Transformers (rebranded Transformers Universe from issue #22-25, then Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with Vol.2 #1-7, then Transformers again, soon to be Transformers: Dark of the Moon, likely to then be rebranded again as, I dunno, Transformers: Go-Go-Go-Gobots or something) is an ongoing monthly magazine published in the United Kingdom by Titan Magazines. It ties in to the live-action film series and features a mix of original comic strips, reprinted strips by IDW Publishing, and regular features and competitions. It was originally over 50 pages long each month, but is now down to 30 or so.
Titan picked up the rights to a Transformers comic in 2005 after Panini, publishers of the short-lived UK Armada comic, allowed it to lapse. Titan sat on it, reasoning "bugger Cybertron, let's wait for the upcoming film and make £££££s!". Work began on it in October 2006, though all information on the film was top secret even for Titan until IDW's movie comics began.
According to Steve White, Transformers was seen as "the big one", the title that would get Titan Magazines the attention and kudos of the UK comic industry.  It seemed to succeed, selling enough to get original cover art after #6, quite a height in the UK licensed comic market. It's already the longest running UK Transformers comic since Marvel's!
Titan briefly ran a Transformers Animated sister title from 23rd October 2008, but unfortunately it didn't make £££££s and died after issue 3.
The main comic was rebooted and rebranded in June 2009, just in time for the second film. This is not an unusual tactic for Titan, who have done this repeatedly with their Star Wars comic to give sales a little bump. Unfortunately, the reboot saw the comic use stock-photo covers again (sob!). The preview in #25 of the first volume lied that this was "an EXTREME makeover!!!".
The eighth issue, however, returned to comic art on the covers and then the format as a whole was made leaner from #9: the reprints were dropped and nothing replaced them, cutting the page count to 32, and from #10, the comic strip was reduced to eight pages. The cover stock, the cover's size, and the price have all proved to be fluid, going from larger-than-the-comic glossy card covers (£2.70/£2.75) to normal-sized paper covers (£2.50) and back again, before increasing to a shocking £3.99 from the last few months of 2010. The price dropped back down during the June 2011 reboot for the third film, but the general format remained the same. The Transformers: Prime rebranding in October 2011 continued the same format.
Opening each issue is an original comic strip: 10 pages before #13 (Vol.1), 11 pages before #10 (Vol.2), and currently eight pages, with two 15 page special events. These are written by Simon Furman and illustrated by a mix of artists, many of whom have been seen on other Transformers comics — Geoff Senior, Nick Roche, Staz and Guido Guidi.
The Titan strips were tied in to the IDW movie prequel, but apart from that they've generally ignored IDW's movieverse comics and vice versa. It's also notable that while IDW's artists will generally try to redesign characters to resemble the movie's designs, Titan's artists have generally drawn the toy characters looking like their toys. This means a number of characters, like Ransack, can look completely different depending on which comic you're reading
Prequels and sequelsEdit
Issues #1–6 were set before the film and were based on specific characters, filling in details of the war and characters (like Devastator) who were not given much development in the film. The first two strips, starring Optimus and Megatron, tied in to the IDW prequel comic in the same way Marvel UK's stories tied in to the Marvel U.S. series. At the end of #2, four of the characters had been scattered across the galaxy and #3–6 focused on their solo adventures on alien worlds. They also featured characters from the toyline, such as Clocker, in secondary-character roles.
Issues #7–8 were set immediately after the Mission City battle in the film, dealing with leftover plot elements like the whereabouts of Scorponok. Time and later film drafts have not been kind to these two strips: Scorponok stubbornly deciding to not be dead in Revenge of the Fallen, and poor #7 had the Transformers' final battle being in Los Angeles.
For issues #9–13, the strip featured an alternate reality story, Twilight's Last Gleaming, where the Decepticons had captured the AllSpark. Rather than just being a 5-part divergence, this alternate reality rolled on into the second year of the title and lasted until #25, the end of the first series. This was intended to allow Titan to do pretty much whatever they wanted with the cast and universe without having to worry about the plot of the second film. 
The alternate reality boasted a sizeable cast, covering both characters from the film and ones who only had toy bios like Elita-One. It opened with Sam Witwicky already dead, Optimus Prime missing in action (later found to be offline), Autobot reinforcements gathering on the moon, and the Decepticons cyberforming the Earth. The resolution had Megatron dead (with Starscream usurping command) and the AllSpark destroyed.
