybertron are done so brilliantly. I especially liked the early versions of Grimlock and Jetfire.
It is something lacking in current Transformers comics. Furman and his collaborators were fearless in how they brought about the world of Cybertron. They deviated from the Generation One show but still managed to rely on it with a love of the franchise that is lacking with IDW Publishing, even with the ones from there I enjoy.
Volume three, titled “The Age of Wrath” was never completed, so the story arc sort of ends in a cliffhanger. I wish Furman had been allowed to conclude the series when Transformers changed hands within the comic book industry. This was brilliant work and one that every fan should try to get their hands on.
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