Did We Just Get Our First “Out” Transformer?

There’s some spoilers here, so if you don’t want to find out what happens in Transformers #44, out today from IDW Publishing, then you might want to leave and come back later.

Still here? Ok, lets begin.

needlenoseWritten by John Barber with art by Andrew Griffith, issue focuses on Tracks and Needlenose, brothers split due to the war. The issue focuses on their relationship and history before, and after the war. Needlenose in the beginning is swayed to Megatron’s cause by Horri-Bull. Needlenose’s cause is more about disenfranchisement, and haves and have nots, while Megatron was much grander and focused on the corruption of the ruling class as a whole. While the two views align, they’re not quite the same thing.

And now some more background about the relationship that was Needlenose and Horri-Bull. For those that don’t know, Needlenose and Horri-Bull teamed up post war harassing bots that took neither side in the war referred to as Nails. This led to a confrontation where Horri-Bull refused to back down in his harassment forcing Bumblebee to detonate a chip blowing up Horri-Bull’s head.

That incident has clearly stuck with Needlenose, who in a confrontation with Tracks in a bar declares that Horri-Bull was the “one bot I’ve ever loved.” Wait…. what!?

In the Transformers world there’s a concept called Conjux Endura. Some have said this is the idea of a spouse, but it might be better to describe it as power of attorney. It has come out more when a bot’s life is on the line and a decision has to be made. The concept isn’t universally accepted in the Transformers universe, with some dismissing close relationships like this as embarrassing.

firestar_nauticaFor those that have been reading IDW’s Transformer comics for a while now, this isn’t the first “male” bot pairing though, while it might be the first to use that word “love.”

In Transformers: More Than Meets the EyeChromedome and Rewind have been an inseparable couple for quite some time now. A “same-sex” couple that stay by each other’s side through the ages. At times the coupling to me felt more Maverick/Goose in Top Gun (yes, I chose that pairing specifically), but it’s hard to argue the two aren’t together in ways that are more than friends.

More recently, with the introduction of the female Transformer dominated world of Caminus, we’ve also been introduced to the concept of Amicua Endura, which Firestorm and Nautica (two female bots) are. This one though did have a different tone, with Firestorm referring to Nautica as her “best friend,” and they “lived together.” Later on the word “platonic” is used in reference to the concept. It’s a similar concept to Conjux Endura, but clearly more “best friend” than real relationship. In this particular case Sorority Sister might not be too far off either.

The only other instance where the word “love” was used was with Chromedome and Rewind. Upon his death, in a final message good-bye Rewind says something “he doesn’t say enough” “I love you.” If there were doubts about how deep the two’s relationship went, this scene clearly defined it.

In an email from Transformers writer John Barber in response to my inquiry, he said I’m “not reading too much into it.” And reminded me Needlenose and Horri-Bull weren’t the first.

Many might see a comic based on a toy line and dismiss it. But, for years now the comic has been one of the most politically, and socially aware comics on the market. It has not only explored revolution, governmental collapse, nation building, class warfare, and more. The series in the last year has introduced more female named characters than many comic universes currently have. Arcee, Windblade, Chromia, Nautica, Firestorm, Proxima, Acceleron, Velocity, Skystalker, Javelin, Exocet, Skimmer, a whole planet dominated by female bots in Caminus, and the all female combiner Victorion. The series has grown to not just be politically aware, but also one of the most progressive comics out there. The fact it can have a scene such as Needlenose as if it’s just an everyday occurrence is energon icing on the cake.

This series and universe is expanding its representation while other companies are retrogressively shrinking it. For that we should celebrate and give props where they’re due.