Comicbook: The Transformers (IDW)
aka: Transformers Ongoing
If Prime were here, he'd know what to say. Over the years, I got to thinkin'. What Prime had... what made him great, it wasn't that he was so strong — even though he was — it was that he could talk... and what he said, it made you feel as strong as he was. I really do wish Prime was here right now.
A monthly Generation 1
series published by IDW Publishing, which picks up the story threads from Transformers: All Hail Megatron
three years later and moves the story forward. The series is written by Mike Costa, with monthly art by various artists including Don Figueroa, Alex Milne, Nick Roche and Guido Guidi. Notable for having Optimus Prime resign from active leadership, Bumblebee being put into his place as head of the Earth-based Autobot unit, and Megatron rebuilt into a new, more powerful form. A running theme of the series contrasts the static, unchanging Transformers with the inventive and constantly moving-forward human race.
The series started in November, 2009. Issues 22 and 23 were written by James Roberts of Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers
fame and focused on Prime and Megatron's history. The series ended with issue 31 (December, 2011), along with Costa's tenure on the franchise. A one shot 'The Death Of Optimus Prime' came after and set up two new series; Transformers: More than Meets the Eye
and the Transformers: Robots in Disguise.
- Above Good and Evil: How Galvatron views himself. He does things that we the reader would judge as both good and bad, but in his own words he considers himself just "The only future that matters". He wants to save Cybertron but he's perfectly happy to kill, torture and brainwash to do it and he doesn't remotely care about any non-Cybertronian life.
- Adaptational Badass: The Sweeps. In most stories they are weak, easily dispatched minions that pose little threat. Here they are a monstrous swarm that quickly tear through the Autobot forces and devour their fallen victims.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Bad boy Spike goes for a spin in a disabled Breakdown and apparently uses the Stunticon's auto mode to pick up chicks, judging by the scantily-clad woman whose house he is seen leaving in issue 2. Later when Prowl and Streetwise are staking out Spike, Prowl sees Spike engaging in more ladies-man style behavior. He admits that he's not particularly surprised to see him acting like this.
- And Then What?: With the Decepticons actually winning the war, Starscream realizes that Megatron doesn't really have a long-term plan outside on proving their superiority over the Autobots and general conquest.
Starscream: Your philosophy, Megatron...
Starscream: The Strong should rule....
Megatron: Again Starscream? We find ourselves here AGAIN?
Starscream: All this... for what? Where to NOW Megatron? WHERE TO NEXT!?!
- Anticlimax: Invoked Optimus vs. Megatron in the Revenge of the Decepticons arc, Optimus is finally facing Megatron after about 3 years, Megatron has just gotten a new body, and No Sells all the Autobots attacks. Optimus goes one on one, drops a Satellite from orbit on top of Megatron, defeating all the other cons, he breaks his rifle pistol whipping Megatron, they gear up for their fight and... Megatron defeats Prime offscreen, walks up to the Autobot base and surrenders himself. Of course we later found out that this was because he was about to unleash all his Decepticons into their base via space bridge built into his body.
- The Anti-Nihilist: Optimus Prime is reimagined into this. Over the years he's grown cynical and depressed by the sheer responsibilty he's forced to carry and it's lightly implied that he may be a Death Seeker too. But that dosen't stop him from risking his life to save others and fighting to protect all life even though he dosen't really have to.
- Anti-Villain: Thundercracker ultimately.
- Anyone Can Die: Sort of. Scrapper is actually dead. Several characters have been at the brink of death but have continued to live, including Bumblebee, Hot Rod and Soundwave. Ironhide dies in the first issue, and the Ironhide that is revived in his own mini-series is not the same character, since his memories come from a four-million-year-old backup. The story is written in such a way that major G1 characters appear to be just as vulnerable as any other cannon-fodder C-lister, though most of them are only "near death" and not actually killed off.
- Appropriated Appellation: During the reign of Nominus Prime, the term "Autobot" was an insult for Cybertronians that other species came up with in reference to the race's caste system and mechanical nature. Orion Pax, in calling for societal reforms, suggested that Cybertronians should claim the slur as their own.
