The Dreamwave continuity is a rebooted Generation One universe, begun in 2002 by Dreamwave Productions. It freely combines elements of the cartoon and comics with new storylines, portraying events on Earth and Cybertron simultaneously. It was the first mainstream G1 fiction since the Generation 2 comics were canceled in 1994.
The story begins on present-day Earth; the Autobots and Decepticons are missing following the destruction of the Ark II spacecraft two years prior. A man whom you should call Lazarus revives some Transformers and attempts to control them, but soon they free themselves and renew their war. After an initial bout of conflict, Shockwave arrives from Cybertron to bring all the Earth-bound forces home to a supposedly united Cybertron. Inevitably, that alliance falls apart, and soon the war is gearing up again on Cybertron and Earth.
The War Within series revealed the early days of the war, detailing Prime's early leadership and the chaos after he and Megatron disappeared, while the Micromasters (comic) portrayed the dark days leading up to the Great Shutdown.
The immediate back story seems to be similar to the G1 cartoon, with two small groups of Transformers isolated on Earth after crashing there thousands or millions of years ago, though a number of details prevent it from fitting in as a continuation of the cartoon. Familiar names such as Spike and Sparkplug Witwicky and Marissa Faireborn pop up as the series progresses.
Dreamwave's universe eventually hinted at a massively complex back story for the Transformers... as well as some occasional strange and surreal plot points. For example, the Micromasters have Earth modes long before such forms actually existed on Earth... or before anyone has ever heard of the planet! This is explained as "preparation for the future," guided by a prescient Matrix and/or Vector Sigma. Another oddity is the "Great Shutdown," an event in the distant past which caused every Transformer on Cybertron to enter stasis as part of Cybertron's natural healing and regenerative cycle. Plot-wise, this device is used to explain the comparative lack of change on Cybertron while the Earth-bound Transformers slumber aboard the Ark; however, why every robot on Cybertron would shut down at the exact same moment is never made clear.
Though there is confirmation that Primus exists in this continuity, the Transformers are also hinted to have a sinister origin and history, possibly involving the Quintessons, who have had numerous dealings with them over the eons. Numerous seeds were planted for a Unicron plot thread, but Dreamwave's collapse prevented this from ever coming to fruition.
The casting choices hew closely to the toy assortments. The Ark's crew seems to consist of the original 18 Autobots, the Dinobots, and possibly the Aerialbots. The Decepticons they face on Earth likewise consist of the original 1984 cast plus the Constructicons. A council of Autobots consists of the 7 Autobot cars from 1985. The Triple Changers (Autobot and Decepticon) operate as a single battle unit. And so on.
Most characters are shown to have been on Cybertron, with most never appearing on Earth at all.
Much of Dreamwave's tech is based on the G1 cartoon and comics with additional technology from Beast Wars; other aspects attempt to explain and tie together some of the unexplained points of the original G1 series, such as clones and "brothers".
The Dreamwave universe holds multiple alternate modes in high reverence. The Triple Changers are repeatedly mentioned as having a great advantage due to their multiple forms, as well as being able to switch between those forms twice as fast as normal Transformers. "Shockwave's experiments" are repeatedly mentioned as being part of the source for the Triple Changers as well as the Duocons, though at one point Blitzwing's triple changing is mentioned as being a "natural evolution", with new parts spontaneously growing on him.
The continuity includes the following series, listed in approximate chronological order:
- The War Within - 6-issue mini-series. With the war going badly, the newly promoted Optimus Prime calls for abandoning Cybertron to the Decepticons.
- The War Within: The Dark Ages - 6-issue mini-series. A sinister agent from Cybertron's earliest epoch arrives with plans to unleash an ancient evil.
- The War Within: Age of Wrath - 6-issue mini-series (only 3 published). Megatron has conquered the planet with an army of seemingly invincible drones.
- Micromasters - 4-issue mini-series. With resources becoming scarce, both sides create a new generation of smaller, more efficient warriors.
- Prime Directive (G1 Volume 1) - 6-issue mini-series. On Earth, the Transformers are revived and resume their war.
- War and Peace (G1 Volume 2) - 6-issue mini-series. Shockwave has united both factions on Cybertron, but the Autobots uncover his true motives.
- "Welcome to the Jungle" - Short story from the Dreamwave Summer Special. Megatron recruits the Predacons to his cause.
- Generation One Ongoing (G1 Volume 3) - Ongoing series, canceled after 10 issues. The war slowly takes shape, with several rogue elements thrown into the mix.
The universe was also massively expanded by the More Than Meets The Eye profile books, which explained many aspects of the Transformers' technology and society. The books also gave fully fleshed personality to many characters who had previously been little more than a name and a quote.
See main article: Dreamwave timeline.
The initial mini-series was penned by Chris Sarracini, though later series eschewed much of what he established as far as possible without flat-out ignoring it. James McDonough, along with Adam Patyk, wrote the remainder of the main series. Omnipresent Transformers veteran Simon Furman provided the ancient history of the continuity with the War Within mini-series.