Transformers: Beast Wars #1 – Comic Review

Once upon a time, there was a golden disc. The disc spoke of a hidden place, rich with power, ripe for the taking. One among the Predacons coveted that power, and set out to take it for his own. Standing against him was a small band of Maximals, every bit as set on denying him what he craved. And so began the Beast Wars.

That was back in 1996! The Transformers: Beast Wars CGI cartoon ran from 1996 to 1999 and told the story of the battles between the eeeeevil Predacons, led by Megatron, and the heroic Maximals, led by Optimus Primal, and their struggle to control the vast energon reserves found on a prehistoric Earth (this series then led into Transformers: Beast Machines, which was just WEIRD. That story had Megatron as a giant floating head ruling a planet of zombie Transformers). Fast forward to 2021, and IDW bring us their latest comic series, again titled Transformers: Beast Wars.

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Issue #1 is a retelling/reimagining of the events that led Megatron to steal the golden disc. In the TV series we are introduced to the action while Megatron is attempting to escape with the disc, while here we see the lead up to it. Megatron confronts the Predacon ruling body, the Tripredacus Council, accusing them of lacking the will or strength to take what the disc offers. He steals the disc and flees Cybertron, destroying all the ships left behind that might be able to chase him. Meanwhile Optimus Primal, on a seemingly dull mission babysitting a cargo of Transformer protoforms (a concept that the Bayformer movies touch on, but which has mostly been ignored by the following comic series), is dispatched in pursuit with orders to stop Megatron and retrieve the disc. The issue ends with the stage set for the conflict to follow, both factions finding themselves stranded on a strange new world.

The comic mostly follows the story beats of the cartoon’s first episode, but with some new characters introduced, such as Nyx and Skold and, of course, the conversation with the council that we didn’t see in the show. Writer Erik Burnham does a great job with the characters, each one’s dialogue making it very clear who they are to long time fans of the show, even when they’re not in their Beast Wars shape. Hats off, also, to artist Josh Burcham for giving us these new Cybertronian versions of the characters along with oodles of action and things going BOOM.

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Speaking of the art there’s the usual IDW bevy of alternate/retailer incentive cover designs. My personal favourite is Cover B by Dan Schoening and Luis Antonio Delgado, which shows the classic Megatron/Optimus designs in all their glory.

All in all, this looks like it could be a fun series. The snappy dialogue is already there, Rattrap being his usual grating, borderline-muntinous self. We’ve got some new characters for the writers to introduce us to, and the whole wide world of the Beast Wars continuity to play with. I don’t think many people will be in a hurry for them to introduce the Transmetals, though. Some of those designs were, uhm, a little over the top.

Is it worth checking out? Definitely. I can’t wait to see where issue #2 goes and how much they’re going to tinker with the existing continuity.

Transformers: Beast Wars #1 is out now from IDW Publishing.

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