- Ax-Crazy: Arcee spent over six years killing Jhiaxus over and over again purely for pleasure. And some revenge.
- And Menasor, as the result of Swindle's pirated Combiner technology leads to all of the Stunticon personalities being active, instead of the combiner having one unified mind.
- Badass: Even before he became a Prime, Optimus was this, as the Chaos Theory flashbacks show. Even knowing that at least some of the Senate is corrupt, he marches right through their security and lectures at them.
- Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Megatron fighting D-void.
- Back from the Dead: Ironhide, thanks to Alpha Trion.
- Big Bad: Swindle is behind many of the things that have happened on Earth that trouble the Autobots, and Spike has been working with him for some time.
- Bittersweet Ending: The universe is saved, Galvatron is defeated, the Great War is finally over, Ben Simpson is killed, Swindle is caught, Cyclonus pulls a Heel-Face Turn and helps stop Galvatron, and Spike and Allenby's crimes are revealed, making Spike a fugitive and shutting down Skywatch and its corruption once and for all. But Cybertron has been left a primordial wasteland by Vector Sigma's "reboot", any relationship between the Cybertronians and humanity has been ruined, Spike escapes, Optimus Prime goes into self-enforced exile, and the Matrix is completely spent. It's a victory, but it's a costly one.
- Blood Knight: Megatron has gone from a crusader for change to this, outright admitting to Optimus that he'd go to every effort just to kill the last Autobot standing because he'd enjoy it.
- Book Ends: The first and last issue end with Optimus abdicating his position as leader of the Autobots and going into a self-imposed exile.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Cyclonus. He turns on Galvatron the minute it wears off.
- Broken Pedestal: Megatron is this to Optimus, from the time he was just a cop called Orion Pax. Heck, Autobots as a whole are this to Optimus before he became a Prime.
- Brown Note: D-Void is this to Decepticons.
- Bug War: Ironhide and Metroplex vs the Insecticon Swarm.
- Call Back: In the first story arc of the ongoing, to Swindle and Ultra Magnus's rivalry, with Swindle being such a crook that even the Decepticons wouldn't have him and Ultra Magnus being a "by the book" space cop.
- Can't Stop the Signal: Jazz does this at the end of the "Police Action" story arc, sending evidence of Spike, Swindle, and Allenby's crimes and corrupton to the media so they can't cover everything up.
- Chekhov's Gunman: A senator is seen helping Orion Pax during a flashback in the Chaos Theory portion of the series. He'll become a lot more important in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye where its revealed that the senator was Shockwave.
- The Chosen One: Hot Rod / Rodimus is hinted at being one. He describes having the Matrix as one of the most wonderful experiences of his life, compared to Optimus, who says that when he bonded with the Matrix it "hurt like Hell".
- Combat Pragmatist: Facing a bunch of thugs with no weapons, what does Orion Pax do? Rips one of his smokestacks off and stabs the last thug in the face with it!
- Combining Mecha: The Stunticons form Menasor as usual thanks to Swindle, however because due to flaws in the process each of the Stunticons maintains an individual will. This leads to indecision and paralysis as the component parts bicker and try to protect themeselves while in the heat of battle.
- Con Man: Swindle, though it's played a little more sinisterly than most examples.
- Crapsack World: We get an exploration of pre-war Cybertron in issues 22 and 23.
- Cryptic Background Reference: A number of ideas and concepts that would play a major role in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye (The Institute, the Galactic Council, Constructed Cold vs Forged Cybertronians, etc.) first appear in "Chaos Theory."
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Megatron defeats pretty much everyone easily post-upgrade. He no sells pretty much everything thrown his way. It takes a universe destroying Eldritch Abomination to finally cause him some problems, and ultimately he prevails.
- Starscream vs Brawn. The seeker didn't stand a chance.
- Dangerous Deserter : Thundercracker. Hot Rod also qualifies.
