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Comic Book / Transformers (2019)

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The world in your eyes...

"Your life is yours to shape. In doing so, you owe nothing to those who came before you. But you owe everything to those as yet unforged. Let no shaping of yours limit what they, in turn, might be and achieve."

In 2005, IDW Publishing began a massive reimagining of one of the flagship franchises of the 1980s: The Transformers. It ended in 2018 with the inevitable confrontation with Unicron.

But as the old Furmanism saying goes:

It never ends.

And sure enough in 2019, IDW presents a new take on the Robots in Disguise as written by Brian Ruckley and illustrated by Angel Hernandez and Ron Joseph known simply as:


Many millions of years ago, Cybertron was not only peaceful and just, it was also an epic commerce hub for the cosmos! But even then, not everything was squeaky clean. Before Autobots waged their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons, they were keeping the peace to tame the rowdy forces of the Ascenticons and their shameless leader Megatron, whose rallies leave more than a few bots beaten up.


And matters only get worse when the planet is shaken to its core by its first murder in living memory...

The series began in March 2019. An ongoing spin-off, Transformers Galaxies, is set to debut in September 2019. For the sake of completeness, tropes from that series are included here.

The tropes in your eyes:

  • Adaptational Early Appearance: The characters' designs in the comic are mostly taken from the Siege toyline, even though many members of the cast, like Bumblebee and Windblade, have yet to be given a proper toy design for the series. Megatron and Orion Pax even have the 5 mm holes from their toys visible in their character designs, and Megatron's vehicle mode is, of course, missing his cannon (which makes it look quite silly).
  • Adaptational Heroism: Maybe. Froid seems to be a decent guy in this universe, but there are hints that he’s not all he seems, like his strange insistence on seeing a patient he’s been forbidden from working with.
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  • Adaptation Name Change: Several Transformers are renamed to match their toys. Reflector became Refraktor, Flywheels became Skytread, etc.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Issue #12 is a spotlight story for Nautica. Galaxies is a Limelight Series that shows what various ancillary characters are getting up to during the events of the main series.
  • All Issues Are Political Issues: At least one part of Cybertron’s rising tensions; the numerous factions on the planet are treating everything and anything like a vital political debate. Orion complains about having to let the Reversionists preside over Brainstorm’s funeral (the deceased was an atheist who had nothing to do with them) because otherwise they would’ve thrown a tantrum over the “snub” and joined the Ascenticons.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The series takes place before the Autobot-Decepticon war and many characters, such as Bumblebee, have yet to join their traditional faction. Likewise, no one but Optimus Prime has their faction symbol painted onto their chassis. This means that it's impossible to know who belongs to which faction unless they openly identify with one.
  • Anachronic Order: Subverted, at least for now. While many, many continuities, start in the present day and explore the war's origins, this series starts before the war.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • This is the first time Quake has significance. Usually he's either cannon-fodder or a minor Decepticon while here he's given a backstory and deemed to be one of the most dangerous of Megatron's followers.
    • Transformers Galaxies is one of the few times that the Constructicons receive individual development as they're mostly characterized as a team. Hook and Scrapper in particular receive a lot of development.
  • Assassination Attempt: At the end of issue 2, an unknown gunman opens fire on an Ascenticon rally to try and kill Megatron and Soundwave. They easily survive and quickly start swearing vengeance on their attacker.
  • Audience Surrogate: Rubble, a Canon Foreigner who is drip-fed World Building information alongside the reader.
  • Bad Boss: Sixshot is a power-tripping jerk towards the Rise goons under his command, slapping Flamewar around for failing to kill Cyclonus and nearly doing the same to Shadow Striker. Megatron proves even worse post-Sanity Slippage, beating Shockwave within an inch of his life for getting too independent.
  • Berserk Button: After Ironhide insinuates that Termagax has gone into exile because she was disgusted by how Megatron’s warped her philosophy into the Ascenticons, Megatron raises his fist and looks like he’s seriously considering killing Ironhide right there before restraining himself. Keep in mind this happens during a public funeral.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Megatron and Shockwave are initially working together in a False Flag Operation to restore Cybertron to its so-called “former glory”. Megatron sees Shockwave as merely a henchman, but Shockwave insists that they’re equal partners... until Megatron beats him to near death for acting a little too independent.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Voin, one of the many aliens that have immigrated to Cybertron, are weird, octopus-like creatures that breed mindless simian creatures to serve as their hands through telepathy.
