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Comic Book / Transformers: Generation 2

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A few years after the original Transformers comic had ended its run, Marvel published a new 12 issue series entitled Transformers: Generation 2. Loosely based off the toyline of the same name, the series was written by Simon Furman, with art by Derek Yaniger and Manny Galan. In keeping with the tone of many comics in the 1990's, Generation 2 had a dark and violent tone, with numerous major and minor characters killed off as Optimus Prime and Megatron fought the vastly superior forces of the second generation Cybertronian Empire. The series lasted from November 1993 to October 1994.

Reruns of the G1 television series were also marketed under the banner. The Cybernet Space Cube, a 3D CGI model, was used for scene transitions and the opening, which featured a new CGI-animated sequence similar to the toy commercials of the time. Hasbro also launched the Generation 2 toyline around the same time the comic premiered. The first year mostly saw redecoes of older Generation 1 toys with new features such as guns that fire missiles, and in a few cases, soundboxes. Also part of the line were several toys imported from the European G1 line and a brand-new Megatron toy that transformed into a tank instead of a gun due to federal law. 1994 introduced new toys, as well as redecoes of the Aerialbots and Combaticons, and in 1995, it became clear that Hasbro was seriously running out of ideas, turning to small and cheap toys such as the Cyberjets (which saw the extensive use of balljoints, a feature that is now all but standard in the toyline), the Go-Bots (which were, in a nutshell, transforming 1:64 scale Hot Wheels cars, even being compatible with Hot Wheels and Matchbox playsets), Laser Cycles, and Auto Rollers; 1995 did, however, introduce the fan-favorite Laser Optimus Prime toy. The line was cancelled in 1995, and it seemed Transformers was finished. Enter Beast Wars...

