You heard it here first. The second issue of volume 3 of IDW’s Transformers Spotlight series of character-led one-shots is… Spotlight Arcee! Yep, you heard that right. Transformers Spotlight Arcee. But hang onto your hats, this is Arcee like you’ve never seen, um, ‘her’ before. Forget pink and fiesty, this Arcee is mad, bad and dangerous to know! I’ll be doing a Script (W)rap for the issue in due course, but just to whet your appetite we’ll just say for now that a certain Jhiaxus has been ‘dabbling’ and Arcee is not happy about it one little bit. In fact, she’s pretty darn homicidal! For a taste of the goodness to come, here’s Alex Milne’s incredible cover art (he’s also doing the interiors AND the alternate cover!). Click on the thumbnail to enlarge. Transformers Spotlight Arcee hits in Feb 08, and is written by me (but then you guessed that, right?). Thanks to Chris Ryall and Alex Milne for for letting me blow the whistle on this one exclusively here, on my blog, and (as always) for details of all IDW’s Transformers titles (and one of the best discussion forums going) check out their site here.


  1. Tyler Siloski says:

    Wow. Bladed armor would have been enough, but a massacred bot under her? Holding the murder weapon and packing a second on her back? Covered in spilled blood (oil)? And smiling about it?

    Simon… good luck to you, my friend, to make her into that and somehow still make it seem like Arcee… if anyone can pull it off it’s you.

  2. Jon S says:

    Does the spotlight go into any detail of how/why there is a female Transformer? (I still think that Arcee spotlight you did for the UK TF weekly all those years ago can’t be beat!)

  3. Woot and more Jhiaxus. The premise and artwork certainly has my interest

  4. simon furman says:

    Do you honestly think I’d miss an opportunity to try and explain away what I always felt was one of the most difficult concepts to wrap your head around in relation to Transformers, ie. gender? No way. Expect an IDW-verse answer here. It’s provocative to say the least.

  5. Scott says:

    Normally I have to say I hate your writing, I certainly hope you don’t mess this one up. Arcee is one of the coolest TF’s around. I will admit I have enjoyed a bit of the IDW stuff here and there you’ve done, mostly the spotlights though, I haven’t really thought you are doing a particulalry good job on the rest. Just please don’t screw up Arcee the way you did Prime and the others.

  6. simon furman says:

    Y’know, it crossed my mind to just bounce your post, Scott. Not because it’s negative, I welcome negative as much as positive feedback on my work, but because it’s another of those ‘opinions’ that doesn’t really have anything much to say. Can’t you qualify or quantify what it is you don’t like about my work? Or at least specify particular instances where I’ve failed to come up to your expectations, and why. And ‘hate’ is such a strong word. It makes me wonder why you’d buy anything after whatever or whichever issue you ‘hated’ quite so much, unless it’s just that you like to have a pop. It seems to me, given your apparent pre-made up mind, you’re going to ‘hate’ Spotlight Arcee regardless. So why even go there? Why post in the first place? Sigh…

  7. Best First says:

    I suspect Scotts just not getting his hands on enough upper chassis and needed to vent…

    More intrigued by Jhiaxus than Arcee in some ways but hoping the gender issue gets a similar reworking to the origin of the pretender shell – i.e one that works within the bounds of the IDWverse. Hopefully i’m right in my confidence we won’t be seeing robot boy and girlfriends any time soon.


  8. Chris N says:

    Arcee’s one of my least favourite characters/concepts… but I’d almost go so far as to say I’m genuinely excited by this. Intrigued to see what you’re going to do with “her” at the very least.

    Plus it seems we’re going to get more info on that ominous and lovely expansion thread that’s looming in the background. Which is always a plus. The Galvatron/Prime spotlights have left me hungry for more in the same vein.

    And I’m also mystified as to why somebody would bother picking up a series that’s been written almost-exclusively by somebody whose writing they profess to hate. The only Spotlights I’ve not thought were top notch were Sixshot (which, whilst far from bad just left me slightly underwhelmed) and Hot Rod (due to my familiarity with Dealer making it predictable), but which were both necessary to set up future plot strands.

    Jhiaxus and the memory of how you handled Prime’s Rib have got me all enthusiastic, when my immediate reaction was “you’re kidding, right?”. Which can’t be a bad thing.

    Can’t wait.

  9. John K. says:

    It’s been a fantastic ride in the IDW version of the TF mythos so far – looking forward to this!

  10. ZacWilliam says:

    I’m thrilled you’ll be including Arcee and the idea of Female TFs. Always kinda liked them (especially Elita 1 for some inexplicable reason) i think I’m just romantic enough to be cool with adding the posibility of romance to the TF universe even if they *are* robots. Not that girls should exist just for that, but when it’s done right (like in Beast Wars with Blackarachnia and Silverbolt or Airrazor and Tigatron) it’s very cool. As for the existance of female TFS, they kinda worked in the Cartoon, since the Quintessons built the TFs to sell to organics there, why not have female-style product too, but without that I admit it’s a harder fit.

    Any enough rambling, my question: will the Arcee story/explanation also work in the other female TFs we’ve already seen in the IDW TF-verse? Specifically in Megatron origin there have been a number of very clearly female bots in the in all the issues, including Elitia 1 and Chromia (Ironhide’s gal) front and center at the funeral scene last issue.

  11. Jon S says:

    I’ve been very happy with what Simon has been achieving with his IDW TF stories, and after 20+ years of working on the TF I’m amazed he is still coming up with new and unpredictable stories that (most) people are enjoying. That said, I’m looking forward to his reinterpretation of Arcee, and if I have any criticisms I’ll wait until after I’ve read it!

  12. raptorclans says:

    Hope you do justice for Arcee, cos she’s among my favs… keep up the good work, I’ll be looking forward to this one 😀

  13. Jason Wiltshire says:

    I have to say, I think Simon has been doing a fantastic job on the IDW transformers. I didn’t like the first series at all (in all honesty, I didn’t even pick up no.6) but the following work has been his best. I’ve heard some say this is Simon’s best TF writing since the ‘Unicron Ark’. I enjoyed that as much as anyone when I was a kid. Let’s be honest, no offence Simon, the current stuff is a ton better.

    The spotlight Galvatron in particular was amazing. When Sideswipe blew Galvatron’s head off I thought: at last! When a bot like Sideswipe shoots a major bad guy in the head they don’t just stand there and laugh! I’ve always hated 2 things about Transformers stories. They have guns, but these guns don’t affect ‘some’ transformers – stupid, a gun is a gun, if you get shot, it should do some damage – this is what Beast Wars got so right, secondly the original autobots were s’possed to be best of the best and yet everyone else kicks their arse, I like the fact Simon seems to be shying away from these annoying cliches.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. I think you should gve Simon a break Scott, unless you can point me in the direction of some better Transformers material. What’s that you say? The Avengers crossover? No. Didn’t think so.

  14. Denyer says:

    Any chance you could ask Alex to tone the detail down a bit for this one?

    For the rest, what Besters said. 🙂

  15. wildwords says:

    Hiya. This all sounds interesting. Do ‘female’ Transformers have nuts and bolts?
    Seeing Arcee on a cover like that reminded me of one of the very first UK Transformers covers I did back in a previous Millennium.
    I am sure this is gonna be great. 🙂
    Cheers Mr F
    Mr W

  16. Ali Choudhury says:

    Ignore the haters, you’re a great writer.

  17. simon furman says:

    Gerroff me blog, Wildman!

  18. simon furman says:

    Hey, Denyer. My aim is to give Alex’s artwork more room to breathe, so the panel count per page is more moderate.

  19. Dawfydd says:

    20 years and still, no one seems to ‘get’ Transformers like you do Simon.
    Can’t wait to see the IDW interpretation of Arcee in action.

  20. MistaTee says:

    Nice one, Mr. Wildman. I expect the ‘female’ TFs have a socket joint to interact with their ‘male’ counterparts. No doubt some fans spill “mech fluid” thinking about it lol

  21. Scott says:

    Hi Simon, you are correct, hate was probably too strong a word. And I didn’t really mean hate I guess, so much as I strongly dislike. It’s nothing against you personally, you might be the coolest guy in the world, it’s your style or writing.

    Please let me see if I can better explain what I meant.

    I find your dialogue a bit flat and not very involving for what I feel the characters should be like. I find your Optimus Prime very disappointing as a leader. I am a little tired of the cliche, let’s beat up Optimus Prime all the time that every comic and show seems to do. He’s the Autobots greatest leader for a reason, not because he constantly gets his ass kicked.

    Prowl, another character I think you have problems developing in my opinion. He’s too bossy and arrogant, that’s not the Prowl I see. I understand he’s in a command position, but there is a difference between being in command and being an arrogant ass.

