First off, I'm not entirely sure this topic belongs here, but as there's no dedicated comics forum (and as TF isn't really manga!) I've decided to post it here, but any admin who feels the need may shunt it into whichever forum they see fit, please do so! :P
As many of you will know, I've been a huge TF fan since as long as I can remember, and considering I'm now 26, and Transformers have been around for nigh-on 23 years now, that comment really isn't that far from the truth!
I followed the Marvel comics from fairly early on (about issue 50 of a 325+ run here in the UK), but was dismayed when, in the mid-nineties, my beloved series seemed to die a death. The US 12-issue Generation 2 mini-series, released in the late nineties, was a breath of fresh air. The artwork was quality, the story wa well-concieved, and the characterisations were spot-on. It was just a shame that Hasbro weren't willing to put resources into marketing the TF brand at that time. So again, a cherished part of my youth was forcibly ripped from my grasp... I'm not going to talk about the UK version of G2. The thought of it is just too painful!
Then came the news that Transformers were returning to our TV screens and toy shops, but not in a format that anybody would recognise! Beast Wars was due to change the way fans looked at the Transformers' universe forever, for better or worse. At the time, I didn't give it a chance. I saw Mainframe's CG and dismissed it out of hand. Although I loved Reboot, their flagship series, the UK (as always) got a raw deal where that was concerned, and we never saw the awesome fourth series. Having been burnt once, I decided to ignore what I thought would end up being a flash in the pan. I gave it a single series, at best, with any UK broadcaster only ever likely to pick up half the episodes.
But Sky (the UK's satellite TV broadcaster) decided to buy-in the first series in its entirety. It soon became their biggest "kid's" program. This naturally lead to them picking up series 2 and 3, as well as both series of Beast Machines (essentially, Beast Wars series 4 & 5). At the time, I didn't have access to Sky, so all of this went over my head and, for the best part of a decade, I considered Beast Wars to be that "Not Quite Transformers" Transformers spin-off. How wrong was I?
Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to be able to see Beast Wars from beginning to end. Despite a slightly shakey start (without giving too much away!), my God, did it get good by the end of the second series! The decision to involve one Simon Furman in the writing was a stroke of genius. He really is the man resposible for the whole feel of the Transformers universe in its current state!
This is reflected in the fact that every comic series so far has got the man to either edit or write directly for their titles, be it Marvel, DreamWave or, currently, IDW.
I'm glad to see that, although IDW are not overtly continuing the War Within series (that one had a helluva lot of potential!), they have picked up on the designs used throughout it, and are making allusions to events that may have happened after DreamWave went bust. The use of the term "Dynobots" (along with the characters!) in the recent Shockwave focus issue is testament to that, along with Prime's appearance in the Stormbringer series, and Megatron's current tank-type format in all of his appearances to date.
I know that the IDW series' haven't been without their criticisms. The pacing of Infiltration wasn't to all the fan's likings, the use of the Jap-exclusive Beast Wars characters as a focus of the Beast Wars Mini-series wasn't exactly universally popular and the exclusion of any "human element" in Stormbringer has come under fire. However, I can see why IDW has gone the way it has gone with all of its decisions regarding the acquisition of the TF lisence, and I'm glad they're daring to take a slightly different tack with it. They needed to get themselves noticed, and they've certainly managed it!
Going back to the Shockwave issue, the tying together of the Beast Wars, Infiltration, Stormbringer and forthcoming Escalation continuities was sheer genius. Finding out that it was Shockwave who was responsible for the concentration of energon on Earth all along was the answer to the only question that was never answered satisfactorially in Beast Wars. Every line in the comic seemed to have some direct link to one of the four series. It really was a TFFan's wet-dream!
With sharp contiuity-editing like this, at last, we appear to have a company who seem to care about continuity in their products! I think, for the moment at least, I can trust that one of my childhood memories is in safe hands.