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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."
Termagax
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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:

Transformers

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.

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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, debuted in September 2019. For the sake of completeness, tropes from that series are included here. A miniseries, Transformers: Escape, also will spin out of this series, starting in December 2020.


The tropes in your eyes:

  • Accidental Murder:
    • Brainstorm’s murder, which kicks off the whole plot. Frenzy and his crew were just trying to steal some energon, but Brainstorm stumbled upon them and things got out of hand.
    • In issue 22, Bumblebee tries to stop Quake from escaping Security Forces and winds up stabbing him through the throat. Whether it really was an accident is a little ambiguous; the initial stab is definitely unintentional, but decapitating Quake by withdrawing the sword feels a little too deliberate, and Bee definitely had motive to finish Quake off.
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  • 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.
  • Adaptational Heroism
    • In Froid's case? Maybe. He 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.
    • Cybertron's pre-war government to the one from the previous IDW continuity. While this government has its own issues such as its somewhat stifling tendencies and obsession with conserving fuel even when it may not be necessary, it's actually a somewhat accepting and egalitarian society as not only does it have diplomatic relations with other races as well as a healthy population of non-Cybertronians, but it also allows Cybertronians to choose whichever job they want regardless of their alternate mode. note  In the previous continuity, Cybertron's pre-war government was a borderline authoritarian police state which was quite xenophobic to organic life and had a brutally enforced religious caste system based on alternate modes.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Several Transformers are renamed to match their toys. Reflector became Refraktor, Flywheels became Skytread, etc.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • The Decepticons (initially called Ascenticons) compared to the previous IDW continuity. In the previous continuity, they were a rebellion of oppressed lower-class bots against a tyrannical regime while this incarnation is a political group that's trying to undermine a flawed but still mostly decent government. It's also made clear that most of it's membership is comprised of crooks and murderers.
    • The comic’s portrayal of Spinister is probably the most unsympathetic depiction of the character yet, being the ruthless leader of a band of Space Pirates who is willing to commit appalling crimes to get his way.
  • 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.
    • Issue #24 focuses on Wheeljack and his team on the Winged Moon as they try to keep from floating out of Cybertron’s orbit after its Space Elevator is destroyed.
  • 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, and wanted, 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 Orion Pax 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.
  • Anti-Hero: As the story progresses and tensions worsen on Cybertron, Prowl begins to go from a By-the-Book Cop to nastily pragmatic bot who does stuff like beating suspects in police custody for information.
  • 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.
  • As You Know: In Issue 10, Orion Pax feels the need to remind the faction leaders that the Autobots have a unbreakable majority in the senate, that Sentinel Prime is the planet's leader and that the Nominus Edict is the law of the land.
  • Audience Surrogate: Rubble, a Canon Foreigner who is drip-fed World Building information alongside the reader.
  • Ax-Crazy: This comic’s version of Triggerhappy is batshit insane, regularly doing things like shooting his own friends for no reason, screaming for random people to say his name, and just generally responding to every situation with either bizarre ramblings or manic violence.
  • Badass Boast: As he assaults the Winged Moon, Vigilem manages to turn a scholarly quotation from Codexa into a terrifying portent of doom:
    Titans built our colonies. They fought our battles. They died for us. They were us. All our potential possibilities, abilities, continued out of our deepest past into the present. Expressed. Beautiful. But terrible, too. I understand that now. We were too slow to see that not all of the past belongs in the present. Perhaps we always should have been more afraid of ourselves.
  • 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.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Megatron goes to talk with Shockwave in the Rise's armory. While they talk, Megatron casually inspects a rack containing fusion cannons, like the one he normally has strapped to his arm. He then picks up one of the cannons and begins Pistol-Whipping Shockwave with it.
  • Bathos: When news comes through that Vigilem is heading straight for the Winged Moon and only Lodestar is active to stop him, we immediately cut to Lodestar's interior to see her and Lightbright having an impromptu dance party, which gets interrupted by the Moon hailing them.
  • 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.
    • Orion merely mentioning Pyra Magna and the possibility of getting help from her sends Sentinel into a furious rage.
