IDW celebrates the 25th anniversary of the classic 1990s cartoon with a new comic book!

Transformers; Beast Wars 1
Written by Erik Burnham
Art by Josh Burcham

I can still hear the theme music from the cartoon in my head, maybe because I own the original series on DVD and rewatch it every now and then. As much as I loved the original Transformers cartoon from the 1980s, the Beast Wars cartoon resonated with me a lot more as a teenager. As good as the series was, I don’t think it has the cultural footprint that the original does. That’s a shame, because the computer animation combined with the storytelling done over three seasons is worlds above any of the cartoons focused on the robots that transform into vehicles.

But anniversaries are a time to look to what’s worked and celebrate it, and so it is with Transformers: Beast Wars, which gets a new series from IDW as it turns a quarter-century old.

The new series is written by Erik Burnham, who has gained his status as one of the Geekery’s favorite writers by crafting IDW’s GHOSTBUSTERS stories for the last several years with artist Dan Schoening. He even wrote the TRANSFORMERS/GHOSTBUSTERS crossover that gave me my favorite collectible of the last decade: ECTOTRON. The combination of Burnham and the Beast Wars had me excited from the jump.

The first issue did not disappoint.

Burnham and artist Josh Burcham take us back to how it all started, to give the characters a more modern feel. On a future Cybertron, Predacon Galavar sheds his old identity to take on the legacy of Megatron, Decepticon leader who helped set off the Cybertronian civil war. His followers steal an historical artifact and a ship with a transwarp drive to go back in time. Because Megatron destroyed all the other ships with a transwarp drive on Cybertron, the only Maximals that can be sent after Megatron is a defensive ship captained by Optimus Primal.

This version of Optimus is not the John Wayne-like heroic leader of Transformers who had battled Megatron for centuries. Instead, he’s more like Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk – young and a little rebellious. Optimus was sent on this mission to keep him away from anything more serious or exciting. His just happened to be the only Maximal ship that could try and stop the Predacons. And despite the disparity between Megatron’s heavily-powered ship and Optimus’ smaller defensive craft, the Axalon, the Maximals manage to do damage to the Preds, forcing them onto a mysterious planet in the past.

Burnham and Burcham’s first issue gives readers who are new to the property a good primer on what’s coming and older fans like me a feel for how this world has changed to meet the different sensibilities of the 21st Century, much like the new world of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER over at Boom! Studios. If Beast Wars can maintain the quality of story the way I feel the new Buffyverse does, 2021 should be a good year for the comic.