The Transformers: "-ations"
Masterminded by classic Transformers author Simon Furman and told across several consecutive mini-series—almost all given titles ending with "-ation" (Infiltration, Escalation, etc.), hence this becoming a catch-all term for Furman's time on the books—and interlocking single-character "spotlight" one-shots, the story of IDW's first "era" brings the Transformers into the modern day. The traditional "crashed on Earth 4 million years ago" origin is done away with, replaced with a cloak-and-dagger storyline of aliens hiding in plain sight on Earth, not dissimilar to the approach that would be taken in a few years by the live-action film. With Cybertron an uninhabitable wasteland, Earth is presented as simply one of many battlegrounds in a galaxy-spanning war of subversion and conquest that sees the Decepticons employ a strict protocol of infiltration as they attempt to take over alien worlds. Alternate modes serve a very real and important purpose of disguise, as discovery by natives is strictly forbidden by both factions. Open conflict is rare, and battles are often fought entirely in vehicle forms. The series is much darker then the original Marvel comics and G1 cartoon, featuring Autobots who make morally ambiguous decisions, Decepticons that regularly kill humans and Autobots, and many themes of horrific modification, racism, and civilian casualties.
The story opens on Earth, as the Decepticons there have discovered a wildly powerful source of energy, and break protocol to secure it. This soon brings both Megatron and Optimus Prime to the planet, escalating the conflict. The humans are deeply involved as well, both innocent bystanders and active covert organizations such as the Machination, led by a rogue Cybertronian in hiding and seeking to create a Transformer-human hybrid, and Skywatch, a secret US military organization who have control of multiple Transformers who visited Earth prior to the current conflict. As protocol collapses and the war grows more devastating, threats begin to arrive from space: first the alien Reapers, and then a cabal of undead ancient Transformers who attempt to destroy the universe by unleashing the power of the Dead Universe they serve.