  • Blood Knight: Quake is a veteran of an ancient war who’s been completely unable to adjust to world without constant violence. Froid claims that killing people is his only real talent, and what we’ve seen of him certainly backs that up. And while he’s not the murderer, he definitely knows more about Brainstorm’s death then he lets on, as Rubble learns the hard way.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Road Rage is working as Nautica’s personal bodyguard at the start of the comic.
  • Body Horror: Some Transformers, like Codexa, choose to merge their bodies into the fabric of Cybertron itself, which looks about as creepy as you’d expect.
  • Bomb Throwing Anarchist: Orion Pax and Ironhide fear (rightfully) that Megatron and his Ascenticons are starting to cross the line from simple counter-cultural movement to this. A splinter group of them, the Rise, have already made the leap.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Subverted; Javelin takes a bullet to the head during the Titan standoff, but it only grazes her and while she’s seriously hurt, she survives. Ruckus chews out the underling who took the shot, not just for doing it against his orders, but for not even managing to score a kill.
  • Buddy Cop Show: One of the main plotlines is Prowl and Chromia as Buddy Cops investigating Brainstorm’s murder.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Skytread and Refraktor try to push Bumblebee around after Rubble’s death, accusing him of being a weak and incompetent mentor. Bee puts up with it... until their mockery turns to Rubble himself, at which point he effortlessly wipes the floor with them.
  • Butt-Monkey: Flamewar spends most of her time on-panel making mistakes and getting smacked around for it by her superiors.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Cyclonus tries to simply mind his own business and continue wandering about the wilderness... only to accidentally stumble on evidence of one of the Rise’s secret bases, causing Flamewar and Shadow Striker to attack him and pretty much forcing him to join in the investigation.
  • Canon Foreigner: There are almost as many Foreigners as there are established characters; Rubble, Termagax, Geomotus, Codexa, Leviathan, Exarchon, Paragon, Crisscross, etc..
  • Can't Take Criticism: Megatron sure as hell can’t. Ironhide nearly gets assaulted after insulting him during Brainstorm’s funeral, while a flashback in issue 6 shows him flipping out on Orion after the latter objects to being tricked in an unplanned and dangerous skydiving session.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A dark one; Windblade and Bumblebee give Rubble a personal communicator and ask if he remembers how to use it. He says he does. When Quake attacks him, he desperately tries to call Bumblebee for help... and promptly forgets how to work the communicator, accidentally calling Prowl who, being miles away, can’t do anything but listen as Quake kills Rubble.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Spending decades fused with Cybertron itself and in hibernation clearly hasn’t helped Codexa’s mental state; she can’t recognize Orion despite formerly being his mentor, has very strange speech patterns, and in general seems to be in a state of constant somnolence.
  • Combining Mecha: Combiners, naturally. In this universe they seem to only be possible through exposure to the Enigma of Combination. At the beginning of the story, the Constructicons and Terrorcons seem to be the only extant combiner teams.
  • Composite Character: Abominus combines his own history with that of Monstructor from the old IDW continuity. This time it was Abominus who was first created from the Enigma of Combination and he was the wild monster formed from the imperfect union.
  • Continuity Reboot: It's wiping the slate clean of the previous Transformers G1 continuity established by IDW.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Megatron and his Ascenticons think Cybertron is this, rather then the peaceful utopia it seems to be. Whether they’re right or not isn’t clear.
  • Crapsack World: Averted with this take on Cybertron. At least at first...
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Many, most notably the various references to Termagax’s feats. The War of the Threefold Spark and its instigator Exarchon, and references to them also count for the time being.
  • Cultural Cringe: Nautica admits to preferring alien cultures to Cybertron’s own, finding Cybertron’s too quiet and static compared to the constant change of organic life.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: While investigating the abandoned Rise hideout Cyclonus found, Windblade and Chromia are ambushed by Sixshot and try to fight back... only to get beaten within an inch of their lives. They only survive at all because Sixshot was just a distraction to buy time for Shadow Striker to rig the base to explode and destroy any evidence.
  • Cutting the Knot: When the Ascenticons refuse to hand over Barricade to the Autobots and instead hole up in their headquarters, Sentinel Prime decides enough is enough and tries to order Security Operations to just storm the building and drag Barricade out by force. Orion talks him out of it on the basis of not worsening tensions, but Sentinel makes clear the option is very much on the table.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The grisly specters that haunt Cyclonus aren't all that bad. Some express concern for his mental health and try to get him to be more cooperative with the police investigation.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Starscream, as per usual, but Chromia gives as good as she gets from him.