  • 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.
  • Big Damn Heroes: At the climax of issue 19, Treadshot and Catgut pin Bumblebee down and prepare to kill him... only to be blown backwards and sent running by a volley of gunfire from Chromia.
  • 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.
  • Bizarre Alien Psychology: In the Valentines Day special, Glyph and Tap-Out are sent to study a primitive race of lemur-like aliens, only to be met with hostility whenever they try to communicate. It eventually turns out that the aliens are communal to such an extreme that their language is inextricably linked to their emotions and personal connections. They don’t understand Glyph and Tap-Out initially because they were speaking the words without having an emotional connection to them (or each other), which made the language confusing and frightening to the aliens.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: The Probats are a race of bat-like aliens who see using echolocation which means they can't discern colors. Deathsaurus uses this to his advantage by bringing in Cliffjumper to distract them as he looks identical to Bumblebee except with a red paint job.
  • Blood Knight: Quake is a veteran of an ancient war who’s been completely unable to adjust to a 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.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Starscream not-so-subtly insinuates that Road Rage has an unrequited one on Nautica, and her angry response suggests he hit a raw nerve.
  • 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.
    • The Croaton Cloud, a massive cloud of debris floating in Cybertron’s orbit... and made up entirely of the giant, shattered corpse of a dead Titan named Croaton who suffered a Cruel and Unusual Death during the War of the Threefold Spark.
  • 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 in issue 14; 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.
    • Played gruesomely straight in issue 16 when Hyperdrive murders an unlucky guard by pinning him down and firing a rifle into his head at point-blank range. The poor dude’s head practically explodes.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: During the bar raid in issue 20, Mindwipe covers his escape by using his hypnotizing powers to make Bumper attack Prowl. The hypnosis is temporary, so all the Autobots have to do is pin him down until it wears off.
  • Broken Aesop: The third Galaxies arc, "Gauging the Truth", centers around Gauge standing up for herself by deciding whether she should help the Reversionists or Arcee and Greenlight. However, this falls flat as the choice she need to make is to choose her loving mentors or a manipulative cult led by the abusive, uncaring Heretech who wants to destroy Cybertron in an attempt to force the populace to convert to his religion.
  • 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, Lodestar, 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.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Seems to be heading in that direction, in the footsteps of its predecessor. Arcee and Greenlight are in a relationship, Nautica attracts crushes regardless of gender, Cosmos and Blast-Off are given a budding romance in the Valentine's Day Special, and there is mention of a male bot who was "much more than a friend" to Cyclonus.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • 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.
    • The first issue features prominent discussion of the Titan Fleet that protects Cybertron from orbit. In issue 16, said fleet turns out to be a key part of the Ascenticons’ plan; one of the Titans in it is Vigilem, whose sympathies are quite clearly not with the Autobots...
    • Throughout early issues, there are scattered references to unusual tectonic activity on Cybertron that’s led to an increase of earthquakes. In issue 21, one of these earthquakes disrupts Rage’s convoy as they’re traveling to a new safehouse... putting Frenzy and Quake both in a prime position to be captured by the Autobots.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The ship Sentinel Prime and his inner circle were using for their off-world mission? That was Lodestar in vehicle mode.
    • Treadshot’s name is on a list of Risers that Chromia and Windblade find in issue 9. Ten issues later, Megatron sends him to assassinate Bumblebee after learning of the latter’s true allegiances.
  • 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.
    • Arcee is, essentially, a middle ground between her original characterization (a kindhearted, motherly Chick) and her In Name Only self from the previous IDW continuity (an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight with a dark past); a friendly but hot-tempered Boisterous Bruiser and ex-soldier who’s trying to settle down into a peaceful life as a mentor.
    • Similarly, Prowl seems to be a mix of his more typical characterization as a By-the-Book Cop and his ruthless Manipulative Bastard interpretation from the previous IDW continuity; he starts out as the former, but starts to become more and more like the latter as the conflict drags on.
  • Continuity Reboot: It's wiping the slate clean of the previous Transformers G1 continuity established by IDW.
