CLUB AND CONVENTION TRANSFORMERS COMICS
Transformers: Universe #1
Reviewed by Blackjack
"Worlds within worlds, Silverbolt. Infinite possibilities."
Not bad, considering that it has the potential to read like a bad fanfic. See, when Hasbro and the fandom's relationship began to get closer with BotCon and the like, the Universe comic was born. Newbie readers who have no idea who the characters are, or about continuities and stuff, won't understand half of what is happening around here. But those who have, get ready for a ride. This episode basically introduces us to old and new characters. Characters that have recently played a big role in the Beast series, like Optimus Primal, Rattrap, Silverbolt, Blackarachnia and the rest, and to old faces like Sideswipe, Sunstreaker and Trailbreaker. Plus all-new faces, like Rook (a reporter, which is pretty interesting in itself). Roulette and Shadow Striker are obviously there to hog toys, but the Unicron heralds are interesting, being culled from alternate universes and corrupted so thoroughly. Striker and Tankor are faceless brutes, Reptilion does nothing but crouch beside Razorclaw and look cool. Razorclaw is the basic head honcho, powerful and grandiose, and I took an instant liking to him immediately. Obsidian is somewhat similar.
Introducing Primus is a gamble, but it works, to an extent. Although reviving Optimus Primal from the dead seems a little sudden, no? Still, there are a bunch of decent obscure cameos, not too much like the Dreamwave stuff. The Smokescreen vs Smokescreen battle is pretty much the epitome of Universe: anybody, even with the same names, can meet with each other. So Unicron basically feeds on the rage and the Sparks of the dying, which is a pretty fun and morbid concept that ties in nicely with the dark mood of Beast Machines. However, the relatively large cast means that not many get characterisation. Silverbolt, Trailbreaker and Sunstreaker have their moments, as is Blackarachnia to a lesser extent. Sideswipe and the sisters are generic, though. Still, a pretty decent read which is a far cry from the convoluted mess that is the 'Reaching the Omega Point'.
The events of this story takes place after the Beast Machines cartoon series, and after the events of the Wreckers miniseries although the events of Wreckers are not mentioned in dialogue in order to keep the ending a surprise. As it is, you could just read it off the bat without first picking up a Wreckers comic.
Autobots and Maximals coexist together in Cybertron. It is confirmed that there are other survivors of Megatron's purge, for example Trailbreaker's crew. Rook has also recently arrived on Cybertron. The fully-mechanical Autobots are considerably larger than their Beastformer counterparts, though.
Rattrap name-drops Maccadams, the always-reused bar name that first appeared in a G1 UK comic.
Primus is portrayed as a floating head based on his Marvel comics appearance. Alpha Trion now has a cloak. The transformers that are shown abducted as Alpha Trion and Primus watches are Tap-Out (from the as-of-then unpublished Wreckers Finale), Armada Megatron (holding the Dark Saber, and from the looks of it the Dreamwave comic), G1 Brawn (facing off against Megatron, likely from the G2 Marvel comics), G1 Grimlock (in his Dreamwave War Within form) and Beast Machines Snarl.
Throughout the issue Rattrap is featured with two legs like his toy instead of the two-wheeled robot form his show model uses.
For those who have no clue who the background characters are: the techno-organic Transformers in the crowd scene include Buzz Saw and Quickstrike from the Beast Machines line, as well as Drill Bit and Razorclaw (the crab, not the Mutant) from the Beast Wars line.
'Changeform' is a term used by Simon Furman in his unofficial Alignment text story to describe what would now be termed 'Alternate Mode' by the fandom.
Who is Who!
Most of the Beast Machines cast return. Those Transformers captured by Unicron are reformatted into new bodies. Well, they have new toys out in the Universe line, so... Silverbolt is now in his repainted BW body and Blackarachnia in her repainted BM body.
This year's toys that get promoted: Rook, a repaint of G1 Windcharger as a reporter. Roulette and Shadow Striker, repaints of RID Side Burn as twin sisters. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker have new bodies repainted from RID Prowl.
Trailbreaker is from the G1 series.
The Unicron heralds: Tankor, Obsidian and Razorclaw, no relation to their namesakes (despite Silverbolt's confusion) are all-new characters selected from other timelines by Unicron. Tankor and Obsidian come from an alternate BM reality where Obsidian seized power, while Razorclaw is an evil, alternate version of Tigerhawk. Reptilion is an all-new character. This Obsidian has proper hands and legs like the toy instead of the hornet, skeletal-like appearance of the 'real' BM Obsidian.
Striker is a repaint of the BM Striker toy, and would be retconned to be the same character in Wreckers, apparently abducted as well.
The two Smokescreens are from G1 and Armada toylines, respectively.
Optimus Primal is in his original Beast Wars body.
Why would Unicron's reformatting trinkets give Autobot insignias to Silverbolt and the others?
According to Roulette the enemies in the pit have 'innumerable variations' of changeforms, although we only see about four? Five?
Razorclaw has a Maximal insignia. While not surprising because he used to be Tigerhawk or a version thereof, why wouldn't he exchange it for a Decepticon insignia like the rest of his pals?
Trailbreaker, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker show no recognition to their buddy Smokescreen. Jerks.