- Dark Lord on Life Support: Megatron has been in a coma since he was shot in the head by Spike at the end of Transformers: All Hail Megatron and the Decepticons have fallen apart under Starscream's leadership. Shockwave and Soundwave put him back together in an all new body.
- Darkest Hour: The Decepticons find themselves scattered and near collapse in the aftermath of Transformers: All Hail Megatron under Starscream's leadership. The troops who made it to the asteroid are directionless and have fallen in to cannibalism just to survive. Those stranded on Earth are hunted by humans or forced to serve human governments in exchange for energon. It takes Megatron's revival and new plan for conquest put faction back on its feet.
- Dawn of an Era: "The Death of Optimus Prime" sees Cybertron becoming habitable again, a definitive Autobot victory over the Decepticons, the abdication of Optimus Prime after the emptying of the Matrix, the return of rest of Cybertonian race (whom many had long written off for dead), and a schism among the Autobots as Rodimus seeks the Knights of Cybertron among the stars, while Bumblebee attempts to build a stable society on Cybertron.
- Death Is Cheap: Galvatron and his army were all dead at one time or another and have all been resurrected by the "Heart of Darkness" respectively.
- Generally averted however. Most Transformers that have died over the course of IDW's Transformers comics have remained dead. The "resurrected" Ironhide is running from a millions-of-years-old backup of his memories, and it's not clear if Hot Rod/Rodimus was dead or just very badly damaged.
- Death Seeker: Starscream, by the time Megatron is back on his feet. Megatron shakes him out of this mindset, after a severe beating.
- Decompressed Comic: The first story arc got hit with it hard to it's detriment. A lot of the scenes are overly drawn out and what could have easily been a 3-4 issue storyline is instead stretched to being six issues long. It dosen't sound bad but when you actually read the comic, it's unbearable to have to watch Optimus and Spike have long, dragged out conversations that never accomplish anything or affect the plot. After the first story arc though it gets much better though.
- Depending on the Artist: A major complaint from readers was that the model for any given Transformer would change depending on who was drawing the book. This was a deliberate editorial choice, but has now changed so that character models are consistent, while allowing for differences in artistic style.
- Continuity seems to take a hit on this too, making one wonder where the editorial focus was on. Hot Rod/Rodimus is shot by Megatron in his new body, with the Matrix still attached to him as he's drifting in space. But in a recap drawn by a different artist, Megatron is drawn with his classic gun body while the Matrix is blown off Rodimus.
- Distant Finale: Issue 31 acts as this for not only the ongoing, but the entirety if the series. It takes place thousands of years after the events of the series.
- Eldritch Abomination: The D-Void, which created the portal to the Dead Universe, is capable of reanimating and controlling the dead, and managed to brainwash all but two of the Decepticons.
- Electric Torture: Optimus Prime of all bots subjects Megatron to this with the variable voltage harness when he realizes that his prisoner interrogation is going nowhere and that Megatron feels no remorse for any of the atrocities that he has committed. He actually issued a lethal dose of electricity, but Omega Supreme cut him off when he realized where things were going.
- Evil Weapon: The weapons sold by Earth's Children, based on Megatron's alt mode. They contain the Decepticon leader's consciousness which can control humans who buy the guns.
- Fandom Nod: Whether intentional or not, Megatron's lines about hating everything Optimus Prime stands for and the fact that Optimus is in his way, but not Optimus himself, mirror something Galvatron says of Rodimus Prime in James Robert's fic Eugenesis.
- Fantastic Racism: In Chaos Theory, we get the first mention of the Forged and the Constructed Cold, referring to different means of creating Cybertronian life. According to Megatron, there was even an apartheid, which they had 'moved beyond' at the time of his arrest.
- Foreshadowing: The scenes that James Roberts wrote forshadowed his comic Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: The Chaos Theory Arc set up numerous plot points later developed in the Shadowplay arc, and he had all the Kimia survivors stuck on a ship together, because most, if not all of them, would be main or supporting cast onboard the Lost Light.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Megatron was a lowly miner and poet until he was abused by Whirl of Autobot Police Force.
