Dark Cybertron is the IDW 12-Issue Crisis Crossover event of 2013-2014 for their Transformers Series, More than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise.On Cybertron, the political turmoil that has become commonplace in the lives of its inhabitants is put aside as emotionless mastermind Shockwave summons a massive, undead Metrotitan from the bowels of Crystal City. Starscream, now ruler of New Iacon, sends a desperate plea for help to those he hopes may yet survive beyond the stars...In the depths of space, the Lost Light rescues Orion Pax and his team from the collapsing Gorlam Prime. After a brief concurrence, the crews split up to deal with two unfolding crises. Orion and Rodimus lead a team into the Dead Universe through the portal created by the planet's destruction to thwart ancient despot Nova Prime's plans for conquest, while Ultra Magnus and the Lost Lighters heed a cry of help from the mighty Metroplex. Little do any of them know that Shockwave's influence runs deep... and none of them suspect the terrifying scale of his true plan.The 12-issue series is co-written by John Barber, of RID, and James Roberts, of MTMTE, with art by several artists, including Phil Jimenez. The relevant characters can be found here and here.It is followed by the Transformers Windblade mini-series which deals with the aftermath of the events in Cybertron.
A Million Is a Statistic: Invoked. Shockwave berates Megatron for caring more for Bumblebee's death than all the others that died by his hands or his orders. Then Shockwave proclaims he truly considers all life equal, and even assigned it a quantifiable value— zero.
Once again invoked by Starscream, after Metalhawk sacrifices his life to destroy the 70 billion Ammonites in one fell swoop. It should be noted that Starscream's only trying to paint him in a negative light.
Starscream: Are you kidding?Metalhawk murdered 70 billion sentient beings. They had names, they had friends, they had dreams. But to Metalhawk - they were just numbers. When you think about it, he was just another genocidal despot vying for control.
An Arm and a Leg: Several 'bots and 'cons end up losing one or more limbs once the Necrotitan fires its first salvo.
Skids loses his arms in the fight against the Ammonites.
Nova Prime loses an arm right before being killed.
Anyone Can Die: Not so present in the beginning, but it really comes into effect in the final act.
Apocalypse How: Shockwave could've caused a metaphysical level apocalypse on the rest of the galaxy if he hadn't been stopped in time. Metalhawk ends up indirectly causing a minor societal apocalypse on the Stentarians, as his sacrifice ends up taking all of the Ammonites with him.
Ascended Extra: Dreadwing was just a minor Decepticon, now he's on the cover of the series. Barber and Roberts addressed this in an interview, stating that, in addition to having a new toy, they made him more important because they choose him at random from a wealth of obscure characters.
Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Inverted. Shockwave wanted Nova Prime dead, but it's Orion who ultimately kills him... after being lured to the Dead Universe portal on Gorlam Prime by Jhiaxus, himself acting on Shockwave's orders.
Whirl says Cyclonus should totally promise to kill Hardhead when he least expects it for calling him a coward, referencing to the promise Cyclonus once did to kill him back in MTMTE #2.
Rodimus offers Ultra Magnus a Weak Energon Spritzer, a drink referenced by Tailgate as something Ultra Magnus would drink in MTMTE#6, and also referencing the fact that Magnus Can't Hold His Liquor, as seen in MTMTE #13.
Metroplex's Thumb, first seen in Spotlight: Trailcutter.
Skywarp's teleportation. He was stabbed by Arcee back in Transformers: Robots In Disguise and mentioned having problems keeping himself together. When they engage Shockwave, he loses control of his Teleportation and vanishes altogether in Issue 5. He comes back in Issue 10, having regained control of his power, and rescues Metalhawk and Waspinator, taking them (as well as the information on Shockwave's plan) back to the city.
Dark Messiah: Starscream, unwillingly. Shockwave, willingly.
Dead All Along: Brainstorm, as revealed by part 11. In fact, he's apparently been undead since right before issue 1 of More Than Meets The Eye.
Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Turns out Galvatron and Nova Prime aren't actually behind everything— that's just what Shockwave wanted them to believe. In reality, he wanted Nova eliminated to make it easier to harness the Dead Universe's energies, and he intends to use Galvatron as a conduit for themů
Et Tu, Brute?: A revived Metalhawk pretty much lets Starscream have it for killing him in the first place.
Evil Plan: Shockwave plans to use all the functioning Regenesis Ores, in conjunction with the energies of the Dead Universe (using Galvatron), to essentially harness the rest of the galaxy to recharge Cybertron for eternity.
Evil Versus Oblivion: Downplayed, The Decepticons are against Shockwave because he turned on them they don't have knowledge of him wanting to end all creation outside of their planet, though when Megatron finds out he's still against Shockwave.
Eye Scream: The "Rodpod" is taken into a trench in the foreign planet's sea, there they find a severed optic cable and realize that the trench is really Metroplex's eye socket, now a gaping wound on his face.
Taken to their logical conclusion, and following Shockwave's description of the ore functions, Shockwave just created the Transformers version of the Infinity Gems. And thus Shockwave himself becomes one of Thanos.
Family-Unfriendly Death: Hardhead is consumed by the Dead Universe when Nova Prime crushes his forcefield generator, disintegrating and blowing away on the wind.
Nova Prime himself gets an arm ripped off before having a huge hole punched in his chest in short order.
Metroplex's defense systems utterly incinerate the Ammonite forces. Well, the first ones.
Shockwave kills Bumblebee by blowing his chest apart from behind.
Flat Earth Atheist: Downplayed: Jhiaxus makes a point that the age of legend and myth is over and this is the era of Science, to contrast Cyclonus's more superstitious beliefs, but at this point most religious events could very well be chalked up to science.
Foil: Whirl lampshades this about Cyclonus and himself in Dark Cybertron #1, when defending Cyclonus from Hardhead's criticism.
From a Certain Point of View: Starscream labels himself as the savior of Cybertron towards the end of Dark Cybertron. He is technically correct as it was his decision to call The Lost Light at the beginning what triggered a series of events which ends in Cybertron being saved. His ability to delegate jobs to the proper people is what made him a competent bureaucrat, and is the reason why he's still in power by the time Transformers Windblade rolls in.
He's also right when he discusses Metalhawk role in exterminating 70 billion Stentarians, easily half of their population, and how to Metalhawk they were just numbers, but each one of those had friends and families, as seen in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye when Skids and Whirl meet several of them in Hedonia and share drinks with.
Gallows Humor: Starscream, after being backstabbed by a revived Metalhawk.
Metalhawk: "I trusted you. I befriended you. And you killed me the moment it suited you."
Starscream:"Hey, if it's any consolation... I clearly didn't do a good job of it."
Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Ultra Magnus is trying to soften his image by using slang. Unfortunately his idea of slang is outdated terms that sound like they would be said by a 50's sitcom dad, like "What in blue blazes?".
Later attempted against Shockwave by Optimus. It doesn't work at first, but Megatron donning Bumblebee's Autobot symbol and declaring himself one causes him so much confusion that he loses control of the chronal drive, and his original personality reemerges.
Info Dump: Orion Pax' monologue near the beginning of Dark Cybertron #1.
Insistent Terminology: When Nova Prime call him Optimus, Orion corrects him by pointing out that he gave up the title of Prime. Nova doesn't care and keeps calling him Optimus anyway. Orion only goes back to being Optimus Prime after kicking Nova Prime's ass.
Intergenerational Friendship: Megatron and Bumblebee form one. In a twist, it's the younger person who ends up teaching the older one a lesson; Bumblebee ends up showing Megatron the error of his ways.
Jerkass Has a Point: Yeah, Starscream was just trying to make Metalhawk a Hero with Bad Publicity, but he was right about Metalhawk killing 70 billion sentient beings, easily far more than 4 million year great war the Transformers were involved with.
Loads and Loads of Characters: Each issue has a "Roll Call" section featuring headshots and names of the issue's most prominent characters. The lineup averages over a dozen characters and is constantly changing.