    I really don’t want to get into each character here as it would be a long process, needless to say I would prefer stupid dinobots, an Optimus Prime who kicks some ass as opposed to get ass kicked and a nicer Prowl and a true scheming Starscream who is as intelligent as Megatron’s right hand should be instead of the lacky who always manages to screw up and get destroyed by Megatron.

    Now maybe part of the art has something to do with why I find your stories a little dull, I find EJ’s does not fit your writing, but again, just personal opinion.

    I am really just trying to explain myself and I don’t want to come off as an ass, I just think that things, as interesting as they might seem on the outside are lacking any real depth on the inside.

    I buy the comics, of which I have gotten every one in the hopes the story will get better. I think you’ve opened up all these plots and are not filling in the holes. I’m not a fan of leaving everything for issues and issues before they are resolved, some things fine, but some I’m not.

    The other reason I buy the books is for the art, for everyone, save EJ, I like the art, a great deal. Even with a lacking story I find the art alone is worth buying the books.

    I hope that helps explain things a bit better. I’d also like to see Jazz in a more command style roll, after all, he’s at least equal to Prowl in rank if not above him according to the tech specs and the G1 cartoon. I’d like to see him get to shine a bit.

  22. Frank Lopez says:

    This is cool. I was under the impression you’d never tackle the gender thing…Normally I’d be nervous about this but I feel that it’s in good hands. Your a great writer. I hope to write comics one day, hopefully I can make it and be half as good as you.

  23. Snipe S. says:

    I enjoy your writing very much! It’s very understandable! Because there are some out there that make it so hard to follow. And about the whole Fembot thing…Well, have fun with that! XD haha

    I’m one of the people who think that the femmes are just differently shaped robots (since the robots don’t have a gender). To the humans, they’d associate that robot as a female one, because of how they sound or look. But those bots are really just ROBOTs with slimmer looking chassis and a feminine voice – Maybe with a feminine attitude too (just to give variety of persona), who could create “close friendships” with others.

    But then again! It’s your story, and I think “literally” your universe. You are it’s creator as the writer. So anything you’d say goes! I know there’s already a history and universe for them, but you ARE the writer! So my point is…Whatever you write up about the femmes I’d HAVE to accept as fact for this IDW universe. *laughs* And with the way you set up Arcee in that preview, I think I will be very pleased! Atleast, I’m pleased with her personality and look so far!

    You are doing a great job! I look forward to picking this comic up!

  24. altair says:

    I’ve been reading your stories for more than a decade now. I even got “Robocop” only because you were writing it. If chasing every book you’ve scripted doesn’t show what I think about your writing, well, I guess nothing will.

    Arcee wasn’t one of my favorite characters, but as a woman, I’m quite interested in how you’ll explain the existence of “female” transformers. I only hope you won’t say that Arcee, Elita, are “male” bots who just happen to like pink, or I’ll scream.

    By the way, I also hope we’ll learn whether Prowl asked Ironhide to follow Ratchet and co, or if he did it because he didn’t feel like obeying Prowl (again). That’s the only question that you haven’t answered so far that I fear we might not get answered. 😛

  25. John Evans says:

    Great art, as IDW normally does. Plenty of carefully rendered detail. At least mildly intriguing story premise, even for jaded old me.

    In my opinion, there’s nothing to stop Arcee from switching to a heavier, taller, thicker-set body when she wants or needs. Her current body plan must have advantages, though, or she wouldn’t use it.

    I wonder if Simon was inspired by the Nikki/Jessica Sanders character in ‘Heroes’ (BBC2, BBC3)? Another ruthless, deadly, stronger-than-she-looks femme!

  26. Hooks says:

    Scott, it seems to me you have more problems with Mr. Furman’s portrayal of characters than you do his actual writing.

    You need to remember that the IDW-verse is a new continuity, and for all intents and purposes, these are “new” characters. This isn’t a continuation of the G1 cartoon. Any characterizations in the IDW series should be judged on their own, not on 20-odd year old stories.

    Also, in terms of plot-threads, the slow burn approach IMO is working great here. We’re getting new mysteries, new clues as we continue month in and month out, and more reasons to continue reading. Unlike a lot of the G1 stories, we seems to be heading into a planned direction with this universe, one that I personally cannot wait to see where it is going.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. Mr. Furman, keep up the great work!

  27. Denyer says:

    Cool, more text over fewer panels rather than more text over more panels (if that makes sense) will certainly help, and it’s always welcome to see writers plan around the strengths of the particular artist for each project. It’s just seemed so far that (separate to any “we’ve got a lot to try to cram in, so let’s have lots of panels” scripting issue) he works on a much larger canvas than eventually sees print, and that isn’t always clear by the time it’s down to US format.

    Any idea at this stage who’s on colouring duties?

    Scott: “I would prefer stupid dinobots”

    They’re not particularly stupid / comedy relief in season two, but it’s not really odd for new comics to be drawing more from existing comics. (Even ignoring that Don Glut’s introduction of them disregarded Budiansky/Shooter’s original character material — tech specs, writers’ guide for the series, etc.)

    “I think you’ve opened up all these plots and are not filling in the holes.”

    I like self-contained stuff too, but it stands to reason that in a long war there are lots of plots, agendas and players operating at one time. The trick is finding a balance between not letting the next arc get predictable (eg, X happens in a Spotlight, Y happens in the main book straight after) and enough revelation / character stuff to hold interest.

    That’s been fairly successful so far IMO. Am wondering how much of the Nightbeat subplot might have to be recapped in the main title at some point, depending on the direction it goes, but would guess it’ll come alongside enough other new developments…

  28. Scott says:

    I’m sorry, but I prefer stupid Dinobots the way they were in the cartoon. That’s just a preference, do I expect Simon to do what I want, of course not – he likes the Dinobots the way he’s always written them. But he asked what I would like, I said so and I did it nicely I’d like to think.

    Also, I did say I liked most of the spotlights, it was the main core stories I didn’t care for. That was why I said Hate was probably too strong of a word.

    To be fair Simon, I did vastly enjoy your Dreamwave work. I preferred it to your IDW stuff. I will say your IDW stuff is still leagues ahead of the stuff you wrote for Marvel (that stuff I have to say I really dislike – sorry)

    I just hope Arcee turns out to be really cool, she’s one of my favs, and keep her Pink and keep her a girl.

  29. Sean B. says:

    Simon! I think I’m much more intrigued by the inclusion of Jhiaxus in this universe than Arcee. As a TF fan of 33 years of age I have been there from the beginning and have rolled with all the changes and expansions this franchise has thrown at me. Things change and I have enjoyed following your TF writings since you first started doing the US comic. Scott the hater sounds like he just wants a G1 retread. G1 will always be first and foremost in my heart but I understand that TF has to keep evolving. I say keep up the good work sir! BTW – Beast Wars the Ascending is awesome! I love how you’ve included all the unused characters into that continuity! i hope we see much more in the future! Another cool idead (which I’m sure you’ve already thought of) would be something that bridges the gap between G1 and the Maximals/Pred’s popping up. Take care!

  30. Coptur says:

    I must say i’ve always found it surprising that people need to have the whole female transformer thing explained, but yet without them people were more than happy to except/assume that there all male without any explaination for that?

    Whats wrong with Acree bumping bumpers with Hotord, Springer or even Starscream. Well i hope Simon or one of the other writers introduce new and old female robot characters Con and bot.

    Anyway i’m building an idea for foa spotlight for an often forgotten transformer any tips on how i can submit one!? do and don’ts etc…

  31. Denyer says:

    “people were more than happy to except/assume that there all male”

    Accept. Nah — the idea of robots having the gametes and other biology to support categorisation into sexes (as opposed to programming providing an approximation of gender characteristics modelled on organic races) is a bit daft.

    I doubt most fans think that because Prime sounds a bit like John Wayne in the show and the singular indefinite pronoun in English is “he” that the character has a big robot schlong. Aside from a few fanfic writers with active imaginations, anyway…

    “Anyway i’m building an idea for foa spotlight for an often forgotten transformer any tips on how i can submit one!? do and don’ts etc…”

    Whilst IDW don’t read or accept unsolicited submissions, you might catch someone’s eye by getting something else published, a bunch of other fans liking and praising it to the hilt, etc.

  32. Jyuu says:

    Coptur: They’re robots, which infers they’re neither male nor female.

    Mr Furman: I’m thoroughly enjoying the IDW-verse and I’m really looking forward to seeing how Arcee’s existence and apparent gender is explained, if only because I’m hopeful about this being taken in a different direction than strict, human-like gender mimicry.

  33. Jazzblack says:

    My fear for IDW Transformers is, with the introduction of more characters there will be less space for character development and stories might become bland; this occured towards the end of the Marvel Transformer comics run.

  34. MistaTee says:

    Jazzblack, Marvel had to keep up with the toy releases, which is not an issue here. Plus, Mr. Furman always has the power to kill off characters if there are too many (not that I hope he does so).

