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Hearts of Steel is a comic miniseries published by IDW Publishing in 2006. It was the first (and thus far the only) story in IDW's Evolutions series. It is set in an alternate Generation One continuity in which the Transformers' first contact with humanity is in the late Nineteenth Century, rather than the Twentieth.
|Hearts of Steel issues:|
|#1 | #2 | #3 | #4|
The story opens with the Transformers engaged in a battle on Ice Age Earth, and having adopted bizarre animal alternate forms as a result. When the climate cools, both sides retreat underground and enter a period of stasis, not awakening until the 19th Century. Soon both sides are making alliances with humans and utilizing the technology of the age to continue their war, with the Decepticons attempting to reach an electrical generating station in New York City to fuel their war machine. John Henry and Mark Twain, along with other historical figures, play prominent roles in the book.
The series is explicitly set in an alternate continuity.
It is not possible to pin down exactly when this story takes place. The Civil War is not mentioned, so it is most likely after 1865. Mark Twain lived in San Francisco from 1864 to 1866, and he appears to live there in this story. However, he claims in issue #4, to have one daughter, which would place the story between 1872 (the birth of Susy Clemens) and 1874 (the birth of Clara Clemens). In this wiki, we've picked the arbitrary compromise date of 1867.
"Ice Age Wars"
The first few pages of this story show that the Transformers came to Earth immediately prior to an (unspecified) ice age, and fought a war there and then using dinosaurs, giant insects, and (possibly) other beast-forms as alternate modes, before going into hibernation until the 19th Century. Many of the main characters wear these distinctive spiky bodies for the first half of the story, before taking on vehicle-based forms. Where necessary in this wiki, this prelude to Hearts of Steel is referred to using the (unofficial) term "Ice Age Wars".
In this story, most of the Transformers take the form of 19th-century locomotives and railway cars, rather than 20th-century automobiles, airplanes, and the like. Some notable exceptions are Shockwave, who becomes an ironclad ship, Scourge, who transforms into a blimp, and Starscream, who becomes a biplane (which is a bit of an anachronism). Optimus Prime only appears in slumber and Megatron does not appear at all, though concept drawings for both of them are included in the trade paperback.
It is interesting to note that the Transformers here seem to adopt not only the appearance of Earth's machines, but its technology level as well. Locomotive-form Bumblebee is fueled by coal, Scourge flies using a real gasbag, and Ravage is sufficiently vulnerable that a gas explosion is enough to incapacitate him. This is not unprecedented; in some original G1 stories, the Transformers coveted supplies of gasoline. (In others, gasoline had to go through a conversion process before they could use it.) Still, whether this is an actual story point or merely a stylistic choice is not clear.
- Hearts of Steel TPB (Dec 2006) ISBN 978-1600100550
- Includes concept art and all covers for each issue.
- Hearts of Steel — alternate design mode sketches at IDW.