In this second year, the Autobots had to handle the aftermath of an Earth-shattering story, something that had not been done before. Storylines included the Decepticons deliberately preventing America from rebuilding, Jazz being reborn as an amoral villain, a second group of Decepticons under Stockade, and then a very big twist. The central plotline first involved Earth's slow, destructive demise from the aborted cyberforming of Twilight's Last Gleaming, before being replaced with the formation of a Decepticon Heartland and Starscream's manipulation of the American government.
The alternate universe ended with a three-parter called Revolution that pitted the Autobots and Stockade's Decepticons against an all-out conquest attempt by Starscream. It tied up most of the loose ends. The last shot of the alternate universe was Mikaela Banes and Bumblebee driving off into the sunset, awwww!
Titan's first volume became infamous for inconsistency in the movie strip art. For reasons unknown, instead of using one or two artists it used hordes of them (plus a few inkers and colourists) in #1-25, none ever doing more than one issue in a row. Different artists had different styles and, not to put too fine a point on it, different ideas of how many of the Movie design's fiddly bits they want to draw.
Then there were other issues like:
- Elita-One started out looking just like her toy, but by her second strip her head was being altered to resemble Generation 1 Elita One (either to differentiate her from Arcee or as deliberate homage). How much her head resembles Elita One differs depending on artist... and in #14 and #16, she has the toy's head again!
- Arcee constantly alternates between being drawn like her movie design or like her Scout-class toy (only not blue).
- Andrew Wildman drew Ratchet looking like the white, face-plated Cybertronian Ratchet in Movie Prequel #1, which was reprinted in Wildman's issue. Unfortunately, in the issue immediately before, Nick Roche had drawn Ratchet looking exactly like his movie self!
- Colouring is fluid for many characters and sometimes entirely wrong: Armorhide has been green and white-and-blue, Starscream has been both grey and bronze (and once had a huge fanged mouth), Thundercracker has been blue and black...
- Poor Theodore Allen changes hair, age, and build in seemingly every appearance.
- The Decepticon Heartland base changes from a squat bunker with guns to a tall phallic tower, then into a different bunker, then into a bunker/tower combo thingy.
The Animated strips (which emulated a specific art style) and Vol.2 (which used a single artist, Jon Davis-Hunt) avoided this.
Revenge of the FallenEdit
With the reboot, the comic returned to prequel strips, this time for the second film. Furman announced that the focus would be on Mudflap and Skids and their interactions with the new movie cast.  This lasted for the first eight issues, with the first six following a specific formula: The twins' plotline had them run into a number of newly introduced characters, with a specific goodie and baddie being crucial to this part of the plot. Unlike the first run of prequels, there was no IDW prequel being reprinted and thus no attempt to tie into it.
A Decepticon army was being gathered on Cybertron by Starscream, albeit a Starscream secretly backed by the Fallen. Skids and Mudflap, accidentally discovering the Decepticon plans, fled to Earth to warn the other Autobots. The menacing Ransack was dispatched to silence them, but failed. The twins waited to warn Optimus and tried to adjust to life on Earth with NEST (and NEST tried to adjust to life with them!), while the Decepticons under Soundwave began searching on Earth for something, simultaneously trying to ensure the twins never talked.
The Decepticons finally achieved this by framing the twins as traitors. At the same time, with the Fallen incapacitated, Soundwave and Starscream were doing their own thing more often, causing a clash with Ransack that they were determined to end permanently. After the twins spent a few days as fugitives, Soundwave went to them and offered them a position in the Decepticons, their first mission being to bring Ransack in. The twins accepted...or so Skids wanted him to think, using that as a way to capture one of the Decepticons to show their credentials to the Autobots. That done, the twins took the fight to the enemy, bringing about the destruction of the Decepticons' Mars base and much of their drones.
Ransack fled to talk to the Fallen, with Soundwave desperately pursuing, while the twins were officially part of the Autobots' Earth team. After this, they decided not to bring up the Fallen again and just let what would happen, happen.
From #9, the comic began doing post-movie strips. New young, untrained Autobots became the POV characters, starting with Jolt and soon taking in new toys like Rollbar; they're undergoing training. Theodore Galloway's hate for NEST was picked up, and new Decepticon toys reared their ugly heads. However, following the Fallen, the main battle is believed to be over and the Decepticons are a mop-up operation.
This assumption went horribly wrong when Bludgeon broke free of NEST's jail and took a bunch of other prisoners with him as his own splinter faction.
Issue #10 saw the first of several scripts by Robin Etherington, who'd previously written half of the Animated strips. Notably, Etherington used William Lennox and Robert Epps as characters, neither of whom had been touched by Furman (except for a brief cameo in #9). Etherington mostly left Furman's plot untouched, which has caused a bit of a problem for the strip's forward progression: only #16 tied into it.
