This time I’m going to toss out a few titles from an entire line of comics, IDW’s huge selection of Transformers comics. This is the “regular” line so I am not including tie-ins with the live action movies or Re-Generation One which is a continuation of the Marvel Comics Transformers comic from the 80s. IDW has crafted a massive line of Transformers books covering the origins of the civil war and creation of the Decepticons, their arrival on Earth, the end of the war, the on-going story of all the bots after the war is finally over and lots of the stuff in between. Do you have a favorite character? Well odds are they have appeared in Transformers Spotlight or are going to be in it in the near future. Want a “small elite group against an overwhelming force? Yep, they did that. The origin of Megatron? Done. Epic saga with a Star Trek style of genre switches from story to story? Oh yeah, it’s there and it’s good. I’m going to cover 3 separate series but this is nowhere near complete, there are wiki pages dedicated to the exact chronological order the stories happen in, it’s that big. I am going to go in that very order so I will start with…
So in the far distant past Cybertron was the core world of a vast collection of world governed by a Senate, but as things tend to go the Senate has become corrupt and many of the Senators are becoming rich at the cost of large numbers of other bots. The series starts with one of these Senators going to an energon mining facility to tell the workers they are being replaced be automated machines (OK, yeah I know but think of it like humans being replaced by clones that are brainless but created to be disposable labor.) Energon is the food, fuel, money and power source for everything in the TF universe and the miners have been getting just enough to keep working while the rest lines the pockets (to TFs have pockets?) and they don’t take the news well, as in somebody tries to kill the Senator not well, and the troops move in. As the now arrested miners are being brought back to Cyberton to face trial one bot leads a hijacking of the ship, the bot is Megatron (yeah the Doctor Doom of the TF universe was a freaking miner!) and he gets help from bots that sure look like Rumble and Frenzy.
So Megs and company go to ground and end up joining a gladiatorial type blood sport where he becomes more and more popular and powerful. Over the course of the series you get to see the formation of the core group of the Decipticons that remain with Megs for a few million years. It also shows the formation of the Decpticons, it turns out that is not a race but group with a rather extreme ideology. I liked this series because besides the back story it shows that the Autobots were not always the noble Optimus Prime types and at the start the ‘Cons had a valid issue but Megs decided to go for absolute power. It’s kind of like Evil Spartacus meets a modern political thriller. Now on to…
The Last Stand of the Wreckers
The Wreckers are an elite Autobot special forces group and there job is to go in to Decpticon strongholds and planets and make the ‘Cons pay in body counts. This is not the Autobots from the 80’s cartoon; these are the TF versions of the Spartans from 300. The mini-series stars off with Overlord, one of Megatron’s top commanders going rogue to force Megs to come and throw down and prove which of them is the best. Overlord takes over a planet that has the Autobot’s highest level prison on it and forces everyone on it to engage in combat and when a bot reaches a certain level he rewards them. After no contact with the prison for an extended period the Autobots send in The Wreckers, but their primary mission is to retrieve something stored under the prison. They go in and run across the former commander of The Wreckers who was sent there because he executed (read: murdered) a group og Decepticons that were among the worst of all the ‘Cons.
Picture this as something like the Dirty Dozen or Expendables, a group goes in to stop and overwhelming foe from getting something while having no real expectations of getting out, but with Transformers. It also ties into other books later, which is nice as IDW does a good job of tying all the books in the TF universe together, even ones like this that are a quick limited series.
Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye
This is one of two on-going series that are running parallel, the other one being Robots In Disguise. Both are dealing with the events after the end of the civil war. While RID deals with events on Cybertron MTMTE is a space saga, Rodimus (you should know him from the Transformers: The Movie, if you don’t go get it on DVD) has decided to go looking for the legendary Knights of Cybertron and he will take anyone who wants to go with regardless of which side they were on during the war. The goal is return the Knights is heal all the wounds left from millennia of war but the current leaders on Cybertron are less than pleased with the plan.
The way the series play out is in small arcs that swap genres while still keeping the overarching plots and ties to other TF books. The first arc is very Aliens, the ship they are traveling on has a Spark Eater on it, the Spark is kind of like the soul/life-force of a Transformer and the Spark Eater is kind of the boogieman. Next arc deals with an Autobot medical outpost at the edge of DJD space (more on that later) that has had and odd escalating pattern of deaths and now is suffering from a lethal engineered plague and some of Rodimus’ crew get infected.
Then we get an arc away from main group, there is a small team of Decepticons that are scavengers making their way across old battlefields taking anything of use and come across a bit who isn’t dead (as they are stripping him of useful parts) and they decide to let him join their group. And then the DJD shows up, that is the “Decepticon Justice Division” and inform the group that they are looking for one of them and either he comes forward or the whole group of scavengers dies. The DJD’s idea of “justice” only ends in a brutal death for other ‘Cons, they have a list of bots that need to be brought to “justice.” You get on this list by being captured, surrendering, switching sides or just not dying in combat.
The DJD are not exactly normal Transformers, they are all the TF version of super villains with the evil powers, one has a chamber that can hold a bot and melt him to slag and another can tune his voice to a bots spark and then slowly get quieter until that spark goes out. These guy are feared by EVERYBODY! And not to spoil it but the scavengers get help from one of the all-time fan favorite Transformers.
Besides all that there is a plot by some on Cybertron to sabotage the mission, there is a bot that was dormant for the entire war and now is trying to catch up with everything. Some old faces from Last Stand Of The Wreckers are there, an Autobot that was “collecting” ‘Cons right before the launch and all of the issues all these bots bring along with them. But the series isn’t all dark and gritty it has a lot of fun in it as well. The interaction between all of the crew is a lot of fun and Ultra Magnus (again Transformers: The Movie!) is great, he is the odd man out. UM is the Head of Security so he isn’t happy with the Decepticons on the crew, or the Autobots, or really anybody on the crew really. He is a wound WAY too tight and tends to be the butt of a lot of the crews jokes and as an added bonus every so often you get to see through his eyes, literally, I’ll give you a hint he sees everybody as a potential trouble maker and that includes his leader.
MTMTE is a really good well rounded book that keeps you guessing at what each new arc will bring while never (at least so far as I have read) making you feel like they have lost the plot. There are a lot of little threads and they are doled out regularly but they always seem to pick them up and weave them back in. The story feels like an epic saga with everything you could want in it.
If you are a Transformers fan IDW’s line is topnotch with something for almost everyone. They also seem to be very good about collecting the various books in trade and keeping them in print so you should have no problem getting them. If you really want to go all in you might want to look up one the reading order lists online to get the order in which the books take place since they have been jumping around in time from series to series.
Sorry for the huge delay in posting and the general disjointed nature of this post. I started it just before some ugly weather rolled in and that killed power for a couple of days, in the middle of writing this up. Then the internet kept going out and there was dealing with the flooded house. BUT now it’s under control and there are a few updates almost ready to roll so there should be some extra fast updates coming.