  • Death of a Child: Rubble is murdered by Quake at the end of issue 5.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Rubble, the apparent viewpoint character, gets killed by Quake only five issues in.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength:
    • Road Rage ends up inadvertently crushing an alien terrorist to death when she tries to tackle him to ground, failing to consider how fragile organics are compared to Transformers.
    • The Constructicons, to the point that Hook at one point accidentally kills an unlucky worker by beaning him with a broken girder.
  • The Dragon: Soundwave to Megatron, as usual.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Shockwave is ostensibly running the Rise for Megatron as part of his False Flag Operation, but it’s very clear that he’s got his own goals that don’t necessarily align with Megatron’s. It’s not long before Megatron starts trying to put him in his place.
  • The Dreaded: Quake is notorious for his brutality in the war against the Threefold Spark and addiction to violence. When Orion and his team see that Megatron has added Quake to his militia, they seriously wonder if Megatron’s lost his mind.
  • Dr. Jerk: Froid, though he isn’t trying to be a jerk; he wants to help Cyclonus, but clearly has a very poor sense of boundaries and butts his way in even when his company is obviously unwelcome.
  • Due to the Dead: Inverted. Brainstorm is given a funeral provided over the Reversionists (a major religious faction on Cybertron) and his body is melted in a plasma pyre to return his materials to Cybertron, his creator. It's a respectful and spiritual burial, but Ironhide comments that Brainstorm, an atheist, would have been insulted by the whole thing. Optimus admits that it's largely a show to help ease tensions between Megatron's faction, the main governing body, and the Reversionists.
  • Dynamic Entry: After fighting and nearly being killed by Flamewar and Shadow Striker, a mildly terrified Cyclonus enters Security Forces headquarters by crashing through the ceiling in jet mode, almost running over Froid in the process.
  • Dystopian Edict: Megatron believes that the Nominus Edict is this, saying it’s stifling Cybertron’s ambitions and potential. Given a big part of the Edict was giving non-Cybertronian life rights and protection from discrimination, this says some disturbing things about his thought processes.
  • Emergency Authority: In issue three, Orion Pax gets his first taste of leadership when Sentinel Prime’s absence and rising tensions after Brainstorm’s murder leads to him being handed emergency powers over Cybertron.
  • The Exile: Some years prior to the events of the series, Shockwave was exiled from Cybertron by Nominus Prime for some unknown crime. Megatron’s smuggled him back to run the Rise for him. The Constructicons are also exiles at the beginning, apparently because they lost control of Devastator. Megatron claims that the Nominus Prime actually exiled a lot of dissenters to the colonies when he passed his Edict, which is part of why he so strongly opposes it. The Senate, for their part, publicly insists that no such exiles happened.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Exarchon was once a widely trusted and beloved figure, until he founded the Threefold Spark and plunged Cybertron into a war that’s left deep scars well into the present day. Codexa, in one of her rare moments of lucidity, thinks that Megatron is heading down the same path, but Orion refuses to believe it.
  • False Flag Operation: Megatron is running the Rise through Shockwave in order inflame societal tensions, spread disorder, and make the populace more receptive to the Ascenticons... or at least, that was the plan. Shockwave clearly has his own ideas about how to “fix” Cybertron, and is increasingly slipping out of Megatron’s control...
  • Fantastic Noir: The series has some noticeable noir-influences, and a big part of the plot revolves around an increasingly strange murder investigation.
  • Final Solution: The remnants of the A’ovan race live on Cybertron as refugees following an attempted genocide against them by another race known as the Thraal. A racist hardliner faction within the Thraal want to restart that war and finish the extermination, but the current Thraal government isn’t really interested.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Unlike virtually every other continuity that comes to mind, the 2019 continuity takes place before the war. And so it's not a matter of if various conventions of Transformer lore come into play, but when. We know the Ascenticons will end up calling themselves Decepticons. And we know they're going to slam down against the Autobots eventually.
  • Foreshadowing: The Ascenticon logo resembles an upwards-pointing arrow, but if turned the other way looks a lot more like the Decepticon insignia.
    • Orion also states that in his opinion the Rise is too hopeful a name for the group using it, a more extreme splinter group of the Ascenticons, and suggests they should make them pick a new name.
    • At one point, a harmless alien bug is shown skittering about Cybertron, only for Megatron to callously crush it with his tank treads; an eerie nod towards just what kind of treatment other species will get from him in the future.
    • Barricade’s first appears grumbling about his crappy posting in Security Operations and how much he dislikes his job, setting up him selling out the Voin’s location to the Ascenticons to join them.