This series provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The Cybernet Space Cube is perhaps one of the earliest examples in both the franchise, and televised cartoons in general. Its only purpose was to serve as highly intrusive Scene Transitions.
  • Alternate Continuity:
    • Transformers Classics by Fun Publications takes the Classics toyline and writes its own sequel to the original Marvel comic series, essentially ignoring the Generation 2 comic.
    • IDW's Regeneration One also went this route, though a few concepts from G2 would be used.
  • And This Is for...: Used as the Autobots mop up after Mirage's death.
  • Antagonist Title: The second generation of Transformers, led by Jhiaxus, are the main villains of the series.
  • Anyone Can Die: Never more true than during this series. Rarely does an issue go by without some Transformers character who was fairly prominent in G1 dying violently. Some notable examples include Red Alert, Ironhide, Nightbeat, Fortress Maximus, Slag, Frenzy and Razorclaw. And that's just the start.
  • Apocalypse How: Of various levels. San Francisco and everyone living there are wiped off the face of the planet by Jhiaxus. Later, the Swarm attacks Earth, but we never see what—if anything—happened to the human population. Future writers—particularly Larry DiTillio, co-head writer of Beast Wars—preferred to think that the Swarm caused THE COMPLETE EXTINCTION OF HUMANITY, but its up to the individual reader to decide just how badly humanity took one on the chin.
  • Art Shift: Depending on the issue, the artwork varies wildly in style. Sometimes it makes multiple switches in one issue.
  • Author Catchphrase: It's written by Simon Furman. Plenty of his catchphrases make their way into dialogue.
  • Bad Boss: As his sanity slips further downward, Jhiaxus crushes a subordinate's head for the heck of it.
  • Big Bad: Jhiaxus is this for most of the series.
  • Big "NO!": Grimlock lets one go as Red Alert is killed by Jhiaxus' troops.
  • Breakout Villain: Jhiaxus is one of the more well-remembered parts of the G2 era, receiving new incarnations and getting actual toy representation over the years.note 
  • The Cameo: Many prominent G1 characters are reduced to cameo appearances, such as Bumblebee or Tracks. Many show up in one panel only to die in the next.
  • Canis Latinicus / Punny Name / Take That!: Jhiaxus. Well aware that the series would probably be cancelled before it ran very many issues due to unrealistic sales expectations, Simon Furman named his main Cybertronian Empire character after the pun "Gee, axe us!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Rheanium, obtained in what appears to be no more than a standard Decepticon supply raid, but which turns out to be vital to the survival of the Transformers in the final issue.
  • Crossover: The G2 series' launch was helped by a crossover arc with G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel). In the crossover, Cobra is responsible for building Megatron's new body, and they play a major role in the second issue. G.I. Joe turns up halfway through the series after the Decepticons start trashing the Earth as well as at the start to tell the Autobots about Megatron returning. They request Autobot reinforcement and aren't too happy when the only bot Skydive can produce is Optimus Prime. The fact that the events were ignored by GI Joe: A Real American Hero led to Continuity Snarls.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Decepticons' first encounter with the Cybertronian Empire goes badly for them. A lot of them get killed, and they're sent running.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Jhiaxus is forced to confront his in issue #3. He was once a violent sadist, and has since cultivated a calm and reasonable personality in an effort to convince himself that he is a moral person. It turns out that's just a facade, and that he's still as bad as he always was. Naturally instead of admitting this, he's determined to kill Prime and the Autobots so they can't remind him of the truth of who he is.
  • Darker and Edgier: The tone of the comic is a lot darker and more violent than just about any Transformers series that came before.
  • Depending on the Artist: Manny Galan's art contrasts badly with Derek Yaniger's highly stylized art. Particularly since Galan tries to copy Yaniger's style, with less than successful results.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The "Generation 2" title can refer to either Jhiaxus' second generation of Cybertronians or the second generation of Decepticons brought to life by Megatron using the Matrix, though it primarily refers to the former.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Optimus Prime has apocalyptic visions of the Swarm consuming everything, meaning that he's aware of that threat and is more concerned about it than he is about Jhiaxus.
  • The Empire: The Cybertronian Empire, ruled by the Liege Maximo. A galaxy-spanning Decepticon empire that eradicates "lesser" life forms from any planet they decide to annex. They then transform that planet into a copy of Cybertron.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Optimus Prime and Megatron form an alliance to combat the forces of the second generation Cybertronians, who vastly outnumber the Autobots and Decepticons combined.
    • Optimus tries to do this with Jhiaxus, using the threat of The Swarm, but Jhiaxus doesn't listen, and keeps trying to kill him.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: At one point, a Cybertronian wonders why exactly the Autobots consider organic life worth protecting at all. He never figures out an answer before The Swarm shows up.
  • Evil Gloating: At the start of issue #2, Megatron is exulting over the Autobots he killed or damaged.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Cybertronian Empire kill any organic lifeform they can find.
  • For the Evulz: Most of the Decepticons under Bludgeon love this. Tantrum even questions how anyone could get bored of mindless destruction.
  • From Bad to Worse: Often. Every time you think you've seen rock bottom, something tops it. Bludgeon's Decepticons attack the Earth and kill thousands just to draw out Optimus Prime. Then Megatron's forces take over and continue the attack, doing as much damage as they can. All that pales to the damage Jhiaxus inflicts, as he turns San Francisco into a smoking crater from orbit. Bad enough? No? Meet The Swarm.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Liege Maximo, who not only controls the Cybertronian Empire, but is implied to be the Decepticon from whom all the others originated. He describes Megatron as a descendant.
  • Green and Mean: The majority of Cybertronian mooks are green.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Newly-created Decepticons Leadfoot and Manta Ray develop camaraderie with some of the Autobots while fighting alongside them. Razorclaw picks up on this and tries to kill Manta Ray after seeing he's become loyal to Grimlock, only for Leadfoot to slay Razorclaw in defense, officially declaring the two of them Autobots.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Optimus Prime allows the Swarm to devour him so that it will be exposed to the Matrix and enlightened as to just what it is. The Swarm gives him a new body afterward.
  • Hostile Terraforming: The Cybertronian Empire's modus operandi was to kill all the inhabitants of each planet and then mechaform the planet itself to make replicas of Cybertron.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    Megatron: Why? That's what they all asked me. Why him... why Starscream? Why, of all Decepticons, did I decide to revitalize the one whose record of deceit and betrayal is legend? Because I'm an idiot, that's why!
  • Little "No": Grimlock's reaction to Red Alert's skeletonized body.
  • Losing Your Head: Megatron rips Bludgeon's head off, but it's just the head of his Pretender shell, so he's able to break out of it and give one last attack before Megatron finally kills him.
  • Lost Superweapon: The cache of weapons that Prime's crew and Bludgeon's crew are fighting over in the second issue qualifies.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Downplayed. Very few of the new Generation 2 toys apart from Megatron actually make an appearance until halfway through the series, and even then they're minor characters. Returning characters, like Ramjet show up still sporting their Generation 1 decos.
  • Mythology Gag: The Rheanium that protects Transformers from The Swarm, is plotwise very similar to the heat-and-radiation resistant metal that Optimus coats himself with in the TV two-parter "Return of Optimus Prime". Both are Applied Phlebotinum used to coat a Transformer to protect them from a dire threat.
  • The '90s: Huge guns, spikes everywhere, extremely graphic deaths, and a generally Grimdark atmosphere.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Jhiaxus beats the crap out of Optimus in their last encounter.
  • Obviously Evil: The hordes of the Cybertronian Empire are largely green and covered in spikes. Many have skull-like heads, with some having horns.
  • Only Mostly Dead: In issue #6, Jhiaxus blasts Megatron to pieces, and the pieces are sent hurtling into the upper atmosphere of the planet they're fighting over. He still lives.
  • Outside-Context Problem: From Optimus' perspective, it seems like the Cybertronian empire sprang out of nowhere, having somehow built their massive empire in space without anyone else's knowledge. It later turns out they came into existence relatively recently, during the Transformers' four million year-long sleep on Earth.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Nightbeat and Dirge blow themselves up in a desperate attempt to stop the Swarm during the big finale. Not only does it not work, but Megatron shows up with Rheanium that is used to save everyone barely even 2 minutes later.
  • Shout-Out: Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot can be seen among the scores of dead bodies on J'asik in issue #9.
  • Spinoff: In order to build interest, Marvel began the story with a plot thread in their G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) comic about Cobra rebuilding Megatron.
  • Taking You with Me: Fortress Maximus tries this against Megatron. It doesn't work.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Jhiaxus spends most of the series on the downward slide. In the final four issues, he hits bottom. His last minutes are spent ranting and screaming, after beating Optimus to within an inch of his life.
  • Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": The Cybertronian Empire have been going from world to world, wiping out all life there, and 'cyberforming' them. We even see them in the middle of this at one point.