Scanning My Collection logo

I was hoping my next Scanning My Collection article would get away from both Transformers and comics. However, this time tomorrow, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will be in theaters. If the character actually called the Fallen wasn’t just part of Michael Bay’s disinformation campaign (complete with toy), I’m betting many movie goers who haven’t touched Transformers since their childhood (or the last movie) will be trying to remember who he is. Let me help.

This guy is not the Fallen.

None of these guys are the Fallen, either.

This is the Fallen.

tf_ww2-fallen

Never saw him before? That’s because he’s a fairly recent character. 2003-2004, to be exact. When I say that Simon Furman followed up his excellent The War Within mini-series for Dreamwave with tonight’s scan, I mean fouled up. Sadly, there are so many things wrong with this comic, that the only reason I own it is I’ll read anything taking place in the Transformers Multiverse. (Except for porn, and yes, there is Transformers porn. I fear the future of the human race.) But for those of you wondering where the concept came from, here’s tonight’s article.

Probably no spoilers for the movie, but if you’re concerned, feel free to wait until after you’ve seen the movie. I have read the comic prequels (I hope to have the prequel novel read by Sunday, which is when I’m going with my “crew”), so there is a connection.

Transformers: The War Within – The Dark Ages #1-6

PUBLISHER: Dreamwave (October 2003-April 2004; the last issue should have come out in March, though)

WRITER: Simon Furman  PENCILER: Andrew Wildman  INKERS: Erik Sander; Rob Armstrong  COLORISTS: Espen Grundetjern, Rob Fuffolo (that’s what I have in my program, but it could be I misread “Ruffolo”), Ramil Sunga, and Alan Wang  LETTERER: Benjamin Lee  (various cover artists–variant covers again 😛 )

Synopsis:

Optimus Prime forces Megatron through an experimental “Space Bridge”, and the two disappear into it as it explodes. All in three pages. Shift forward in time, and Cybertron’s in a worse mess than before. The Autobots and Decepticons have split into even smaller factions, the regular Autobots, the Wreckers and the Lightning Strike Coalition (LSC) are still technically one side, while the Decepticons, Predacons, and Ultracons do not seem to have anything to do with each other.

Into this situation drops the Burning Mech up there, the Fallen, who seems to have been released from dimensional space by the whole Space Bridge incident. He’s come on a mission to unseal…what? If your a Transformers fan, you’ll know, or at least have a clue. He recruits three Decepticons (sub-faction if any unknown); Bludgeon, Mindwipe, and Bugly, each of whom already study the “dark arts”. He offers them a greater power if they help with his plan. He requires four “unique sparks” to begin his unsealing process: Grimlock, Jetfire, Hot Spot, and Blitzwing. To get them, they begin manipulating the various factions, trying to get their targets when they can best kidnap them.

Meanwhile, things are rough for the sub-factions. Grimlock’s LSC take down Starscream’s Predacons. The Ultracons recruit the Construction Combiner team, which not only violates the treaty keeping the Combiners neutral, but forces the Protectobots (another Combiner team, led by Hot Spot) out of hiding. The Autobots deal with a Decepticon-created battle station warrior called Trypticon.

Jetfire, a former Decepticon who decided to join the Autobots, is sure that someone is manipulating events for his or their own end. Since the Autobots are unable or unwilling to listen to him, he seeks out Shockwave, a Decepticon who makes Mr. Spock look like an emotional basket case. The Fallen’s mechs make sure that Grimlock catches wind of it. Grimlock doesn’t like either Transformer very much, and plans to execute them both, convince Jetfire is going back to the Decepticons.

The Fallen uses this opportunity to capture all four Transformers for the “spell” to being the unsealing. However, this is Simon Furman’s Grimlock, which means brute force is enough to defeat anything. Jetfire convinces him to put their differences aside and let him try a plan that not only closes the “Well of All-Sparks”, but traps the Fallen within it. The Autobots and Decepticons join forces to also help, and take down the Fallen’s followers. They decide to seal the well, each faction given a key until the day “all are one”. However, Prime and Megatron are still gone.

Analysis:

tf_ww2-prowl

The whole series, Prowl. The whole series.

It’s rare for me to say that I liked a Simon Furman story. In his Marvel run, I like his “Matrix Quest” arc, although with certain reservations. I liked his convention comic set in the Beast Wars series. His Armada/Energon run was well done. And I liked the first War Within mini-series. I’ve pretty much disliked to hated everything else he’s done when it comes to Transformers, including this series.