  • Convenient Coma: After being caught in the destruction of a Rise base, Windblade falls into one and spends the next several issues out of commission.
  • Covers Always Lie: The page image is the cover of the first issue. So far, more than twenty issues have passed and Megatron and Orion Pax still don't have their signature Fusion Cannon and Ion Blaster.
  • 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.
  • Cult: Issue 7 of Transformers Galaxies reveals that the Reversionists have devolved into one after leaving Cybertron. They now worship Heretech as the living embodiment of Primus' will, will employ threats and shaming to keep members in line and engage in kidnapping and memory wiping to get new members while also secretly imprisoning their families.
  • Cultural Cringe: Nautica admits to preferring alien cultures to Cybertron’s own, finding her homeworld 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.
  • Dark Messiah: Megatron has come to suspect he is one; during the War of the Threefold Spark, he personally encountered Exarchon himself but miraculously survived. Afterwards, Megatron believes that he was actively spared to follow Exarchon’s footsteps and do what he was trying to; unite Cybertron, no matter the cost.
  • David vs. Goliath: Lodestar vs Vigilem. Lodestar loses hard. An interesting example, as both participants are giant, being Titans; it’s just that Vigilem is even more giant.
  • 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.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: While trying to escape Security Forces, Quake gets attacked by the Voin Asserter. Since he’s still handcuffed, Quake baits the Asserter into slicing off his left hand at the wrist, allowing him to move his arms properly and fight back.
  • 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. Orion admits that it's largely a show to help ease tensions between Megatron's faction, the main governing body, and the Reversionists.
    • Cyclonus spends a lot of his self-imposed exile cleaning and maintaining memorials to his fellow soldiers from the Great Offscreen War. He gets dragged into the plot when he goes to do so one day and inadvertently discovers evidence of a Rise base nearby.
  • 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: The Ascenticons believe that the Nominus Edict is this, saying it’s stifling Cybertron’s ambitions and potential by rationing energon, forbidding them from possessing weapons, exiling dangerous individuals, and limiting forgings of new Cybertronians. More troubling, one of the Ascenticons' biggest criticisms of the edict is Nominus ending the creation of new colonies to avoid antagonizing other lifeforms.
  • 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.
  • Fail O'Suckyname: Wheeljack and his team are not impressed to learn that Enemy is named, well, that. Initially they wonder what kind of weirdo would name a kid “Enemy”, then wonder what kind of issues Enemy has after he admits that he actually picked the name himself.
  • Fallen Hero: Sixshot apparently used to be a war hero during the Age of Expansion, doing stuff like rescuing hostages and fighting evil. It’s all a far cry from what he’s like now.
  • 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 before Shockwave and his underling went off the rails and starting causing legitimate death and chaos and forcing Megatron into more and more drastic measures to take control of the situation.
  • Fantastic Noir: The series has some noticeable noir-influences, and a big part of the plot revolves around an increasingly strange murder investigation.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Rise team that attacks the Titan Relay Station are silly, dysfunctional misfits who spend half the mission bickering and making jokes... and the other half brutally murdering the innocent security guards stationed there. Special mention goes to Hyperdrive, who cracks puns whilst killing one guard in an especially sadistic manner (running him down in vehicle mode and pinning him to the ground before shooting his head to pieces at point-blank range).
  • 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 originally resembled an upwards-pointing arrow, resembling an upside down Decepticon logo before Megatron changed it to its traditional appearance in Issue 11.
    • 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. Sentinel Prime goes further, directly accusing the entire Ascenticon movement of being liars and traitors who offer only deception and declares his intent to name them for what they are.
    • 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.
    • While the two are courting, Blast-Off sends Cosmos a group photo of his old battalion. In it, the four bots that will eventually be his teammates on the Combaticons are all grouped around him in a vaguely menacing way.
  • Friend in the Black Market: Headlock, though calling him Prowl’s friend is a stretch.
  • From Bad to Worse: The overall plot. An Accidental Murder causes the political situation on Cybertron to rapidly escalate, which in turn leads to one bad situation after another. Every issue seems to introduce a horrible new chain in the Disaster Dominoes.
