- The Universe war is a conflict spanning multiple continuities, but rooted in the Universe franchise.
The Universe war began when a massively-damaged Unicron, stranded in some realm between dimensions (said to be "in the distant future"), sought to revitalize himself by pitting Transformers against each other within his own body and absorbing energon radiation from their battles, then eventually consuming their sparks.
He plucked his abductees from across the multiverse, which of course did not fail to catch Primus' attention. That rival god then assembled his own army on the technorganic Cybertron. These "Children of Primus" battled Unicron's loyal "Minions" in a war that raged across the multiverse for months, perhaps longer. Then it all came to an abrupt end when the Chaos-Bringer vanished due somehow to the Unicron Singularity.
Pack-in CD-ROM comic
Once a year, Unicron sent a spaceship to a certain alternate Cybertron to abduct Decepticons for his army. He always picked the day of most violent battle, which in one case saw that universe's Optimus Primal leading the Autobots Snarl, Silverbolt, and Striker against the Decepticons Reptilion, Razorclaw, Obsidian, Tankor, and Blackarachnia. The ship hovered over the battlefield, sucked the Decepticons up on beams of light, and left the Autobots dumbfounded as it sped away. Meanwhile, deep within Cybertron, Primus formulated plans to recruit his own army of Autobots.
3H Universe comic
In the mainstream Beast Era timeline, the Vehicon era had just come to an end, and Transformers of all walks were adjusting to the peace of the newly-technorganic Cybertron. This tranquility was dealt a blow, however, when Silverbolt, Blackarachnia, Roulette, Shadow Striker, Trailbreaker, Sideswipe, and Sunstreaker vanished in flashes of light, victims to Unicron's new wave of interdimensional kidnapping. The hapless victims found themselves physically and mentally altered within an area of Unicron called "the Pit." As their darkest emotions came to the fore, they were rounded up by the Chaos-Bringer's Minions and forced to pit their re-formed bodies against one another in an arena called "the Cauldron."
Meanwhile, within technorganic Cybertron, Primus (manifested as a holographic head) conversed with Alpha Trion, sharing his observations of Unicron. Primus could feel whenever a spark was consumed, since they were pieces of himself. In fact, he worried that this would eventually make him too weak to fight Unicron, so he made a move in the offensive against his rival by resurrecting Optimus Primal. Primal was sent into Unicron, where his body was discolored in a similar manner to the kidnappees'. His mission was to rescue as many captives as he could - which ended up being in the dozens. Blackarachnia, however, stayed behind, her mind most easily corrupted into thralldom. Tarantulas, having returned to Unicron after the Beast Wars, recruited her to lead a mission to Cybertron to sabotage Primus' ability to communicate with his Children. Meanwhile, Primal found himself unable to convince the Maximal High Council that any of this was actually happening, and he ended up turning to the dead for new troops. Primus gave him a selection of fallen warriors to choose from, and he picked Rhinox and Depth Charge. They were to launch more raids within Unicron while an orbital defense platform was being constructed above Cybertron. But Depth Charge refused to take part in more violence, so Alpha Trion took a cue from Unicron and transported Omega Prime into their dimension to fight in his place.
Unlike his fellow resurrectee, Rhinox did take part in the anti-Unicron movement, turning his engineering talents to the construction of a device to deflect Unicron's attempted teleportations in different universes. The device succeeded at least twice, but only partially: The potential abductees were still transported, just to an icy, barren world instead of Unicron. A team of Children and a team of Minions raced to that planet, while a side-effect of Rhinox's device caused an shuttle full of Autobots from the past to be warped into the mix as well. As the transported Transformers were all Autobots (albeit from different dimensions), the Minions found themselves outnumbered and quickly routed. The ancient Autobots returned to their own time, but it's unclear whether the dimensional travelers stayed or left.
Fun Publications Cybertron comics
Despite the Universe war being quite unlike his own dimension, Omega Prime could not refuse the call to fight against evil. He accompanied Primal on raids within Unicron's internal "prison cities," freeing more captives. Primal then took an even more proactive step, leading teams to other dimensions in anticipation of Unicron's strikes and setting up defensive measures before the Chaos-Bringer could gather more victims. Despite gaining more followers in this process, Primal and other veterans were being worn down by Unicron's corruptive influence. Certainly those who had been abducted and reformatted by Unicron were affected, but some (such as Primal himself) had been exposed to a nanotech virus with similar results. In order to avert madness and death, Primus reformatted Primal and several of his comrades. Not only was his new form immune to both the Unicron virus and the accompanying "Unicron radiation," but it possessed the Matrix of Purification, which could heal others of Unicronian corruption.
Months passed as the competing armies grew, their battles raging on a level comparable to the Great Wars. Cybertron itself remained stable, but only for a time. The planet fell victim to a massive invasion, later called "the Culling," in which Unicron's Minions swept across the globe in a killing frenzy, the sparks of their victims feeding the Chaos-Bringer. Primal's army fended the invaders off, but in the chaotic aftermath, Megatron somehow returned to lead the Predacons back to glory. He initially fought Primal, then he eventually called a truce to better face their common foe.
Continued raids saved many more captives and brought the Minions to near-defeat. But as one raiding party including Primal and Omega Prime battled their way out, Unicron suddenly began to disappear. The raiders rapidly teleported away, but Omega Prime did not materialize with the rest. He was pulled in mid-teleport by Over-Run into the Cybertron of the Unicron Singularity, which had been the cause of the Unicron-war Unicron's disappearance.
The Universe franchise cast a very wide net for its roster. Right off the bat, the comic utilized characters outside of the Universe toyline, filling Cybertron and Unicron with cameos from all generations. Some were even given bios dubbing them "Children of Primus" or "Minions of Unicron," effectively making them Universe characters instead of, for instance, Robots in Disguise (as many of their toys had been labeled). The Universe toyline itself would outlast the fiction, so there ended up being more toys released than had the opportunity to show up in the comics. Even the packaging blurbs vanished over time. For the purposes of this Wiki, though, we consider all toys released under the Universe banner to represent characters somehow involved in the Universe war, especially if they have no other defining fiction.
However, that statement does not apply to characters in the 2008 Universe relaunch. The new Universe is an umbrella franchise that continues several other series with no reference to the original Universe franchise, which we consider to be OVER -- FINISHED.
- There is some evidence that Universe-warriors began to adopt "Autobot" and "Decepticon" labels regardless of their previous allegiances. For example, Optimus Primal's Fun Publications bio is headlined with "AUTOBOT" and a big Autobot symbol, though his function is "Maximal Military Operations Commander." Likewise, Obsidian's 3H bio describes its subject as once having been an Autobot, yet the word "DECEPTICON" and a Decepticon symbol also appear (and Tankor's bio in the same issue flat-out calls Obsidian a "fellow Decepticon"). This is not a universal Child/Minion pattern; according to his own bio, Sunstorm is a Decepticon Child of Primus. Also, the new 'Bot and 'Con identifiers appear only in bios, never being acknowledged in comic dialogue or narration. The real-world explanation for this is that the Universe toys did not have Child/Minion labels; "good guys" were sold as Autobots, "bad guys" as Decepticons, and that was that. So this was halfheartedly incorporated into the fiction, but the details of how this worked were never addressed.