IDW Transformers Complete Reading Order (2005-2018)

Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by Agamus, Jul 30, 2017.

  1. Agamus

    Agamus Not an Iguana

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    I was thinking about going back and reading Revolution, so I took a look at the chronology notes on TFWiki. Then I blacked out and 72 hours later this existed:
    IDW Transformers Complete Reading Order 2005-2018 (18).png

    The above is my personal reading order / guide / list / "binge-map" to the two-dozen or so titles that comprise the IDW Generation One Transformers continuity, including all Revolution and First Strike-era crossovers.

    The ordering flows from the top downwards on each page, and within each page separate but concurrent series are divided next to each other. E.g.:

    - Infiltration and Stormbringer take place near-exactly simultaneously (to the point of having a scene in common),
    - More than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise are set lightyears apart outside of intersecting in Dark Cybertron,
    - Micronauts Vol. 1 is set in an entirely different universe until very end, etc. etc.
    3-Part Version:
    IDW Transformers Complete Reading Order - Phase One (8).png
    IDW Transformers Complete Reading Order - Phase Two (8).png
    IDW Transformers Complete Reading Order - Hasbroverse (7).png

    Official IDW "Reader's Guides":
    IDW Transformers Reader's Guide (2015 Phase Two).jpg IDW Transformers Reader's Guide (2018 Unicron).jpg

    Railroad vs Nonlinear
    When making this guide I almost immediately came to the conclusion that it isn't actually possible to make a definitive single reading order for the series because, well, it isn't actually a single series. As stated above it's made of made of dozens of titles, and at maximum 8 at once were running simultaneously, each with completely distinct narratives. That isn't so much a problem in Phase One, this format just helps to accommodate a few "floating" miniseries, but starting in Phase Two we have long stretches where concurrent series have little-to-no direct intersection whatsoever. Outside three very overt crossovers and a few lesser cameos, the writers of Phase Two did not coordinate their stories together very strongly, rather having separate stories simply set in the same universe. This guide attempts to avoid arbitrations in hacking up and mixing together narratives that have no bearing on each other, when really no set order between the two improves that greatly on the experience of any other.

    By way of example, when I first read Phase Two I blazed straight through the first "season" of More than Meets the Eye, hit Dark Cybertron, and only then realized I'd needed to backtrack and read RID to fully understand it. No problems at all, only issue #1 of MTMTE is ever referenced directly by RID before that point, and MTMTE S1 doesn't reference RID at all. But they were released side-by-side concurrently (MTMTE #1, RID #1, MTMTE #2, RID #2 etc.), so switching between the two series between issues or between arcs or whenever you feel is totally valid as well. Or you can just read one side or the other, as either series make for fine reads individually.

    This is also part of why the Hasbroverse is listed separately from season three, that segment functions as its own isolated guide for the Revolution/First Strike plotlines.

    But if that's too confusing, its mainly designed to go left to right, then down.