  • Friend in the Black Market: Headlock, though calling him Prowl’s friend is a stretch.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Constructicons are introduced as, fittingly, a group of blue-collar construction workers who got exposed to the Enigma of Combination during some reconstruction work, starting a chain of events that got them kicked off Cybertron, which in turn leads to them joining Decepticons.
  • Functional Addict: Once the situation on Cybertron gets especially tense, Megatron starts regularly overcharging himself with excessive amounts of Energon to keep himself at max power. It hurts like hell and exacerbates his Hair-Trigger Temper, but Megs is so strong-willed that he fights through the effects. It allows him to utterly brutalize Shockwave when they come to blows, as Shockwave and his henchmen have been only just getting by on the bare minimum of Energon, leaving them severely weakened.
  • The Fundamentalist: The Reversionists are the Transformer equivalent, hyper-devout worshippers of Primus who’s piousness crosses into Holier Than Thou territory. They’re not very popular, but carry enough sway that Orion is forced to bend over backwards to please them several times, much to his chagrin.
  • Glory Days: Once, the Constructicons were some of the greatest architects on Cybertron. Then they lost control of their combined form, Devastator, and got exiled. Needless to say, they’re still sore about it, with Scrapper in particular longing for the good old days.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Prowl’s truly dedicated to his duties and upholding the law, but he’s not about to be nice about.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We’re spared seeing Quake smashing Rubble’s skull in, as well as the aftermath.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: Starscream partakes in this in one cover.
  • Great Offscreen War: One fought in the distant past against a group called “the Threefold Spark”, who were apparently led by a formerly-trusted Transformer named Exarchon.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Exarchon, the leader of the Threefold Spark and a formerly beloved figure on Cybertron. He’s apparently responsible for a lot of the current troubles plaguing Cybertron, and the Autobots think Megatron is starting to act more and more like him. More worryingly, Cyclonus seems to think Exarchon isn’t gone like everybody thinks...
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The conflict between the Autobots and Ascenticons starts as this. The Autobots are keeping Cybertron peaceful and free, but also preventing innovation and alienating younger bots with their stiff policies, while also leaving the colonies to pretty much fend for themselves. The Ascenticons just want to restore Cybertron and the colonies to their former glory and provide a better future for the younger generations, but aren’t keen on debate and constantly cause trouble with their protests. Then the Rise start gaining power and things start escalating...
  • Grumpy Old Man: Sentinel Prime is not happy with how the Autobots have failed to deal with the Ascenticon situation, and he lets them know it. The first thing he does upon returning to Cybertron is announce that he’s going to smash heads together in the Senate, and it’s honestly hard to tell if he means that metaphorically or not.
  • Handshake Substitute: Orion Pax (the future Optimus Prime) and Megatron have one involving their palms meeting each other.
  • Has Two Mommies: Bumblebee remarks that since Arcee and Greenlight are nigh-inseparable, Arcee’s mentee will effectively have two mentors, something Greenlight doesn’t deny
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Soundwave asks Ruckus if he and his team know anything important about the Rise’s operations in case they get arrested by the Autobots. Ruckus is too stupid to catch the implication and blithely confirms that he does. Unsurprisingly, Soundwave kills them all.
  • He Knows Too Much: A Voin who may have witnessed the murder gets hunted down and murdered by Quake to prevent it from going to the authorities. Rubble accidentally sees that happen and is killed for it himself. Later, Soundwave murders Ruckus and his team and frames it as a Suicide Attack to keep them from falling into Autobot hands.
  • He's Just Hiding!: In-Universe; Cyclonus seems to think Exarchon is still alive and plotting a return. His “ghosts” mock him for it, insinuating that he just can’t move on from his experiences in the war with the Three-Fold Spark.
  • The Hermit: This universe's version of Cyclonus is a recluse who has cut ties with modern cybertonian society.
  • Heroic Neutral: At the story’s start, Bumblebee is one of the few bots who refuses to align himself with any of Cybertron’s many factions. But not really. He’s actually working undercover for Orion, pretending to be a neutral and joining the Ascenticons.
  • Horror Hunger: The Insecticons feel a perpetual need to eat, and will eat nearly anything... including corpses. No points for guessing why they’re in exile.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Whatever Exarchon was, he clearly wasn’t a normal Transformer by the time of the War of the Threefold Spark. Amongst other things, his consciousness was spread out over multiple people and he waged war with technology beyond anything Cybertron had. Nobody knows how it happened; according to Megatron, he went into space on an exploratory mission one day and just came back like that.
  • Ignored Expert: Ironhide and Codexa both fear that the situation with the Ascenticons is going to spiral out of control. Orion dismisses their concerns, convinced he can still reason with Megatron. Take a wild guess who’s right...
