A series of inter-connected mini-series published by IDW Publishing, the first in their version of the Transformers continuity. Most of these stories were written by Simon Furman. These stories tell a much different story than fans were used to, where the war between Autobots and Decepticons is more of a cold war, Cybertron has been abandoned, and Earth is not the frontline but an mostly unimportant dirt-ball, that is until the Decepticons find an all-new fuel source, one that could give them the edge.The mini-series first started in 2005, with Infiltration, followed by Escalation, then Devestation, and finally Revelation. Also released concurrently were the Spotlight issues, which usually followed one character while setting up future plot points for the main series. These series were eventually halted in favor of Transformers: All Hail Megatron, though Furman was given the chance to wrap up several of his plot points in Maximum Dinobots.
These series contain examples of:
Aborted Arc: There was a growing storyline about the Decepticons replacing a corrupt US senator for their own ends, and having his replacement enter the presidential race, which utterly vanished after the change in writers.
Simon Furman implied that something had happened to the Matrix long ago, but due to Revelation's hurried ending, this didn't happen.
Big Bad: Megatron's the main villain on Earth, but we also have Nova Prime, Shockwave, Bludgeon and Scorponok elsewhere.
Non-Action Big Bad: Nova Prime doesn't confront his predecessor until the final issue of Revelation. Justified, as he knows the Darkness, like the Matrix, would pass to Optimus if they met.
Bittersweet Ending: The Dead Universe and the Machination have been defeated, the universe is saved, Sunstreaker and Hunter reunite with their friends, the Dinobots are absolved of their crime, Shockwave is carted off to prison, Doubledealer was exposed and killed, Arcee gets her revenge, and the Micromasters are freed from Nova Prime's control, allowing them to begin a new society. But the Decepticons are still causing trouble throughout the galaxy, the Transformers have been exposed to the public, Hardhead had to condemn himself to the Dead Universe, Grimlock takes the fall so the other Dinobots can go free, the Decepticons now have Monstructor in their army, and a lot of good people had to die to make it all happen, including Nightbeat.
Cool Ship: The Autobots have whole fleets of Arks.
The Decepticons have the Thanatos, Megatron's flagship.
Crazy Awesome: How does Hot Rod get into the most heavily defended Decepticon prison there is? He surfs in on a meteor.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Shockwave versus the Dinobots, which goes decidedly against the scientist, until he gets angry. Then the Dinobots find themselves on the receiving end.
Megatron and Starscream's fight. Starscream barely scratches Megatron, while he manages to take out most of Starscream's torso.
The Decepticon infiltration unit on Nebulos actually try to fight Thunderwing. Almost all of them die, and the last two standing decide to leave.
Cyborg: The natives of Gorlam Prime are all cyborgs. When he sees this, Nightbeat wonders if something similar happened in Cybetron's long distant past.
The Headmasters, and their creator Scorponok, become this.
Darker and Edgier: A little bit. Optimus is certainly less of a paragon of virtue than normal, and Cybertron was utterly ruined by the war. Whole worlds have been raised by the Decepticons, simply for fuel.
Heck, even Bumblebee is less friendly and more pragmatic.
Deconstruction: Of Combining Mecha. Putting six minds together in one body is not cool, and drives the resulting creation utterly mad, with the added side effect of creating a gargantuan robot monster lashing out at everything it sees.
Dumb Muscle: Skywarp has the fantastic ability to teleport, and almost no ability to think for himself. This has been part of his character for years, but this is the first time it's really been brought to the fore.
Enemy Mine: The fight against Thunderwing causes Autobots and Decepticons to team-up. Both times.
Eye Scream: Ultra Magnus shoots at Scorponok as he's fleeing, and apparently just clips him. The next time we see him, it turns out Magnus had managed to shoot out one of his eyes.
Fantastic Nuke: What Combiners are treated as. The Decepticons really, really want their own, and are willing to lay siege to Garrus-9, the Autobot's highest security prison, just to get it, and the Autobots are so determined to prevent this that they leave Earth to the Decepticons. The Phase Sixers are also a clear analogue for this.
Shockwave: "Ultimately, I serve only one master. Pure logic."
Orcus on His Throne: Justified with Nova Prime; he can't survive outside of the Dead Universe for long and he secretly knows that if he confronts Optimus personally than the Darkness will try to abandon him for Prime.
Off with His Head!: Scorponok has been reduced to a head by the time we first see him in the main series.
Sunstreaker's fate at the hands of the Machination.
The Micromasters, combiners and female Cybertronians are all attempts by Jhiaxus to accelerate Cybertronian evolution. And in the case of the latter two, it droves those he experimented on insane.
Pretenders, here re-invented as a perversion of science that ultimately resulted in their creator going mad and needing both armies to fight him. The process is also incredibly dangerous, and destroys the minds of whoever undergoes it. At first, anyway.
The Headmasters are presented as far more dangerous, and the method behind creating them is far more sinister.
The Dinobots, whose alt-modes would sort of ruin the cloak-and-dagger themes of these series, have their designs justified because they came to Earth when it was covered in Energon, and rather than risk stasis lock chose those alt-modes in order to fight Shockwave.
Megatron turning into a gun, which is noted to use mass-displacement technology, which eats up a ton of energy and can't be kept up for long.
Wheelie's rhyming, which is justified because he's stuck on a planet with an alien whose translator is stuck on rhyme.
The Spock: Shockwave, who while fighting the Dinobots actually freezes up because he cannot logically comprehend their motives (petty revenge). He then turns this to his advantage by logically making himself angry. The Dinobots quickly find their asses getting kicked.
The Starscream: It's what kicks off the entire plot, and what brings Megatron to Earth. Starscream has found a new source of energon, and has become so overconfident because of it he's breaking protocol. During their fight, Megatron mentions that Starscream's treachery was supposed to be a thing of the past. A quick ass-kicking re-establishes the pecking order.
Took a Level in Badass: Thunderwing goes from a meek little scientist to an unstoppable monstrosity that can barely be scratched by the combined might of both armies. It take an explosion large enough to ruin Cybertron's atmosphere to take him out of the picture.
Touch of Death: Anyone from the Dead Universe is capable of killing on touch, as Leadfoot finds out first hand.
Visionary Villain: Shockwave just wants to save Cybertron, and will do whatever it takes to do that.
Bludgeon wants to restore Cybertron. It's the whole "burn other worlds to the ground" thing that everyone takes exception with.
Was It Really Worth It?: Springer even asks himself this after rescuing Kup. Bearing in mind, several good Autobots were killed in the attempt, and even after being rescued, he still needs to be keep on constant life-support.
Wham Line: Jetfire summing up what happened to Gorlam Prime: "They call it Cybertron."
Wham Shot: The last page of Spotlight: Wheelie shows the interior of the ruined building that he and his friend Varta had found a spaceship in. In an otherwise disused corridor, a ran scurries away from something, and we pan up to see a mural of a familiar five-faced alien... and its eyes are glowing.
Much earlier on in the issue, after days of tracking across a desolate void following a signal, Wheelie finds an obviously unnatural bridge.