  • 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. Ironically, they end up proving to be one of the saner factions on Cybertron; they’re the first to realize just where exactly things are heading, and get out of dodge while they still can. Although the last part is subverted when issue 7 of Galaxies shows that they function more like a Cult of Personality that indulges in kidnapping, imprisonment and apparent memory wipes.
  • Giver of Lame Names: Prowl, to the surprise of nobody. His pet bird is named “Green”. Because she’s green.
  • Gladiator Games: Once a booming industry on Cybertron, until Sentinel Prime cracked down and outlawed the practice shortly before the story begins. A number of future Autobots and Decepticons are shown to be former gladiators whose careers were destroyed as a result.
  • A Glass of Chianti: While picking over the ruins of the Malayx colony, the Insecticons use pieces of Transformer corpses as makeshift energon wineglasses.
  • 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.
    • Tap-Out and Apeface used to be beloved gladiators. Then, Sentinel Prime shut the Games down and they were left toiling in obscure, underground wrestling matches with dwindling audiences. The former manages to find a new passion as Glyph’s partner.
  • 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: While not quite to the extent of the previous IDW continuity, where the Decepticons started as an uprising against an oppressive caste system, 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 blows them up.
  • 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 blows up 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 Cybertronian 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.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Downplayed as she was a genuinely well-meaning person, but as the comic progresses, it becomes clear that Termagax is a great deal more rude, temperamental, reckless, and pigheaded than most on Cybertron (especially the Ascenticons) have come to think of her as since she became a recluse.
  • 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.
  • Hypocrite: The Rise destroy the Tether and try to invade the Winged Moon, despite those being the masterworks of Termagax, who they claim to revere and follow the example of. Wheeljack angrily calls them out on it, and is even more enraged when the only defense Enemy can offer up is that they’re Just Following Orders, something the notoriously defiant Termagax would never do.
  • 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...
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How Cliffjumper defeats Deathsaurus; slamming into him midair to knock him out of the air and onto a spire below him. It isn’t enough to kill him outright, but does leave him in a Convenient Coma.
  • 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.
  • The Last DJ: As the story progresses and Cybertron’s political situation gets messier and messier, Ultra Magnus finds himself wondering if he is (and is accused by others of being) this trope; an obsolete relic of an age of heroism and idealism that’s simply not viable anymore.
  • 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.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Cliffjumper’s spotlight story is basically one big meta commentary on how he’s a minor, frequently ignored C-List character, while Bumblebee is one of the most iconic characters in the franchise, all despite them looking near-identical.
  • 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.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: A pre-Combaticon Swindle is introduced running one of these. It handles a lot of shady businesses, but the one that gets attention from the Autobots is an Energon fencing operation that the Rise are using to supply themselves.
  • 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...
  • Just Following Orders: Enemy gives this as his excuse for sabotaging the Winged Moon and implicitly aiding in the Rise attack that destroyed the Tether. Wheeljack is not amused.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • The very first thing we see Sixshot do is viciously slap around Flamewar for disobeying his orders.
    • After Orion hits his Berserk Button by suggesting they go to Pyra Magna for help, Sentinel Prime spitefully snarls that he’ll be passing the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus, despite previously naming Orion as his successor.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • Bumblebee semi-accidentally murdering Quake. The right thing to do? Probably not. Is anybody sad to see Quake go? Definitely not.
    • As the Winged Moon is threatening to fall into Cybertron’s sun, Huffer frankly tells Enemy that if the Autobots have to evacuate the moon, Huffer is just gonna leave Enemy there to die while he gets to the shuttle. Harsh, but given that Enemy is a Rise spy partly responsible for the situation they’re in, it’s kind of hard to not cheer Huffer on.
  • Mama Bear: Do not let Arcee see you mistreat or hurt Gauge. Just don’t.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The attack on the Winged Moon and subsequent severing of the Tether (with all the destruction that entails) causes a mass panic on Cybertron as everyone realizes just where this is all going. Massive crowds begin rushing every spaceport on the planet trying to evacuate.
  • 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. And Sixshot is described as a “solo assault team”, alluding to his tech spec function; “S.T.A.G.”, or “Solo Transformer Assault Group”.
