Characters, starting left going clockwise: Cyclonus, Tailgate (blue), Swerve (red), Ratchet, Red Alert, Ultra Magnus, Rodimus, Drift, Chromedome, Skids, Brainstorm, and a Legislator.
Everyone's shape serves a purpose...
After the Transformers Ongoing portion of The Transformers IDW ended with "Chaos", IDW launched two new series, set after the end of the Autobot/Decepticon war. One series, Transformers Robots In Disguise, is set on Cybertron, and follows the political intrigue as that society is rebuilt. The second ongoing is this one, which follows the adventures of Rodimus and his crew in outer space. After the Matrix was depowered, it revealed itself to be a star map which would lead the Transformers to their ancestors. Rodimus thus decides to lead a bunch of Autobots and a few others on a quest on the Lost Light to find those ancestors, the Knights of Cybertron. Along the way, the bots encounter mysteries, horrors, and strange occurrences.The series is written by James Roberts, who was brought on after the success of Transformers Last Stand Of The Wreckers. (The other LSOTW fellow Nick Roche helped with the first issue and the series' prequel). Artist Alex Milne draws the series, with an occasional fill-in by Roche and other artists.
This series provides examples of:
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To Absent Friends: When Shock finds Ore's corpse, he mourns him and talks about all the stuff they did in the war, deleting his calls and leaving a drink there. Swerve does so in the Annual and spills it when Ore begins talking.
Rung, a naive, somewhat straitlaced dork with Opaque Nerd Glasses and gangly limbs. He spends his time doing things like geekily building model spaceships, trying to tiptoe around interacting with a ship full of loons, and needing to be rescued.
Rewind, who runs around after Chromedome like a devoted puppydog, and gets picked on regularly for the fact he turns into a giant memory stick.
Tailgate, who is trying to cope with catching up on six million years of lost time while having a very cheerfully naive and earnestly awkward personality.
In the flashbacks, Ironfist proves he was a fanboy even before the Wreckers came into existence.
A Father to His Men: Rodimus seems to view himself as this which causes him to be really torn up inside when he learns that Red Alert attempted suicide.
Affably Evil: For the few panels he appeared, Blip appears to be this, talking with Nautilator and complementing him on his voice, thinking it sounds like Megatron, and trying to shake his hand and chat because they've never met before.
All There in the Manual: The mysterious giant monster things that attack Skids in issue 2 and are found to have destroyed Crystal City and abducted it's populace in the Annual are called The Legislators. We only know this because that's what Alex Milne wrote on the concept art.
Also, the "Scavengers", AKA the crew composed of Krok, Flywheels, Misfire, Spinister and Crankcase. Labeled by Banzai-Tron as the worst Decepticons ever.
The Galactic Counsel: They're hatred of Cybertronians is rash, but justified. How much of an antagonistic role they could have in the future remains to be seen, Rodimus calls them a bunch of fascists, but their true nature has yet to be revealed.
Ambiguous Disorder: Spinister is basically a walking psychosis. He displays violent tendencies, delusional paranoia, short-term memory loss that is sometimes similar to Alzheimer's, and acts like a mentally retarded person in general. Yet at the same time he seems to be able to socialize well and can perform advanced surgery and bomb diffusions. He's like Ice King from Adventure Time and Marv from Sin City mixed together.
Amnesiac Hero: Skids. He knows from records his name and that he's a theoretician, but remembers nothing of his previous life before ending up on a shuttle crashing through a portal onto the same planet the Lost Light had also crashed on. He ends up becoming a sort of impulsive Action Hero, a far cry from his typical mild-mannered Actual Pacifist portrayal in stories.
Amusing Injuries: Played with in issue 12. When a number of Autobots are grievously wounded, Chromedome turns to Swerve, only finding his face blown off, and his eye hanging out. The injury looks awful, and then it's revealed that he got it by accidentally discharging a gun in his face.
An Arm and a Leg: Dismemberment is common in this series, as robots most of them can be repaired.
Cyclonus accidentally cuts off one of Rung's arms with his wing when fleeing from Whirl.
Rodimus loses both his arms fighting the Sparkeater, he gets them replaced.
Ratchet loses an arm during the climax in issue 5, while Pharma loses his hands.
A flashback shows Black Shadow ripping off one of Hyperion's arms.
Tesarus shreds both of Black Shadow's legs.
Empurata: Removes both the hands and head: Glitch, Whirl, and Shockwave all had it done on them.
Slugfest looses at least a Foreleg when Ultra Magnus steps on him.
Drift Has his legs cut off by Overlord with his own sword.
Chromedome has the door to the slow-cell closed on him, loping off his arm as he tries to reach for Rewind.
Anachronic Order: Issue 12 switches pretty much scene by scene from events an hour or before the crew of the Lost Light engages a group of Decepticons commanded by Snap-Trap, events that take place during the battle, and events during the immediate aftermath of said battle in erratic order.
Ore: "Peace is the freedom to do whatever you want. Unless you're talking about inner peace, in which case I doubt any of us will ever feel that again. You can't live through what we've lived through and expect to feel that. All you can do is be thankful you survived."
Shock: After everything we've been through – escaping Hell's Point, braving the crucible, surviving Babu Yar, welding Prowl's hands together for a joke…
Ascended Extra: Multiple characters are fleshed out which were under-utilized in other series or in the IDW continuity itself. This is Swerve and Tailgate's biggest role in fiction, Whirl's developed more than helicopter-wrecker. Rung went from an unseen Mr. Exposition of character Bios to a starring position.
Ass Shove: Whirl is implied to have done this to a villainous Decepticon called Killmaster using a wand the size of his head. Yes, really.
Back-to-Back Badasses: Cyclonus and Whirl in issue 12, Whirl lampshades it, and says even their color schemes complement each other, Cyclonus responds by reiterating his hatred for Whirl, and his intent to murder him.
Badass Crew: Most of the crew of the Lost Light. The Scavengers are an inversion; they're a crew of incompetent wimps.
Badbutt: Tailgate claims to be a highly skilled and well trained soldier but not only does he not display any combat skills, he just just plain dosen't have the personality of a soldier. Justified considering that he never actually did any of the awesome things he claims to have done.
Batman Gambit: Chromedome's use of Trepan's Trigger to momentarily stun Overlord relied entirely on Rodimus busting out his Catch Phrase "Till All Are One" after manipulating Overlord's memories of his many defeats at Megatron and Ironfist's hands to associate defeat with that phrase. It works because Rodimus is Rodimus and loves the phrase.
Be Careful What You Wish For: Trailcutter wishes away his forcefield abilities right before a pulse weapon freezes everyone on the Lost Light and Decepticons invade the ship.
Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Subverted. When Cyclonus is accused of killing Red Alert, Rodimus is sure he's the culprit, and Drift interrogates him. Ultra Magnus points out that he hasn't had his rights read, and Cyclonus's isn't being helpful because he doesn't even know why he's being interrogated. The interrogation is quickly derailed by Drift's play at bad cop (trying to coax a confession using Saying Too Much based on his actions), ending with Cyclonus disarming him and slamming his head against a table.
When the DJD corner the Scavengers Crankcase gets his hands on a Cybernought, and proceeds to stomp on Tarn and blast the DJD away. Then Kaon electrocutes Crankcase and Tarn blasts it, bringing the whole thing down, subverting the trope within a few panels of its appearance.
Big "NO!": Fortress Maximus when Rung is accidentally shot in the head.
Big Ol' Eyebrows: Rung's are commented on repeatedly. Before the war Quark thought they might be listening devices.
Bilingual Bonus: Issue #16, "Gloaming" means "Twilight" in old Scottish. "Lamentatorem" means "mourning".
"Conjunx Endura" is latin for "enduring/everlasting spouse", while "Empurata" is an anagram of the latin word "amputare" (to amputate). Roberts is really fond of this trope.
Bizarre Alien Biology: The series delves more into the Transformers as robotic aliens. Issues 4-5 have them infected by a disease generated by sound. They can survive without their heads, and even get them and their body parts replaced. When their bodies change and parts are replaced, the energon around their spark stays the same.
Black Speech: Old Cybertronian apparently sounds like this to modern-day 'bots or maybe that's just when Cyclonus is singing in it very loudly with a distinct Tetrahexian accent. Though given the only other person in the series fluent in Old Cybertronian is Vos...