    Chronology Notes:
    1. Infiltration (2005-2009)
    - The original IDW Transformers run was composed of 6 main miniseries and 15 “Spotlight” oneshots
    - The miniseries, while having their own individual issue #s, also had an overarching sub-numbering indicating the overall order as follows: Infiltration (#0-6), Stormbringer (#7-10), Escalation (#11-16), Devastation (#17-22), Revelation (#23-26), and Maximum Dinobots (#27-31)
    - The Spotlight (SL) series is episodic and partly achronological, with prequels set before Infiltration and issues that overlap with others, but this order keeps it in its original publication/volume order for this segment as it’s arguably the more “intended” order
    - Infiltration is not the earliest chronologically in the continuity, but it was the first published and it is intended to be the beginning of the story
    - Stormbringer #1 begins around the second half of Infiltration #3, after Ironhide sends a message in the latter which is received at the start of the former
    - A scene involving a communique between Megatron and Razorclaw is seen from both perspectives in Infiltration #4 and Stormbringer #3
    - Stormbringer #4 ends shortly before the end of Infiltration #6, when Optimus arrives on Earth
    - SL Shockwave and SL Soundwave are both prequels, the former set mostly during the ice-age and the latter being a sequel to the former set in the 1980's, but both also have epilogues set in the present day set sometime between Infiltration and Devastation
    - SL Soundwave contains an editor’s note referencing Stormbringer, as references are made to its flashback segments
    - SL Hot Rod and SL Sixshot are chronologically ambiguous, but have been stated after the fact to be set not long before Infiltration
    - SL Nightbeat and SL Ultra Magnus are set an indeterminate amount of time in the past, but have epilogues set during Escalation #2 and Escalation #1, respectively
    - New Avengers/Transformers is set in a similar status quo to the latter half of Escalation #1, but events in it contradict dialogue later on in Escalation… and it was also not counted in the numbering setting The Death of Optimus Prime as “issue #125”, making its canonicity dubious
    - SL Kup happens an unspecified time after Stormbringer, but the length of SL Kup and the mention of the Wreckers having left recently before SL Galvatron implies that it takes place later, sometime before Perceptor's appearance in SL Blaster
    - SLs Optimus Prime and Galvatron have an editor’s note referencing Escalation, and continue off of it directly
    - SL Ramjet cuts away to scenes from across Escalation but ends shortly afterwards
    - The end of Devastation #5 references events from SL Arcee indicating the latter ended around the same time or after Devastation #6, since Devastation #6 and SL Arcee were released the same week it seems it was intended to be read after Devastation
    - SL Grimlock has an editor’s note referencing Devastation, and continues directly from the end Devastation #6
    - SL Mirage is entirely a dream, save possibly the epilogue
    - SL Wheelie is set on a time-travelling planet
    - Megatron Origin is the first prequel with no present-day segments and was released between Escalation and Devastation, but it fits best in the timeskip between Maximum Dinobots and All Hail Megatron as it's only referenced starting after this point


    2. All Hail Megatron (2008-2009)
    - Once again, despite volumes 3 and 4 being achronological, the publication/volume order seems closest to the authors’ intentions, or at least to be the most authentic way of reading it
    - The epilogue of Drift #4 is set in present day Japan, seemingly meant to explain the Japanese markings on his Earth alt-mode seen from TF09 #1 onwards, and since it is meant to expand on SL Drift it fits best nearest after it


    3. Transformers (2009-2011)
    - A timeskip of roughly one week occurs between #3 and #4, the Bumblebee miniseries fits within this gap
    - Ultra Magnus leaves for Earth in LSotW #2 and arrives at the end of TF09 #2, and the epilogue of LSotW #5 takes place sometime between TF09 #6 and #7, after Ultra Magnus rejoins with the main Autobot group but before the Autobots move bases
    - The main segment of SL Prowl occurs in the timeskip between AHM #12 and TF09 #1, with brief reference being made to AHM #16b, but the epilogue leaves off just before TF09 #7 as the Autobots are still getting acclimated to their new base
    - Infestation I is set in the status quo set by TF09 #8, but must take place before #9 as the rest of the series is continuous after that point
    - SL Megatron continues minutes after TF09 #13
    - The Ironhide miniseries is stated to begin “A year” after TF09 #1, placing it well after TF09 Vol 3, and ends sometime before TF09 #20
    - The main story of Heart of Darkness happens between AHM #14b and Infestation I, with the epilogue coinciding with TF09 #20
    - TF09 split into two bi-weekly storylines in its final stretch; Police Action (#25, #27, & #29), and Chaos (#24, #26, #28, & #30), which are collected separately as such
    - TF09 #21 includes a prologue for Police Action, and #22-23 (Chaos Theory) leads directly into Chaos
    - SL Bumblebee occurs vaguely across TF09 #24-28, with the epilogue ending sometime after
    4. "Phase Two - Season One" (2011-2014)

    4.1. More than Meets the Eye - "Season One"
    - The Death of Optimus Prime oneshot continues directly off of TF09 #30
    - The inner-covers of SLs Trailcutter and Hoist contain a note stating they take place between MTMTE #5 and #6
    - MTMTE Annual 2012 is technically set between pages 16 and 17 of MTMTE #7, and is referenced in an editor’s note in #8, but the end of #7 and beginning of #8 are continuous (as in minutes or seconds apart) so placing it after creates the least contradiction.


