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Yes, that Transformers #1 shocker is for real, and it's not going to change anytime soon

Why did [spoiler] happen? There's a very practical reason, as it turns out

Transformers #1
Image credit: Skybound/Image Comics

If fans were shocked by a surprise death in the first issue of Daniel Warren Johnson’s Transformers #1 and convinced it was part of a larger plan… well, let’s just say that there might not have been the best news at the Welcome to the Energon Universe panel at New York Comic Con 2023. Spoilers for Transformers #1 follow… and maybe some upsetting news for some people, too.

For those who haven’t read the issue, there’s a very surprising death in the back half: Bumblebee gets shot in the head and dies. Yes, Bumblebee, one of the most recognizable Transformers who also headlined his own movie back in 2018. That Bumblebee. Writer/artist Daniel Warren Johnson was entirely unapologetic about the plot twist, telling fans at the panel, “Some Bumblebee fans in the house? Too bad!”

He added, “He’s not coming back either. I’ve seen the forums.”

When Robert Kirkman, writer on Void Rivals and part of the larger Energon Universe braintrust jokingly asked the audience, “can we get some boos for Daniel Warren Johnson,” they eagerly complied — but that didn’t move Johnson at all, who laughed and replied, “I feed on your tears!”

There was, at least, a good reason why Johnson chose Bumblebee as the sacrificial figure for the issue, as he told the audience. “Why did I kill Bumblebee, is what you’re asking?” he joked, “I don’t want to draw him! This is the truth.”

Okay, there’s a better reason, as Kirkman explained, “I think it sends the signal right out of the gate that this is not what you think, right out of the gate.” The Energon Universe, it seems, is where the Transformers go to get unexpected and weird. And, as if to underscore that: there’s a variant cover for the second printing of the issue featuring a close-up of Bumblebee’s shot head, by Greg Tocchini. (Because of course there is.)

Popverse will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of New York Comic Con 2023, with an all-star crew of writers, editors, and video producers there all four days (and nights), as well as in advance of the show. You can follow along to this coverage as well as the panels we're streaming with our NYCC Popverse coverage guide.