Issue #18 kicked things forward with the introduction of a covert Autobot team (made of new toys) and Bludgeon declaring war. And then #19 put the breaks on again with a one-shot Christmas story starring Sam Witwicky.
Dark of the MoonEdit
The comic rebranded itself for Dark of the Moon on June 2011, and kicked things off with an eight page prequel strip, "Fight for Fiesole", by Etherington: Starscream going to excessively dangerous lengths to prevent the Autobots from finding the lost Sentinel Prime. While this initially seemed like this would be the only prequel before the film came out - there's even a caption saying the story continues in the film - the remaining three issues would all be prequel tales. "Dealing with the Devil" would stand out as it gave a reason for Robert Epps to depart NEST.
Unlike the previous volumes, Titan rebooted itself after a mere four issues.
Titan Magazines were warned of reprisals if they continued to peddle Autobot propaganda Maximal agent Fur-Man remained on the loose., but would not heed them... so, in 2008, Starscream seized control. Most of the staff were captured, starved, and forced at lash point to keeep working; the only relief were visits to conventions. Soon they would be locked in cages. Months of this soon left Den Patrick and Steve White broken, mentally and physically. However, secret
After Starscream's nervous breakdown, before new occupier Barricade could consolidate his group, the Autobots launched a strike. While there's a power-sharing agreement over the letter page, the Autobots seem to run the rest of the comic and were responsible for hiring Jon Davis-Hunt for an extended run. However, Ironhide threatened Furman to alter the ending of his alternate universe stories...
- Autobot vs Decepticon Smackdown — last seen in #5 (as "Human VS Decepticon Smackdown"), this pitted two characters against each other and gave a list of their strengths and weaknesses. The outcome of the fight was left up to the reader to decide. This feature saw a return in #20 as Beast Wars Battlefield, pitting Grimlock against a real Tyrannosaurus.
- Top Gear — this section provided competitions to win Transformers merchandise, as well as telling readers about awesome new stuff it'd be cool to have.
- Character Profiles — an in-depth description of an individual character's personality, history, abilities and weaknesses. Originally these were taken from Transformers: The Movie Guide, but from #8 (Bonecrusher) the movie-based ones have been new creations. As of issue 14, the profiles have included Beast Wars characters, adapted from Beast Wars Sourcebook. When volume 2 started, it took the The Movie Universe profiles as its base but expanded on them (unsurprising as Furman wrote both!).
- Letters page — Letters and fan-art from readers, with a prize for the Star Letter. Originally called Mech Mail, readers were invited to write in and say which Transformer they'd like to answer the mail (a traditional gimmick) - Starscream got the nod, and from #7 the column was called Star Screams. The tone was very over-the-top, with "Starscream" threatening death to readers who like the Autobots, slagging off the other characters, and so forth. Following the reboot, the strip was renamed Law and Disorder, and Barricade and Ironhide got the gig. Barricade picks up where Starscream picked off, while Ironhide is a nicer letters host; they argue and insult each other, similar to Dreadwind and Hi-Test in Dread Tidings.
- Artobots — a special section for readers' fan-art.
- Posters — a pull-out poster in the centre pages, sometimes double-sided. Generally it's a poster version of the front cover, though #7, #18 and #19 featured the art of what would have been a cover but were scrapped/altered at the last minute. Vol.2 has started to use covers from All Hail Megatron as posters.
- How To Draw... — This feature instructs small children how to draw the incredibly fiddly and complicated movie-verse Transformers. "If you found this one a bit difficult to draw... well, it's all part of Megatron's evil plans!" It's also shown how to draw sequential art and cover images. It's noted to not actually work as a how-to-draw and is generally unworkable.
- Colouring pages, usually under the name The Purple and the Red.
- Puzzles. In Volume 2, these got a consistent name of More Than Meets The Eye.
- Bumblebee's Way-Past-Cool Reviews - Video game reviews. Which aren't written in Bumblebee's "voice". And aren't way past cool. Or even cool.
- Why [x] Like Being A: - irregular feature explaining all the cool features of a Transformer's alternate mode.
- Arcee's Soulmates - Starting in #20 and ended in #25; a small personal's column in Star Screams, with Transformers (all of which are specific characters but go unnamed) putting a lonely-hearts ad out. I am not joking about this.
- Starscream's Stars - Starting in Volume 2, Starscream writes a horrorscope! (Instead of Scorpio, there's Scorponok, ho ho ho.)
