Transformers: Prime

The latest continuity in the Transformers mythos, Transformers: Prime debuted as a five-part movie in November on Hasbro's new Hub channel. Regular episodes began running in February on Hub (Canada also airs the series on Teletoon--which started playing it in January from the beginning). Prime's TV series is planned to run multiple years with a second twenty six episode season already committed to for next year.


The premiere story is called Darkness Rising and serves to set the scene for this series. The show is done in cgi with animation that easily rivals any other cartoons on television at the moment. The series is executive produced by Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the same two men responsible for the first two live-action TF movies. As such, it uses the movie cues as a sort of jumping off point for those unfamiliar with previous lore (it's similar though not identical to the movies in it's presentation of the Transformers).

Synopsis:  The story begins with Cliffjumper encountering a Decepticon unit on Earth and fighting them. He is eventually overpowered and taken to Starscream, who stabs him in the chest, killing him. The Autobots arrive via land bridge (aka Trans-Time-Dimensional Portal) at Cliffjumper's coordinates but he's long gone. The Autobots find Cliffjumper's severed horn and fear he is dead (also, Ratchet can detect his life-signs have gone dark). This upsets Arcee, who storms off and eventually winds up in Jasper, Nevada, a small mountain town and home to Jack (our first human protagonist). Arcee is detected by some random Decepticon drones in their car modes who give pursuit. Bumblebee and Bulkhead eventually arrive and chase them off. By now, we're introduced to the second human character Raf, a young whiz kid who can understand Bumblebee's beeps and chirps (he's R2D2 in this show for some reason). Miko is the token female (and the most annoying kid of the three). All three are taken to the Autobots HQ where Optimus Prime explains who they are and where they came from (i.e. Cybertron). (The Autobot cast is Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Bulkhead and Arcee).  Elsewhere, Megatron returns from his deep space mission (he's been gone three years) and tells Starscream he has discovered Dark Energon ("the blood of Unicron"). Dark Energon can reanimate the dead so they test it out on Cliffjumper's lifeless body. He comes to life as a mindless zombie! While the Autobots are in their headquarters we also meet Agent Fowler, the human liason from the Government. The Autobots eventually discover the Decepticon mine (Cliffjumper's life-signs come back online) and teleport there where they confront the Decepticons and discover Cliffjumper's zombie, which Arcee ultimately stops. They flee the mine when Megatron orders it destroyed.  Later, the Autobots and humans relax until Optimus and Ratchet realize Dark Energon can reanimate lilfeless machines (which had not been entirely obvious to them until this point) and go to investigate a site that Megatron might be interested in. Arcee hates the idea of babysitting the kids and decides to go on patrol. She takes BB with her and leaves Bulkhead in charge. While they're gone, Fowler returns and finds the kids, which annoys him to no end since it's an obvious breach of security. Meanwhile, there's a Cybertronian graveyard on Earth (Prime explains how Energon had been stashed on this world, a la Spotlight: Shockwave. A big battle long ago occurred on this world between both sides and they each suffered massive casualties). Prime and Ratchet investigate and are discovered by Megatron. He has absorbed the Dark Energon into himself and uses it to resurrect a zombie army! They promptly attack Prime and Ratchet who do their best to fend them off.  Fowler, meanwhile, radios in to command about the Autobot base--a communication Soundwave overhears and relays to Starscream. They capture Fowler to find out where the base is. Bulkhead finds this out and goes to rescue him--the three kids follow suite despite being told to stay behind at the base. Bulkhead finds the Decepticon ship and engages the legion of Decepticon drones while the three kids follow behind. Eventually, BB and Arcee come to his aide and all of them breach the Decepticon ship to rescue Fowler, who  has resisted telling what he knows. All escape and return to Headquarters safely. Jack is freaked out by all the trouble (Miko seems to love it) and decides to return home for good. Elsewhere, Optimus and Ratchet defeat the zombies and return home. Arcee convinces Jack to return because she doesn't want "to say goodbye yet". The Autobots use a schematic the humans got a picture of while on the ship to determine that Megatron has a massive space bridge out in the vacuum. He plans to resurrect a legion of dead TFs on Cybertron and bring them through the portal to destroy Earth. The Autobots go up there and engage him. After a grand battle, the portal is destoyed and  Megatron is thought lost to the explosion. Optimus gives his usual speech inviting any space faring Autobots to Earth... the end!