- Gender Bender: Arcee was once a guy. It's the reason why she's so Ax-Crazy in the first place.
- Hannibal Lecture: Megatron delivers one to Prime, asserting that the only reason Prime isn't a nobody is because of the war and implying that the only reason Optimus has never killed him when he had the chance is because he wouldn't know what to do without a war to fight and Megatron to stand against.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Where there are Autobots, Decepticons will follow. Where there are Decepticons, Autobots will turn up. Where both are, death and destruction always follow. Despite their best efforts, the Autobots can't shake off the stigma of warring monsters that humanity (heck, most of the galaxy) sees them as.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Lightspeed and Afterburner detonate the Kimia Facility from within to prevent Galvatron from using the weapon against their comrades.
- Hope Spot: Issue 21. After increasingly grim events on Earth, this issue sees Optimus finally get the Matrix back, dead/lost Autobots return to the fold and they learn that Cybertron, their homeworld, is once again habitable after millions of years
- Humans Are Special: A major theme of the ongoing series. Cybertronians live for millions of years and only change and adapt very slowly, while humans are constantly changing and moving forward. Both Thundercracker and Optimus Prime have expressed this idea.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: How Megatron views the human race and how he's desperate to make Optimus view them as well, even setting up a highly complicated plan just to try and make Prime lose faith in humanity.
- I Am Not Shazam: Variation. This Galvatron has no relation to Megatron or Unicron, even though he's been used in every other continuity as Megatron's powered up form.
- Implacable Man: Orion Pax ploughs his way through the Senate guard in order to lecture them. By the time he gets there, he's more than a little bit dinged up.
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Skywatch has become very good at taking down Cybertronians by reverse-engineering their technology either scavenged or captured. Megatron himself was nearly killed by Spike using a weapon created in this way, leading to an entirely new body as the only way to save his life.
- Incoming Ham: Megatron facing D-Void.
- Ironic Echo: Megatron angrily throws Optimus' catchphrase back at him during their discussion.
Megatron: "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings"? Where the hell were you when people were beaten and oppressed simply because of the way they were born?
- Jerk Ass: Spike Witwicky, who has been involved in (so far) unrevealed unpleasant procedures performed on captured Cybertronians and murdered a wounded and surrendering Decepticon in cold blood, despite the fact it wasn't actively trying to harm humans, purely for revenge. Yet he's perfectly happy to pretend to be the Autobots' friend while he's only interested in getting their help to hunt down Decepticons.
- Jumped at the Call: Swerve's reaction to learning that an Eldritch Abomination is minutes away from taking over the universe? Fun. (Hilariously enough, though, he bails out the first chance he gets).
- Last of His Kind: Bob, the oddly adorable Insecticon.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Chromedome and Brainstorm spend several pages of the last issue of Chaos pointing out that they don't know what's been happening so far, a situation the readers can sympathise with.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: This, coupled with extensive redesigns from artist Don Figueroa, resulted in splash crowd pages featuring identifying captions for all characters present.
- Karma Houdini: Swindle, for the most part.
- Made of Iron: It takes a lot to kill a Cybertronian. Optimus and Megatron have spent several million years trying to kill one another, and never succeeded, no matter how much damage they inflict.
- Mildly Military: Skywatch. They continually disobey protocol to work with the Autobots, and are not above rough housing. Spike himself abandoned his duties for a booty call, pursues a personal grudge, and murders a Decepticon off the map. When one of the more sensible members gets fed up and tries to pull the plug, as they disobeyed many laws, had aliens hack their personal defense satellites, and committed several international and federal offenses, she is demonized because she turned on her "True Companions." When confronted, she gives some very practical reasons, like how they were breaking several laws and disobeying the president, and Ultra Magnus even compliments her on doing the right thing and obeying the law in a time of stress, like a real military officer should do.