Rodimus: Just a precautionary measure in response to something absolutely unremarkable and actually quite boring. But if anyone here does happen to carry industrial-strength energy dampeners or turn into a nullification booth, or is able to generate level 9 containment fields, then hey, feel free to tag along…
Break the Haughty: Oh Chromedome, you just couldn't resist taunting Overlord, right?.
Brick Joke: Combined with Hypocritical Humor. In issue 4, Trailbreaker is drunkenly ranting about how massively overrated he feels Fortress Maximus is, including a jab at the fact that Max has "guns in his legs" (and when Max actually walks in, Trailbreaker hastily and badly tries to use this same fact to praise Max). Fast-forward to issue #12, and Hoist is now complementing Trailbreaker on his newly upgraded legs courtesy of Brainstorm...which happen to have guns in them.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Spinister, big time. The guy's a massive idiot who'll try to interrogate his own finger.... but he also happens to be a spectacular surgeon.
Butt Monkey: Poor Pipes can't seem to catch a break; on his first time ever on an alien planet, his attempt at being spontaneous results in him being infected with a virus that almost melts him to death by rusting, though a cure is found in time to save him. Then as he's recovering from that over a few drinks in Swerve's bar, he gets unceremoniously shot in the chest by Fortress Maximus in the grips of a psychotic break because Pipes happens to have a similar colour scheme to Overlord. But he pulls through that too. But then again, in issue 12, after the assault on the rogue Decepticons, we see him flat out in the shuttle having sustained even MORE grievous injuries. It's like the universe goes out of its way to try and hurt him. It gets him killed in issue 15 when he runs straight into Overlord.
The Cameo: Brilliantly used in-universe with Rung during the "Shadowplay". He constantly appears in historical moments in a cameo-like fashion. Rewind describes how there are numerous times when Rung was present at or witnessed historical events but rarely was directly involved. He mentions that Rung is what historians call "a Historical Constant".
"Shadowplay" in general has quite a few cameos from characters who are either dead in the present, or simply underused, like Nightbeat, Ironfist, and Windcharger, amongst others.
The opening of issue 16 is filled with cameos:
The battle for Hell's Point: all the Warriors Elite (Sixshot, Heretech, Black Shadow, Overlord, Killmaster), Megatron (in gun mode), Impactor, the Dynobots.
Clemency: Shock and Ore, the Powerdashers, Torque.
Simanzi: Rotorstorm, a Cybernaught.
Callback: In Issue 3, when Animus and Whirl shared a room and Animus was locked out he accused Whirl of doing it, but it was really Rodimus who auto-locked the rooms. Whirl couldn't get the door open, and Animus was killed by the Sparkeater. In Issue 12 Tailgate tries to diffuse a bomb with Rewind, and Cyclonus goes to clear him out. Whirl locks Cyclonus in with Rewind, letting the explosion claim them, all the while saying he can't get the door open.
Catch Phrase: It's generally agreed that "Til All Are One!" is Rodimus' catchphrase, to the point of him using it during a particularly good card game. Drift complains that his overuse is cheapening the dramatic effect it is supposed to have. Chromedome was counting on this in the event Overlord ever got out of his cell.
Chekhov's Skill: In issue 3 Rung mentioned that he had a recorder built into his thumb. It becomes useful, somewhat, in issue 6.
Subverted with Flywheels. When he is introduced, Misfire specifically mentions that he has big feet. When Tesarus tries to suck him into his shredder chest, his feet block the way. Tesarus notes that, and and just puts him in head first shredding and killing him.
Crankcase being a pilot becomes useful when the Scavengers need a big mecha to fight the DJD and again when they need to fly their ship.
The Comically Serious: Ultra Magnus is played as this to the hilt, serving as the Straight Man even to other serious characters. He can't even bring himself to say the word "fun" at one point, having to prompt someone else to say it for him. He displays the Phrase "Can't smile to save his life." Well, he can, when his life and everyone else's is in danger, It Makes Sense in Context. Heck, At one point he comes out as a Grammar Nazi over misplaced apostrophes, an offense he considers mutiny.
First Aid says in issue 4 that “sometimes, life persists”, alluding to the last words from that book.
Fortress Maximus tearing one of the Genericons in half and slamming the pieces together in issue 5 is an homage to LSOTW #5, in which Overlord did the same thing to Guzzle.
The cover of issue 6 is a call back to Fort Max being thrown to the prisoners of Garrus 9. Also, Fort Max' wanting to ask Prowl why it took him 3 years, 2 months and 10 days to finally send the Wreckers to Garrus 9.
The opening flashback scene in issue 14 is the immediate continuation to when Overlord yanks Impactor's harpoon from his eye in Issue 5 of LSOTW.
Overlord still despairing about Megatron's death. Until Chromedome tells him otherwise
Issue 10 has Wreck n Rule scrawled on the wall of the prison cell where Orion Pax meets Whirl. Who was Whirl's cellmate? Impactor.
To the story "Bullets." The Lost Light also has the Ethics Committee onboard (Xaaron, Trailbreaker, and Animus), with Animus admitting to lying to get on the committee, and Brainstorm alluding to the crazy stuff he's made (creating the most inventions deemed unethical).
Also to the story "Zero Point." When one's in a coma after massive trauma, there's a space between connections called Zero Point, when that space is bridged, the person wakes up. It can be bridged by a memory in "Zero Point" Roadbuster does it to Springer, here they do it to Rung.
Issue 9 begins with Quark´s “So, what am I looking at again? Not more violence” referencing Impactor's words in issue 22 of the previous ongoing. If you look closely, you can see the window of Maccadam still cracked from Rung's crash into it, which happened in that same issue.
Swerve mentions that he and Blurr were gonna open a bar once the war is over. He opens a bar aboard the Lost Light, and Blurr opens one in Cybertron
Trips to the brig show Tentakil, Snapdragon, and Snaptrap locked up after their battle with the Autobots in issue 12.
The opening pages of issue 16 all show events previously mentioned in the series: the battle for Hell's Point, the Simanzi Massacre, and the battle in Clemency (seen in the opening of issue 8).
Corrupt Politician: Senator Proteus, he's worse than Ratbat and Decimus, having commissioned Empurata, Shadowplay, and a False Flag Operation that would kill tons of people, to crush a (at the time) justified political movement.
Couldn't Find a Pen: When Fotress Maximus is being tortured in flashback, the wall of the torture room has "HELP ME" written in energon/blood, with the E in ME smeared. Bloody Handprints can be seen all around it, the size of them likely means that another victim wrote it.
In Delphi, all the patients are infected with a virus that activates when one transforms and causes the organs and insides to succumb to rust and decay. They end up coming out of the optics, having the victim cry to death.
The Decepticon Justice Division will melt you, shred you, electrocute you, and optionally mutilate your face before letting you die.
Cryptic Background Reference: a lot of events and places are mentioned and then elaborated on as the series progresses. The Institute, Empurata, and Relinquishment Clinics are good examples.
The Decepticon Justice Division to everyone they meet.
Curse Cut Short: "The duly appointed enforcer of the Tyrest Accord can duly appoint my shiny metal-".
"With all due respect, Drift, I don't think I've ever heard such a load of—"
Cyber Cyclops: Whirl, the way he tilts his head and when he's taken damage allow him to convey emotion. Flashbacks reveal that Whirl, Glitch and even Shockwave got their heads and hands removed and replaced with the cycloptoid heads as a fantastical form of mutilation and humiliation in the society.
Three-of-Twelve is also one, but whether or not he underwent Empurata is undetermined.
Deconstruction: See Meaningful Name below, but also transforming itself. The series shows how it integrates into culture, how some bots die in their preferred forms, how it can be addicting, how some altmodes can considered embarrassing or to say negative things about a person's history or personality, and how it's vital to how the Transformers live, instead of being just a gimmick to sell toys or used only for disguise. There is also some emphasis on the prejudice against alt-modes (shapism), how one's alt-mode influenced one's career and life (functionism), and even on a religion that doesn't approve of changing forms (the Militant Monoform Movement). The biggest example was the crisis on Delphi, where bots' organ's liquefy and come out of their optics, thus crying themselves to death, via a sonic-based disease that activates only when they transform.