  • Implacable Man: Sixshot. He gets Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by Windblade’s sword and it doesn’t even hurt him; he just grumbles in irritation and swats Windblade aside.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Flamewar, who can’t even kill a single witness despite being armed to the teeth and having the element of surprise, and seems to spend most of her off-time getting kicked around by her superiors.
  • Irony: The Reversionists, a religious fundamentalist group, are led by a senator named Heretech. Just for bonus points, he wears an inverted Matrix-shaped crest on his forehead, which may or may not qualify as sacrilege.
  • It's All My Fault: Windblade tries to tell Bumblebee that Rubble’s murder wasn’t his fault, but Bee very obviously doesn’t agree. Prowl also blames himself, feeling it wouldn’t have happened if he had found the Voin quicker.
  • It's Personal: After being the last person Rubble talked to before dying, Prowl starts taking the investigation very personally and swears to avenge both Rubble and Brainstorm’s deaths.
  • Lawful Pushover: Orion tries to get Megatron to stop agitating the populace with his rallies and militia-forming, but Megatron refuses to listen and Orion has no legal power to stop him.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Flamewar is a little too eager to prove herself to the rest of the Rise, to the point of regularly starting fights without orders. It does nothing but make her allies mock and belittle her even more.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Cyclonus is content to wander about the wilderness, arguing with his ghosts/hallucinations and occasionally visiting war memorials... until Flamewar tries to kill him for knowing too much, at which point he decides to show her why he survived the war.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Termagax has decided to seclude herself from Cybertron and the Ascenticons to focus on her experiments, and as a result has no idea what’s been going on since. Megatron secretly enjoys this, as it means he’s free to do what he wishes with the Ascenticons without her interference.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: After Rubble’s murder, a fed-up Prowl tries to scrounge up information by beating it out of Headlock... only to learn Barricade’s beaten him to it...
  • Jerkass:
    • Prowl is as abrasive and temperamental as ever, to the point that Geomotus refuses to work with him for extended periods. Apparently, he used to be worse and peacetime has mellowed him out a lot.
    • Skytread and Refraktor are such massive tools that they think it’s funny to bully Bumblebee around right after Rubble’s murder.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Brainstorm has a fearsome reputation and a Hair-Trigger Temper, but is ultimately a good hearted bot who’s always willing to teach people. Makes you wonder who would want to kill him.
  • Just Before the End: The comic is set in the time leading up to the Great War and the collapse of Cybertronian society. Things seem peaceful and happy, but cracks are beginning show up everywhere, especially with Megatron agitating the populace...
  • Kick the Dog: The very first thing we see Sixshot do is viciously slap around Flamewar for disobeying his orders.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is Cyclonus actually seeing the ghosts of his dead comrades, or is he just mentally ill and hallucinating?
  • Medal of Dishonor: In a flashback, the Constructicons are given badges of honor by Nominus Prime for their work rebuilding Iacon. Scrapper is deeply honored... until he realizes that every relief worker present is getting the same medal, regardless of their importance or accomplishments. It’s just some hokey participation trophy.
  • The Mentor: The Transformer equivalent of parents seems to be “mentors” who teach newborn Transformers about Cybertron and help them find their place in the world. Bumblebee is Rubble’s mentor (with a little help from Wheeljack), and in issue 4, Arcee gets a newborn of her own to mentor.
  • Mexican Standoff: Issue 11 is made up of one between the Ascenticon militia and Security Operations, provoked when Prowl tries to arrest a suspected Riser who’s hiding in their headquarters, only to be refused entry by Soundwave.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Brainstorm’s murder and all the chaos that follows turns out to have been caused by a simple robbery that went wrong; Frenzy and some other Risers were just trying to steal some energon from his facility and Brainstorm happened to stumble upon them doing so, leading to a confrontation where Frenzy killed Brainstorm (possibly by accident).
  • The Mole: Bumblebee is actually Orion Pax’s Mole in the Ascenticons, planted to find out what Megatron’s up to. Refraktor is also a Mole, but for Starscream.
  • Multicultural Alien Planet: According to Bumblebee there are many factions on Cybertron, not to mention the various organic species who have taken residence there as well. Most of these organic lifeforms live in the Xeno-Quarter of Iacon, which takes up about a fifth of the city.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Bumblebee and Windblade are paired together as best friends a la Transformers: Cyberverse
    • Megatron is established as a rebellious movement leader like his pre-war characterization in the original IDW G1 continuity.