    • 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.
    • Tracer kills one unlucky security guard by cleaving him in two vertically, mirroring Ambulon’s infamous death scene in More Than Meets The Eye, complete with similar poses.
    • Skystalker is a Cityspeaker in this continuity and forms his Psychic Link with Vigilem. Skystalker’s original toy came with a space shuttle very similar to Vigilem’s spaceship mode.
    • Glyph and Tap-Out’s origin story is loosely based on the Beast Machines comic they first appeared in, with them on an alien planet trying to learn the culture and language of the natives. Meanwhile, Tap-Out’s portrayal as a washed-up boxer is inspired by his Transformers Animated incarnation.
    • Lightbright’s Establishing Character Moment has her dancing to a pop song about Velocitron.
    • After Orion severely angers him, Sentinel shouts that he should pass the Matrix to Ultra Magnus instead of him, alluding to both Animated (where Magnus was the Autobot leader instead of Optimus Prime) and Transformers: The Movie (where Magnus is initially given the Matrix by Optimus).
    • Andromeda, an Author Avatar newscaster from Transformers: Timelines, shows up in issue 20 to give a Coincidental Broadcast. During said broadcast, she describes the Rise as “Cybertron’s Most Wanted”, the title of one of the convention comics published under the Timelines banner.
    • Prowl flips a table - again - while questioning Singe.
    • Azimuth is designed to resemble a figure from Takara’s Kronoform line, one of the toylines that served as a sort-of prototype for Transformers. "Ask Vector Prime" previously established that as her form (though the comic gives her a silver color scheme instead of the gold one Ask Vector Prime gave her, likely because the photo on Azimuth's wiki article more prominently displays a figure with those colors).
  • 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.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Orion Pax’s decision to install Bumblebee as The Mole in the Ascenticons ends up making everything even worse; Starscream finds out and alerts Megatron, who takes it as a personal betrayal.
    • Sentinel Prime makes Quake’s trial public to make an example of him, against the advice of Orion. Sure enough, the Rise takes the opportunity to incite a small-scale riot that allows Quake to escape in the confusion. This immediately leads into another example when Bumblebee tries to intervene and accidentally kills Quake while trying to detain him.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Quake gets himself arrested when he fires a shell into Leviathan’s knee to try and escape her, only for her to topple over right on top of him.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Averted in the most nightmarish manner possible. What happens when a gigantic Space Elevator is severed from the satellite it’s connected to? It falls down... and crushes entire blocks worth of cities as it hits the ground, killing thousands of innocent people.
  • 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 its 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.
  • Oblivious to Love: Nautica, who Starscream claims has broken the hearts of at least three people by not picking up on their infatuation, and seems to be doing the same to Road Rage now.
  • 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).
  • Off with His Head!: Quake gets stabbed through the neck and, thanks to be mid-transformation when it happens, his attacker winds up ripping his head right off his torso by trying to pull the blade out.
  • 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 Last Job: Ultra Magnus’s spotlight arc involves him being pulled out of his semi-retirement to go on one last epic adventure; finding the missing Alpha Trion. Naturally, it quickly proves to more complicated than that, and given the comic starts Just Before the End, it’s already clear that it’s not going to actually be his One Last Job...
  • 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.
  • Out-Gambitted: Spinister thinks he’s holding all the cards when he kidnaps Chromedome and rest of Ultra Magnus’s crew, holding them hostage to force Magnus to recover artifacts for him. He is proven very wrong when Victory Leo suddenly drops in to rip him and his gang to shreds. Turns out, the very second Spinister made his presence known, Magnus and Chromedome just activated a secret distress beacon to signal Leo for back-up.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Palette Swap: Lampshaded and deconstructed; Cliffjumper grapples with being constantly mistaken for Bumblebee due to having a near-identical design with only differing colors to distinguish them.
  • Papa Wolf: Wheeljack furiously castigates Huffer for mocking his mentee Gears.
  • 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.