Depending on the Artist: Some of the designs change a lot depending who's the artist for the issue, but perhaps the most glaring one is Swerve and Tailgate, who are as tall as everyone else under Padilla.
Determinator: Pipes. Broken, crushed, leaking, his spark falling out... he still crawls to the nearest alarm to activate it to warn the others.
Ultra Magnus has been shot at point blank range by Megatron, a , and a bomb has exploded in his face. And that's before the events of this series.
Disney Villain Death: Pharma, when he confronts Ratchet on the roof, and he ends up falling off and trying to shoot him in the back. Drift slices off his hands and lets him fall. The author says that he likes the idea of Ratchet having a rival, so Pharma may return.
Discontinuity Nod: In both the previous ongoing and the Transformers tie-in to IDW's Infestation event, Galvatron and his crew (Cyclonus, Scourge, and Jhiaxus) were constantly mislabeled as Decepticons, despite predating the emergence of factions. In the first issue of this series, Cyclonus states, quite clearly, that he's not a Decepticon and never has been.
Back in issue #24 of the ongoing, the name of the planet Varas Centralus was accidentally misspelled "Veras Centralus". In this issue, that mistake is referenced when Rewind refers to the two as separate but similarly-named planets that he mixes up with one another.
Disproportionate Retribution: In issue 4, Tailgate gets mad at Cyclonus for being an Unreliable Narrator concerning the Great War and in the heat of the moment lightly jabs Cyclonus in the arm. Cyclonus responds by violently beating Tailgate down and then brutally kicking him in the gut while he was writhing in pain on the ground.
The DJD specializes in this. According to Ratchet they torture and kill people for being captured against their will.
There's also Chromedome in issue 12 being referred to as Rewind's "Significant Other" and being forced to make very difficult medical choices on Rewind's behalf after Rewind is badly injured in battle, frantically repeating his medical information to First Aid (who already knows it all), refusing to leave his side, and being incredibly upset, stressed and frustrated for most of the issue. The whole thing is played very much like someone whose spouse has just been in a grave accident having to deal with it all.
James Roberts stated in an Q&A interview his desire to depict more complex relationships between Cybertronians; something that doesn't have a precise equivalent to ours. The term First Aid uses, Conjunx Endura is latin and roughly translates to "eternal spouse". So that's pretty much what it was.
Though much more subtle, there's Spinister's relationship with the other Scavengers. He's an idiot savent who has diffuculty solving complicated ideas, may have short and long term memory loss.
Overlord undergoing the ununtrium process which makes him into a Super Warrior is played very much like a birth, with Rossum playing the part of the midwife, and Megatron as the proud parent.
Dramatic Irony: As of issue 8 the DJD thinks that Fulcrum is dead. The readers and the Scavengers know he isn't.
Also the reader knows that Hound, Chromedome, Dipstick, Drift, and Ultra Magnus will be dead in 18 months time but no one else does, assuming the Necrobot is actually recording deaths.
Driven to Suicide: Red Alert apparently. Thankfully, First Aid was able to save him, though he's now in a coma.
Issue 12 also reveals that after the war had commenced in earnest, the few Relinquishment Clinics that were still up and running changed purposes from body tourism to assisting Transformers on both sides who were sick of the war, but unwilling to leave Cybertron to commit suicide. Chromedome was one of these Transformers, but meeting Rewind changed that.
In issue 1 it's lightly implied that Whirl was about to commit suicide by self immolation when Cyclonus walked in on him.
Dude Where Is My Respect: Trailbreaker, I mean Trailcutter. Specially because everyone thinks he's just the forcefield guy. This is later elaborated on in his spotlight, but in this series, his Meet the Crew bio explicitly mentions it.
Dying Moment of Awesome: Pipes, he really made sure to make his last moments alive count, if only to alert everyone else.
Dysfunction Junction: The Lost Light is this. Almost half of the crew has some kind of serious psychological or personality disorder. It certainly doesn't help that they only have one therapist.
Lampshaded by Hoist in the spotlight.
Hoist:... so don't dismiss me just because -unlike all your pals on the Lost Light- my personality isn't the product of a crippling psychological disorder.
Ear Ache: Whirl breaks one of Cyclonus' horns off in the first issue. To date, he hasn't gotten it fixed.
Easily Forgiven: Rung to Fortress Maximus. This proves pivotal as it later gives Max the chance to fight Overlord. It also seems to be in Rung's nature to forgive easily, as he himself says he's lived long enough to know when to forgive.
Eccentric Mentor: Orion's Senator friend: Quirky, and quite forward thinking for his time. He likes to remodel his body, and does so 3 times willingly, joking about how he'll be remembered for his vanity. He's fascinated with other cultures and has sank billions into off-world travel, and communication to alien beings. He's also apparently quite emotional, and gathers strange empowered colleagues around him, even having Orion rebuilt in The Transformers IDW with a chest compartment "just in case."
Eldritch Abomination: The Sparkeater in issue 3 has shades of this. Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be a natural occurrence.
Eldritch Location: The ship the ragtag Decepticon group discovers which contains such beauties as a room with brains hanging from the ceiling, a robot made of wood, a room filled with dead protoforms (aka, a bunch of aborted Transformer fetuses), a hallway made of bleeding skin, and Grimlock in stasis. In response Misfire delivers this pure gem of dialogue:
Misfire: "You know, there are some Decepticons who, upon finding themselves in a skin-covered room surrounded by aborted protoforms and mechanoids made of bark, would rub their hands together, marvel at the universe's infinite capacity for surprise and dive right in. I am not one of those Decepticons. I say we run away screaming."
Ensemble Cast: The cast is large, and they all take turns at the front. Ratchet becomes the center of attention in the issue 4-5 arc with Pipes, Drift, First Aid, and Fort-Max supporting. Issue 6 has Fort-Max, Whirl and Rung take center stage. Issues 7-8 focus on a few Decepticons, issue 9-11 are about a group of Autobots exchanging stories about the times leading up to the war, 12 focus on Chromedome and Rewind, 13 on a group of Autobots in shore leave, 14 is Chromedome and Overlord's, and 15 and 16 showcase everyone in some degree while focusing a little more on Chromedome and Rewind.
Epic Fail: In the fight against the DJD in issue 8, Krok gets grabbed by Vos and Kaon and is getting the crap kicked out of him. Misfire runs over to help and somehow shoots Krok three times by mistake. This is truly epic considering that the members of the DJD are way bigger than the Scavengers and should be way easier targets *
okay, Vos and Kaon are the smallest members, but they're still bigger than Krok, and Vos was right in Misfires line of fire
. Then again, Misfire's poor aim is an integral aspect of his character.
Fulcrum was a suicide bomber who didn't explode... out of fear.
Eva Fins: Ultra Magnus has large Girder-shoulders as usual, in this series, the tips appear to be weaponized lasers, and in Nick Roche's original concept art they would have combined into a BFG in vehicle mode.
The Designs of Chromedome and Rodimus sport these as well.
When Shockwave had his form changed so the readers may confuse him for Ultra Magnus, he sported a pair of grey fins.
Even Evil Has Standards: The regular frontline Decepticon grunts (like the Scavengers) are just as repulsed (and terrified) by the brutality and zealotry of the Decepticon Justice Division as the Autobots. Fulcrum even calls them out on this when they arrive on Clemency, saying it's the thugs and psychopaths like the D.J.D. that ruined the Decepticon cause.
Hoist:You know why you can't get a handle on me? Because I'm an ordinary person. I'm normal. I'm just a mid-ranking maintenance engineer who takes each day as it comes. I'm not particularly chatty, handsom or clever, but you know what? I get by. I manage.
Evil All Along: Pharma had been killing patients, and sold out Delphi, creating the virus as part of the selling out. Subverted with Ambulon, who was a Decepticon, but defected, and didn't start the virus despite suspicions.
Evil Former Friend: The Shadowplay series reveals that Orion Pax's conspicuously-unnamed senator friend was Senator Shockwave.
Expy: The Sparkeater is one to the eponymous monster from the Alien series.
Eye Scream: Subverted with Vos his face has all sorts of drills and needles underneath it, but the eyes are unaffected, because he still needs to see, but the victim will also still be able to see the rest of his tortures.