    4.2. Robots in Disguise - "Season One"
    - RID Annual 2012 is set between RID #9 and #11, #10 is a cutaway set off of Cybertron but is collected after the Annual

    4.3. Dark Cybertron
    - MTMTE #23-27 and RID #23-37 have a sub-numbering labeling each as Dark Cybertron parts 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10, and 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 respectively, with #1 and #12 being their own oneshots

    Autocracy Trilogy
    - The inner-covers of SLs Orion Pax and Thundercracker contain a note stating they take place before and after Autocracy, respectively
    - Autocracy #1 has an editor’s note that references the flashbacks in Chaos Theory (TF09 #22-23), but many other flashback/prequel arcs also happen between the two, such as Elegant Chaos (MTMTE #34-38), Megatron Origin, and New Cybertron (Optimus Prime #1-8)


    5. "Phase Two - Season Two" (2014-2016)

    5.1. More than Meets the Eye - "Season Two"
    - Drift: EoS follows directly off of MTMTE #40, and reconnects with the main plot during volume 10
    - The Holiday Special 2015 story “Silent Light” was stated to happen between MTMTE #49 & #50 on the author’s twitter
    - Lost Light #7 states that seven days have passed since MTMTE #50, placing LL #1-7 prior to Titans Return

    5.2. Robots in Disguise - "Season Two"
    - RID #28, and Windblade #1 are both referenced as starting “six months later” or exactly “186 dawns” after Dark Cybertron #12, and Windblade connects with RID #33
    - Punishment follows from Optimus Prime leaving for Cybertron in exRID #35 and reconnects at the start of Combiner Wars, however exRID #38 is continuous with CW so it makes sense to place Punishment earlier
    - Combiner Hunters is set shortly before, or possibly between the prologue and main part of exRID #44, where Arcee goes to Cybertron
    - Arcee’s monologue in Sins of the Wreckers #1 is a direct continuation of her monologue at the end pf exRID #44
    - Windblade Vol. 2 #4-7 must be set after Combiner Hunters, and by extension exRID #44 and SotW, as CH references “The fate of two worlds” whereas by the end of WBv2 there would've been five
    - The Holiday Special 2015 story “Choose Me” is a direct epilogue to WBv2
    - Redemption opens with a scene from exRID #46 seen from a different perspective, and since it introduces Swift who later appears in exRID #47 it has to fit between those two issues


    5.3. Titans Return
    - Similarly to Dark Cybertron, the Titans Return event comprised of a oneshot prologue and two issues of MTMTE and exRID each, and although it didn’t have a sub-numbering the chronology is still clear as Sentinel Prime left for Luna II in exRID #57 and arrived in MTMTE #56
    - The Main cast of MTMTE only appears in flashback, rather MTMTE #56-57 focus on secondary characters elsewhere in the universe
    - Till All Are One #1-4 must take place after Titans Return, as Ironhide references his private security firm in the Titans Return oneshot, which he disbanded to lead Cybertron's security forces in TAAO #2


    6. "Phase Two - Season Three" (2016-2018)

    6.1. More than Meets the Eye - "Season Three" / Lost Light (2016-2018)
    - In LL #22 Chromedome states that it's been "what, three, four weeks tops?" since last they saw Megatron, placing the entire finale of Lost Light only 1-2 weeks after Titans Return

    6.2. Robots in Disguise - "Season Three" / Optimus Prime (2016-2018)
    - Optimus Prime and Pyra Magna leave for Cybertron in OP #8, and arrive in OP Annual 2017
    - Salvation is chronologically vague, but dialogue suggests it takes place before TAAO Vol 3 and after OP #3
    - TAAO Vol 3 is set sometime between Starscream’s appearance in OP #3 and the First Strike event
    - ROM vs Transformers is entirely a prequel set some 200 years ago, but the plot links up with OP #13 and some concepts within it don't make sense without having already been familiarized with ROM lore
    - TAAO Annual 2018 and OP Annual 2018 happen mostly simultaneously, both focusing around the election campaigns of Windblade and Starscream respectively
    - TF vs Visionaries is referenced in OP #22 to have taken place in a short timeskip between OP #21 and #22
    - Requiem of the Wreckers references the events of TF vs Visionaries, and the status quo of humanity shown in it suggests it happens before Unicron
    - Unicron #0 is technically set in the middle of OP #22, but was released before it as a preview to the Unicron arc
    - Unicron #5 has an editor note referencing OP #24, and #23 happens immediately before that
    - Optimus Prime #25 is an epilogue to the entire continuity

    Flashback Chronology:
    IDW Flashback Project (prequel chronology) (19).png
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2021
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  2. Bumblemus Prime

    Bumblemus Prime Cracked in the head

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    Very nice. Much more thorough than my usual "the wiki, LSotW and MTMTE."
     