  • Playing Both Sides: Starscream, unsurprisingly. While Cybertron becomes more and more factionalized and divided, he’s shown making sure he has fingers in everybody’s pies, such as ingratiating himself with the Ascenticons by blowing Bumblebee’s cover.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The main story is kicked off by the sudden brutal murder of Brainstorm.
  • Police Brutality: As things get worse on Cybertron, an increasingly ruthless and unstable Prowl begins doing stuff like beating and threatening detained suspects for information.
  • 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.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The Combaticons served together during the War of the Threefold Spark, but appears to have gone their separate ways after that. Shockwave recruits most of them into the Rise, but Swindle is the odd-man out: He's a gangster who is using a nightclub and casino to shield his dealings from the law. But then Prowl arrests him, and he's in prison during the Rise of the Decepticons. Paving the way for him to return to his former squadmates when he gets out.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: "Team Stream."
    Hyperdrive: Blackjack, tell Flamewar she can't call us that. It's stupid.
    Blackjack: I don't care what she calls us.
    Flamewar: Yes! There you are. Team Stream, it is!
  • 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.
  • Rage Quit: Most everyone believes that Termagax left the political stage and became a recluse as an act of dramatic protest against Nominus Prime’s rule. A flashback in issue 24 reveals that it was actually this trope; Termagax just got fed up with the Senate not listening to all her ideas and stormed out rather than not get her way. Wheeljack tried to point out that this sort of fiery, demanding behavior was the whole reason why the Senate wouldn’t listen to her, but Termagax didn’t care to hear it.
  • 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?
    • The David vs. Goliath battle in issue 17 ends very badly for the David; Lodestar puts up an amazing fight against Vigilem, but in the end he’s still a hulking warship and she’s still a lightly-armed exploratory cruiser. All she accomplishes is slowing him down a little.
  • 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 his death leads to a Voin Asserter being sent to Cybertron to enact their idea of justice; a brutal Roaring Rampage of Revenge against whoever’s deemed responsible.
  • 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.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Flashbacks tend to portray Wheeljack and Termagax as having had this dynamic in the past, with Wheeljack as the calm, analytical one whereas Termagax was fiery and passionate about everything she did.
  • 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.
  • Running Gag: Gears constantly ending up in orbit somehow, forcing Cosmos to save him.
  • Sanity Slippage: As things heat up on Cybertron, Megatron begins overcharging on Energon more often, which leaves him increasingly aggressive, unstable, and violent. As of issue 20, Prowl seems to be going through the same thing... without overcharging.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • In issue 16, Heretech and the other Reversionists see the writing on the wall and decide to get the hell off Cybertron before tensions can explode.
    • In issue 21, Rage’s convoy gets wrecked by an earthquake, attacked by the Autobots, Sixshot denies him reinforcements, and his unstable comrades go gun-crazy in response and start a fight. Rage assesses his situation for a bit, then immediately turns and runs for the hills as fast as he can.
    • Transformers: Escape is this for a whole lot of people on Cybertron. As Cybertron slowly descends into war countless civilians (unaligned with the Autobots, Decepticons, or any faction) are caught in the crossfire. Wheeljack, Hound, Nautica, and a few others race against time to get everyone off-world before the war kills them all.
  • 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.
    • Action Masters are reimagined as the “Iron Hope Hundred”, a population of colonists who crash landed on a remote planet and were forced to refuel on Nucleon to survive, frying their transformation cogs and leaving them stuck in robot mode.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: Crasher from Challenge of the GoBots can be glimpsed in the background of issue 19.
  • 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.
  • Solid Gold Poop: The Probat's excrement turns into a form of potent energon crystal when it's burned, which they use as an energy source and to trade with the Cybertronians.
  • Space Battle: The focus of issue 17 is a brutal one between Lodestar and Vigilem.
  • Space Elevator: The Tether is a gigantic space elevator that connects Cybertron to the “Winged Moon”, a geosynchronous space station that processes energon. The Rise begin their uprising by having Vigilem collapse it.
  • Space Navy: Metroplex and Titans like him are reimagined as a sort of planetary defense fleet that protects Cybertron from extraplanetary threats.
  • Space Pirates: The villains of Ultra Magnus’s spotlight story, led by Spinister and doubling as robotic organ thieves.