Fantastic Caste System: Pre-war one's alt-mode determined their job and their role in society, sleek flashy alt-modes on top, big bulky workers on the bottom. In Rewind's day, data-storage sticks were some of the lowest of society. Zeta Prime, for all his faults actually passed a few laws granting more rights to the disposable class.
Fantastic Racism: The Decepticons regard Organics as low, even the rational ones like Fulcrum. Tailgate regards their death as nothing important, and Rodimus derogatorily calls K'gard a fleshling. K'gard and the galactic counsel really don't like Cybertronians, probably because their war has destroyed numerous planets and solar systems (it came up in Transformers All Hail Megatron), and before the war, Nova Prime showed Fascistic tendencies towards organic planets.
Fantastic Slur: Genericons for Decepticon foot-soldiers. The Autobots and the DJD use it.
Fate Worse Than Death: The DJD invokes this trope on their victims. According to Ratchet, there have been Decepticon POW's who have commited suicide or requested to be killed by their captors simply because they're scared that the DJD will punish them for being captured.
Faux Affably Evil: Tarn speaks in soothing tones and plays music while having his victims tortured to death right before making their souls explode just by talking to them.
Overlord, and he's back
Fingore: Crazed Fort Max rips off Rung's thumb (which has a built-in microphone) when he realizes Rung is recording his ranting.
Flashback: Surprisingly inverted in issue 8 which ends with a flashforward to 18 months in the future to show the Necrobot recording the death of Flywheels after recording the (assumed) deaths of Hound, Chromedome, Dipstick, Drift, and Ultra Magnus. Ironically, the issue opens with a normal flashback showing Fulcrum's past.
The Shadowplay arc.
Issue 12 features several flashbacks on how Chromedome and Rewind met.
Issue 14 is basically a big flashback to events concerning [[Overlord, and Chromedome later on.]]
"Don't open the coffin. Don't let them take Skids. Don't go to Delphi. And do not—I repeat, do not—look in the basement. And for the sake of the Cybertronian race itself, please don'tkzzzzzzzk"
One of the "scavenger hunt" promotional art teasers for the first issue of More than Meets the Eye features Ultra Magnus, with the subtitle Won't make it.
When Fortress Maximus brutally takes down the Genericons Sonic and Boom, he rips one of them in half in a pose deliberately evocative of Overlord doing the same to Guzzle in Last Stand of the Wreckers. This alludes to the fact that Overlord has left Fort Max with some severe psychological scars.
The end of issue eight shows that eighteen months from the end of that issue, The Necrobot will have recorded the (assumed) deaths of Hound, Chromedome, Dipstick, Drift, and Ultra Magnus by the time he gets to Clemency to record Flywheels'.
There's been a fair bit of foreshadowing regarding a shadowy institute called, uh, "The Institute". It was first mentioned in Chaos Theory by a nameless senator, then again in issue #5 by Rung as an apparent paranoid delusion that Red Alert had suffered from. However, issue #7 reveals that Brainstorm and Chromedome are familiar with it as well, and that it has something to do with Skids and his amnesia. In the flashback sequences of the "Shadowplay" arc, Chromedome and Prowl actually discover it, revealing that it's a Senate-run brainwashing facility. Furthermore, not only has Red Alert been a victim of it, but there's more than one, and the existence of a certain high-profile character (at least as we, the readers, know him) is entirely due to the Institute. It's also revealed that Zeta Prime continued its existence, with characters such as Chromedome, Brainstorm and Highbrow having worked for it.
Tailgate's odd behaviour when attempting to disarm the Decepticon bomb, clearly being terrified of having to do so while all the while asking Rewind what he'd do in that situation turns out to be foreshadowing the fact that Tailgate isn't actually a bomb disposal expert, has no idea what he's doing, and is getting Rewind to explain to him what to do without Rewind realizing it.
Issue 13 consists of Swerve recording a message recounting previous events.
Freudian Excuse: Ultra Magnus has several explaining why he's such a grump all the time.
Some are revealed in #16. Last time he smiled, Heretech almost killed him. Last time his insignia was crooked and allowed for his name to be shortened, a K-class almost killed him. Last time he was covered in dirt, a Cybernaught almost killed him.
The Fundamentalist: Drift and Flywheels (though Flywheels is implied to be suffering a crisis of faith, and lacks the fanaticism).
The reason why Drift finds the "Death Clock" abhorring.
Funny Background Event: In issue 10, when Swerve comments on how he wants to hear more about Orion Pax, he absentmindedly tosses his drink up. If you look closely then you can see that he accidentally splashes it in Whirl's face.
When Ratchet shuts Drift up from being an Unreliable Narrator, the conversation switches elsewhere, and in the background Drift has red paint from Ratchet's newly painted hands on his face.
Overlapping with Meaningful Background Event in issue 4, while Ratchet and Swerve are talking in the foreground, we see Skids grabbing a drone with his claw and drunkenly arguing with Chromedome. Fast forward 3 issues and we find out Chromedome stole Skids' gun while he was distracted.
Gadgeteer Genius: Brainstorm is known for this, making all sorts of weapons including Whirl's gun, and upgrading Trailbreaker's legs to have guns. He alludes to more deadly weaponry which Last Stand of the Wreckers revealed that he set the record for the most unethical inventions by the ethics committee.
Gaslighting: Swerve admits to doing this to his roommate, Red Alert. Considering the latter is extremely paranoid, this may not end well.
Genius Loci: The planet Hoist, Perceptor, Sunstreaker, Bob the Insecticon and Swerve crashland into. It turns out it has a Phobia Shield, which makes their fears real.
Genre Savvy: Brainstorm codenamed the plan to keep Overlord on the Lost Light and read his memories Project Total Insanity, and he mentions that it was almost named Project Asking for Trouble. In addition, the slow cell Overlord was kept in is Project End in Tears. It was, and it did.
In Issue #12: Whirl locks Cyclonus into a room, unknowingly with Rewind, which contains a bomb about to go off, and instead of bragging about what he's done he tells them that he's trying to get them out because on the chance Cyclonus survived (which he did), Whirl wouldn't have any liability, thus remaining anonymous in the matter.
Go Out with a Smile: A very disturbing example is seen in issue 10, in which the "devil's grin" indicates the precise moment a Spark leaves a body.
Goomba Stomp: Crankcase uses a Cybernought on Tarn to do this, it stuns him bot doesn't take. Ultra Magnus does it to Slugfest, smashing him and even knocking off at least one foreleg (ironic as his scales were supposed to make him The Spiny), but the jury's out on whether or not it was fatal. Overlord does this to Pipes, which seemed to be pretty fatal.
Cyclonus:I gave you the briefest overview of the war through the eyes of an outsider. You're the one who wanted to pick a side. Bad guys and good guys... do you really think life is a straightforward as that?
Gut Punch: Overlord murdering Pipes on the third page of issue 15.
Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted when Fulcrum reveals that he was rebuilt into a bomb as punishment for abandoning his post, but he was too afraid to detonate. He calls the DJD out on all their mistreatment of the cause, and how they've perverted everything Fulcrum ever believed in. He calls them sadists with no belief in the cause, and he jumps off a ledge transforming into a bomb and diving towards them. He crashes and the DJD just think he died. They leave and then Misfire informs Fulcrum that Spinister removed his explosive parts because they didn't want him exploding on them.
Rewind pulls one at the end of issue #15 so that the basement door can be closed and successfully jettisoned from the ship with both himself and Overlord in it.
Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Whirl, from being a Jerk, to messing with a comatose Rung's eyebrows to make him look mad, to casually trying to fire his weapons when shrunk down into Ultra Magnus's head, later admitting to leaving graffiti in there. Later on, he uses a passed out Ultra Magnus' head as a coaster for his drinks, and even builds a jenga tower of drinks; but why was Ultra Magnus passed out in the first place? Whirl switched his drink.
Heroic Self-Deprecation: Rodimus starts suffering this after the events of issue 15 though the exact reason why is left up to the reader to decide.
The Shadowplay arc reveals that Chromedome USED to be this with Prowl when they were partners in the pre-War Cybertronian police (with healthy doses of Ho Yay as well). However, the very first issue shows they're really not, anymore.
Issue 12 also reveals that before he met Chromedome, Rewind was this with a scholar and scientist named Dominus Ambus before Ambus disappeared during the war. Chromedome theorizes to Tailgate that the real reason Rewind is on the Lost Light is actually to try and find some trace of Ambus, wherever he is, and that Chromedome is second to him in Rewind's eyes. Tailgate disagrees. Speaking of Tailgate, he and Cyclonus may have become this by the end of the issue.