  3. DeletedUser_119270

    DeletedUser_119270 Guest

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    Whoa this is great,thx.
     
  4. SpifeLark

    SpifeLark New Member

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    That's marvellous, thank you. Can I ask, is there an equivalent for TPBs?

    I've been away for a while, I stopped just after Dark Cybertron as my work dried up, now I'm trying to catch up and am not sure what's what.

    I assume MTME turns into Lost Light after vol 10? But RiD seems to disappear completely and we have All Hail Optimus, Titans Return,Combiner Wars, Till All Are One and Transformers. What order do the trades fit together in?

    Many thanks for any help the experts can offer.
     
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  5. Agamus

    Agamus Not an Iguana

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    If wherever you're buying from doesn't tell you what issues are in what book go to whichever series's page on the TFWiki and under the "Collections" tab they'll break that down for you. [edit: The issues in each TPB, that is. The trades themselves do not always make a clean fit.] Added!
    Simply put MTMTE does indeed become Lost Light, and RID changes titles twice to become Transformers (2014) and then TF: Optimus Prime, with the Windblade/Till All are One volumes scattered throughout.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
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  6. TooManyCats

    TooManyCats Well-Known Member

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    I registered primarily to say this: your list has reignited the Transformers fan inside of me, to the point where I have started collecting again. I have been a TF fan for most of my life, but had stopped paying attention around Armada/Energon. Reconnecting with this frachise through the IDW-verse has been A TON of fun. I started reading Infiltration a month ago or so, just getting into Phase 2 Season 2 now, and have (mostly) enjoyed everything thus far. Thank you for continuing to update this guide- it is great!
     
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  7. Cosmilok

    Cosmilok Well-Known Member

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    This reading order/guide has been such a huge factor in my enjoyment of this series, I just had to drop a comment here to thank you for it. I genuinely tried reading the series through the IDW Collections’ order, did not enjoy it, tried it with this, and have been having a blast. Thank you for making this and thank you for keeping it so up-to-date! I love the new graphic you made for it!
     
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  8. DJCHARTERS

    DJCHARTERS Well-Known Member

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    I alarmist didn’t bother trying to catch up and was going to just going to jump on board when the new reboot started mainly because I didn’t know where to start. This guide has actually made it easy for me to work my way through the rest of the titles I had missed. Thanks for this
     
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  9. zackmak

    zackmak Well-Known Member

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    This is such an AWESOME chart!! Thanks so much for putting together! TFwiki is great, but it can get overwhelming trying to put all the pieces together (as you know, since you 'blacked out' for 72 hours LOL). I stopped reading comics after Dreamwave, and had absolutely no interest in IDW storylines...YET, this hasbroverse 'Revolution' idea sounded neat to me too, so I also tried piecing it together through TFwiki.net so I could buy the trade paperbacks one day. Well, that 'one day' was this past week when this site had a Humble Bundle news post on a limited-time deal that was hard to pass up:

    Humble Comics Bundle: Transformers 2019 By IDW - Pay Want You Want Supporting Hasbro's Children Fund - Transformers News - TFW2005

    It's missing a few issues here and there, but it gets me started on the Revolution story. And I'm going to use your chart to help me.

    I do have some questions, though, I wanted to post here and maybe your answers will help others too. Some are just wanting a confirmation. If you're able to write the answers underneath each question, that will probably be the easiest to follow.

    My understanding of your chart is like this:

    1. Thick white vertical lines between comics means the stories are completely unrelated and take place at different times of the same universe. Basically, a left-side story and a right-side story, correct?

