With Chaos coming to a close and the epic Transformers: The Death of Optimus Prime coming this December, long-time Transformers comic publisher IDW is planning a new era for the Robots In Disguise come 2012.
As revealed in a conference call with press earlier this week, in January IDW will launch two new series spiraling out of 2011’s events titled Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye and Transformers: Robots In Disguise. With the war for Cybertron between Autobots and Decepticons over, the victors find two separate paths for their future and two separate leaders.“Faced with a brand new era for Cyberton, the Autobots are forced to find a new peace to fill the void,” said IDW Senior Editor John Barber, who also writes some of the Transformers comics. “The robots come to a disagreement as to how to go about forging this new future, which leads into these two series.”
Written by James Roberts with art by Nick Roche, Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye follows Rodimus Prime as he leaves Cybertron to go after the mythical Knights of Cybertron, who were said to have been the guardians and creators of the original Cybertronian culture. The stories of them have taken on mythical stature, with some robots believing them to be a myth entirely.“Some of the people that go with Rodimus are believers,” Barber explained, ”while others have their own reasons which we’ll see as the series goes on. Rodimus’ goal is to restore Cybertron to its glory days, but as their quest unfolds there will be fresh dangers and remnants of the millennia long war scattered throughout the galaxy.”
In the other series Transformers: Robots In Disguise, the action follows the new leader of the Transformers after the war ends and Optimus Prime fell: Bumblebee. The yellow-painted robot is more than the fumbling Autobot that some people might remember from the 80s era, but he’s still got big shoes to fill.
“Bumblebee has been the leader for awhile now, but without the guiding hand of Optimus Prime he’s in uncharted territory,” says Barber, who writes the series with Andrew Griffith drawing. “When they originally put him in charge, no one thought he’d last this long.”The landscape of the Transformers world is vastly different post-Chaos, with the Autobot forces split between Bumblebee’s camp and Rodimus’ group leaving in search of the Knights of Cybertron. That leaves roughly half of the Autobot forces on Cybertron with the surviving Decepticons remaining as prisoners of war. Adding to that unstable situation is the return of refugees returning to Cybertron after the war was over.
“Everyone who’s ever left Cybertron is coming home,” said the editor/writer. “Some were people who were fed up with the war and didn’t choose sides, and some are people who were out in the cold for other reasons. There will be more and more arriving every day. It’ll be a struggle for Bumblebee to maintain control of the planet with an ever-increasing population of people who have no distinction between Autobot and Decepticon.”
While Rodimus sets out to restore Cybertron to its golden age, Bumblebee’s choice is to build a new future for Transformers to live together in peace.“The thing we’re trying to do here is have something that longtime Transformers fans would enjoy, that builds on what’s come before, but also have it be a great jumping-on point for new fans,” he continued. “It’s not a reboot, but its close; if you like Transformers and you like comics, you should check this out. “
While IDW was relatively tight-lipped regarding any new characters or returning favorites in this new era, one name they did reveal was Metalhawk. Transformers fans will remember Metalhawk as the leader of the Autobot Pretenders, who was last seen in a disastrous battle with Deadlock in Transformers: Drift #1.
“His return will mean a lot to everyone who’s a huge Transformers fan,” Barber explained. “There will definitely be a lot of characters coming in who we haven’t seen for awhile or have been underused.”
While both new series will have a core cast that features characters both new and old whom fans will recognize, Barber says there will be a few surprises in store. When asked about any Decepticons playing a part in these new series, Barber said that Starscream plays a role as well as Cyclonus.
Barber says they’ve been working hand-in-hand with HASBRO working towards this goal for the past three years, and it’s been exciting to be close to this new chapter.
“It’s amazing to think back about when we first started doing Transformers here at IDW and how far its come,” said Michael Kelly, Director of Hasbro’s Global Publishing & Licensing. “To be at this point now, back in space, back on Cybertron and after the events of Chaos, it’s an exciting thing to see it come full circle.”For Barber it’s the culmination of something he’s carried since he was a child.
“Anyone who’s seen me talk about Transformers will tell you how I am about this. I picked up the original Marvel Transformers #1 on the stands as a child after seeing the commercial for the toys,” the editor revealed. “I wore out that copy of Transformers, and when I worked at Marvel I quizzed editor Ralph Macchio about it intensely since he wrote that first issue. Now 27 years later to see the Transformers bigger now than it has ever been, and to be a part of it, is spectacular.“
To ring in the occasion, IDW is doing five variant covers for each #1 – with the first four of each being four pieces of a gatefold cover specific to the title and the 5th being a retailer variant with the fold-out gatefold art in its entirety. IDW will also be doing a limited number of hand-drawn sketch covers, as well as temporary tattoos shipped to retailers to support the new launch.