    Denyer, Optimus Prime does INDEED have a big robot schlong! Cuz that’s just Prime!

    Mr Furman, can we have a Spotlight: Cy-Kill? 😉

  35. Jazzblack says:

    MistaTee, please don’t give Mr. Furman ideas; I am still traumatised by the deaths of several dozen Transformers at the hands, er, typewriter of Mr. Furman in the later Marvel Transformer comics!

  36. Joel says:

    Friends don’t let friends stoop to cartoon canon levels! Boo and hiss, bah and humbug to those dratted inexplicable femmebots! A pox on their lipsticked visages!

  37. YoungGuyver says:

    I thought they solved the male/female thing ages ago? I thought that since Sparks were kinda like souls, that was one part of them not exaclty a robot. That perhaps bringing two sparks together might give genesis to a third. That the female was the bot that would nurture the new spark until a body was built. Oh well, I guess what we’ll see him come up with.

  38. Paul says:

    well you managed to keep this one quiet. Like the blaster spotlight this is a nice surprise, can’t wait to find out the idw spin on fembots considering what was done with pretenders.

  39. Coptur says:

    I’m with youngGuyver on this one, the transformers aren’t JUST robots they are living beings with all the emotions to go with it. Whats wrong with using love as well (it being one the strongest emotions), an all ‘male’ cast is dull and restricting at best.

    Look what Tolkien did in lord of the rings(not the films) he had female characters and ignored them because to his own admission he couldn’t write about/for them, so he ignored the whole love thing. I for one would like to see what Mr Furman can do with a female cast (hint mini series).

    I’d rather see Springer pinch Acree’s bottom than Prowls ?!?! lol

    Hint 2 to Mr Fuman – make one of the original 13 transformers a female.

  40. Coptur says:

    also thanks for the advise Denyer ! I will reveal more in time.

  41. simon furman says:

    Hi All, first off thanks for all the feedback (positive and negative) and general vote of confidence. This is without a doubt the post that has provoked the biggest and most divided response. I’ll scroll back and see if I can’t answer a few questions:

    *MistaTee: no plan for a Spotlight Cy-Kill, but ‘never say never.’ There’s some obscure characters popping up here and there in the Spotlights, so we’ll see.

    *Coptur: the best way right now to get yourself noticed (as a writer or artist) is by contributing a strip to the Transformers Mosaic online project. Impress there, and there’s a chance IDW would be receptive to a Spotlight idea down the line.

    *Scott: on the ‘stupid Dinobots’ front and just generally, my intention is to do nothing as it was done originally (be it in the comics or cartoons). If you’re looking for a retread of existing ideas and concepts, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

    *Denyer: don’t know yet as to the colourist for Spotlight Arcee. It may be IDW don’t know yet, Alex hasn’t started in on the script yet (or only just has).

    *John Evans: no, no ‘Heroes’ inspiration here, as I haven’t seen it. It’s on my ‘to watch’ list, though.

    *ZacWilliam: no plans currently for the other ‘fembots.’ Not quite sure how I can explain away their presence in Megatron Origin but I’ll work on it. You’ll see why it’s tricky once you read Spotlight Arcee.

    *Altair: the whole Prowl/Ironhide thing in Escalation maybe wasn’t clear enough. Ironhide wants to go look for Sunstreaker, but is told by Prime he can’t. So he keeps an eye on Ratchet, perhaps suspecting there may be come unofficial action going on there (via Verity and Jimmy). Once it’s clear Ratchet is going to follow up Jimmy’s lead, Ironhide wants in. Prowl hasn’t told him to spy on Ratchet.

    Hope that’s got all the actual questions. If I’ve missed yours, holler!

  42. Coptur says:

    Thank you for the helpful advice Mr Furman most appreciated.

  43. Best First says:

    I have a question – when are we getting a Guzzle spotlight damnit?

  44. Josh says:

    First, Id like to commend Scott on his willingness to state his opinion here. Whilst I don’t agree with him, it takes some guts to speak up about how you feel to the author on a board where you are destined to be shot down.
    That aside, I haven’t read many tf comics, only the released Dreamwave War Within series (any chance we can see what happened at the end of Age of Wrath? How did the Turbomasters go? How did Grimmy come back?) Though these comics interest me, & if i can find any in regional Australia, I will probably buy whateva I can find – Any one know where a bulk buy can be found?
    Anyway, keep up the good work

  45. Simon Hall says:

    Ever since G2 and especially Beast Wars, I’ve wondered whether the TFs might be something more than robots.The whole deal of being able to replicate by celluar divison and the protoform state of the transformers suggests there’s something beyond them being wires and gears.The protoform itself contains DNA replicators and some kind of nanotechnology which allows the TFs to ‘disguise’ (nay infilitrate!) their given environment, so why shouldn’t there be female TFs?

  46. Dawfydd says:

    To paraphrase BW Megatron: ‘A little tension, yes.’
    If I’m honest, I never really gave to much thought to whether there would or wouldn’t be differing genders among TF’s, but it is always fascinating to see different writers explantions.
    I would also like to say Simon that I’m really enjoying how you and the IDW guys continue to set up little pieces of a larger puzzle that we probably won’t see resolved for a while yet. I think some of us as readers may be forgetting that we are only really at the start of the 2nd (BW) and 4th (IDW-verse) series respectively. I find it refreshing that IDW are confident enough in their TF licence to allow for this sort of forward planning.
    Or I could just be reading to much into things…

    On another note, given we’re seeing the return of (a) Jihaxus, anyone fancy seeing the return of other comics only characters? I’m thinkng the likes of Lord Straxus, Emirate Xaaron and (my personal choice) Impactor.

  47. Somebody says:

    SF> ZacWilliam: no plans currently for the other ‘fembots.’ Not quite sure how I can explain away their presence in Megatron Origin but I’ll work on it. You’ll see why it’s tricky once you read Spotlight Arcee.

    Mr Furman, please – don’t try. Ignore it. Retcon it. Pretend it (and all the other “cameos” in that series) Just Didn’t Happen. Please.

  48. Ralph Burns says:

    This has certainly provoked interesting reactions. I am one of those who just does not get the idea of ‘fembots’ and giving gender roles to alien robots. So I am very intrigued as to how this will be explained. Going by previous comments from the author I have no doubt a fair bit of thought will have went into it!

    As one of the old farts who has followed the TF comics since Marvel UK days, I am intrigued by the mentions of Jhiaxus.

  49. I’d like to see what you can do in terms of working in the Fembots from Origin.

    Assuming that Arcee’s somehow mixed up with Jhiaxus in terms of her creation, perhaps we can assume that she isn’t the first fembot made or something.

    After all, Nova Prime’s era predates Megatron: Origin. I’m just wildly speculating based on the breadcrumbs you’ve dropped though.

  50. Simon, I’ve never cared much about Arcee either way, but the main reason I’m excited about this Spotlight is the possibility that it could end once and for all the infinite debates and theories as to Arcee’s (and other fembots’) existence. It may not be what everyone wants to hear, but at least there will be something canonical to go by.

    Also, thank you for bringing back Jhiaxus! One of your best original TFs.

  51. Thunderwing says:

    A follow-up to Altair’s question about that scene in Escalation-

    If Prowl didn’t tell Ironhide to spy on Ratchet, what was that aside for?

    Was Prowl just reprimanding Ironhide for questioning Prime?

  52. Dawfydd says:

    Well, we have been given the impression that Prowl is some thing of a “BLEEP”, when it comes to personel management…

  53. simon furman says:

    *Thunderwing, the aside was a kind of ‘see me after class’ thing. Ironhide stepped outside the chain of command by speaking out when he did and Prowl was not happy. Hence, ‘you and I need to have words’.

    *Best First, while I usually answer ‘never say never,’ in the case of Guzzle, it’s just ‘never.’ Or at least ‘not for a looooong time.

    *Dawfyyd: there’s always a chance (a good one) some or all of those names will make a reappearance at some time. But it’s liable to be the ‘name’ rather than the ‘character’ if you get the difference.

  54. Scott says:

    Simon, I know I’m not your biggest fan, but could you try and do one thing for me in the TF comics. PLease add in the other Female Autobots.

  55. Best First says:

    Well, for the sake of balance, i’m inclined to say please don’t.

    Guzzle. Bah.


  56. *Scott, if you want to see TF stories your way, presently you have the right opportunity for it: TF:Mosaic. I think it isn’t fair telling an artist/writer that you don’t like his works because you’ve something else on your mind. As an artist and writer too, I know how hard it is to please everyone. Being realistic, I’d rather say that it’s 100% impossible to accomplish such task, specially when we are talking about thousands of people. I think you need to be a little more comprehensive about it.