- Military Maverick: Deconstructed with Spike. Initially, Spike is the standard Action hero, blows off work for a one night stand, and using a Decepticon he captured as a sweet ride and to prove how badass he is (when in fact he's bringing a dangerous invader into civilian territory who's a restraining bolt away from attacking everything). He "doesn't play by the rules" of the stuffy generals and cooperates with the Autobots, and he get's away with it because he gets results. He goes AWOL temporarily to hunt down a Decepticon and executes him for the greater good, all while narrating the importance of humanity. However, in Police Action he's put under a more critical eye, Sandra points out that this is Spike's mindset, he thinks he's an action hero in a movie, and all the stuff he does is what's cool, while she informs the bots that it's really illegal and dangerous. Spike only get's away with stuff like this because his dad's a General. After the Autobots find out that he was working with Swindle to gain more Cybertronian technology they confront him on the murder and his attitude, and eventually they shut down their earth based operation and burn down all the human held Cybertronian data. Spike is now a wanted international criminal.
- Motive Decay: The Decepticons started off railing against the corrupt practices of the Senate, and Functionism. They've long since gotten rid of both.
- Mythology Gag: The James Roberts penned issues are filled with these, most of them related to The Transformers.
- Megatron and Impactor are seen frequenting Maccadam's oil house
- Ratchet is concerned Megatron can shoot anti-matter through his eyes, a reference to Megatron's original tech specs, as well as one issue of The Transformers where he did in fact do just that.
- The Variable Voltage Harness returns, and it's finally used to contain a Decepticon.
- The Matrix Flame is mentioned
- A Diagnostic Drone appears.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As we already knew from Megatron: Origin, the war started because Cybertron in its so called "Golden Age" was anything but, with a privileged few lording it over the rest with casual cruelty. Cybertronian society resembled the last days of Imperial Rome or more disturbingly, the early days of fascist Germany. And then Megatron came onto the scene and lead a bloody and brutal revolution, despite originally being interested in less violent means of social change. Up until his friend Impactor (later to become one of the "Heroic" Autobots) and the casual cruelties of the Autobots convinced him that violence was the only solution. Impactor got into a bar fight with some Autobot recruits because they had beaten up a civilian for spilling a drink, Megatron was arrested because he was drinking with him. So essentially the Autobots have themselves to blame for creating one of the most ruthless world conquering war criminals in the universe AND for starting a war that destroyed their home planet.
- And it's hardly limited to Impactor, as Senate-controlled Cybertron was also a place where a kind of apartheid was in place for a LONG time. And oh yes, some recruits got their jollies by bullying and beating others because they could get away with it.
- While all of this is a fair indictment of the Autobot regime, it doesn't free Megatron from moral culpability for his later brutal actions (most notably is that the Decepticons don't conquer planets in this continuity, they pillage and then burn them to the ground). Issue 22 shows that even then, Optimus was a fair-minded and just individual who didn't agree with his government on every issue. Megatron's writings made an impact on him. Sadly, Megatron chose to respond to Whirl's cruelty rather than Optimus's reason (though later publications would show this wasn't the only reason).
- Then there's Spike Witwicky, who cold bloodedly murders Scrapper. It rapid becomes clear that Spike is in fact no hero at all.
- No Party Like a Donner Party: The Decepticons under Starscream's command have degenerated to this, killing each other for parts and energon. Megatron is not amused when sees his troops in this condition.
- Nothing Is Scarier: We never see the D-Void properly, but we do see its works.
- Obviously Evil: Swindle. Which makes Rodimus' willing trust of him all the more staggering.
- Off Model: It appears every now and then across the series, in part due to Depending on the Artist.
- Only Sane Man: Pennington is the only human character who dosen't act like a total dick to the Autobots.
- Origins Episode: Issues 22 and 23 for Optimus Prime and Megatron.
- Pet the Dog: Several Decepticons brave New York, which is infested with armed humans who know how to kill them, to save Thundercracker. Scrapper digs him out, Tankor and Spyglass pull him up, and Spyglass fixes him.
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: The "Chaos Theory" issues by James Robert and Alex Milne were initially intended to be a one-shot or mini-series. They instead became a backdoor pilot for what would eventually become More Than Meets The Eye, with plot threads introduced in them that didn't pay off until Dark Cybertron.