    2. Thin, white vertical lines between comics means the stories are related only by the fact that they take place in the same moment in time, of the same universe. In the case of 'Revolution' and 'First Strike', it's also related by an overhanging theme/idea. Is this all correct?

    3. Thick white horizontal lines means a new story arc has ended/will start (i.e. the entire story arc is within the black-background space). And anyone can read the story arcs without the feeling that you need/needed to read the others to appreciate/understand it. They are more or less self-contained stories with a beginning and an end. That's not to say the writer can't reference something from a previous story arc. Is that all correct?

    4.a) The black-backround running across the entire space, from left-side to right side is a bit confusing for me. Before I get into that question, though, I need to understand this first, using 'Phase 2, Season 1' as the example: since there are two distinct storylines taking place at separate times in the same universe, are the two series (MTMTE and RID) using different characters from each other to tell their stories? Eg. RID cannot use Optimus Prime or Bumblebee because MTMTE is using them. OR, are many of the same characters used for both series because - even though they are in the same universe - their timeframe of when the stories are taking place is different?

    4.b) So, regarding the black-background running across the entire space for story arc #1. RID Vol 5 and Dark Cybertron Vol 1+2; and story arc #2. Autocracy/Monstrosity/Primacy...which time space are they in: the one MTMTE was just in for the story arc just before it, or the time space RID was just in? Or does timeframe even matter for these last 2 story arcs of this Phase 2, Season 1, and we just need to know that it just takes place in the same universe as MTMTE and RID?

    4. c) If there was overlap of same-character usage for both MTMTE and RID story arcs, did the writers for each series write them with their own unique personas and character traits (therefore, differing between the two series)? If so, which character version was used for the next two story arcs of Dark Cybertron and Auto/Mons/Primacy? Or did the writers start from scratch again?

    5. a) Regarding the 'Revolution' and 'First Strike' story arcs, since they're on the right-side of the chart where the RID universe is, does the RID universe/continuity get thrown out the window for Phase 2 Season 3, and a new (parallel) universe called 'Hasbroverse' takes over going forward (including for the new Optimus Prime series story arcs and Till All Are One Vol 2-4 series story arcs)? I would think so because I see ROM vs. and Visionaries vs. story arcs within them.

    5. b) Does that mean that the Lost Light Vol 1-4 story arc on the left side of this section is in the same universe as the MTMTE universe that was established in the Phase 2 Season 1 and 2? Therefore, it's non-Hasbroverse?

    5. c) If the above it true, then how does Lost Light #25 and Optimus Prime #25 line up together as part of the same universe, as indicated at the end of Phase 2 Season 3? Is it a 'crossing-over universe' story arc?

    5. d) Why is the Revolution: Transformers - MTMTE one-shot story on the left side with the Lost Light volumes? Isn't it a 'Revolution' story and therefore should be on the 'Revolution' side?

    5. e) According to the TFwiki page on 'Revolution' Revolution - Transformers Wiki , it says that:

    Till All Are One #1-4 issues
    Titans Return #1 one-shot issue
    The Transformers series #56-57
    MTMTE series #56-57

    are all part of the Revolution story. But you have Till All Are One #1-4 issues on the right side under Phase 2, Season 2. And, there is no mention on your chart of the other three.

    The tfwiki page also states that the Revolution: Transformers - MTMTE one-shot issue is part of the Revolution story...but you have it with the Lost Light volumes (as mentioned above in 5d)

    5. f) And lastly, on this webpage
    IDW's Hasbro Revolution Reading Order Checklist

    There's a link to send you to read the Revolution #0: Prelude issue. Was this ever printed or was there only a digital version made? And where does this issue fit within your charts?



    I know these are a lot of questions, so I appreciate whatever help you can give. Hopefully, since you've really researched this to death, the answers will come easy.

    Looking forward to the explanations and thanks for all the insight you've already provided!!
     
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  10. TheWarPathGuy

    TheWarPathGuy Sorry, I just look very gouda. That was cheesy.

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    Normie: I am gonna start at Infiltration!

    Hardcore Fan: Did you see the reading order?

    Normie: What? It can't be that ba-

    *Sees reading order*

    Normie: Might as well wait for the reboot.
     