  • 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.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: An interesting example where the lovers initially aren’t star-crossed, but are clearly doomed to be; Cosmos and Blast-Off develop a burgeoning relationship, but the former is an Autobot and the latter is destined to not only be a Decepticon, but a member of the elite Combaticons. In fact, he’s already joined the Rise.
  • Start of Darkness: The Constructicons’ spotlight story follows them as they go from blue-collar construction workers with big dreams to ruthless cutthroats and Blood Knights lashing out at a society they feel abandoned them.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Cybertronians managed to turn one of their moons into an energy production facility that makes energon from spacetime itself.
  • Supersoldier: The Asserter, a Voin amped up with cybernetics and augmented ape creatures meant to carry out a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on anybody who murders a fellow Voin. One gets set loose on Quake for his killing of the Voin that witnessed Brainstorm’s death; it just barely fails to kill him before he crushes it, but mangles him badly enough that Bumblebee has little problem finishing him off.
  • 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.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: After being exiled, unappreciated, and generally feared for their respective powers, the Constructicons and Insecticons embrace this trope by massacring the Malayx colony and joining the Rise.
  • 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. It eventually turns out that Megatron recruited her specifically to serve as an honest, idealistic figurehead who would make the Ascenticons look better. After the Tether falls, Megatron decides to dispense with the pretenses by having her relieved of command.
  • 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.
  • Trauma Button: While aiding relief efforts in issue 19, Bumblebee goes to help what he thinks is a trapped person, only to find that the bot is already dead. The sight causes him to suffer horrible flashbacks to his search and rescue days and collapse against a nearby wall. It nearly gets him killed by distracting him as Treadshot and Catgut are trying to assassinate him. Only pure luck saves him.
  • 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, its 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.
    • The biggest example is Frenzy, who inadvertently starts the whole plot by botching an Energon heist; he got caught by Brainstorm, accidentally killed him, and everything went to hell from there.
  • Vigilante Execution: An accidental one; Bumblebee’s attempt to stop Quake from escaping turns into a murder when Bee inadvertently stabs him in the throat and slices off his head by trying to withdraw the sword.
  • Villainous Valor: Quake fighting the Voin Asserter. He’s the more unsympathetic party by far, but it’s kind of hard not to be impressed by the crazed determination and skill he brings to the battle, which he manages to win despite being handcuffed and grievously wounded.
  • 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 Episode: Issue 23 features Megatron publicly announcing that the newly rechristened Decepticons are done trying to change the system from within. His faction, now embracing the title of “Decepticons,” then proceeds to attack the Senate. In other words, the Great War has begun.
    • Issue 25: Sentinel Prime is killed and, after Chromia convinces him that, despite Sentinel's last wishes, they can't afford to wait to find Ultra Mangus, Orion claims the Matrix himself, becoming Optimus Prime.
  • 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.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Quake would kill a child if he thought he had to. Gutcruncher restrains himself to “merely” stunning Gauge when she gets between him and his Energon haul.
  • Writing for the Trade: It's very noticeable that the comic's slow moving and exposition heavy plot reads much better in book format than individual issues and that the collected editions are twice as long as the average trade but costs only half as much as buying the issues at their release prices.
  • Written by the Winners: Ultra Magnus and Alpha Trion discuss this in one flashback, with Trion musing on how questionable it is for the losing sides of wars to have their cultures, opinions, and legacies suppressed simply because they lost, and how such things just encourage further violence.
    Ultra Magnus: I'm a soldier, not a museum curator. Culture is the first casualty of war. History is replaced by the conquering army.
    Alpha Trion: Heh... indeed. Spoken like a true warrior. That's a consolation if you're on the winning side. That begs the question, do the vanquished deserve to have their legacies erased?
  • 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 Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A non-lethal variant. Elita was only recruited into the Ascenticon Guard to serve as a popular, idealistic figurehead. Once Megatron decides they no longer have need of her, Soundwave strips her of all authority and forcibly confines her to her quarters, installing Skytread as the new leader of the Ascenticon Guard.
  • 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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