According to Swerve, he and Blurr are also this but that's not actually true.
Hidden Depths: Ore was just some guy who died early on and accidentally got the crew lost in the first place. His reappearance in the annual as a reanimated corpse has him talk about his lack of faith, and his ambitions for the end of the war. He also reveals himself as The Anti-Nihilist, and his talk with Swerve (thinking he's Pipes) helps to bring Swerve out of his angst over shooting Rung.
The whole cast could be considered this, since we learn as the series progresses that no one is what they seem at first glance. Hence the title.
High Concept: How James Roberts pitched the series to IDW: "Rodimus and Drift set off to find the Knights of Cybertron".
Hoist by His Own Petard: Chromedome. He never realized that Overlord was familiar enough with Mnemosurgery to turn the tables on him if they were to share a familiar memory.
Seeing as Cybertronians don't die so easily, this is the main reason why Relinquishment Clinics functioned during the War.
A red rust-infected Drift asks Ratchet to kill him when it looks like the DJD might be coming. Ratchet refuses.
I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Or rather, Swerve Just Shot Himself In The Face because he was awkwardly handling an experimental gun Brainstorm had just devised the day before that was a little too big for him, causing it to go off pointblank in the face. The result of this shown in the aftermath of the battle is really disturbing.
Immune to Bullets: Helex shrugs off Spinister's gunfire. In an Interview Roberts mentions that not only could Helex survive an assault with Gideon's glue (established as being able to melt through most metal), but he would find a way to store some and use it for his next torture session.
I'm Not Angry: Trailbreaker in the opening pages of the spotlight, after getting no respect. Whirl sees thru him right away.
Fortress Maximus goes off the deep end and takes Rung and Whirl hostage, impaling Whirl through the abdomen with a piece of metal in the process. At the end of the issue, Whirl pulls himself off it, and impales Fortress Maximus in turn through the back and out the front (also non-fatal).
Snap-Trap get's one of Drift's swords sent through his head, it's non-fatal as well.
Overlord impales Ultra Magnus with Drift's great sword.
Implacable Man: Cyclonus: In the first issue, he gets thrown off a cliff with enough force to break his horn off and get knocked out, and still gets up and attaches himself to the hull of the Lost Light which proceeds to have some complications with lift-off*
namely the chunk he was on blew up, and he fell through the atmosphere and into a lake, and he seemed pretty fine after waking up
. Later, when he gets into a fight, and is locked in a room with (a severely reduced) bomb, it blows up, and takes him out, but later he just gets up and walks it off with barely a patch job.
The Phase-Sixers are supposed to invoke this, taking on would be fatal damage and still going on. Their skeletons are designed to be nearly indestructible, and their armor's strength lacks equal. Prowl really wants to know how they work.
Indy Ploy: Rodimus' modus operandi most of the time.
Instant Marksman Just Squeeze Trigger: Averted with Swerve, when he says he's not a good shot, he really isn't. When a crazed Fortress Maximus takes some hostages, Swerve is told to shoot him through a window with a riveter gun, but Rung is in the way, trying to talk Fort Max down. Rodimus tells him to take the shot, and he does, accidentally blowing open Rung's head.
Internal Reveal: Tailgate is stunned to learn that Orion Pax is Optimus Prime.
Interrogating the Dead: Chromedome's ability to read the thoughts and memories of other Transformers via surgical means is used to do this in one issue.
Ironic Echo: "It's not a good name, but all the best were taken" was funny when said about Dent, but takes on a darker meaning when said about Ambulon's name.
Pipes describes his first off world impression as “wet and kinda brilliant”. Later, he describes his symptoms as “wet and kinda horrible”.
"Everyone's shape serves a purpose" — Originally mentioned by Rewind as a comeback when Chromedome was poking at him for slowing them down as his alt-form is non-mobile. Then said by Rewind again when he utters it right before sneaking into Overlord's Cell in order to dislodge the sword that was preventing it from being ejected into space..
It Amused Me: One of the reasons why Whirl would do anything.
It's All About Me: Part of Rodimus' character. He wants to be a father to the crew, but doesn't take the time to get to know any of them or even remember their names. He assumes being a leader is just something that comes naturally to him, liking it to Trailbreaker using his force field. The greatest honor he grants the crew are badges with his face on it. And worst of all in the aftermath of the fight with Overlord, Rodimus is distraught and destroying his office. He tries to play it off to Rung as if he's just worried about Ultra Magnus and the rest of the crew, and mad that he failed them. Rung instead argues that Rodiums is really mad at is that he didn't defeat Overlord himself, and it was someone else that managed to save the day.
Whirl, voted "Autobot most likely to defect". Twice. He is disliked by many; even the normally bleeding-heart Ratchet hesitates to repair him. He mutilates corpses in his spare time, and is probably unhinged. After the war he and Sideswipe liked to beat on Neutrals. Before the war, he exercised his authority as an officer to beat a defenseless and innocent prisoner while the prisoner was restrained. That prisoner grew up to be Megatron, partly due to his treatment. He even weaponizes his attitude problem in issue 6.
Issue 6 also reveals why Whirl is such a dick to everyone. Turns out he used to be a really nice guy who decided to become a watchmaker rather than a soldier because he hated fighting and wanted to control his own fate. He was very successful until at one point a group of gangsters who worked for the Senate tried to extort money out of him. This lead to a series of events that utterly ruined his life and left him a cold, bitter, and violent person.
Swerve also is a bit of a jerk. He has no qualms about making insulting or biting comments about people, and loves playing mean-spirited pranks and messing with people's heads even when it's a really bad/horrible idea (see the Gaslighting entry above, for instance). Unlike Whirl, though, it's Played for Laughs in a Comedic Sociopathy sort of way.
Knight Templar: Tarn is such a huge believer of the Decepticon cause that he uses the Decepticon's insignia as his faceplate. When Black Shadow protests that the war is over meaning there is no reason for the DJD to be punishing him, Tarn claims that the war will never be over until Megatron is victorious.
Lack of Empathy: Brainstorm doesn't seem to feel too guilty about making an assload of deadly and brutal weapons that have probably caused a lot of deaths. When he sees Ore's corpse in the generator, he cracks a snarky joke. Rodimus even lampshades it.
Issue 16 however shows that this may not be entirely true, as he is shown to care a lot about his friend Chromedome.
Turns out that Chromedome tends to erase all memories of his lost loved ones so as to not suffer anymore. Rewind is not his first Conjunx Endura, but his fourth!
Skids' memories from the last 12 months have been erased, and a large portion of his early life is missing (he seems to have suppressed his memories after a traumatic event).
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Rung does this when he complains about his holo-avatar's name not being suitable. After all, Mary Sue does NOT sound like the name of a human male.note Rung is James Roberts' main original character.
Leeroy Jenkins: Drift finds an infected bot sneaking up on Pipes, and acts quickly, cutting it down. Then Ratchet yells at him for killing an innocent Autobot who was stumbling about.
Like a God to Me: K'gard reveals that the Galactic Counsel thinks very highly of Ultra Magnus, and K'gard (who hates Cybertronians) himself tells Ultra Magnus that he's legendary, having lived throughout the entire war with a firm and unwavering belief in the law. He offers Magnus a spot on the council and is disappointed when Ultra Magnus turns him down.
Lighter and Softer: As an adventurous romp full of snarky humor and witty dialogue, it could be considered this compared to its sister series Transformers Robots In Disguise being a more serious and political storyline. (Though that definitely doesn't mean this series is "light and soft", as there's plenty of creepy horror and intrigue going on.)
Living Forever Is Awesome: Played with. Due to their incredibly long life spans, Cybertronion religion believes that Cybertronions never die of natural causes, only trauma due to the fact the Transformer god of death, Mortilus, was destroyed in ancient times. Many devout Cybertronions believe this and feel this way about this trope. They're dead wrong.
Lost In Transmission: The ominous message in issue 1, seemingly from the future, before its full warning can be given.
Lucky Bastard: The Decepticon scavengers, relatively speaking. Yeah, one of them is killed and some of the others are horribly injured. But they still did way better than any of the other bots who ran afoul of the Decepticon Justice Division. And these are the six least competent Decepticons who ever existed.
