Transformers: The War Within #1
Dreamwave (October, 2002)WRITER: Simon Furman PENCILER/INKER: Don Figueroa CO-INKER: Elaine To COLORIST: Rob Ruffolo LETTERING: Dreamer Design GRAPHIC DESIGN: Kevin Lee EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Roger Lee
Cybertron: the past. Megatron has eliminated Sentinel Prime and the now leaderless Autobots are in disarray. With rumors abounding and even those declaring neutrality not spared from the Decepticon forces, Grimlock has decided that if the next leader falters they should take the mantle from him, by force if necessary. The elders have chosen the next prime, an archivist now dubbed Optimus Prime. While he fends off an assassination attempt he has come to a decision. If the Decepticons want Cybertron so badly, just leave and let them have it.
What they got right: I have often criticized Furman for making Optimus weak and always questioning his own decisions. Here it makes sense. It’s Optimus’ first day as prime. While I have my issues with the supernatural elements Furman keeps shoving into Transformers it’s a well-done idea as we see the entire process to assure they have the right choice as the next Prime. Whatever problems I have with Dreamwave’s house style when it comes to drawing Transformers, their coloring is fantastic. I wish I could color half as well as Ruffolo. Figueroa’s backgrounds and character models are very good, which isn’t a surprise since he not only built his own Transformers from scratch but some of these designs were actually used by Hasbro.
What they got wrong: Sadly it was for their “Titanium” line, which didn’t know how to balance die-cast and plastic correctly. Back to the comic, however, Figueroa uses way too many close up shots. In the fight with the assassins you really couldn’t see what was happening. At least you can tell them apart, unlike the Bay/ILM designs but it was still too close. It’s like he drew the characters properly and had to edit the panels and opted to not zoom out when he did it. I don’t know how much digital drawing he did back then or now but that’s what it looks like. I’m also curious how an archivist (named “Optronix” in promotional material but not in the comic itself) was chosen as Prime during war. In every other continuity Optimus rose the ranks to become Prime, even when he started as an archivist again in Transformers Prime, as shown in the War For Cybertron game we’re told is part of that cannon. But here he’s chosen for no discernible reason.
Recommendation: I remember this being one of the few Furman stories I liked. Of course I said the same thing about the “Matrix Quest” storyline and that turned out to only have good concepts tarnished with a poor execution. Hopefully it’s not the same here because I really hated the other miniseries. You can see a semi-animated adaptation below, but I would recommend checking out the comic.