Karma Houdini: Though he endures quite a bit of punishment throughout, Dreadwing is the probably the only surviving member of Shockwave's team once the dust settles (the jury's still out on Bludgeon, and Waspinator's off the team by that point).
Oh Crap: The Dead Universe team has two in a row when they realize that the Dead Universe is infecting Cyclonus, and Nova Prime is still in control of Nightbeat.
One Steve Limit: Averted, there's two Tankors: one a Canon Immigrant from Beast Machines and the other Octane, whose toy was renamed Tankor for trademark reasons, which was carried over into the IDW comics. Unlike other characters, like say the Prowls, they both kept their names and Starscream lampshades it.
OOC Is Serious Business: Bumblebee remarks to Prowl that he's been anything but logical since they were exiled from New Iacon.
Plot Detour: A meta example; the events of this comic are essentially a plot detour for More Than Meets The Eye, with the crew of the Lost Light temporarily abandoning their quest for the Knights Of Cybertron to help out Orion Pax and his team.
The Prophecy: The events of Dark Cybertron were apparently foretold from the days before Nova Prime, including Shockwave being the one behind most of the events. Makes sense, as the prophecy is his.
"He shall arrive with a Titan; and adorned the Titan will be in Metal Black."
"And He shall arrive and stand alone while not alone; and time will rust and stars shall scream."
"And the symbol of the uncreator shall be clear, and his gaze shall unravel the Legacy of Primus."
Reality Warper: Nova Prime has become one, having gained a significant amount of control over the fabric the Dead Universe. This is precisely why Shockwave wants him out of the way.
Shockwave himself graduates to one after stealing the Dead Universe's energies and mastering the Regenesis Ores.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Prowl gives one to Bumblebee, pretty much calling him a doormat. Never mind that Prowl is being a Hypocrite since he himself took advantage of Bumblebee and was undermining him at every little turn, even before being mind-controlled by Bombshell.
Bumblebee gives one to Megatron.
Megatron:'I've led an army battling for freedom for millions of years —
Bumblebee:No, that's not what you led at all. You were a gang of destroyers ravaging the galaxy in the name of a cause you'd forgotten, except when you needed an excuse.
Orion also gives one to Rodimus after Rodimus confesses to the Overlord affair, telling him he should have resigned rather than ask for a vote, and that the reason why he asked for a vote of confidence was because Rodimus thought he was going to win.
Reluctant Ruler: Magnus taking leadership of the Lost Light crew after Rodimus, Orion Pax, Hardhead and Cyclonus jump into the Dead Universe.
Kup: I've been spiked by Squadron X, dipped in the smeltin' pool, framed for treason, shot into the sun - and I was the only 'bot still trapped inside the Nightmare Engine when everyone else woke up. I've seen off every rinky-dink, two-bit, catchpenny decepticon rust-picker, and I got the tends in my knuckles to prove it. End of the day? I'm ready for anything you can throw at me.
Which becomes hilarious after Nova literally throws Cyclonus into him.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Bumblebee's character arc through all of the new ongoing ends here. Starts as a doormat, begins to get some serious Character Development, including winning over Megatron and making him realize his errors, only to die when shot in the back by Shockwave.
Spanner in the Works: Ultimately subverted with Ironhide. Knocking Nova Prime back into the Dead Universe had little to no effect on the ultimate outcome.
Three for the price of one with Metalhawk, Waspinator, and Skywarp, who bring word of Shockwave's plans back to the city.
Stable Time Loop: Shockwave uses the time ore to drain energy from the universe that will eventually become the Dead Universe, essentially creating the Dead Universe.
There's another one in the Prelude to Dark Cybertron, involving LV-117, The Reflector Trio and Turmoil's time-side-stepping ship, it's quite the Mind Screw.
The Starscream: The trope namer is a main character. Unfortunately for him, he didn't anticipate Rattrap being as skilled of a Starscream as Starscream himself.
Then Shockwave is this for Nova and Galvatron, although it is kinda relative as he only led them believe he was their Dragon in the first place.Finally, there's a more positive example inMetalhawk, who is struggling against Shockwave's control all the while.
