US Transformers: Generation 2
#1 (War Without End)
#4 + 5 (Devices and Desires, The Power and the Glory)
US Transformers: Generation 2
#6 (The Gathering Darkness)
#10 (Total War)
#11 (Tales of Earth: Part Eight)
#12 (A Rage in Heaven, Books 1 to 4)
The Swarm was one of Furman's now famous (at least in Transformers circles) "cataclysmic destructive forces". It was used for at least three purposes. Firstly it was a plot thread meant to tie all 12 issues of Generation 2 together into a cohesive unit. It gave all of the issues a common "goal", if you will, because the threat of the Swarm would always loom large. This really, REALLY helped to make the 12 issues we DID get of a new Transformers comic a much more cohesive and rounded out unit. Especially when compared to the last couple of issues of the Generation 1 comic.
The second purpose was more straightforward. The swarm was a MASSIVE destructive force used to give the Gen2 comic's first 12 (and it turned out only 12) issues an explosive climax!! This it did VERY well. At least in my opinion it did.
Finally the Swarm was used to reveal more about the Transformers that we didn't know. Thanks to the Swarm we now know that the Transformers have a genetic code. Thanks to the Swarm we now know that Transformers DON'T have to take the form of giant robots to be Transformers!!
In character terms the Swarm was much like a child. It was a blank slate hungry for purpose. This "hunger" transformed into destructive force as it fed of its ancestors, trying to gain some sort of sense of purpose from the deaths. It was not inherently evil: it just went about trying to find a reason for existing in a rather destructive fashion.
The Swarm was first alluded to in Optimus Prime's apocalyptic visions of the future. These visions revealed a force of evil (or at least a dangerous force) that was ancient and powerful, which would see all Prime's world crumble to dust.
Prime tried to delve further into these visions by visiting some priests on Cybertron (one assumes priests of Primus) to help him to tap better into the Matrix's energy and to access the truth behind the visions. He discovered that the Transformers weren't all born of the Matrix! Some were born of a process of (as he describes it) "bio-morphic reproduction". The process, unfortunately, distilled the purity of Primus more and more, until it just didn't exist any longer in later generations!!
Unfortunately Prime chose to break the connection at that point and missed the most valuable part of the vision. As well as the Cybertronians, there was something more. As the reproduction continued it slowly spawned a dark aura, which was to become a relation. A relation that had no purpose... perhaps even no soul. That was the Swarm.
The Swarm began to target mechanical races, annihilating them, stripping entire planets bare in a hope of finding some sense of purpose. It did not find this sense of purpose until it came into contact with Cybertronians. It felt a sense of belonging, and familiarity that spurred it on to find more like these Cybertronians. The next set of Cybertronians it found were even more helpful. They gave it more than just a sense of familiarity. They gave it an order: "Return to Earth".
The Swarm arrived at earth just as Jhiaxus, Warworld, the Cybertronians, the Autobots and Decepticons, and Starscream were reaching a dramatic climax of battle. It hesitated for a moment, unsure of what to do. Then the Cybertronians attacked and it lashed out!!
The Swarm decimated the Cybertronians' forces, attacking and destroying their ship, the Twilight. At one point the Swarm was even challenged by Jhiaxus. It rose to the challenge, mimicking Jhiaxus, then disintegrated him.
On Earth the Swarm fought against the combined forces of the Autobots and the Decepticons. And it was ANNIHILATING them. Only Megatron was able to save the Transformers' forces from complete annihilation. Using Rheanium, a gas which renders metal super-dense, he fortified his forces against the Swarm. It worked by exploiting the tiny molecular gaps in objects. The Rheanium plugged the gaps. This allowed the Transformers to survive; even if they couldn't KILL the Swarm.
In space the Swarm was consuming the Warworld, and Optimus Prime. It destroyed him, ripped him open. But this allowed Prime to use the Matrix to give the Swarm a purpose: Primus' purpose. The swarm was changed, losing its destructive desire, it re-created Prime and left, hurtling into the universe on a quest for LIFE, not destruction.
Not even POSSIBLE!!
Not a bad "monster".
Okay, so the 'rebirth' ending was somewhat cliché, with the evil monster 'seeing the light'. Despite that the ending worked fairly well for the story. The Swarm was never destroyed, just changed. It's a really 'hopeful' ending and Transformers Generation 2 needed a hopeful ending after all the desperate and dreary goings on in previous issues.
All in all, the Swarm worked REALLY well: doing what it was meant to do, and holding you onto the edge of your seat. Some people don't like it. I do.
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