EarthSpark is the newest Transformers animated series debuting on Paramount+ November 11, 2022. The first episode of the series debuted during the EarthSpark panel at New York Comic-Con 2022. Afterward, Ben’s World of Transformers was provided with screeners for episodes one and two. However, at the request of Paramount+ I have been asked to only release a non-spoiler review until the show’s debut. However, some tid-bit of info were already released via the official EarthSpark press release, so I recommend checking that out to get a rundown of the characters and where they fit into the story.
When the show officially debuts on November 11 I will repost the spoiler-filled review for Episode 1 as well as my analysis of the “Transformers history” scene.
A New World
EarthSpark takes place in a new continuity that I would best describe as “G1-adjacent”. I had written a more detailed analysis on this but was asked by Paramount+ to take it down until the show debuts. In this universe, the Autobot/Decepticon war is over with Cybertronians trying to live in peace with humans on Earth. For reasons I won’t spoil here, returning to Cybertron is not an option, so they have to make due with what they have.
Not all is peaceful however. There are still pockets of Decepticons causing trouble and the human scientist-soldier “Mandroid” (Diedrich Bader) seeks to eradicate Cybertronians no matter their affiliation.
This is an intriguing set up as most Transformers shows tend to take place in times of conflict. Even shows like Beast Wars which took place during a time of relative peace eventually erupted into conflict. While that may seem counter intuitive to a show about warring robots, it instead helps set up a special kind of tension. Sure the Cybertronians on Earth are (mostly) at peace, but that peace is fragile and easily disrupted. Seeing that peace shattered and how our heroes (human or robot) is a large part of the drama in this show.
In the midst of all this conflict, a mysterious force creates two new Transformers on Earth and the pair of new “Terran” Cybertronians bond with two human children setting off a whole new set of adventures.
Ever since Transformers fans were introduced to Spike and Sparkplug Witwicky in the original Transformers cartoon, the concept of humans acting as audience stand-ins (as well as protagonists and antagonists) has played a role in most Transformers cartoons. EarthSpark takes the concept one step further by having the characters of Thrash and Twitch form a special bond with the human siblings Robby (Sydney Mikayla) and Mo (Zion Broadnax) Malto. Due to forces that are not fully explained in the first two episodes, Robby and Mo share a type of psychic link with the two newborn Transformers (as shown in the trailer below). This gives viewers a special kind of empathic connection to both the Malto siblings as well as their Transformers “siblings”. This connection is not just played up for emotional beats, it is also used to further storylines along in unique ways.
Dorothy (Benny Latham) and Alex (Jon Jon Briones) Malto offer a more adult perspective on the Transformers conflict. Dorothy is a Park Ranger and ex-soldier who fought alongside Megatron and the Cybertronians at one point in her career. Alex is a professor who teaches Transformers history and basically acts as the audience stand-in for fans who grew up with Generation One. This broad spectrum of characters across the Malto family gives different fans different personalities to connect with. Being a big Geek myself, I found myself most relating to Alex Malto’s enthusiasm for Transformers history while admiring his bravery in the face of danger. I also could not help but be impressed by Dot’s bravery in the face of taking on bad guys.
Adopted into the Malto family are the new Transformers Thrash and Twitch. I was happy to see the pair were not just copies of each other. Each has a distinct personality and vibe, with Thrash being adventurous while Twitch is ever-curious and excited about the world around her. In the two opening episodes of the series, the two characters get some chance to grow but by the end they are still rather wide eyed and innocent (relative to the other Transformers in the show).
It is no secret that many familiar Transformers characters will be a part of this show. Optimus Prime (Alan Tudyk), Elita-1 (Cissy Jones), Bumblebee (Danny Pudi), Megatron (Rory McCann) and even Swindle (Nolan North) are on hand for the first two episodes to offer some G1 flavor to the show. What has changed is some of the roles and relationships among the characters.
Optimus Prime is still the leader of the Autobots, but now Megatron has joined him (as shown when he greets Dot like an old comrade in the trailer below) so that classic adversarial relationship has transformed into something else which I am eager to see more of in future episodes.
Meanwhile, Elita-1 is Optimus Prime’s second-in-command and she is very present in both episodes. She is a fierce warrior and does not need anyone to save her. I am really happy with this portrayal of a character who should, in many respects, be Optimus Prime’s equal.
As the first two episodes progress, other familiar faces make an appearance as well but their roles may not be what fans expect and that gives this show a fresh and interesting feel.
The Action is Alive
Just because the Great War isn’t fully raging in this show, don’t think it skimps on the action. In the first two episodes there are some fantastic battle scenes, mostly revolving around the Mandroid’s robot servants and the Cybertronians though sometimes Decepticons get into the mix as well. There is plenty of (on screen) transformation and action. It is also fun to see how different characters have different combat styles in the midst of the action.
The animation in this show is smooth and beautiful. While the town of Witwicky seems a bit sparse we do get random human “extras” in the background so we feel like the Transformers are part of a living world (I’m looking at you Cyberverse season one). There are transformations galore and the characters (human and Cybertronian) are spread across the color spectrum featuring colors that range from dark to light. Keep an eye out for a few “blink and you’ll miss them” G1 references. And of course, there is the much talked about G1 history lesson which has a style that harkens back to the 80’s that also serves as a fantastic visual treat!
“Secret Legacy” Part 1 & 2 offer a wonderful introduction to a new Transformers universe. I really appreciate having an entire family to connect to. It broadens the appeal of the show across generations. There are plenty of nods to G1 for Old Skool fans and a lot of ideas borrowed from other shows and elements of Transformers lore that classic and new fans alike will appreciate. The action is fun and exciting and I really dig the animation in this show. Right off the bat I am excited to see what happens to this set of characters in this interesting new setting. I definitely recommend classic and new fans alike give this show a shot!