First off, you have to be a Transformer fan to understand who Primus is, and thus know he’s the one the Fallen is trying to unseal. As it is, The Fallen himself was “fleshed out” not in the Dreamwave comics, but the Transformers: The Ultimate Guide, which Furman was a contributor. He created this character, who is supposed to be one of the first 13 Transformers. It also brings the occult into the Transformers comics. I didn’t like the two appearances in the cartoon, and I don’t like it here. I have nothing against mixing supernatural and science fiction (aka science fantasy). I am a Star Wars fan. (Although I’m more interested in C3PO and R2D2 than whatever the Jedis are up to.) Like a number of things Furman has brought into the comics, it just feels unnecessary and out of place in a Transformers story. However, if I were to list every issue I have with Furman’s Transformers, including the “Grimlock porn” embodied in this story (Grimlock is almost always right, even when he’s wrong, and his brute force style always carries the day), I’d have to write a series of articles on it. And I plan to. (Even have the logo ready to go.)

The Furman Files logo

Coming soon…

tf_ww2-bridge

Prime's beta testing carrer was cut short.

One last note on the story: As I stated, Optimus Prime and Megatron are taken out of the picture in only 3 pages. 3 pages! Now in Furman’s defense, there was an odd edict by Dreamwave that all the series had to get the two leaders out of the way. All the series had to be about how the various factions dealt with the loss of their leaders. Then Megatron would return in all the series at the same time. Optimus was also set to return in all series, but again, Dreamwave’s collapse prevented that from happening. However, I still don’t understand why Pat Lee and/or the Transformers crew ordered all the series to do this.

That doesn’t change the fact that the way done in War Within was the dumbest way to do it. (As a contrast, the way Furman “followed orders” in Energon, an alternate universe based on the then current line, made a lot more sense.) Furman’s idea in this series, which was a prequel to the IDW version of Generation One (aka the original series), was to send both leaders into the Space Bridge. However, wouldn’t Optimus and Megatron disappear again when the Ark crashed on Earth? Why not go with that story? Why didn’t the factions collapse into sub-factions the next time? It just didn’t make any sense, and it still doesn’t. The only reason I can think of is that Generation One established that Grimlock and the Dinobots were among the Ark crew (just like the Marvel run) which means Simon couldn’t use his pet character in that situation. The man’s obsessed, I tell you. I wouldn’t be this insistent with Bumblebee, and he means at least as much to me, if not more.

Andrew Wildman is mostly well known as being Simon Furman’s partner in crime, starting with their work together in Marvel’s The Transformers. The two of them have worked together on non-Transformer projects as well, starting Wildfur Productions together. As mentioned in the last SMC, I didn’t like Wildman’s Transformers back in the Marvel days, because they resembled people in Transformer costumes more than they did actual robots. His Transformers have improved much since then, and here, like in G.I. Joe Vs. The Transformers: Black Horizon, they finally look like robots.

tf_ww2-jetfire

There were so many splash pages, I just started cutting part of the panel off.

However, he must have wanted to leave me something to complain about, and that would be the overuse of splash pages. Everytime someone we haven’t seen in a previous book makes their debut, it’s done in a splash page. There are other splash pages as well that feel less necessary, as if Wildman was trying to show off his Cybertronian form designs for the Transformers. The only thing he shows off is that he’s no Don Figueroa when it comes to mechanical designs. (Which is more praise for Don than it is a slam of Wildman.) Don’s character models actually looked like they can transform. In Wildman’s defense, though, Figeroa has scratched built his own fully-functional Transformers. (He even used them in a story called Macromasters, the fan-comic that led to his career in comics in general, and Transformers specifically.) He’s also designed actual Transformers toys for Hasbro, as well as packaging art for some of the figures. This give him something of an edge. There is no defense for overusing splash pages, though.

As to the fate of Optimus Prime and Megatron (who are indeed part of the “modern time” Generation One series in the Dreamwave G1-TFU), their fate will forever remain a mystery. Although Megatron returned in the third mini-series of the early war stories, The War Within: The Age of Wrath, the series was cut short when Dreamwave fell.

So now you know where The Fallen comes from when you go to see the movie. I’m not sure how Furman has become the “god” of Transformers, or why other writers keep going to his ideas, but as I’ll show in my planned “Furman Files” articles, I have a lot of issues with his takes and concepts. It’s just not the Transformer I grew up with.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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