Idea And Design Works, or IDW, Publishing, has held the Transformers comic license since 2005. The company’s 2005-2018 run, beginning with Infiltration (Simon Furman & E.J. Su) and concluding with Unicron (John Barber & Alex Milne), is the longest-running Transformers continuity and one of the most acclaimed. It brought Transformers comics redemption after the failure of comics published by the now-defunct Dreamwave.
In 2019, IDW began its second Transformers continuity with a reboot written by Brian Ruckley with art by Angel Hernandez and Cachét Whitman. The series aimed to chronicle the Great War from its very beginning. However, that rebooted series will be meeting a premature end; IDW is losing the Transformers license in 2022. The next owner is uncertain, but Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment is rumored to be interested. Whoever the next owner is, here are some comics that they could publish right off the bat.
6 More Transformers Generation One Comics
More comics based on the characters and aesthetics of Transformers: Generation One is the obvious choice, so much so that it’s practically a given. The original IDW run began as an Ultimate Marvel styled-take on G1; updated but recognizable designs and with the silly elements of the original stripped out. The influence of the IDW miniseries on the first Transformers film is palpable. The current run is also rooted in G1, but starts at the very beginning (before the war), exploring the outbreak of conflict gradually rather than through backstory. Considering G1 remains the most recognizable Transformers brand, the next ongoing Transformers title will almost certainly be mostly based on G1.
5 More Beast Wars: Transformers Comics
One of IDW’s most recent Transformers comics was a retelling of Beast Wars, released in 2021 in time for the CGI series’ 25th anniversary. Erik Burnham and Josh Burcham revisit the Maximals and Predacons, telling broadly the same story but with some new faces and different beats along the way. However, like IDW’s other Robots In Disguise output, the comic is coming to a premature close.
While the current Beast Wars comic is ending, that doesn’t mean the next owner of Transformers should look away from the continuity for their comics. Beast Wars is still in that nostalgia cycle sweet spot, a very fleeting but valuable position. 2023 will also see the release of Rise Of The Beasts, introducing the Maximals to live-action and creating a perfect opportunity for synergy.
4 Transformers Knightverse Tie-In Comics
The Michael Bay Transformers movies simultaneously brought Transformers new recognition and cast a stench of poor quality across the entire franchise. Fans had to look to tie-in material for good storytelling, particularly comics which fleshed out the history of the Bayverse continuity and filled in the gaps between installments. Before his work on the IDW G1 comics, John Barber built his name writing mini-series set in the Bayverse which fleshed out characters and sewed up the films’ countless plot holes. 2018’s Bumblebee, directed by Travis Knight, gave the Transformers new life on film, and future films look like they will be operating as at least a soft reboot. Tie-in comics to flesh out the setting would be a perfect idea.
3 Transformers: EarthSpark Tie-In Comics
The trailer for the next Transformers cartoon, EarthSpark, recently debuted. Premiering on Nickelodeon in Fall 2022, the series will introduce new characters – the first Cybertronians to be born on Earth – while also featuring old faces like Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Elita-One. While the series‘ home channel and action-comedy tone skew towards a younger audience, there is a treat for older fans; artist (and IDW Transformers alum) Nick Roche is one of EarthSpark‘s art designers. Assuming the series is popular, tie-in comics aimed at the same young demographic as the series seem at least plausible. IDW will be too close to losing the license to publish them, leaving the next owner to pick up the slack.
2 Comics Revisiting The Unicron Trilogy
Between Beast Machines and Animated, Hasbro took a sabbatical from producing their own Transformers cartoons. From 2001 to 2007, Hasbro began importing Transformers anime and dubbing them. The rather average Car Robots/Robots In Disguise came and went, but the next three series were more well-remembered. Armada, Energon, and Cybertron, collectively known as “The Unicron Trilogy,” is the third major era for Transformers fiction and the first divorced from G1.
The trilogy as a whole has a mixed reputation, thanks to MacGuffin-heavy plotting and rushed productions that affected scripting and dub quality. Armada starts weak but improves, Energon is still disdained to this day, and Cybertron is solid but not remarkable. However, the nostalgia cycle for the 2000s will soon be upon us, and Transformers comics would be remiss not to capitalize on this with some Unicron Trilogy content.
1 A Continuation Of Transformers Animated
Whether the next home of the Transformers is Skybound or someone else entirely, they will have one job right off the bat, and that’s to earn goodwill. For one, the classic IDW continuity is often ranked as the peak of the Transformers fiction, leaving a mighty tough act to follow. The comics industry has become increasingly propped up by the readership of older fans. If there’s one comic that could get those fans on the publishers’ side, it would be one based on Transformers Animated. Running from 2007 to 2009, Animated was helmed by Marty Isenberg and the late Derrick J. Wyatt.
Thanks to its dynamic art and innovations in the franchise formula, the series became a fan favorite. Though its three-season run concluded satisfyingly, there were plans for at least one more season. Animated fans have become one of the most vocal parts of the Transformers fanbase and continue to hold out hope for a revival to this day. In 2019, Marty Isenberg turned his pitch document for Season 4 premiere, “Trial Of Megatron” into an audio drama (with the original cast reprising their roles). Isenberg explained a cartoon revival is out of the question, but a comic continuation is not off the table. IDW never pursued this; the next Transformers publisher should correct that mistake.
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