- Put on a Bus: At the end of the series, Thundercracker. Though unlike most examples where the character leaves, here, everyone else leaves the planet (taking the narrative with them) and Thundercracker loses focus save for the flashback appearances in the other stories.
- The Reveal: Galvatron is under the D-Void's control, and even though he thinks he's going to save Cybertron, he's actually going to turn it into a massive portal for the D-Void to enter this universe.
- Salvage Pirates: Rodimus runs afoul of some after being shot into space by Megatron. He escapes by stealing their ship with some help from Wheelie and Garnak, one of the stranded pirates.
- Shrouded in Myth: Alpha Trion, a Cybertronian legend and almost borderline religious figure is revealed to be a self righteous, manipulative, cowardly braggart who uses other Cybertronians for his own goals. His only redeeming feature is that he does genuinely want to help fix the mess that has been made of Cybertron but the way he goes about it, using and manipulating other Transformers is disturbingly similar to Galvatron's methods. Ironhide gets so fed up with his arrogance that he actually hits him.
- Society Is to Blame: The reason why Megatron stood up to the government.
- Start of Darkness: Megatron: Origin was meant to be this for Megatron, though sadly despite the occasional good bit it was NOT well received. Issue 22/23 of the Ongoing serve as a new Start of Darkness for Megatron, tying in with Megatron Origin while expanding and improving on it.
- Taking the Bullet: The original Ironhide dies shielding Hot Rod from a lethal energy blast.
- Team Pet: Bob the Insecticon. He also manages to be the most adorable thing in the history of Transformers, despite being a robot-bug monster.
- The Atoner: Sunstreaker following his revival.
- The Igor: Jhiaxus was this to Nemesis Prime and has now become this to Galvatron, handling the technical and scientific matters that Galvatron himself has little interest in attending to. He even has a hunchback in the IDW continuity in what is surely a reference to this trope.
- Theme Naming: The Chaos issues were named after biblical books (Lamentations, Numbers, Kings, Genesis)
- Took a Level in Kindness: Prowl, of all beings. The fans weren't happy about this.
- Trojan Prisoner: Megatron's surrender to the Autobots is ultimately this. He allowed himself to be taken prisoner in hopes that the Autobots would take him to Cybertron where he could use space bridge technology within himself to ambush them with the sudden appearance of his entire army. Galvatron and the Deceptigod completely ruin this plan.
- Utopia: the Cybertron and associated Transformer worlds from the future, as seen in "Pax Cybertronia".
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Megatron's excuse for the endless parade of horrific crimes he's committed, claiming that when his Decepticons rule the universe he intends to create a new order, where there is no war, poverty or inequality, with him as its ruler.
- Though it should be noted that that's only for CYBERTRONIANS. He views the rest of the universe as inferior, and believes that the Cybertronians should rule over them.
- Vertical Mecha Fins: Ultra Magnus as usual has large girders coming out of his shoulders, this series shows that he has a missile salvo in each.
- Villainous Valour: Megatron facing D-void.
Megatron:Muster your parts - my own soldiers - for the final sortie. I can feel you in my head, trying to master my will. But I will not yield. I will not be conquered. I will not be defied. I AM MEGATRON!
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: "Peace through tyranny."
- What Could Have Been: Costa had the intention of Bumblebee Taking the Bullet for Prime early in the series and killing him off, instead it got vetoed by Hasbro, and thus he ended up killing Ironhide that way instead, which then lead to Optimus renouncing leadership and Bumblebee becoming the Autobot leader after it was put to a vote.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Megatron actually does this to Optimus.
Megatron: "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings? Where the hell were you when Cybertronians like me were forced to work in a mine just because we were made that way?"
- Why Won't You Die?: Prime yells this very question at Megatron after unsuccessfully trying to kill him.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Decepticons originally had a just cause considering the Corrupt Senate of the Autobot ruling class. That quickly falls to the wayside.
The story never ends, Ironhide. It just changes into something else.