Comments:  I like the animation's quality (3D cgi) but am not crazy on the actual robot designs. Starscream looks stupid (nothing like Starscream traditionally looks. Okay, he's based off the movie design but still looks awful. I hate those missiles stuck on his arms). I hate mask-less Prime--why can't we ever get a show where he consistently has one? (Yes, a mouth gives more ability to emote, I get that. But a moving mask would be more of a challenge for the animators, wouldn't it? Why not try that?) Megatron's design is boring--I'd have rather had the WFC design over this. Also, I hate it when nobody has noses (yet everyone has pupils!) I forgot Welker was doing Megatron--he sounds more like a guy voicing a Klingon now (which is an okay voice actually. Just different). Cullen sounded okay to me (although I can see why people say he sounds like he's talking slower then before). Poor Cliffjumper! They bother to put him in the show then kill him/turn him into a zombie... sigh! Also, robots don't have hearts so why would stabbing him there kill him, anyway? (Or is it like that "cyber aneurysm" a TF had in Wreckers?) The story overall seemed decent... it might get better as it goes too. I think that all depends on whether or not the writers get over the fact this is aimed at kids and strive to tell a good story. I'd also like this show more if they dispensed with all the G1 references and just worried about telling a good story instead. I'm tired of hearing stuff like "space bridge", "spark" and "Unicron" thrown in there so fans can get excited. Prime also tells Megatron "one shall stand, one shall fall". That was never intended to be continually used line, just a one-off and I hate continually hearing it. This stuff could just as easily be something else and still work fine in the story.  Despite what Hasbro tells us through works such as the TF: Exodus book, Prime and War For Cybertron are not the same continuity. They couldn't be because they don't even remotely fit together (with the exception of the commonly used "Dark Energon" idea).
    All in all, though, I like this series generally despite my nitpicks. With some time and a bit more work it's possible it could end up being quite good.

The Comic...

The Prime prequel story was released as a digest sized trade paperback in November, in time for the debut of the Prime cartoon. They also re-released it as four full sized individual issues during the month of January. (I have both the digest version and the first issue of the comic mini-series).

Transformers Prime 
Four issue mini-series/Digest sized TPB

Writer: Mike Johnson
Artist: EJ Su (issue #1); Atilio Martin, Allan Jefferson (issue #2); David Daza (issue #3); Joe St. Pierre (issue #4)

Summary: Based on the all-new animated series! Join CLIFFJUMPER and ARCEE as they battle their way through DECEPTICON forces in a desperate adventure to learn the secrets of Space Bridge Technology! STARSCREAM, the DECEPTICON enforcer stands in their way, not just from the mission, but to rejoin OPTIMUS PRIME and his AUTOBOTS as well! This is the PREQUEL to the new hit TV Show!

Comments: I have no idea who this writer is but the story overall is decent and easily fits with the cartoon (he does seem to emphasize Cliffjumper and Arcee being partners, almost to the point of a romantic relationship while the cartoon makes it seem more like they were just intended to be friends). EJ Su's art in the first issue is pretty good and he manages to fit the new show's style very well... the subsequent chapters are hit and miss. Chapter/issue two and three have human pupils on Cliffjumper and Arcee and the art is a bit weaker. Issue four gets a bit better again (Other then Su, I've never heard of any of these artists before. Frankly, I wish Su could've done the whole series). Anyway, the story is basically Cliffjumper and Arcee meeting up on Cybertron, attacking the Decepticons (lead by Starscream) and then getting to Earth via the space bridge. It's a simple enough premise and it works fine.

Verdict: Good.


In summation, it seems like TF: Prime has all the right ingredients in play to make it an excellent continuation of the overall TF mythos. Time will tell, of course, but we seem to be off to a good start so far. The limited comic series was entertaining enough and the TV show looks good too (there are toys on the way too--the first prototype pics are starting to show up online now. They'll likely be out in a few months time).

(Image sources: Comic page scans from