    *Simon, keep up the great work you’ve been doing for so many years. I was surprised to find an Arcee’s Spotlight — I’m really intrigued how you’re going to develop her. I don’t particularly like her very much — my opinion so far — but this got me curious 🙂

  57. Mal says:


    How drastic a re-invention is IDW Jhiaxus?

    Will we recognize familiar traits as how he appeared in the Gen 2 comics, or have you completely re-made the character for this new continuity?


  58. Luke says:

    yeah gotta say good on ya scott, for speaking your mind and coming back to elaborate.
    Although for me, it seems like a lot of what you want you could just get reading the old comics or watching the cartoon.
    This is about the IDWverse. It’s new and fresh.
    Yes, at times it will hark back, but also things are popping up out of the blue.

    Cheers on taking on Arcee and being up front about giving some explanation Simon, this may be a big tester issue for new fans. I can’t wait.


  59. Dawfydd says:

    Simon, I have no problem with the ‘name’ rather than the ‘character’ showing up. I think I can safely say that most of us who post responses here are confident in your abilities to create something new and fresh, whilst giving us old-time fans (gods, thats a depressing realisation…) something to smile over. And in the case of those three in particular, I’d just be interested to see how you would use them.

    Gotta say though, I hope we see more of this IDW version of Hardhead. His appearence at the end of Escalation was a pleasent surprise, as I always had a personal soft spot for the character (I know, what character…), and I’m looking forward to seeing what his new Earth-based alt-mode is in Devastation. Just out of interest, is this some form of guilt for offing him rather suddenly in the old Unicron saga? Or is this another exampole of the more liberated approach you’re now able to take to writing the Transformers, now that you don’t have to link every character and storyline to a new toy release?

  60. simon furman says:

    *Mal, it’ll be fairly drastic, but I’ll look to bring some elements of the original into the mix. It’s certainly not my intention with any of these ‘reinventions’ to throw the baby out with the bathwater (I love that expression!).

    *Dawfydd, Hardhead just seemed to fit what I needed for the Earth-based Autobot unit. A character who’s a little more gung-ho than the averate Autobot and has the firepower to back it up. As he says in an upcoming issue of Devastation ‘my name’s Hardhead. That’s all you need to know.’

  61. Emvee says:

    “…no plans currently for the other ‘fembots.’ Not quite sure how I can explain away their presence in Megatron Origin but I’ll work on it. You’ll see why it’s tricky once you read Spotlight Arcee.”

    Or we could pretend that Megatron: Origin was just a bad dream?

  62. Dawfydd says:

    I was thinking he seemed a tad more ‘military’ than the other ‘bots we’ve seen so far.
    Can’t wait to attach an image to that quote…

  63. Scott says:

    Please don’t ignore the female autobots, they are an interesting group of characters that you could make out to be really cool and change the opinions so many have against them.

    Any chance we are going to get more Jazz in a command role? Again, it seems to me you are ignoring one of the best G1 characters in light of using less interesting ones like Prowl, Ratchet and Ironhide.

    How about seeing more Ultra Magnus? What about Cyclonus and Scourge? since you made Galvatron a different person from Megatron are you gonna do the same with Cyclonus and Scourge?

    Any chance we’ll get to see Metroplex and more Omega Supreme soon?

    When are the six issue mini series things going to end and us get a real regular monthly ongoing? I’ve always wanted to see Transformers Issue #100 printed on a comic.

  64. partholon says:

    im surprised by this due to simons stated reluctance to deal with arcee untill he’s got a decent explanation for her so im assuming he’s found one 🙂

    personally i never liked the idea of fembots because it just made no natural sense. i always viewed TF as living beings but one so alien even their reproduction was of a method wholey different to our own and that added to the fun for me. i mean they really are the first true non organic sentient alien characters out there that wernt built by someone so in that light arcee is just nuts (and for the record i never say the bots as male either, just massive killing machines with ethical dilemas 🙂 )

    playing amatuer writer i reckon arcees a “failed” experiment by jhiaxus, which pretty much introduces the “controversial” element simon hinted to, and would probably make her an aberation i.e one off. i could handle that and it’d tie in with the “mad scientist” stuff jhiaxus has been up to be to before with the combiner process.

    all in all im gonna get this as its definelty not something i expected and should be a fun story.

    in regards to scotts statement i too have to commend him. theres a tendancy to browbeat people on the internet who dont conform to your views so fair play to him stating them. its a big world and it’ll be a sad day when everyone agrees on everything unquestioning. for example i dont like garth ennis. i know there a people falling off stools for me typing that but i just dont like his work. dosent mean he’s a bad writer hes just not my style . ditto for mr furman. i love his work and am amazed he can still pump out fresh ideas after so long working on essentially the same title which i why TF is one of the only ongoing i still collect. that doesnt mean everyone’ll like him because such is life

    (ok , off me soapbox now 🙂 )

  65. Dawfydd says:

    Scott, you should have been picking up the old UK comic: if memeory serves it wound up topping out at over the 300 issue mark. (I think it hit around 320 total.) Simon would most likely know for certain. After all, he seemed to write most of them…

    Your point about Jazz though- I get agree that the series has focused on the likes of Ironhide & Ratchet, but I get the feeling that Simon is trying to get back to the roots of each character. Jazz has traditionally filled a similar slot to Prowl: Second bannana to Prime, but the original concept for Jazz (as I’ve always seen it) was as the Autobots chief infiltrator/ spy-guy. I guess that we Jazz fans should get some love a little further down the line… payback time against the Machination anyone?

    Personally though I like the way Simon has focused on characters who may not have been in the spotlight for some time in this series.

  66. Rob D says:

    You know I kinda agree with Scott here. I am also tired of Prime getting his @$$ handed to him. If writers do not want to retread on previous ideas then start with Prime not getting plastered and have him actual be able to take down a decepticon.

    The IDW work to me just doesn’t feel as deep or as grand as the old stuff . Just my opinion of course, but the new stories seem a little flat (outside of the Spotlights). The DW main books had more intensity. Maybe it has something to with the art being better in the DW books too but I don’t get the same feeling I used to get reading the new IDW series. It’s like the difference between a movie (DW) and a TV series (IDW), it just feels a little cheaper. The dialogue is kinda stiff and wooden like the difference between Star Wars: Episode 1 and Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back.

    Don’t get me wrong, change is good. But too much change can have the reverse effect. There is a reason people keep coming back to franchises like Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings…because there is a familiarity to it all, a nostalgia factor that keeps you coming back for more. I feel it’s much better to take characters we already know and give them new challaneges rather then reinvent the wheel and change the character completely. Just my opinion of course. I like your style a lot Simon when you have the right focus but it just seems like the focuse has been lost on the new IDW books.

  67. Joel says:

    partholon Says:

    ” personally i never liked the idea of fembots because it just made no natural sense. i always viewed TF as living beings but one so alien even their reproduction was of a method wholey different to our own and that added to the fun for me. i mean they really are the first true non organic sentient alien characters out there that wernt built by someone (and for the record i never say the bots as male either, just massive killing machines with ethical dilemas) ”

    I generally agree with this take too.

    Keeping them as ‘genderless boxes of metal’ enhances their alien-ness and makes them more inventive, unique and interesting for it. Introducing ‘robochicks’ (while unimaginative in itself) precipitates a whole slew of problems (such as having to botchingly answering the vast ‘gender’ imbalance, implying the regular TFs are ‘robodudes’, amongst many more headaches), and inevitably leads to inescapably inane love subplots down the line.

    Once the mistaken step is taken, it’s a constant slog to promote individual characterisation ahead of succumbing to ‘gender roles’, and indeed it’s easy for an overenthusiastic writer to go the other way and to turn the ‘females’ into ‘ball-busting’ riotgrrls. A similarly awful situation.

    In summary, introducing a ‘fembot’ (and by implication, retconning the rest as ‘fellabots’) is a very lame idea which ever way you cut it.

    One of the few ways (if the dreaded step is to be taken) that has some merit is to portray the ‘fembot’ as merely a shallow artifice, a rare experiment is design (and not in ‘personality’, i.e. the character is still genderless despite any suggestion by appearance).

  68. Coptur says:

    I ‘ve always felt that the Transformers do need need a female touch. The transformers in general doesn’t interest female fans. I for one would like to see more of them.

    I mentioned this to my girlfriend. Who is into most of the stuff i’m into eg Star Wars, Star Trek, Spider-man, Batman etc.. but with the transformers she finds no connection and isn’t drawn to it , in the same way.

    Also Simon would you ever right for Marvel comics Exiles series and have the team revisit the ‘marvel’ transformers universe and finish off any loose ends that way!?!? (for canon sake)

    also another hint for the Fembots mini-series

  69. Scott says:

    I have to agree with Coptur.

    Simon if you want to attract more females to the comic, you need a reason to help draw them in. There’s only a handful of female TFs how much can it hurt the books to add them. My wife has said many times she’s not as in to TFs as she would normally be if it had more strong female characters.