Mauve Shirt: Pipes, not as important as the main cast, but fairly recurring and appears more than the likes of Atomizer or Aquafend.
Mark of Shame: Empurata: aka having your head and hands removed and replaced by a featureless, single-eyed box and clawed appendages. Known victims include Whirl, Glitch, and Shockwave.
And played with Drift. Losing his badge and getting exiled IS his Mark of Shame.
Mass Oh Crap: When it's learned that Overlord is loose on the ship
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: the whole point of the Annual. Did the ground in Theophany give way by chance, or was it in response to Drift's plea? Was everyone teleported to safety because the Metrotitan's faith in the Cybertronian race was restored after Rodimus' selfless act, or was it because he got the energy to do so after some of his mass was displaced? Did Ore disappear because Primus sent him to the Afterspark, or, as an extension of the Metrotitan (having been temporarily resuscitated by him), did he teleport along it? Was it something else? We'll never know.
Meaningful Background Event: The bar scene in issue four has the events of Chromedome stealing Skids' gun play out in the background of Ratchet and Swerve's discussion. In issue 7, Chromedome and Brainstorm discuss it, and the analysis of the gun.
Deconstructed: One of the doctors at the Delphi medical facility was named Ambulon, like "Ambulance". It's actually short for ambulate: to move about. Ambulon was an ex-Decepticon who went rogue after being forced into a combiner procedure, and now can only turn into a leg. Another bot was named Dent: his name used to be Prowl, but he had to change it because of the confusion.
Pharma, like Ambulon, has a double meaning. It can be like "pharmacy", befitting his role as a medic, or like "farmer", as in what he's doing with the transformation cogs of Delphi's patients.
Also played straight in the form of the name of the Autobots' ship, the Lost Light, which does indeed become lost after an accident causes an explosion in their navigational drive.
Misfire: named for an accident involving a gun and about a dozen dead Decepticons. Helex comments on his poor aim, and when he tried to save Krok, he ended up shooting him accidentally.
The Benign Intervention (the Galactic Council's ship) is a reference to both UN-like politics and the phrase "divine intervention".
The Mole: Shock and Ore were this for Prowl on the Lost Light. They die before they can report anything back to him.
Issue 14 reveals that Drift is also this for Prowl. Not only that, but he's manipulated Brainstorm into the scheme as well. And so is Chromedome, although involuntarily.
Mood Whiplash: The series is full of witty dialogue, slapstick, snark, and humorous character interactions and situations... but it's also full of creepy horror, squick, shady characters, betrayals, and Ominous Foreshadowing. Sometimes all in the same issue.
Motor Mouth: Swerve loves to chatter whenever possible, to the point of annoying the bejeezus out of everyone else. He claims his nickname at the Academy was "Shut the Hell Up".
Tarn also applies in a way scarier fashion. Basically he can change the tone and inflections of his voice in a way that it matches with the pulses of a Transformer's spark and make it explode. He can therefore literally talk you to death.
Misfire as well. His bio says that he has the Cybertronian equivalent of ADHD.
It turns out he's actually managed to break things in two comics at once, as his rush job on deleting some of Prowls memories (In response to Prowl attempting to blackmail him) left mental damage that let Bombshell take complete control of Prowl with a Cerebro-shell over in Transformers Robots In Disguise.
And his haughtiness enables Overlord to turn the tables on him, during mnemosurgery, allowing Overlord to figure out a way to escape his containment cell.
Prowl as well, seeing as he ordered Overlord repaired and transported into the ship.
Nightmare Face: Vos's face is removable, and it has all sorts of drills and spikes on the back of it. He gives it to Krok to wear.
Vos: wear my faaace.
No Kill Like Overkill: The DJD's modus operandi. Justified since their job is not only to punish Decepticon traitors but to make an example of them.
No Name Given: The Metrotitan that appears in both annuals is never given a proper name.
Not Quite Dead: Overlord. Floating among space debris, if his clenched fist is indicative of anything.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Misfire may be this, as when all is said and done in the Scavengers arc, he comes up with a pretty clever plan with what to do with Grimlock, that even Crankcase thinks is a pretty good idea that Krok would normally think of (had he not been indisposed), and it seems very uncharacteristic of him. He is also apparently (by Skids' reckoning) Skids' archenemy. Skids is reticent to talk about why, though it's suggested he's forgotten. But it also implies there may be more to Misfire than just comic-relief.
Odd-Shaped Panel: Rewind’s previous storytelling sessions are framed with film tapes.
Odd Couple: Prowl and Chromedome seem to have been this in pre-war Cybertron.
Off Model: Chromedome's excursions into Overlord's memories show an In-Universe example. Chromedome notes that he does have a very good memory, and it hasn't faded with age, looking at a gladiator match, though, he notices that the crowd are mostly the same color and the faces are missing from every third bot.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The fight with Overlord and the greater portion of the Lost Light's crew takes place almost entirely offscreen, or just off-panel. Magnus and Fort Max's contributions are onscreen though.
One of Us: Issue #11 had a drink called "Nightmare Fuel", and issue #13 had one called "Mood Whiplash", both of which are certainly tropes that apply to this series, and especially with each issue containing a great example of the trope the issue's drink shared a name with. This shouldn't come as a surprise, as James Roberts is known to visit, and even leave comments on tvtropes. note
Specifically, a discussion regarding Prowl.
Only Friend: In Issue #7 Chromedome is apparently this to Brainstorm, having known him since their days at the Institute.
Only Sane Man: Rung for the crew of the Lost Light. Fulcrum for the Scavengers.
Origins Episode: The Shadowplay story arc, which goes back to Pre-war Cybertron and shows the origins of some of the Lost Light's crewmembers as well as how their linked to eachother.
Issue 14 is this for Overlord, and Chromedome to a lesser degree. Issues 6 and 12 show a lot of backstory on Whirl and Rewind, respectively.
Pet the Dog: Whirl gets one while explaining his life story to an enraged Fortress Maximus and his hostage Rung.
Rung: You never told me any of that!
Whirl: Well you never threatened to shoot a friend of mine!
Whirl gets another in Issue 12, where he undergoes a procedure to jumpstart Rewind's spark (after he's almost killed by a bomb), when there are no other donors possibly in penance for being the one to lock him and Cyclonus in a room with a bomb.
Cyclonus gets one in the Annual when he goes to Tailgate's Act of Affiliation (albeit secretly) despite having acted cold and uncaring towards Tailgate and everyone else for most of the series. He gets another when fighting in issue 12 and seeing Tailgate trying to disarm a bomb about to blow up. He calmly grabs Tailgate and flings him out of the blast radius, and when he and Rewind are locked in the room together, he steps in front of Rewind to take the blast. He also prevents Tailgate from being exposed as a fraud in issue 13, and proceeds to teach him a song in Primal Vernacular to cheer him up.
Brainstorm may be a Mad Scientist with a touch of Heroic Comedic Sociopath, but he does consider Chromedome his friend, and when Rewind dies, he tries to comfort Chromedome, and pleads with him not to erase the memories or Rewind, reminding him of all his previous loves whom Chromedome has forgotten. He also gives Chromedome Rewind's tape.
Plucky Comic Relief: Swerve, definitely. Rung, Rewind, and Tailgate are also played as this at times.
Power Levels: While no actual statistics are given, the idea is invoked by Prowl, describing how certain Cybertronians-like Optimus, Megatron, Grimlock, Fortress Maximus "on a good day"-are naturally bigger, more powerful and resilient than most others of their kind. There's even an old adage about this peculiarity; "Sometimes Adaptus breaks the mold". Above even the aforementioned Transformers however, are the Decepticon Phase-Sixers like Sixshot and Overlord, and Prowl really wants to know why all the truly most powerful Cybertronians are all Decepticons and why there aren't more of them.
Praetorian Guard: Before the war, the Triorian guard were a large group of elite multi-terrain triple changers answering to the Senate, Blitzwing and Overcharge were members. Their name is even a play on the trope namer.