    • After Rubble ignores him, an exasperated Bumblebee wonders if his voice box is defective, a nod to the various series where he’s mute.
    • Brainstorm uses his design from the previous continuity's More Than Meets The Eye at least judging by what we see of his corpse.
    • Prowl owns a green, pterodactyl-like bird as a pet; a nod to Pteraxodon, his Targetmaster partner in the Siege toyline who’s a robotic pterosaur.
    • Soundwave’s dialogue is much more stilted than other characters and has blue, staticky speech bubbles to emulate his iconic Robo Speak from the original 1984 cartoon.
    • Crosscut and Road Rage are introduced working as a diplomat and bodyguard — the functions they were given in their original tech specs. Similarly, Crosshairs is portrayed as stodgy bureaucrat, probably the first time fiction has ever followed his tech spec bio.
    • When Devastator is first formed, he has a two-eyed head before gaining his iconic visor as he learns to control his strength; a nod to an infamous animation error from the original cartoon, where he would constantly switch between the two head designs before finally settling on the visor.
    • Frenzy uses drills as weapons, which proves to be an important clue in the murder case. The Transformers: All Hail Megatron depicted him wielding drills on his arms to contrast with Rumble’s piledrivers.
    • Landmine wears his design from Transformers Energon.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Rubble, a recently forged Transformer so young he hasn’t even picked an alt mode yet.
  • Neurodiversity Is Supernatural: Averted; Geomotus’ neurological condition allows him to aid Security Operations in cases, but it’s never treated as anything paranormal or unusual.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: After disobeying Megatron one time too many, Shockwave gets beaten to near-death until he submits to Megatron’s will.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: In case it wasn’t clear what a sadist Quake is, he kills Rubble with one punch to the head, then proceeds to savagely pummel his corpse for seemingly no reason. Greenlight also notes that he signed the Voin’s death warrant the second he smashed it’s environmental suit, but beat it to death anyways just for the hell of it.
  • Noodle Incident: At the start of the story, Bumblebee has been forcibly transferred from the security division to search-and-rescue after some kind of mysterious incident. Judging by how cagey he gets when Windblade tries to tell Rubble what happened, it wasn’t pleasant.
  • No-Sell: Megatron gets shot multiple times by a would-be assassin; the shots don’t even make him flinch.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We don’t see Rubble’s death, nor are we fully shown his corpse, but the descriptions that Ratchet gives are... more than enough.
  • Painting the Medium: Soundwave has blue speech bubbles with a weird static effect and speaks in a very stilted manner, replicating his Robo Speak from the original cartoon.
  • Parents as People: Bumblebee tries hard to be a good role model for Rubble, but he struggles more and more to explain the increasingly complex and harsh nature of Cybertronian society, causing Rubble to begin losing faith in him, especially when Bumblebee can’t be available to help him all the time.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Orion Pax and Megatron are introduced engaging in this. The tension in their first meeting could be cut with a knife, though it’s mostly one-sided on Megatron’s part. He later tries to do it with Ironhide at Brainstorm’s funeral, but Ironhide just straight-up insults Megatron and nearly gets decked for it.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The main story is kicked off by the sudden brutal murder of Brainstorm.
  • Police State: Cybertron starts to turn into one by issue 13, as Sentinel Prime becomes so infuriated by the Rise that he launches a brutal crackdown on the populace, with anybody even suspected of being a Riser getting hunted down and arrested.
  • Posthumous Character: Brainstorm is dead by the end of the first issue, and his murder is what kicks off the rest of the plot.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: Everytime Megatron holds an Ascenticon rally, it turns into this. Orion tries to convince to stop rallying or at least tone the rhetoric down a little, but Megatron refuses.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Crosshairs is portrayed as a stodgy, bureaucratic stick-in-the-mud who seems to make a habit of bothering people with red tape and problems nobody cares about. Ironically, when he first appears, he’s trying to bring up an issue that actually matters for once (namely that the Risers are somehow getting ahold of weapons from Autobot armories).
  • One-Hit Kill: Quake kills Rubble with one powerful strike to the head... then proceeds to pummel the corpse for a little bit afterwards, seemingly out of pure sadism.
  • One Tract Mind: When we finally see Nominus Prime in a flashback, he’s shown to be really obsessive about fuel usage and energy consumption, constantly bringing up Cybertron’s past energy crisis and his attempts to prevent another. He even chides the Constructicons for drinking recreationally at a party held in their honor.
  • Overpopulation Crisis: Cybertron suffered one in the past thanks to Abominus’ rampage destroying much of the planet’s resources, leading to the Nominus Edict that enforced strident Energon rationing and a slower rate of forging new Transformers. It also forbid the creation of new colonies. Megatron believes the Edict is severely outdated and pointless, as Cybertron has more than recovered.