    I’m not talking weak ass frail girls, I’m talking ass kicking taking names robots who just happen to be female.

    And seriously, have optimus start kickin ass.

  70. coptur says:

    d’oh i meant ‘write’ not right sorry. no hope for me now in the writing world lol

  71. bassbot says:

    man scott, didn’t you see Optimus take on Megatron. Sure Megs did get some upper hand, but Prime was takin his name all the way to the bank!

  72. Denyer says:

    “I’m not talking weak ass frail girls, I’m talking ass kicking taking names robots who just happen to be female.”

    Gender characteristics and sexes aren’t the same. The latter has developmental stages given labels in popular culture (girl/woman with humans) and refers to plants/animals that produce fertilisable gametes, have reproductive organs, etc.

    Crossdressers often attempt to mimic the former, but aren’t female just because they look or act it. In the same way, in most continuities Transformers aren’t human, organic or male and haven’t been noted to reproduce sexually. (It’s implied in some manga, and might be plausible in Beast Wars after the technorganic changes.)

    “how much can it hurt the books”

    Depends whether people want the story weighting to be alien robots who’re like us in some respects and different in others, or more of a “humans in big metal armoured suits” feel.

    (Judging by the amount of TF porn that’s been produced over the years and occasionally surfaces on forums, there’s a not-insubstantial minority of fans who enjoy putting human relationships into TF fiction. And who’d like to put TFs into [joke cut for bad taste].)

  73. altair says:

    Thanks for taking the time in answering my question!
    (Maybe it was clear enough, but that’s what happens when a fangirl has lots of spare time to think about her favorite version of the TFs mythos)

    And adding my two cents on the debate… I think the appeal for potential female readers goes beyong human-like relationships. Yes, romance is quite important for us humans and maybe for some readers, but it’s not the only relationship worth of mention. What I’ve always liked about Transformers, and especially the IDW series, are the different personalities and the dynamics between characters (hence the question I asked). Battles are great, but the quiet scenes with conversations tend to satisfy me more.

  74. Scott says:

    To Bassbot – I was disappointed with that fight, it turned out the exact same as every other fight every other TF comic has had, with Prime lossing. I’m frankly tired of reading that. I want to see Prime kick ass and take names the way he did in the 86 movie.

    To Denyer – I think the female TFs could have a lot to offer to the story. If Simon wants to prove he’s really the best TF writer out there then he should start here, by proving the female TFs are more than roboporn stars. He obviously has no real aversion to using them, after all we are getting an Arcee spotlight and since he has written the Beast Wars stories we know there’s female TF’s there.

    I think the hardcore male only fans are being a bit retarded on this. It doesn’t hurt the book to add them and it makes more people want to read the books and enjoy them. They have been a part of TFs since nearly day one, it’s high time we saw them in the books.

    To Simon – I’m willing to be more open minded to your work and give you the benefit of the doubt, turn Prime around and add some female TFs, please… It’s not a lot for some of us to ask.

  75. Scott says:

    One more thing, to those saying the TFs are not male or female you are all wrong. They use the term “HE”, they use the term “BROTHER”, these are MALE terms. If they were not male they would simply say “IT” or some other non gender term.

  76. Joel says:

    Pointing to pronouns is a highly tenuous thrust.

  77. Joel says:

    Scott wrote:
    “If Simon wants to prove he’s really the best TF writer out there then he should start here, by proving the female TFs are more than roboporn stars.”

    He does not have to _prove_ any such thing, especially by such a narrow criterion. (And the straw notion that he would ever present so-called ‘female TFs’ as robopornstars is an affront.)

    Scott wrote:
    “I think the hardcore male only fans are being a bit retarded on this. It doesn’t hurt the book to add them and it makes more people want to read the books and enjoy them.”

    Charming. There are plenty good reasons listed in this thread which reason the opposition to having ‘male’ and ‘female’ bots. (“Male-only fans”? Come again? Numerous people here consider the ordinary ‘boxy’ TFs as essentially genderless.) The reasons listed outline exactly why some fans consider the addition of ‘fembots’ to be precisely detrimental to the IDW canon. Maybe you should re-read previous posts.

    Scott wrote:
    “To Simon – I’m willing to be more open minded to your work and give you the benefit of the doubt, turn Prime around and add some female TFs, please… It’s not a lot for some of us to ask.”

    I don’t see that plea-bargaining as open-minded Scott. Truthfully, you’re quite intransigent (like me – though at least I admit to it!).

  78. Scott says:

    To Joel

    So nice of you to attack me like that. First of all I never once said he would present them as roboporn stars, I was referring to the fact of what someone earlier in the thread said about TF porn. Second, he does have something to prove, since not everyone is a fan he needs to show them he can draw them in too. That good sir, requires him to prove he can write better than he is now.

    Regardless of how a few people feel with regards to the TFs being so-called genderless, they are obviously male and MOST fans think of them as such, be it IDW, DW, or Marvel comics versions. Perhaps you should be the one to read the posts clearer.

    As for my open-mindedness comment, two separate thoughts in one sentence. I was not plea-bargaining anything, I was asking, you should learn the difference.

  79. simon furman says:

    Okay, enough! This will not be allowed to degenerate into a slanging match. Any more tit for tat posts will be deleted. Let’s just say Scott begs to differ from many of the other posters here and leave it at that. Scott, you’ve said your piece. I take your points (don’t necessarily agree with them, but they’re noted nonetheless) but I don’t intend to give you unlimited space to vent. You don’t like my stuff, I get that, but neither will I immediately revise my entire strategy for Infiltration etc just to keep you happy. Jazz isn’t in a command role. That may change but not for the foreseeable future, it’s just not the way he’s been set up here in the new IDW-verse. Prime will not always be trashed. He wasn’t in Stormbringer, he stood his ground against Thunderwing and won. But what happens happens. It’s the story. I can’t/won’t tailor them to fit individual requests.

  80. simon furman says:

    And as far as the whole gender thing goes, WAIT AND SEE. You might be surprised how important a ‘pronoun’ turns out to be.

  81. simon furman says:

    Oh, and I’m not convinced (at all) by the argument that more ‘female’ Transformers equates to more female readers.

  82. Chris N says:

    Is Flywheels going to be in it?

  83. Scott says:

    Well I wish you the best anyway, at least I was nice about my points. Thanks for reading them and acknowledging them.

  84. Denyer says:

    “They have been a part of TFs since nearly day one”

    TSfAT aired end of 1985, I think. Though no female-looking robot characters were included by the writers who came up with the backstory for TFs (Budiansky/Shooter/etc.) or in Hasbro’s development team — those in the show were added at the request of the TV network distributing the programme.

    “One more thing, to those saying the TFs are not male or female you are all wrong. They use the term “HE”, they use the term “BROTHER”, these are MALE terms. If they were not male they would simply say “IT” or some other non gender term.”

    It’s more that grammar and grammatical traditions aren’t taught much these days… in short: they’re not wrong, but you wouldn’t really be at fault for not knowing.

    TFs aren’t speaking English (most of the time) — comic dialogue is ‘translation’ by an author. If that writer is intending to be non-specific, either “he” or “they” would fit. “He” isn’t only a gendered pronoun, it’s also indefinite.

    “She” (as well as being a feminine personal pronoun) is used for personification of singular inanimate things — countries, boats, cars, etc. TFs are sentient.

    Within that, you have the fact characters may self-identify as female, biology notwithstanding.

    Basically use of “she” is up to the author, but the simple presence of he/his/him (and absence of “it”) in dialogue doesn’t mean a character regards the subject of a sentence as male — it’s just the default in standard English.

  85. Jenner says:

    Any chance we’ll see the Quintessans in the future? Or are those things in the Galvatron Spotlight the closest we’re going to get?

    What’s being done editorially to insure against continuity errors or potential flubs with the other writers and artists ( ie: fembots unexplicably appearing in Megatron:Origin )?


  86. simon furman says:

    *Chris, no Flywheels yet, but lots of these type of characters are popping up here and there in supporting roles (mostly in the Spotlights).

    *Jenner, keep watching on the Quintessons front. Might just be something there (at some point). As for the ‘fembots’ in Meg Origin, it’s almost impossible (when Alex puts in as much as he does into the pages) to pick up every cameo. Any anyway, who says they’re fembots (they weren’t carrying signs for equal rights, were they?).

  87. simon furman says:

    And Scott, ‘peace, man.’ I hope you keep reading (with an open mind) and find something you like in upcoming issues. I’m trying really hard to make the IDW stuff different and surprising.

  88. The Oracle says:

    Simon said “(they weren’t carrying signs for equal rights, were they?)”
    Ooh, I like that notion, any chance we’ll see something like that?

    All in all though, I can’t wait to see how you handle Arcee

  89. Scott says:

    Simon, I’m definitely going to keep reading, Ias I said, thank you for simply responding and acknowledging what I said.