Pragmatic Villainy: The Decepticon scavengers decide to care for Grimlock and bring him back to Cybertron. Not because they give a crap about him, but because bringing someone like him back to Cybertron would earn them brownie points regardless of who won the war. If the Autobots won, they'd be happy to have one of their own back and would be willing to grant amnesty to the bots who helped him. If the Decepticons won, Megatron would be happy to have a prize like Grimlock and would be willing to reward the bots who brought him.
Precursors: The Knights Of Cybertron more or less fill this role. The plot begins as a search to find them and/or what happened to them.
Properly Paranoid: Deconstructed with Red Alert. His paranoia helps him find out things that people dismiss, but it also severely hinders his effectiveness. Case in point, he believes that he's hearing voices in the basement. He checks it out, finding Overlord, but he doesn't tell anyone because he believes that they're out to get him.
He also thinks the Institute played some role against him. The Shadowplay arc shows that yeah, they've been messing with his head to get the investigation of Momus' death going, and that's only what we've seen.
Crankcase: Who - the hell - went - and got themselves - on - the List?
Punny Name: Shock and Ore (try saying it with a British accent).
Rags to Riches: Implied with Senator Momus. He used to be a mining boss whose workers found something of particular value to the higher ups. The government agent sent to collect it told Momus that he was exempt of the connotations of his alt-mode and free to choose his own destiny in society. Momus would go onto becoming a Senator, and one of the few to hang out with the lower classes. He supported the Decepticon movement.
Reality Ensues: The Scavenger arc features the scrappy underdogs vs the professional killers. It ends very badly. Chekhov's Skill, Big Damn Heroes, and Heroic Sacrifice are all subverted, and the underdogs get their skidplates handed to them. Flywheels gets killed, Misfire gets mauled, Krok gets maimed, Crankcase gets electrocuted, and Fulcrum injures himself after his failed Heroic Sacrifice.
Reformed, But Rejected: Cyclonus. Just about everyone but Tailgate thinks the worse of him at any given time, to the point he's Easily Condemned for anything that goes wrong inside the Lost Light, even when he has nothing to do with it.
Religious Bruiser: Subverted with Flywheels; he's a Neoprimalist, can be seen praying before the fight and he's the only fatality that the Scavengers take in their hopelessly outclassed battle.
Played Straight with Drift who's spiritual side is played up for this series. When he fights Overlord he states that his faith and swords will protect him.
The Reveal: The identity of the mysterious senator? SENATOR SHOCKWAVE. In a noticeable bit of Irony, In-Universe Tailgate also learned that Orion Pax was really... Optimus Prime.
In issue 14 we get this little shocker: The Conspirator was actually Drift the whole time. He and the Duobots were working for Prowl to learn how Phase Sixers were made and they needed Chromedome to perform mnemosurgery on him in order to find out. When Chromedome refused, they smuggled Overlord onto the Lost Light. Also, Drift has successfully manipulated Chromedome and Brainstorm into the scheme.
In Delphi, one of the Autobots is a double agent, and has released the Decepticons from captivity. Signs point to Ambulon, as a previous story had said that he had a paint job masking his history, and the chips indicate it was purple and also a Decepticon. While he was, it was really Pharma who released the prisoners and had killed several people.
On the old Cybertron, there is one seemingly uncorrupt senator who's name is never mentioned. He sports Eva Fins, changes his colors quite often, with his final ones being red, blue and white. Many thought him to be Ultra Magnus. In reality it was Shockwave who had quite a few cosmetic changes.
The Rival: Surprisingly, Rung has one, another psychiatrist called Froid.
Robbing The Dead: the Scavengers do this, excluding Fulcrum who is too disturbed by the practice to do so.
Robot Religion: The Annual provides a new Transformers creation myth, instead of Primus, Unicron and The Thirteen. In this one, Primus split into 5 other beings (including himself) and together they formed The Guiding Hand. One of their members, Mortilus, attacked them, and thus each one of them became an essential part of the Cybertronians' life (transformation cog, brain module, the Matrix of Leadership and Vector Sigma). Since Mortilus (Anthropomorphic Personification of death) was defeated, they also became practically immortal.
Faith is explored by many characters. Drift is The Fundamentalist, and makes repeated allusions to his faith. Flywheels is a neoprimalist, though its implied he doesn't think Primus cares for him. Cyclonus mentions having prayed in the shadows of the Metrotitans back on Cybertron, and Swerve believes in Primus. Ratchet and Ore are both Atheists.
In the Shadowplay arc we see Pious Maximus, a large religious figure who opposes the government and preaches often. He later recanted his beliefs one day, and later could be seen as an institute victim.
Running Gag: Everyone getting Rung's name wrong or forgetting about it.
Ultra Magnus stating he's not easily impressed, with someone else commenting they're not surprised.
Rodimus' constant use of "Till all are one". It actually becomes a plot point later on.
Chromedome not knowing how to make the "Pfft" sound.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In issue 7, Misfire suggests they run away screaming from the crashed vessel they are exploring after discovering a menagerie of horrors inside it.
Self-Deprecation: Rung's holo-matter avatar is named "Mary Sue". Rung is also James Roberts' original character.
Series Continuity Error: Issue #1 has Chromedome pointing out that Rewind's alt-mode is non-mobile, seeing as it is a giant memory stick. Cue the Annual, where his alt-mode, is not only hovering, but also quite mobile, keeping pace with the likes of Whirl, Cyclonus, Drift and Rodimus. It has been clarified that this was an error on part of the Annual's artist, however.
Small Name, Big Ego: Brainstorm constantly behaves like he's a celebrity and Primus's gift to scientists, but nobody else treats him as anything other than the average Autobot egghead. Issue 14 implies that he acts like this out of jealousy towards Perceptor.
Sociopathic Hero: Despite all his comedic actions, Whirl is seriously disturbed, from mutilating Sweep corpses, to trying to start a fight with Cyclonus. This is very clear in Issue 12, where he combines this trope and Heroic Comedic Sociopath in battle, telling Rewind to accompany him "and film [him] killing people for the greater good." When he faces off against Nautilator, Whirl easily has him pinned, and then makes fun of his Megatron sounding voice when the Decepticon begs for his life. Whirl then tries to do an impression of Optimus Prime, before giving up and murdering him.
So What Do We Do Now?: Swerve says to Ore that with the war over, he can't do the peace any justice, he feels like he's wasting his life, and not doing something grand now that the war's over. He states that he expected something big at the end of the war, for the peace to be all about the good times. Ore's response is that when the war ended he wanted to get a new alt-mode and befriend a Decepticon. He tells Swerve that peace is what you make of it, and to enjoy what you have.
The Scavengers have a similar talk when the war is over and the status quo is gone. They conclude that they should get to Cybertron and go from there.
Start of Darkness: The Shadowplay arc is one for Shockwave. From his time as a senator, to the lobotomy and mutilation he received, becoming the Decepticon he is at present. The arc is even named after the mental procedure.
Stat-O-Vision: Ultra Magnus has a variation on all the time. Listing names, skills, and likelihood to be a threat, Drift's mentions that Magnus has to resist dragging him off to prison.
Status Quo Is God: Discussed by the Scavengers in issue 7. Krok and most of the group explain to Fulcrum that the war is over. Fulcrum can't believe it because of this trope.
Fulcrum: But there's always been a war! That's like saying there's no more blue or—or the weather's stopped!
Stealth Pun: The Data Slug looks like a flash drive, and Red Alert placed it in the cavity where Rung's thumb used to be. Another name for a flash drive? A Thumb drive.
Tailgate:I'm upset! Doesn't anyone do upset anymore? What's wrong with you people? Is this a war thing?
This Is a Drill: Ore's main weapon is a drill, and after his death Red Alert uses it to open up the slow cell. In the days before the war, miners used drill hands, Frak's dialogue implies that you earn it after working for so long. Impactor's appearance in prison notably has his right hand missing likely to remove any concealable weapon for his incarceration. Vos utilizes this trope in smaller amounts, having many small drills on the inside of his face, and Overlord has drills on his fingers for mnemosurgery. He wanted needles, but he can mess people up better with these.
Too Dumb to Live: Spinister is a serious idiot. Some of his highlights include interrogating his own fingers, shooting a fire because he thought it was giving him "a look", and having to have Krok constantly explain the situation to him. Misfire even calls him "the stupidest person in the universe".
To be fair, the fire was giving him a look, given that they were using the still-living body of an Autobot as fuel.
