The IDW continuity is a rebooted Generation 1 universe, begun in 2005 by IDW Publishing. It re-imagines the Autobot-Decepticon war as a galaxy-spanning conflict, with Cybertron abandoned as a dead husk, and teams from both sides covertly operating on various alien worlds to defend or destroy the native populations -- including Earth.
The IDW universe brings Transformers into the modern day, dispensing with some of the more problematic elements that have dogged previous versions of G1. The Transformers here are recently arrived on Earth; the traditional "crashed on Earth 4 million years ago" approach is not used. Alternate forms are largely updated to modern day vehicles, with robot modes reworked accordingly.
The series is notable as a much more cloak-and-dagger world than many previous iterations of G1. Earth is initially portrayed as simply one of many battlegrounds in a galaxy-spanning war of subversion and conquest. Also of note is that there is a reason Cybertron is not the site of conflict: the planet is a deserted wasteland, a result of the devastation it suffered in the war. The Decepticons follow a strict protocol of infiltration as they attempt to take over alien worlds. Alternate modes serve a very real and important purpose of disguise, as discovery by natives is strictly forbidden by both factions. Open conflict is rare, and battles are often fought entirely in vehicle forms.
The story opens on Earth, as the Decepticons there have discovered a wildly powerful source of energy, and break protocol to secure it. This soon brings both Megatron and Optimus Prime to the planet, escalating the conflict. The humans are deeply involved as well, both innocent bystanders and active covert organizations such as The Machination and Skywatch. Various plot threads, many of them outlined in the Spotlight series, continually thread into the main story , and echoes of the Transformers' dark and distant past are beginning to gather strength as well.
The series is not constrained by the needs of portraying a current toyline, allowing great freedom in cast selection.
The story opens with an assortment of the more familiar 1984 Autobots operating on Earth, with some of their standard 1984/85 Decepticon foes also present. But the free format allows fan favorites such as Nightbeat and the Battlechargers to be thrown into the mix, and even almost random additions as Hardhead and Dogfight have played roles as the setting expands and more Transformers head to Earth. Many of the latter-day G1 cast have been shown fighting the war on worlds other than Earth, and even a few Generation 2 Autobots have made appearances.
New alternate modes
Most of the Transformers seen in this continuity feature alternate modes updated to the modern day:
- Ratchet: Dodge Sprinter ambulance
- Runamuck and Runabout: Chevrolet Camaro SS
- Thundercracker, Skywarp and Starscream: F-22 Raptor
- Prowl: Nissan 350Z police car
- Sunstreaker: Lamborghini Diablo
- Ironhide: Dodge Sprinter van
- Jazz: Current-model Porsche 911 (aka 997)
- Megatron: Started in Cybertronian mode, then reformatted as a Walther P99 for Earth
- Ratbat: CD player
- Hot Rod was reformatted into a Dodge Viper
- Hardhead started in his familiar mode before being reformatted into a wheeled Earth tank
Note: In possibly an art error, one of the covers for Infiltration #0 features Jazz with his original Porsche 935 hood/chest.
- Bumblebee (although he possesses a new transformation scheme, making for a different looking robot mode to G1)
- Optimus Prime, though he started in his Cybertronian form, similar to his look in The War Within.
- Blitzwing and Astrotrain may also be exceptions, though they appear to have new transformation schemes.
- Soundwave, Laserbeak and Ravage have their familiar modes, due to their travel to earth in 1984.
- Shockwave and the Dinobots also maintain their original forms, having been buried on Earth since the distant past.
Several aspects of Transformer technology have been re-evaluated for the series.
Most prominently, the "facsimile circuitry" dummy drivers shown in the G1 Marvel Comics continuity have been replaced by sophisticated solid-light projections composed of "holomatter". Holomatter generators are built into each member of the Autobot contingent on Earth; they can function as an avatar for their respective Autobot, even quite some distance away, allowing the Autobots to covertly interact with a planet's natives.
The Decepticons, in a similar vein, make use of facsimile constructs — synthetic humans grown in special pods from the bodies and minds of kidnapped "template" humans. These replicas are used to destabilize the societies of planets the Decepticons wish to conquer.
Both sides also possess a variant of teleportation technology, seen for example when Megatron travels to Starscream's Oregon command bunker. This "orbital bounce" can apparently be coordinated from an Ark spacecraft or the Decepticons' bunker headquarters. Nightbeat describes it as "not the most pleasant way to travel".
Size changing is a rarity, generally abandoned in these energy-short times. Megatron, encouraged by the energy-rich Ore-13, takes on a size-changing alternate form when he arrives on Earth. His transformation sequence and its attendant mass-displacement process consumes a great deal of energy, and is thus surprising to the Autobots who observe it. Why Soundwave and his cassettes utilized it remains unknown, though perhaps it was a necessity to further his role as a spy.
Conversely, certain technologies do not yet exist as of the series' starting point. Gestalt (combiner) technology has only appeared as a long-ago experiment, which yielded only the barbaric Monstructor. Pretender technology has likewise appeared only as a failed experiment, and Headmaster and similar binary-bonding tech is just now making its debut after years of covert and illegal development. All of these technologies appear to bestow greatly enhanced power on the users, to the point that Thunderwing devastated the entire planet of Cybertron with his Pretender shell, and Monstructor easily defeated Omega Supreme.
The continuity includes the following mini-series, listed in approximate chronological order:
- Megatron Origin – Four-issue miniseries. Megatron rises from a laboring miner to founder and leader of the Decepticon faction.
- Infiltration – Seven-issue miniseries (issues #0 to #6). On Earth, the Decepticons have discovered a potent new power source, and risk everything to exploit it.
- Stormbringer – Four-issue miniseries. On the burnt-out husk of Cybertron, Bludgeon works to revive the ultra-powerful but crazed Thunderwing.
- New Avengers/Transformers – Four-issue miniseries. The Earth Autobots team up with the superhero squad the New Avengers to confront the Decepticons in the country of Latveria.
- Escalation – Sequel to Infiltration. Six-issue miniseries. The war on Earth breaks out into open conflict as the Decepticons attempt to make use of the newly discovered Ore-13.
- Devastation – Sequel to Escalation. Six-issue miniseries. Megatron throws caution and protocol to the wind, unleashing his ultimate warrior, Sixshot, on the Earth-based Autobots.
- All Hail Megatron - Follow=up dealing with the fate of Earth at the hands of the Decepticons following the withdrawl of the Autobots at the end of Devastation.
- Revelation – Sequel to Devastation.
- Expansion – Reportedly the sequel to Revelation.
- Spotlight – A series of one-shot stories focusing on a single Transformer per issue. The stories fit in to various points in the Transformers' history.
See main article: IDW timeline.
The universe has been penned almost entirely by veteran Transformers scribe Simon Furman, with the primary exceptions being Megatron Origin (Eric Holmes), Spotlight: Kup (Nick Roche), and the New Avengers crossover (Stuart Moore).
Pencils on the main *ation series were done by E. J. Su; a variety of artists have penciled the other series in the continuity.