  90. zhgingaah says:

    Quintessons Simon? Ooh. Me Like. I liked it when they popped up in the DW run, and Space Pirates still rocks my socks.

    Mind you, a while ago I thought you said the quintessons weren’t going to happen in the IDWverse… I postulated that your movie character spotlight might have been a quintesson (then again, I also said Daniel in his exosuit :P) and from the replies on the board it sounded unlikely the five faced slime of the galaxy would be back…

    …I didn’t stir up old feelings did I? 😛 lol

  91. You know, Simon, much as I know that there’s a LOT of unused Transformers, I wouldn’t mind seeing some more unique characters. You did a bit of cannon fodder in Spotlight: Hot Rod, but that was about it.

    I mean, I’m specifically looking at Jhiaxus here – major baddie who’s returning that you created. Why not do something completely new for the origin of the Transformers?

    And I’m going to speculate that Arcee has SOMETHING to do with the denizens of Gorlam Prime upgrading to robot bodies… 🙂

  92. Jenner says:

    Cool beans. I don’t expect to see the Quints anytime soon, in fact I’d much rather wait for at least another 6000 pages of story to pass before they get introduced ( something I’d hoped for with Galvatron, but I’m cool with what is ).

    Maybe you could send out a memo to everybody on the TF team along the lines of “anything questionable, in terms of continuity, must pass through me first”.

    Have you had any oversight over the Megatron:Origin script? Let’s say it gets declared to be outside of main continuity ( Issue 4 Page 8 has what I consider to be strong confirmation that female cybertronians do in fact exist – see invester class elites living it up in panel one drinking energo-wine ) as so many are hoping, why do something as important as the Origin of Megatron just to say that it didn’t count?

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with female cybertronians, just as long as I get a good explanation for them – that’s the only problem I had with Elita-1 and her team as well as Arcee. The Beast Wars/Machines saga did endeer me to the notion of Transformer gender-differences though.

    Honestly, I liked the Megatron series, it wasn’t perfect, but overall I thought it was a good origin for him( aside from shared complaints of difficult to view artwork, and not too sure about Starscream being the one to give Meg his fusion cannon – maybe the reason that Meg keeps him around for as long as he does? ). So my question is, is this thing going to count or are we going go the old DC-Universe route with it?

    Here’s another potential flub: how the hell is Hound getting out of Kaon in the condition we last see him in? I would think the Decepticons would have melted him down.

    Okay I’m dragging this out a bit, but I also would like to know if we’ll ever get anykind of a timeline for the creation of individual cybertronians. When was Meg first built? Optimus? Ratbat? We know Omega Supreme is ancient, but how ancient? Bumblebee? These are things I’ve always wandered about when you have characteristics like Hot Rod being considered “young” and Kup being considered “old”, what consititutes this?

    I know you’ve got a lot on your plate as is, but I would like to know if these things have crossed your mind enough to warrant a post-it note or two.

    Thanks for keeping up with us.


  93. simon furman says:

    Let’s make it clear, no one (least of all me) is saying Megatron: Origin is outside continuity. It’s new IDW/TF-verse canon. But the presence of the, um, fembots is problematic and something I didn’t realise was going to be in there. Not sure if Eric stipulated they were in there or Alex dropped them in. But then again, they didn’t know I had my own plans in motion. I think the best way to look at things is that they’re there/exsist, but not necessarily as fembots at that particular moment in time (appearances aside).

  94. simon furman says:

    And I will have to get into relative ‘ages’ of TF characters in the IDW-verse at some time. But not yet.

  95. FlyPie11 says:

    Just what does love have to do with gender anyway? Far as I can tell, thats what drew some of the female fans…

    Anyway, I actually like the IDWverse. I’m a new fan and I like well woven stories, not to mention the idea of intelligent self-aware robots millenia older than human history. These comics were the best way to start out for me.

  96. “I was very disappointed with that fight, it turned out the exact same as every other fight every other TF comic has had, with Prime lossing (sic).”

    Optimus did passably well when he took down Thunderwing in ‘Stormbringer’, I thought. And how about that fight with Monstructor in his spotlight?

    Since Megatron is meant to be approximately on a par with Prime in combat terms, it’s no surprise that he sometimes comes out on top in their little scuffles.

  97. Oh, and on the actual topic at hand, I must say that I’m eagerly anticipating this issue – an attempt to apply logic to an insane premise.

  98. bassbot says:

    on the pronouns topic, Simon, have you ever read LeGuin’s “Left Hand of Darkness”, it involved a race of non-gendered, well actually BI-gendered beings. In comments later, she realised she should have found another pronoun or created one instead of using HE generally, and only SHE when they physically changed. Pretty cool sci-fi novel.

  99. Jack Cade says:

    Well, it sounds good to me. I do think more ‘female’ TF’s at least has the potential to bring in more female readers. Just as the franchise is viewed by many as being entirely about silly toys, I can easily imagine it looking like a kind of homoerotic/macho thing to those not so familar with it, and who have a mind attuned to imagery and themes. The DW housestyle, which some of IDW’s output is at least reminiscent of, is big-armed, broad-shouldered, bulky-groined robots brandishing massive phallic weapons and grappling with each other, making grunting noises – cybernetic WWF. Sure, that impression is only skin-deep, but by inserting a few female robots around the place – and maybe some with generally skinnier physiques – you immediately remove that first impression.

    That said, I have no particular need for Transformers to be more popular with women, and EJ has already gone some way to making the characters look decidedly more mechanical, rather than like armoured bodybuilders.

  100. Coptur says:

    100, lol

  101. simon furman says:

    Hey, bassbot, I haven’t read the book you mention but the whole business of pronouns does get addressed in Spotlight Arcee.

  102. simon furman says:

    Yeah, right, well 102 now. How cool is that. By far and away the longest thread I’ve had on my blog.

  103. Jess says:

    As a woman, I just want to say that I have always loved the idea of female Transformers– after all sex and gender are hardly the same thing. And that I always felt that calling them “genderless” when they were distinctly masculine is a bit off. Why wouldn’t robots have one pronoun for intelligent robots, another for non-intelligent robots, and another for inanimate objects, instead of using “he” and “she?” But if there are “males,” which is what many of the Transformer characters undeniably ARE, then some dichotomy is implied, and there are going to be “females” as well. So I’m loving seeing Arcee, whether you “believe” in robots having multiple genders or no.

    As to the cover art: The best thing about it all is Arcee’s adorable little smile. =D

  104. Scott says:

    I agree with Jess. Female Transformers should stay.

  105. Denyer says:

    “whether you “believe” in robots having multiple genders or no.”

    Gender, no worries — well, no worries apart from some fans who can’t/won’t differentiate between gender and sexes. It makes sense that robots might consider identity to be as fluid as data transfer, particularly a group to whom change is so key a part of personality. Actually, it’s perhaps a bit surprising that we haven’t seen more deep cover agents in TF fiction so far.

    “if there are “males,” which is what many of the Transformer characters undeniably ARE”

    It helps to avoid confusion and arguments if words aren’t forced into service with quote marks, because they frequently get dropped or become assumptions. There aren’t males unless there’s a biological basis for that classification. We’ve got a bunch of robots with what we’d regard as (stereotypically) male gender characteristics. They may even identify as male, and/or have registered a difference in reactions depending on what voices/projections they use whilst interacting with organics — Bumblebee’s holo-avatar is a touch I really like, on that score, which suggests Furman’s given it thought right from the beginning in this continuity.

    “Why wouldn’t robots have one pronoun for intelligent robots, another for non-intelligent robots, and another for inanimate objects, instead of using “he” and “she?””

    They would, absolutely. We aren’t getting the story in their language — though that’s probably for the best in terms of sales of science fiction; after all, most of the film-watching public masses can’t even be convinced to watch movies with subtitles.

  106. Scott says:

    I think several people here need to take a Gender studies class, because most of the people here can’t seem to grasp the concept of gender and sex. They are not the same thing. That is a fact.

    People need to stop with the whole There’s no such thing as girl Transformers. Well since there are boy transformers, there is no reason we cannot have girl ones. Say what you will, but 99% of the TFs are male or genderized as such.

  107. Denyer says:

    “I think several people here need to take a Gender studies class”

    Yes. ‘Girl’ and ‘boy’ refer to sexes rather than societal gender constructions.

    Class one:

    A boy isn’t a girl if given, say, a pink dress, Princess Leia hair buns and called Amy. Not that sex in humans (as with other animals) is necessarily binary — more than two X chromosomes and more than one Y are possible, which may or may not be expressed physically in reproductive organs. And we might address a man as a woman if he prefers.

  108. Chris N says:

    If I cover myself in fur, walk on all fours and start barking, it does not make me a dog.

    If a robot has slender ankles and a top-heavy torso, it doesn’t make it female. It makes it feminine.

