This is really more of a newbie review of the issue, as I'll admit up front I am relatively oblivious to Transformers. My experiences to date includes watching some Beast Wars, the first Michael Bay movie, and the 1980s one. (You got the touch, you got the power!) As a whole, Transformers is a rather detailed and difficult franchise to learn. For readers looking to find an entry point into the wider Transformers world, I'd say Beast Hunters opens the door somewhat, but this first issue still threw a lot at me in terms of historical information and characters. Though I learned plenty in this first issue, I was halfway through the book before I realized Primus wasn't a robot in the room, and I still have no idea what the heck a Forged is supposed to be. (Insecticons and Dinobots are explained straight in the name.)
I had a difficult time identifying characters in this first issue and wish there had been a more robust, dramatis personae at the front or a longer history of Cybertron and the Dinobots. This is terribly machinist of me to say, but all the Transformers look alike to me; I identify them based off of their alternate forms, and this issue simply doesn't contain a lot of that due to its location on Cybertron. I may not know their names, but Beast Hunters has strong character personalities and great interactions. I got what each of the Dinobots' personalities and general outlooks were like, and the two that the issue largely focuses on I was able to identify by the end.
Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters is a bold, new direction, setting several of our robots in disguise in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The Transformers need energon as their food source, and the low supplies of it give them a motivation beyond the usual Autobot/Decepticon lines. My favorite detail, though, is the lack of power for blasters, leading the surviving robots to rely on medieval-style melee weapons like swords and hammers in order to defend themselves. This change-up provides a new challenge and gives the Dinobots a great reason to get prehistoric on some of their fellow giant robots. That said, this is mostly the set-up and talking issue (In fact, there's quite a bit of politics!), but when the Dinobots and company have occasion to mix it up, it looks fantastic!
Beast Hunters does not pull punches when it comes to darker subject matter. There were constant things that had me wondering, “I know they're robots, but can they introduce this idea to children?” For example, (SPOILERS) cannibalism is discussed as a possibility to acquire more energon, and there's some suggestion that someone may already have done so. Transformers eating other Transformers? That's one thing I didn't expect to be thinking about today. This darker approach my sick and twisted mind admires, appreciating that Beast Hunters is willing to make full use of its post-apocalyptic-style backdrop, and when compared to what occurs in the 1980s film, what's a little cannibalism? (END SPOILERS)
A bold, dark, post-apocalyptic direction for the Transformers universe as the Dinobots struggle to survive in a world left ruined by war.
Three and a Half Energon Ingots out of Five