The latest Transformers animated series debuted in 2010 with the 5-part “Darkness Rising” mini-series and continuing with a 21-episode season 1 run. The series is broadcast on the HUB network. Transformers Prime exists in its own continuity although there are veiled references throughout to other Transformers shows. The show was inspired in part by the Transformers: War For Cybertron videogame. While not stated emphatically it looks like Prime will set the direction for the Transformers for sometime after the many previous animated series have constantly re-booted the continuity.
The series follows the events during War for Cybertron with the simple premise of the Autobots arriving on Earth in the eternal search for Energon with the Decepticons following behind. No Transformers show (unfortunately) is complete without the usual young human characters running around and getting in the way and (unfortunately) Prime is no different. Jack Darby, Miko Nakadai and Rafael Esquivel, get caught in the crossfire between the two factions. Prime concentrates on a smaller team of Autobots: Optimus Prime, Arcee, Ratchet, Bulkhead and Bumblebee. Now I’m going to give Hasbro a bit of credit here…when you go back to the original G1 Transformers series, new Transformers were introduced to the show merely to sell more toys. So I applaud the effort to make Transformers Prime much more character and story focused.
As a sign of the times and the popularity of zombies, Megatron has gotten his hands on Dark Energon which can revive dead transformers as zombie bots. This is discovered in the second episode of Darkness Rising with Cliffjumper. The mini-series finds the Autobots battling the Zombie transformers and ends with Megatron apparently being killed.
No of course you’re not buying that Megatron is dead but it does setup for the first season to begin with Starscream attempting to take command of the Decepticons although things don’t go so well. Starscream, much to the chagrin of his legion of fans, turns out to be even lamer than in the G1 series. The other Decepticons don’t respect his authority and even when he resurrects the legendary Skyquake to do his bidding, Skyquake ignores him and sets out to finish what Megatron started. Poor Starscream…he’s the Rodney Dangerfield of Transformers.
Highlights of Season one are “Predatory” which introduces us to the depraved spider-like Decepticon Airachnid who becomes Arcee’s main nemesis. The pair engage in some truly epic battles throughout the season. Megatron regains his consciousness in “Shadowzone” and beats the living hell out of Starscream. In “Stronger, Faster” Ratchet develops a synthetic version of Energon that he tests on himself with disastrous results. And finally there is the three-part season finale “One Shall Rise” that brings Unicron back into the fold as he threatens not only the Autobots but the Decepticons as well.
Transformers: Prime is the best Transformers series perhaps since Beast Wars. The Characters are fantastic and while the smaller cast of Autobots is initially disappointing, the writers more than make up for this with quality stories. The voice cast is terrific as well. Peter Cullen is back as the voice of Optimus Prime with Frank Welker as Megatron, andJeffrey Combs as Ratchet. The show also boasts an impressive cast of guest voices including Tony Todd, Nathan Fillion, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Reggie Bannister, and Ernie Hudson. The Animation in Prime was also superb with a unique mix of computer and traditional 2D cell animation. I’d love to see a Transformers show without the need for annoying human characters but until then, Transformers: Prime has more than lived up to most Transformer’s fans expectations.
Audio Commentary on 14 episodes. This covers more than half the episodes in the set and includes a variety of people including writers, directors, and actors.
Two Featurettes: One is a “making of” short that runs (11:03). This is mainly a promotional piece and more in-depth info can be had during the commentaries. Better by far is the Toy Featurette (16:30) which covers the creation of the toy line, how the roster of characters was selected, etc…I enjoyed this one quite a bit.
There’s also a short teaser trailer for Season two.
96 page Graphic novel