  109. Scott says:

    A google search does not equal a full course study in Gender relations. Try going to a school and studying the concept.

    Gender is NOT the same thing as sex, that is a fact.

  110. Jess says:

    If you don’t think “people” should put “quotation marks” around “gender terms,” because it would “confuse” other “people,” I guess that means you agree with me that the “quotation marks” around “female” in the “Transformers Encylcopeadia” were misplaced. I loved it otherwise, but that just drove me nuts. (That is MY gender you are quotating, thank you! XD)

    When you put on a fur coat and walk around on all fours, do you THINK of yourself as a dog? I’m guessing no. So no, you are not a dog when you put on a fur coat and walk around on all fours.

    Arcee, on the other hand, shows all signs of THINKING of herself as female. Which, in the case of gender especially and more so for robots, which are much more creatures of the mind than frail we, MAKES HER FEMALE. I am no less a woman just because I wear pants and agressively pursue my goals. I think of myself as female, therefore I am. Batman is only Batman because he says he is, and truly believes it. No one would ever say that made him less Batman. (I know, crossing fandoms. XD)

    More importantly? There are a good many of the other Transformers who show signs of thinking of themselves as male. And they’re individuals who, within their own reality, do have the right to choose.

    Fact with me is:
    I don’t think it’s too much to ask that our pronoun gets used a little more often. (Our and we as in women.)

    I don’t think it’s too much to ask that something more similar to a female basic body type and shape be used a little more often.

    I don’t think it’s beyond Simon Furman’s ability to do something with this that explains it, and he apparently doesn’t think so either, as is evidenced by the fact that Arcee is getting a spotlight. (I only hope not to be relegated to a glitch, but I confess, that’s just me. He said it would be provocative so I’m waiting eagerly whatever the result.)

    There are some altmodes out there that are very difficult to make a masculine humanoid form out of. The Arcee ninja bike is a good example– even if she didn’t look like she had boobs, she’d still have killer legs. For the casual reader, it will be offsetting to see a very feminine looking character being referred to as male.

    Arcee is and can be a good character unto herself. She deserves attention just like Hot Rod or Optimus or Grimlock. Her self-identity as female is no reason to deny her this, and so long as you have her, you will have the “gender” thing to worry about.

    I find it hilarious that when we use the pronoun “he” we assume that means they could be genderless, but using the pronoun “she” automatically introduces sex. Even in the case of everybody being called “she,” it still happens. I can’t wait until we’re past that as a species, or at least as a culture. I certainly don’t think of myself as a solely sexual being, and it’s annoying that other people do.

    I didn’t come here to get anyone’s panties in a bunch, I came to say I’m thrilled to see this spotlight. It’s not about whether or not Transformers SHOULD or CAN have genders (They CAN, because gender is a thing of the mind and they have minds, whether they SHOULD is up to the writer) it’s about the fact that they DO and I’m thrilled to see my half being represented. More importantly, I’m thrilled to see Arcee. Because she’s ARCEE, and she’s taking names with a smile. That is awesome.

    So, anyway, that’s my five dollars. Can’t wait for this spotlight! 😀

  111. Denyer says:

    “A google search does not equal a full course study in Gender relations. Try going to a school and studying the concept.”

    Graduated and taught. An area I find particularly fascinating is women’s writing within historical religious communities, since the influence of Jerome and others on the early Church was so misogynist.

    “I guess that means you agree with me that the “quotation marks” around “female” in the “Transformers Encylcopeadia” were misplaced.”

    They’re not needed around adjectival use, sure. If by encyclopedia you mean the mostly Dreamwave continuity thing put out by DK, I’d second-guess Simon and venture that any there are because [female Transformers] creates a compound noun.

    “using the pronoun “she” automatically introduces sex”

    Except when used for personification. She’s a very fine ship, etc.

    “they’re individuals who, within their own reality, do have the right to choose”

    Fully agree. Doesn’t make them males or females, which is the point I’m arguing — it seems perfectly reasonable that robots whose culture revolves around mimicking things would take other things from organic civilisations and incorporate them into their personal identities. It’s a form of expression, and where resources permit they have the ability to change in ways humans don’t. Yet. We’re working on the genetics thing — Iain Banks’ Culture novels, here we come. 🙂

  112. Jess says:

    What I’m trying to get through is: We don’t have a good way to say “Female in mind regardless of body.” And since many robots are neuter physically, then saying “they’re not female biologically” is splitting hairs. Just call them female. Or male, if that’s the case.

    Besides, physical basis for being male or female hasn’t got anything to do with even HAVING chromosomes– think carpentry. XD (Go on, look up what they call the dovetails that fit into the other dovetails and vice versa, along with a thousand other things that fit into each other. You’ll either laugh or think it’s very immature.)

    I actually think that looking into WHY having female Transformers could be considered “important” on a cultural aspect would be an interesting case study in and of itself. In any case, I know that I’m tired of being told I can’t have something I identify more closely with because I’m a girl and “there aren’t girl robots.”

    As for the “She’s a fine boat” and other such personifications: That was actually what I was getting at with the language thing: using one gender pronoun for the intelligent, another for the non-intelligent, and the neuter for all else. I don’t actually recommend it in TF-style sci fi, though, because SOMEONE would be insulted. :p

  113. Denyer says:

    “many robots are neuter physically”

    In most continuities we’ve seen, all of them. Even in BW the animal bits are synthetic (it being a plot point in BM that characters get formatted into techno-organics.)

    “think carpentry”

    The sum of being male or female can be which wooden or metal connector sticks into which? Is that a good thing to be transposing from objects which’re inanimate to characters that are intelligent and self-aware?

    A character can be female whilst not being a female. All it takes is a writer who can sort adjectives from nouns, and if necessary give reasoning for other characters supporting that character’s self-identification. It’s probably the case that more Decepticons than Autobots wouldn’t, since many see organics as inferior.

  114. Jess says:

    “Robots” covers more than TFs. You have not seen what I have seen, nor would you want to. (twitches)

    “The sum of being male and female can be which wooden or metal connector sticks into which?”

    (rolls eyes) Missing the point. The definition of what makes something physically female or male isn’t something to do with actual biology.

    And since I don’t think either of us wants to give up the last word, mayhap we should take this off Simon Furman’s blog. (Arguing here at all seems a bit rude. (looks at Simon apologetically))

    (grins) Maybe a “TF thread for controversial topics?”

  115. Jess says:

    Actually, what I find really interesting is how you’re not really on anyone’s “side,” just feuling the fire one way or the other. XD

  116. Denyer says:

    Undoubtedly a few on most TF forums, many already locked. I think Mr F’s enjoyed watching the reply counter go up, TBH.

    “You have not seen what I have seen, nor would you want to.”

    Even just on the score of robots that are TFs I have friends who draw and write slash/sex fic… not my sort of thing, but I don’t shock.

    “The definition of what makes something physically female or male isn’t something to do with actual biology.”

    Plugs, wood joins, etc. aren’t living things, and male/female there are descriptive (adjectival) uses referring to shape. “Hand me a male” — when talking about, say, cable connectors — is colloquial abbreviation. The basis of things being divided into males and females is biology — chromosomes, gametes, stamens, etc.

    It’s possible to argue Transformers do possess biology, since they’re considered to be alive; biological/technological aren’t exclusive concepts, and biology isn’t entirely synonymous with organic.

    Which brings us back around to why TFs would have grouped sexes (versus characteristics other races view as gendered, and possibly cultural grouping on that basis) when they don’t reproduce sexually.

    Chances seem good we’ll find out (for this continuity) whether they do in the spotlight. Should be interesting, particularly as hundreds more people will be getting in on the feedback discussion. 🙂

  117. Denyer says:

    “Actually, what I find really interesting is how you’re not really on anyone’s “side,” just feuling the fire one way or the other. XD”

    Yeah, I think things can go different ways depending on continuity. Plus taking discussions personally would lead to less-friendly argument and upset… 🙂

  118. Jess says:

    Kind of easy to see you teach, now that I think of it– I had an English teacher who always did exactly the same thing. And a cousin who’s a teacher who also does it.

    Ah, but you could still look at the words for female and male as having wider than organic definitions, though. Like the female as “reciever” or “propagator” (random thought– does that mean Master Mold should have been a she? O_O) or the male as… ack, I’m going to stop, my brain just guttered out. XD

    BW, for example, was actually pretty easy to explain the male and female dichotomy without even saying they got it from human culture, because of the presence of sparks. Since TFs usually translate to the closest cultural equivilant, a basic difference might exist in the sparks themselves that could translate as male and female for human purposes.

    Of course, it could just be that the writers were perverts and wanted Blackarachnia cheesecake, but I liked her so I’m not complaining.

