What I like about four-issue series, as opposed to the more current (trade-friendly) six-issue arcs, is that they really push the pace of the story. There’s room in Infiltration/Escalation/Devastation et al to sidetrack into ‘B’ stories and subplots (in itself a very gratifying pursuit), but with a four-issue story you pretty much have to get in, tell the story, and get out, with not much in the way of diversions. So it is with Beast Wars The Ascending, and I can’t help but feel—having just wrapped issue #3 of the series—it’s a good thing. No sooner, it seems, you’ve set up the characters, threats, etc, than you’re racing breathlessly towards the epic conclusion. Not that there’s not much to The Ascending. Quite the opposite in fact. The series is packed, both with story and characters, and set (far more than The Gathering was) on two worlds (prehistoric Earth and Cybertron). Poor Don (Figueroa). It’s not just that he’s got to squeeze in the entire cast of The Gathering along with a host of characters previously exclusive to the Japanese Beast Wars line, he’s got to retro-design about half of them (or more) so they appear in robot/alt. forms suitable for Cybertron. So what can I tell you about issue #3, while keeping things as spoiler-free as possible? Well, on the Earthbound side of the equation, heroic Maximal Razorbeast is engaged in some decidedly unheroic acts, forcing his team-mates into drastic (and quite possibly tragic) action. Conversely, self-serving Predacon Ravage is doing some uncharacteristically altruistic deeds, risking life and limb to broker a truce between the Predacons and The Pack. Seriously! Everything’s turned on its head in issue #3. Oh, and on Cybertron, those who’ve been craving some full on Big Convoy action (against The Ascending’s main ‘big bad’) will not be disappointed. Although you might want to look away on page 9! And then, as the issue comes to a close, just as Lio Convoy’s thinking things can’t get any worse and Don’s thinking, “thank God he can’t squeeze any more characters in here,” another quintet of bad guys make their comic book debut (although, thinking about it, one has previously featured in a Transformers comic book!!). Beast Wars The Ascending #3 is scheduled for October. For more information on all IDW’s Transformers titles, visit their website here.