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  11. Malakhov

    Malakhov Well-Known Member

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    When is it supposed to get good? Im in phase 1 and it's terrible.
     
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  12. Danforth

    Danforth Well-Known Member

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    The radical option would be to skip straight to phase two (Death of Optimus Prime oneshot), expecting to skip back and read bits of phase one as they become important again.

    Whereabouts are you in phase one? There were three lead writers, you could try skipping to the start of the first issue of the next writer...
     
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  13. Malakhov

    Malakhov Well-Known Member

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    Im following this guide. Next up is maximum dinobots. Having hard time going through spotlight vol.3 and vol.4, such a mess.

    After maximum dinobots it's the all hail megatron i suppose.
     
  14. Danforth

    Danforth Well-Known Member

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    Yep, and AHM is a new writer (Shane McCarthy) with a different writing style and a different approach, so you might prefer it.

    If not, well, he's not head writer for long; Mike Costa takes over after a dozen issues.

    (Then with Phase Two you have two head writers who stay until the end.)
     
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  15. Malakhov

    Malakhov Well-Known Member

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    Ok ill try hanging on. Thanks
     
  16. Malakhov

    Malakhov Well-Known Member

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    Just finished maximum dinobots and it was alright. Can i skip the spotlights? Half of them are very boring. Id jump straight in all hail megatron.
     
  17. Jalaguy

    Jalaguy has no known physical weaknesses

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    Basically all of Phase 1's main stories are significantly flawed in some way or other. The -ations present an interesting setting and worldbuilding, but is heavily plot-driven to the point that very few characters ever display any personality at all. AHM whiplashes into shallow "G1 cartoon but edgy, for grown-ups" wank and has abysmal, decompressed pacing (although at least has some better character writing). And the Costa ongoing shares a lot of the same pacing problems, but now with a writer who by his own admission struggled to "get" Transformers as a franchise for basically the entire run.

    Honestly, I'd say those Spotlights shouldn't even have been placed before AHM on this reading list. They're set before it, sure, but they were released during and after it. The AHM Spotlights don't tie heavily into the main plot in the same way the earlier ones did anyway, so you can basically read them whenever.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
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  18. Malakhov

    Malakhov Well-Known Member

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    Thanks I didnt read them. I went straight to all hail megatron and finished it, it was meh, but still better than what was before it.
     
  19. smkspy

    smkspy Remember true fans

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    I needed this, thanks. Finally started back up where I stopped just before Dark Cybertron...it just screamed G1 toy placement.

    Though also had Rid vol 6, so. Interested in that.

    Just don't know where to after that.

    Only other trades I have post DC is redemption of Dinobots and sin of W.
     
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  20. Agamus

    Agamus Not an Iguana

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    Sorry I haven't been replying to you guys! Glad to see this has been getting some use. I took a break from posting a while ago, but now I'm back I guess.
    Sucks that you didn't enjoy it, -ations is kinda made or broken by whether or not you're already a fan of Simon Furman's cheesy, punchy action dialogue. Answering your question though, it's More Than Meets the Eye #1 that hooked me and most other people onto this continuity.

    [*If you do want to start straight with MTMTE you should probably go through the previous Roche/Roberts-written works beforehand, as they tie in pretty heavily: Spotlight Kup, AHM #15, Last Stand of the Wreckers, and Chaos Theory (TF09 #22-23). The latter two in particular set up a big bad and a MAJOR plot twist.]
    AHM was written to be a cold open wasn't it, I think I will fix it back into the volume order.

    1. It's just a stylistic choice either way, anything horizontally separated under each title banner thingy can be read interchangeably.
    3. Yeah pretty much. More Than Meets the Eye/Lost Light being the exception.
    4. No overlap aside from flashbacks [*and a few cameos basically], the Autocracy Trilogy is a prequel that I shoved there because I don't care for it.
    5a-c. It's all one continuity, Revolution was just shunted out of the RID/OP column for space reasons.
    5d. Because it has more to do with LL than Revolution. Technically it takes place off-panel during Revolution #5.
    5e. Just branding. TAAO's not actually part of the crossover and those other issues are listed as Titans Return #0-4 instead.
    5f. It's included with Revolution #1, I believe.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
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