Took a Level in Jerkass: As with The Transformers IDW, Sentinel Prime. Initially portrayed as a Hero Antagonist who's brutal tactics were justified by Megatron's far greater ferocity, in Megatron Origin. In addition, he thought of the senate as a bunch of whining idiots unfit to lead. Now he's a "seemingly" loyal tool of the Senate who embraces their dark practices including Empurata and Shadowplay, having both done to Shockwave out of spite. He never appears in the Shadowplay arc, but his actions are communicated through the other characters. Interestingly enough, Megatron Origin chronologically took place after this series and The Transformers (IDW), but came out before it.
Torture Technician: The Decepticon Justice Division. Three of it's members (Helex, Tesaurus, and Kaon) turn into torture devices, and the two that don't (Vos and Tarn) posses robot-mode skills that enhance their torture capabilities (Vos's Nightmare Face and Tarn's ability to talk his foes to death).
Tranquil Fury: Rewind falls into this when he realizes that Chromedome knew all along Overlord was onboard the ship and that his rampage is basically Chromedome's fault. He very calmly tells Chromedome he's not sure he can ever forgive him for this.
Trigger Phrase: Chromedome turned "Til All Are One" into this for Overlord using a technique called Trepan's Trigger so that it would send him into a temporary, one-use Villainous Breakdown.
Try to Fit That on a Business Card: Ultra Magnus, Duly Appointed Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord and Director of Security. He's also the Second in Command. Even lampshaded by Hound.
Hound:One, two, three, four, five... ten, eleven. You realize that gives him the longest job title ever.
Two Lines, No Waiting: The events of Spotlight:Trailcutter and Spotlight:Hoist happen almost concurrently.
Unreliable Narrator: Justified and Lampshaded with Cyclonus. He was absent from the war, and not privy to many of the details. His brief retelling of the war to Tailgate paints the Decepticons in a positive light, because the old Autobot regime (which he was familiar with) was corrupt. When Tailgate is set straight with the details, he confronts Cyclonus, who says that he gave the briefest version of a war he was absent for, and never told Tailgate to pick a side.
Drift narrates that pre-war, he had overdosed on a drug and was taken to the clinic, when he says that the medic (Ratchet) was praying before the operation. Ratchet (in the present) calls him out on it.
Arguably, the whole Shadowplay arc is this. It is even lampshaded in the title of issue 9 (“A Totally Epic Story Based On Real Events That Definitely Happened”).
In the first annual, Cyclonus tells the Creation Myth of the Cybertronion race which seems to be true. The fact that Tailgate is dying of old age, something that the story says can't happen to Cybertronions, it seems that Cyclonus has got at least some of the details wrong.
Values Dissonance: In-Universe example. The Autobots and Decepticons have very different views of what is right or wrong. The Autobots believe in Socrates-style democracy and self-determination while the Decepticons believe in Marxist communist-style government and complete, unquestioning loyalty to your leader.
Also there's the value of Organic life. Fulcrum is easily one of the least evil of the Scavengers and pretty grounded, but even in his speech before jumping, he casually mentions that he approves of clearing out "backwater organics." Tailgate also mentions that the Primal Vanguard would kill organics even though he wasn't on it, Tailgate, and others of his time period headed by Nova Prime, thought very little of them. This is contrasted with the modern Autobots who think of organic life as just as precious as mechanical life and constantly fight to protect it.
Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The comic is a fun adventurous romp starring a variety of goofy and likable characters. Its main villains are the Decepticon Justice Division, a group of Knight Templar sadists who torture and murder anyone who dares to so much as question Megatron's philosophy. Then there's Overlord, sadistic lunatic who kills and manipulates people for fun.
Villain Issue: Issues 7 and 8 are arguably this. The Autobots feature, but it also has the escapades of the DJD and a marooned Decepticon crew and Grimlock.
Villain Protagonist: The Scavengers, to the point that Fulcrum acts more heroic than some of the Autobots.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Ratchet and Drift. Even if Drift's beliefs and attitude constantly gets under Ratchet's nerves, he still considers Drift a friend when it counts like when Overlord attacks them, or Drift is exiled from the ship.
War Is Glorious and War Is Hell: Issue 12 displays both, with a narrative that shows the before and after of the battle, as well as a few scenes from it. The fight starts out with a bunch of Autobots going to liberate some prisoners from the Decepticons, all happily preparing for war, and shouting a Badass Boast. While the Decepticons have a funny conversation where they say Nautilator sounds like Megatron. Then the fight breaks out, with the battles pretty Epic, Drift slicing through two cons, and impaling a third through the head, and Ultra Magnus dominating three others, and it even gets kind of funny, with Chromedome riding Overkill like a pony, and Steeljaw biting his tail. Then it cuts to after the war, where Cyclonus and Rewind are seriously injured, with the latter on the brink of death. The cons defeat is a lot more graphic than one would imagine, with Nautilator on the ground begging not to be murdered, before he is, and Whirl being responsible for putting Cyclonus and Rewind in their conditions.
Warrior Poet: Drift spends a lot of time spouting various flowery philosophical statements, and apparently writes all of Rodimus's grandiose speeches.
Wham Issue Issue 6, big time. To sum it up, Fortress Maximus goes insane, Rung accidentally gets his head blown off by Swerve, Whirl admits that he tried to euthanize Springer while Springer was in a coma, Red Alert may be going off the deep end, and Overlord is discovered to be aboard the Lost Light. Whoa.
In issue 14 we find out Drift is working for Prowl and is not only responsible for bringing Overlord on board, but also has dragged Brainstorm and Chromedome into it. Overlord escapes his containment.
Issue 15: Overlord's rampage kills 5 people including Rewind and Pipes, and fatally wounds Ultra Magnus.
Issue 16: Drift is exiled from the ship, and Tailgate has 3 days to live!?
Wham Shot: In Issue 11, the final page: The unnamed senator who befriended Orion Pax in previous issues, Senator Shockwave, has his personality inverted and is rebuilt into a more familiar form.
Earlier than that, issue 6 ends with the revealing shot of Overlord imprisoned in the cellar of the Lost Light.
What Could Have Been: Originally Powerglide was supposed to have Tailgate's role. However Livio Ramondeli, one of the artists, was unaware of this and drew Powerglide into a battle scene during the previous ongoing. To avoid continuity issues his role was given to Tailgate, though Powerglide is still a crew member.
Several Decepticons would have been added to the crew, like Blitzwing, Soundwave and Ravage, but ultimately they appeared in RID instead. When asked if he made an all Decepticon crew, Roberts said he would have also added Mindwipe and Dreadwind (if he was still alive).
According to an interview with James Roberts, the Annual could have included extended conversations between the characters in Crystal City where they discussed their attitudes toward religion, their faiths, and various experiences that shaped their stance towards Primus. Tailgate would've been with them, and Cyclonus would have explained to him that he disapproved of his branding ceremony because he thought it was the same as entering a cult, with the Autobots forcing their sets of values on him. The conversation between Skids and Chromedome would've also mentioned different Cybertronian takes on religion, such as nihilists, evangelists, atheists, agnostics, and would have had a more existential tone.
Word Of God says that Fort Max was going to do a very morally questionable thing in order to defeat Overlord, but such action would've been so terrible that the only outcome for him would've been death or life imprisonment.
Wolverine Claws: Cyclonus has the sharp finger variety. While initially it looked like it was for show (ala Femme Fatalons) he has shown to use them in battle, like giving Blip a neck-jab.
Word Of God: James Roberts keeps a steady stream of this through interviews and his own websites to explain certain details that couldn't be fit into the comic, such as the reasons the DJD members are so powerful.
The Worf Effect: Black Shadow gets killed by the DJD to show how powerful they are. In his commentary, Roberts said this was intentional.
#14 reveals that Tarn is also a Phase-Sixer, just like Black Shadow
Worth Living For: Rewind is this for Chromedome. He needs a little reminder at the end of issue 16.
Overlord finding out that Megatron is alive is all that is needed to give him back his fighting spirit.
Lampshaded by Overlord himself.
Overlord:Breaking free of these paper chains was never the problem — I just lacked the motivation. But if Megatron's alive, then there's everything to play for.
Your Days Are Numbered: Ultra Magnus after he's violently stabbed through the spark by Overlord. First Aid can buy him a little more time, but he's gonna die... soon.