  • The Quisling: Dissatisfied with the Autobots, Barricade decides that he’d rather throw in his lot with the potential new order, giving the Voin’s location to Soundwave in exchange for becoming an Ascenticon. When the Autobots learn what he’s done, they go to arrest him at Ascenticon headquarters and Soundwave refuses to allow them in, starting a tense stand-off that Megatron only narrowly defuses by having Sixshot and his goons extract Barricade under the guise of a terrorist attack.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Sentinel Prime tries to keep his cool and handle the growing civil unrest on Cybertron... until Soundwave barges into his office demanding immediate senatorial elections in a particularly blatant political move, which pisses Sentinel off so bad that he initiates a brutal crackdown on the Rise.
  • Reality Ensues: Road Rage tackles a Thraal terrorist who’s trying to blow up Sentinel Prime’s ship... and fatally crushes him by accident, leaving the Autobots unable to interrogate him. What do you expect to happen when a giant robot falls on a flesh and blood alien?
  • Really Royalty Reveal: That Voin who witnessed Brainstorm’s murder and who gets killed by Quake because of it? He was the Voin equivalent of a very important politician, and Nautica fears his death will have some far-reaching consequences for the Autobots...
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: What caused the Constructicons’ Start of Darkness. They were assigned to Mayalx, a backwater colony, in order to shunt them off to an out-of-the-way location so they wouldn’t wreck Cybertron if they ever lost control of Devastator again. Understandably, they’re very resentful of the arrangement.
  • Reclusive Artist: In-Universe. Termagax has receded from public life and the Ascenticon movement out of protest of what she considers unfairness in Cybertron’s government. She currently spends her days living alone, building inventions and performing bizarre experiments. Many have tried to convince her to come out of hiding, but she has no interest in doing so.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Shortly after causing a minor international incident by refusing to give Barricade over to Security Operations, Soundwave has the gall to stroll right into Sentinel Prime’s office and start demanding immediate elections. Sentinel doesn’t take that well.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The Rise are an Ascenticon splinter faction who take a more violent approach to Megatron’s ideals. A very Decepticon-esque one...
  • Revealing Cover Up: After Cyclonus discovers a wire that, unbeknownst to him, leads to a secret Rise base, an overly-enthusiastic Flamewar tries to kill him for knowing too much... only to fail miserably, with Cyclonus escaping and heading straight for Security Operations. Sixshot and Shadow Striker castigate her for this, pointing out that if she had simply left Cyclonus be, he probably wouldn’t have given the wire much thought.
  • Running Both Sides: Megatron is trying to do this by installing Shockwave as the leader of the Rise, but Shockwave clearly has no interest in following Megatron’s orders.
  • Sanity Slippage: As things heat up on Cybertron, Megatron begins overcharging more often.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Leviathan is a massive Transformer who turned into an equally gigantic metal-harvesting machine, until she eventually transformed and stayed transformed, spending all of her time in vehicle mode to maximize her efficiency.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Cyclonus was in the same war as Quake and clearly hasn’t been able to move on from it; he appears to constantly hallucinate (maybe) visions of his former comrades chiding him for his decisions and failings.
  • Sherlock Scan: Geomotus has this ability, thanks to unusual brain chemistry and incredibly in-depth knowledge of Cybertron’s geology.
  • Skewed Priorities: Sideswipe takes a blast of fire to the face from Flamewar and when we next see him, he’s in the hospital... and bitching about how Flamewar had the audacity to call him names. His doctor, Flatline, wearily comments that the severe burns might be a tad more injurious.
  • The Sociopath: Froid describes Quake as one, saying beneath the stoic demeanor, his only talent and desire is satisfying his violent urges.
  • Space Elevator: The Tether is a gigantic space elevator that connects Cybertron to the “Winged Moon”, a geosynchronous space station that processes energon.
  • Space Navy: Metroplex and Titans like him are reimagined as a sort of planetary defense fleet that protects Cybertron from extraplanetary threats.
  • The Spymaster: At the story’s start, Starscream is serving as Cybertron’s head of intelligence. It later turns out that Soundwave was his predecessor, only for Starscream to somehow oust him and get him knocked down to Senator. Soundwave’s still nursing a grudge.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Cybertonians managed to turn one of their moons into an energy production facility that makes energon from spacetime itself.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Brainstorm's in Issue 1 - the first murder in recorded Cybertronian history, which would kick off a series of frenzied events.
