Not, as you might think, a football (soccer) team in a league composed of Transformers generations (Cyberteron City, RiD Rovers et al), but a unified Beast Wars universe, one that amalgamates the US Beast Wars TV series/toy line with its Japanese counterparts (BW II and BW Neo) and, for good measure, the convention/store exclusive toy characters. That was what we (myself and bwtf.com’s Ben Yee) set out to do when (over a year ago now) we began to craft a four-issue sourcebook/profile series for Transformers Beast Wars, the first issue of which is available next week. No easy task, as there are elements of the Japanese shows that just aren’t easily compatible with the US series. What we did first was compose a timeline, a fairly loose ‘what came when’ that included the likes of BWII, Neo, the Pax Cybertronia, the ‘Great Upgrade’ and so forth. Some slight revisionary tinkering here and there was necessary, of course, but we finally had the framework into which everything (and everybody) could be slotted. Next, we set about detailing the planetary hierarchy, the ‘who does what’ on Cybertron in the BW era. Some of the characters like Lio Convoy, Big Convoy and Magmatron had already been assigned roles/positions in the first IDW Beast Wars series, The Gathering, but we needed to flesh those entities and bodies out. Who, for example, sat on the (Bi-partate) Committee for State Affairs (mentioned in The Gathering)? What was the full roll call for The Pack (of which Razorbeast was a member)? Where did the TriPredacus Council and the Magnaboss trio fit into all this? And so on. Should alliances or roles already established in BWII and Neo be honored or scrapped? Lots of problem solving needed to be done before we so much as started on the character profiles themselves. Then, it was down mostly to Ben to come up a definitive list of BW characters, taking in everything from Botcon exclusives to McDonalds Happy Meal exclusives. Where characters hadn’t reached their Fox Kids Transmetal form (in the TV show) he extrapolated. We then carved up the character list and set to work. Ben probably wrote 75 per cent of the entries (compared to my somewhat cherry-picked 25 per cent), with me acting as overall editor/guardian of the ‘house style.’ It was exhaustive work, and (when it came to the repaints, effectively two identical characters issued with a different colour scheme and name in Japan) demanding, making the pairs as different as possible in terms of their profiles and powers. Where one existed, we used extant tech specs as a guideline, in other cases we started from scratch. Some characters we retooled almost entirely to fit the new, unified TV show/IDW universe. Over the course of the four issues, no less than 162 characters are profiled, and (in issue #4) there’s an extensive glossary. Entries vary from one to two to three pages, depending on number of alt. forms or variations. Main characters, such as Optimus Primal and Megatron get the full three-page treatment, even including early (unused in the TV show) forms such as bat Primal and croc Megatron. It took a good chunk of time to write all four issues, and longer still for IDW editorial to commission the illustrations and compile the books. But here we are at last. Beast Wars Sourcebook #1 hits the stores on Oct 3rd (US) and Oct 4th (UK). For more information on this and all IDW’s Transformers titles, check out their website here.
BEAST WARS UNITED