- Sideswipe's Armoury - Starting in Volume 2; a text feature explaining about military weapons.
- Bumblebee's Guide: The Solar System - Starting in Volume 2; "Bumblebee" gives minor facts about the solar system and its bodies, some of which are Transformers related.
- Megatron's Mind Maulers - Starting in Volume 2; pitiful humans, dare you attempt to answer the mighty Megatron's questions and puzzles?!
Fantastic Free Gift!Edit
It's a battle-scarred and ancient tactic, known well to British and Irish comic fans: a cheap item stuck to the cover, that is hopefully desirable enough to convince a child to buy the comic. It's been around for decades, but traditionally was placed on the early issues and then on the occasional later ones to cause a short-term sales boost. These days, due to the fragile state of the UK industry and demands by retailers, every damn issue has to have them - and they're often bulky, which leads to badly-shelved and bent comics in the newsagents - and Transformers is no exception.
Free gifts have included a target-shooting game, Autobot/Decepticon dog tags, a notebook and pen, stickers, a pinball game, sweatbands, and many toy guns.
They are always large enough to take up a significant amount of space on the cover they are stuck to, necessitating some pretty ugly graphic layouts that cover the illustrations with text in order to leave a large blank space for the gift to be attached to so it won't obscure anything important. This can often make the covers look really freaking bad when you take the gift off; a quick perusal of the cover images on their relevant articles will make immediately apparent the frequent emptiness of the bottom left-hand corner in particular.
Issues #23-25 had a splashy two free gifts, both of the extras being Animated themed. You might think that this was Titan getting rid of gifts they'd had made for the cancelled Animated comic... and you'd be right, since the promised gift for #25 is the sacred Pencil Pod promised to us in Animated #4 but that never arrived! Vol.2's comics, from #4 to #7, would also use two free gifts, the second being nummy candy from Haribo. In #19, the Animated Pencil Pod turned up again!
According to editor Steve White, coming up with free gifts is "a nightmare for our marketing department, who have no real experience on a more male-orientated older title and have to come up with ideas that don't just rely on some piece of cheap plastic... However, they're constrained as much by money — yes, we'd love to have a Minicon on the first issue, but we have to get real." 
To fill out the pages while keeping costs down, the magazine reprinted comics published by IDW. The reprints in Vol.1 were cut into 5–8 pages segments (though one was once 12 pages out of necessity), deliberately shorter than the UK strip so it was clear which is the primary story.
The reprints in Volume 1 included:
- Transformers: Movie Prequel: #1–13
- Beast Wars: The Gathering: #1–13
- Megatron Origin: #14–25
- Beast Wars: The Ascending: #14–25
- All Hail Megatron: #1-8
The first issue promised All Hail would last until #12. Savvy readers wondered how this could work, as the reprints were cut into bits (except #1 and #8). Then, in #8, it was announced that All Hail was ending... and the issue reprinted random fragments from All Hail #6, #7, and #9 (the last having one edited page made out of three normal pages), ending with telling us to buy IDW's trades to see the full story. Presumably, this wasn't the original plan at all.
From #4, Titan gave titles to the AHM reprints instead of "Part X".
After All Hail finished its run, Titan dropped reprints entirely.
Thanks to circulation figures printed in the comic's indicia and online sources, we know the comic's sales in the UK and Eire from 2007 to the end of 2008, as reported to the UK industry group ABC.
The comic's average net circulation in 2007 was over 45,000 (reported from #10). This basically means it was selling more than the average IDW issue ever had.
The June to December 2008 average sales, by comparison, are reported by ABC to have dropped to 24,617. (Arrrrg!) Issue 14 was above the average, #18 and #19 below it. A global recession and being tied into last year's big film make for wobbly sales.
From #4 (Vol.2), for reasons unknown, Transformers is no longer registered with ABC  and the sales stopped appearing in the indicia. Sales in 2009 are thus unknown. The expectation was that sales bounced up again after the second movie, though at the moment there's no way to know. Worryingly, Diamond UK stopped carrying the title after #4 due to low orders . Newsagents (where most of Titan's business lies), however, continued to stock the title.
From #9 (Vol.2), the reprints were scrapped, making the comic shorter; from #10 (Vol.2), the strip length was reduced to 8 pages.
Finally, with #18 the comic became bimonthly, usually a sign of bad things. This was a pretty worrying sign, but luckily in late December Titan stated that when the third film came out, the comic "will return to monthly, so you won't have to wait so long between issues."