    • Later Rubble's in Issue 5, being beaten to death by Quake. Issue 7 would reveal that it only took one hit to the head from Quake to kill him. To add insult to injury, Quake didn't stop at one. He went for several.
  • That's No Moon!: The first issue opens with Rubble excitedly scaling a small mountain... only for the view to pull back and reveal the “mountain” is really the inert, crumbling body of some ancient giant Transformer, presumably a Titan.
  • This Is a Drill: Ratchet eventually determines that Brainstorm was murdered using a small drill. Like the ones Frenzy uses...
  • Those Two Girls: Arcee and Greenlight are best friends and virtually inseparable; Bumblebee remarks that they’re almost never seen far apart.
  • Token Good Teammate: Megatron’s militia is mostly made up of various future Decepticons, with the notable exception of Elita-One, who looks noticeably out-of-place amongst her teammates. When Bumblebee visits the Ascenticon militia headquarters, she’s the only one who doesn’t act like a complete ass towards him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ruckus and his gang casually let slip to Soundwave that they know about Shockwave being back on Cybertron. While the Autobots are preparing to storm their hideout and arrest them, and right after Soundwave specifically asked if they knew anything of value. To the surprise of nobody, Soundwave rigs up his electromagnetic disrupter, makes an excuse to leave, and then blows them all sky high once he’s clear of the blast radius.
  • Troll: Wheeljack likes to mess with people sometimes:
    Rubble: Thanks. It’s fun.
    Wheeljack: Fun?! This isn’t about fun! It’s about the endless, selfless struggle against entropy!
    (Rubble stares at him with mild fear)
    Wheeljack: Don’t worry. I’m joking.
  • Understatement: When Megatron visits Termagax in her home, he idly fiddles with a device on her desk. She casually warns him that the device could turn everything up to his elbows into ionized mist, a situation she helpfully describes as “inconvenient”.
  • Ungovernable Galaxy: Mention is made that while Cybertron itself is still peaceful, it’s colony worlds are much less prosperous and orderly, with violence being much more common and Cybertron’s control over them possibly breaking down. Megatron claims this is partly because Nominus Prime exiled any troublemakers or dissenters to the colonies when he passed his Edict, effectively making them glorified Penal Colonies, though the Senate denies such a thing happened.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Something of a recurring theme:
    • Megatron of all people; his False Flag Operation with Shockwave and the Rise was never meant to get anyone killed, but things are rapidly falling apart around him as Shockwave refuses to follow orders and his numerous henchmen grow more and more radicalized.
    • Soundwave inadvertently causes the murders of Rubble and the Voin when he gets the latter’s location and passes the information directly to Shockwave, who decides the best course of action is to silence all witnesses. Megatron is pissed when he finds this out.
    • Wheeljack inadvertently caused the Constructicons’ Start of Darkness by reporting his concerns about them losing control of Devastator to the Senate. He merely thought they and Termagax should be more cautious, but Nominus and the Senate decided the best solution was effectively exiling the Constructicons by reassigning them to Mayalx, an act which eventually pushes them into the Ascenticons’ arms.
  • Walking the Earth: Prior to the events of the series, Orion went on a tour through Cybertron’s various colonies to learn more about the galaxy in preparation of succeeding Codexa as Grand Archivist. It was one of many things that led to his and Megatron’s strained relationship, as Megatron disapproved.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Orion Pax and Megatron were once close friends, but their relationship is straining badly thanks to Megatron’s insistence on holding Ascenticon rallies despite the fact that keep erupting into violence.
  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: It’s mentioned that many Transformers don’t die of natural causes, but rather “choose to sleep”.
  • Wham Shot: The final page of issue 11. At a speech following the standoff with Security Operations, Megatron declares that there needs to be a new symbol of change for Cybertron, one that embodies the Ascenticon ideal of progress. He then unveils the new emblem of the Ascenticon cause; a purple, downwards-pointing arrow with two demonic eyes...
  • Would Hit a Girl: Sixshot is introduced slapping Flamewar around for being a Leeroy Jenkins.
  • You Are in Command Now: Sentinel Prime is on an off-world mission at the story’s start, forcing Orion Pax to take charge on Cybertron and hold the delicate peace together. He’s not happy about it, and is clearly relieved when Sentinel decides to cut his mission short and start heading back to Cybertron.
  • You're Insane!: Orion half-jokingly says something like this after Megatron tricks/pressures him into an impromptu skydive from low orbit, one which Orion only narrowly survives, all just to prove a philosophical point. Megatron immediately throws a hissy fit over his “help” not being appreciated.

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