Take That: The writers poke at Hasbro's meddling to include certain characters in order to sell toys by giving them some ridiculous dialogue, and then quickly forgetting about them.
Take That, Audience!: Ratchet's finger-wagging and criticism of Ultra Magnus seems a preemptive move on MTMTE fans that have suggested taking a 5 month break from the comic for the duration of "Dark Cybertron".
Talking to the Dead: Starscream is still talking to Metalhawk's corpse for reassurance. This time, Rattrap overheard him...
That's an Order: The Dinobots are initially not too keen on following Bumblebee, until he berates them.
Third Line, Some Waiting: You got the Cybertron thread, the Lost Light thread, and the Dead Universe thread, with each story being drawn by a different artist. It is expected to go into Four Lines, All Waiting based on the fact that a future issue will feature FOUR artists.
Title Drop: "Dark Cybertron" is the name of the prophecy, as mentioned by Rattrap.
Wheelie and Garnak are not seen or mentioned again after the Lost Light pursues Jhiaxus and it is revealed that the Dead Universe portal only works one-way.
Villainous Friendship: The Decepticons get more set-up as this, with Blitzwing and Astrotrain seeming to have a type 1. Galvatron and Nova have a type 1 as well, saying they've fought together for many years and turning on each other was a fault of the Heart of Darkness messing with them. Indeed, Galvatron seems very saddened when Nova is killed.
Warp That Aesop: Subverted. Megatron accuses Shockwave of doing this to his ideals but, as Shockwave notes, he's basically just taking Megatron's bigoted philosophy and applying it to all life. invoked
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Shockwave's evil plan might cause the death of nearly every sentient being in the galaxy, make him a God-like being, and the destruction of two universes, but all he wants is the eternal survival of Cybertron.
Wham Episode: For both MTMTE and RID. Shockwave's Evil Plan finally kicks in, Orion Pax's team and the Lost Lighters battle the Dead Universe, Nightbeat and Kup are alive, Brainstorm isn't, Nova Prime and Galvatron are not actually behind everything, New Iacon is in ruins, Bumblebee and Shockwave die, and Megatron joins the Autobots. And after it's all over Orion and the Autobots are heading back to Earth, Windblade is causing trouble on Cybertron, Bluestreak is joining up with the Lost Lighters, and Megatron is taking over the Lost Light's quest.
What Measure Is a Mook?: Lampshaded by Starscream in a discussion with Rattrap, regarding how Metalhawk's sacrifice also pretty much wiped out half of the Stentarian race; at least 70 billion sentient beings.
Starscream:"They had names, they had friends, they had dreams, but to Metalhawk — they were just numbers."
Though ironically enough, this also indirectly ends the ridiculous Forever War between the Terradores and Ammonites. So by wiping out half of the Stentarian race, Metalhawk kind of brought peace to them after over 17 million years of war.
What the Hell, Hero?: Orion doesn't react well to Rodimus's confession regarding Overlord. Or, more specifically, that he didn't resign afterwards, as Orion feels that if Rodimus were really ashamed of his actions than he would've taken responsibility rather than have the crew decide.
Xanatos Gambit: Shockwave performs two concurrent ones. The first? Finish gathering samples of all his functioning ores on Cybertron by having Metroplex teleported there to take on the Necrotitan. The second? Have Nova Prime end up in the line of fire so that Shockwave can better harness the Dead Universe's energies once he dies and his control over the realm is negated. This one seems to fail thanks to Ironhide, but Shockwave had already had Jhiaxus lure Orion to Gorlam Prime in case Nova wasn't able to emerge from the Dead Universe, thereby increasing the chances that Orion would kill him.Badass.
Yank the Dog's Chain: In part 10 Swerve gets really excited when his hero Blurr walks into the Lost Light bar. Barely a page later it's revealed that Blurr not only doesn't remember Swerve, he thinks that Swerve is annoying.
You Are What You Hate: The reason why Optimus Prime hated his name and cast it off, because of all the bad connotations the previous Primes gave it. Rodimus convinces him otherwise.