  119. Denyer says:

    For shame. That’d be like guessing the writers of Scooby Doo were making sly drugs references with a scruffy guy who’s always hungry and whose dog talks to him… 😉

    Sparks (likewise the “fragments of Primus” origin in the old comics) are definitely one way of giving TFs a more essentialist outlook, though it allows a lot of emphasis to be given to predestination in storylines. I tend to prefer the notion of the Decepticons breaking away from the rest of society through self-interest or maltreatment rather than them “being built that way” from the start or tainted by Unicron.

    Of course, once the war kicks off, the creation of Transformers becomes (even more of a) moral quagmire — if both factions can do it, the temptation for each group is to create personalities that are inherently sympathetic to their goals. Or possibly a similar blank slate is used in all cases, with the new life being pumped with information/propaganda from an early stage, and minor unintentional differences in manufacture being accentuated into specialisations.

    Perpetuation of the race is likely to come up somewhere down the line, and it’ll be interesting to see if Simon again breaks with previous continuities — some people are speculated that Cybertron might have followed the route suggested by the inhabitants of Gorlam Prime, organics shifting to cyborg bodies and then to something that may or may not be purely mechanical. It’d explain quite a lot: the roughly human appearances (if not maintained for interaction with other races), many of their mannerisms and the culture of mimicry.

    If that’s the case, new Transformers could come about in a variety of ways… an initial entirely artificial and algorithmic base, a “snapshot” of another individual stored for such a use, even the growth of an organic brainstem before conversion to an electronic form. Scorponok clearly has some plans to create troops from the local organics on Earth.

    Sorry, wandering a bit… erm, yeah: I like the idea of Transformers choosing their personalities and treating the cultures of other races like fashions, and that’d certainly include characters acting male or female (or, for that matter, electing / being forced to use a body shaped like a bird, cat or bat.) I’m not so keen on writers using that to take shortcuts — eg, small TFs equalling young, Arcee as one point of a human-style relationship triangle with Hot Rod and Springer or surrogate mother to Daniel, TFs with animal modes being portrayed as having the intelligence of those animals, etc. Besides being sloppy it reinforces the notion that appearances are exactly what they seem, TFs are for most practical purposes humans in metal suits, and so on and so forth.

    When science fiction avoids cliché it offers plenty to the imagination, and I cling to the notion that the best storytelling is stuff that makes people think. 🙂

  120. Scott says:

    Graduated and taught huh? Where? I’ve studied Gender relations and I agree 100% with Jess. I think you are simply arguing a point you don’t full understand Denyer. Realistically, she is 100% correct when she describes Gender. You are not.

    Female Transformers should not simply be ignored because the fanboys don’t want any girls in their clubhouse.

  121. Joel says:

    Note to everyone here: I will only value the opinions of those here who have a PhD in the field of gender studies and at least 12 years in related practice/research.

  122. Denyer says:

    Mmm, he is amusing. I don’t think the person who taught me claims a PhD, but the decade-plus and published internationally check off on t’ old “academic pissing contest” list. Or I suppose we could skip straight to

    Scott: UWA, Ceredigion and Poland (sidebar: English is one of the few European languages that doesn’t gender the word “robot” as male, though you could always say TFs aren’t robots since they’re considered to be sentient. “Robotic life forms”, perhaps?)

    Most of the points made are either linguistics or science, not questioning character self-identification, but we can take a detour via gender theorists. Already touched upon has been gender as performative, with seemingly little argument that characters might act any way they please, and some agreement that it’s as sound a basis for them to act female as for them to act male. (Still a bit dubious about writers who have Laserbeak communicating only in squawks, though.)

    L’écriture feminine, then — what makes a Transformer’s physical reality female? As a man, can Simon Furman credibly write female characters? And most importantly, does anyone reckon IDW could get Gail Simone onboard for a series?

  123. Scott says:

    One does not have to be female to write believable female characters. If Simon is the acclaimed writer so many think, he should have no problem portraying an accurate and very believable representation of Arcee as a female.

    Women aren’t alien, they don’t think all that different from men. I’ve written several stories that feature females as the lead characters and the women I know all say I do a very good job thinking from the female perspective. So if I (someone who isn’t a professional writer can do it) then I am fully confident Simon can as well.

    I wouldn’t consider the TFs robots, I would consider them Sentient Robotic Life Forms. A robot does not feel or think, it is a mindless automoton. The Transformers are obviously not that.

    They have a spiritual almost religious belief in their thoughts of Primus and Unicron, they have obvious male and female personalities and they can think, reason, and feel pain, love and anger as well as any of the rest of us so-called humans can.

    I would say those are easily grounds for keeping female TFs in the fiction.

  124. simon furman says:

    Wow. Is this still going on???

  125. Jess says:

    XD Yes, sir, ’tis. You punched a hot button.

    I suppose I should point out here, in response to Joel (and to everybody throwing their credentials into the fray), that my main “credentials” are just enough psychology and sociology classes to be dangerous, way too many philosophy courses, twenty-some years of personal human observation (I, Joel, cannot reach your standards simply because I’m only twenty-one) and the fact that I have lived through those twenty one years from the viewpoint of a female who was raised by someone who actively tried to keep gender bias out of my upbringing. (And the fact that I got into HER old college books about gender study, but I found them dated, if not unhelpful.)

    That doesn’t mean I have no idea what I’m talking about, Joel. PhDs spend all their time reading up on this sort of thing in a controlled environment. I’ve spent all my life doing and experiencing in the world. Both have their merits and it’s foolish to discount one or the other, even if one could be considered the subject in an amateur experiment.

    Furthermore, this is the internet. How are you planning on having people prove their credentials, Joel, show you a scan of our graduation papers or something? XD

    “Sparks allow emphasis on predestination”

    Not necessarily any more than having a double X means that you’d think of yourself as female. The main problem some people might have with it is that it shifts them from being “robots” and towards being energy-beings in robotic life-support systems.

    “Female Transformers should not be ignored simply because the fanboys don’t want any girls in their clubhouse.”

    Considering this is supposedly a male-dominated fandom (not so much as many fans think) I’m amazed there aren’t MORE female TFs, at least in the media geared toward teenagers. But yes, for a lot of us, the “no girls allowed” thing is a huge part of the issue.

    Being told “no because you’re a girl” is humiliating and frustrating at best. At worst, you’re “lucky” if you just get beat up for “stepping out of line.” (In some countries you’re “lucky” if you get raped.) Most of the United States has started to get past this pretty well, but you still get asked what you were wearing if you get attacked and people still get after your employer if you’re doing heavy lifting (I’ve had that happen and you have no idea how insulting it is), so it remains an issue.

    “As a man, can Simon Furman credibly write female characters?”

    Hey, we’re just people. XD If he can credibly write robots, females shouldn’t be that difficult.

  126. Jess says:

    (I only say “most of the United States” because I’ve only ever lived there, by the way.)

  127. Joel says:

    Jess wrote: “… because I’m only twenty-one …”

    THAT’S NO EXCUSE for a lack of said qualifications and experience! By way of example, a childhood acquaintance of mine, Douglas Howser (long since been a qualified Doctor), started his professional career long before he was pubescent. A true trailblazer in his field – a pity more people didn’t spend their youths as wisely as dear old Doogie.

  128. Denyer says:


    “Not necessarily any more than having a double X means that you’d think of yourself as female.”

    Characters tend to get snapped back to supposed “core” values/programming of their spark, with the assumption that those survive separate to whatever shell program is installed (BA is a temporary reprogramming, Silverbolt survives underneath the vehicon process, etc.) It’s a bit like the way people often project onto relatives with degenerative conditions that the idealised “real” person is still inside, except actually the case.

    “The main problem some people might have with it is that it shifts them from being “robots” and towards being energy-beings in robotic life-support systems.”

    Doesn’t seem so unreasonable; an organic brain’s a bunch of mush plus electrical impulses… though making the transferable and restorable essence of a TF only the energy (containing a core personality, plus all memories) often comes across as more metaphysical and/or plot convenience than anything else.

    Writers haven’t been consistent — sometimes decapitation is trivial, sometimes a sword to the chest is fatal. The question of whether characters might be restored from earlier copies of mind states has largely been ignored in official TF material, but handled interestingly by other science fiction writers such as Gibson and Banks.

    Further fuel for debate’s provided by Prime shifting between bodies in Escalation and the use of facsimiles by Decepticons — synthetic organics that aren’t considered to be alive, more a form of biological AI. If Transformers can build organisms from a cellular level, travel faster than light and teleport, chances are rather good they can be anything they want, resources permitting. If we get a character who affects to look like a statesman from a primitive martial culture (Decimus), having some of the Kaon ruling elite choose to look like human females isn’t a stretch.

    I don’t think that particularly needs a fundamental spark / core programming difference to back up; it just pleases the characters to act however they do.

    “Wow. Is this still going on?”

    Since the early days of science fiction writing. 😀

  129. Scott says:

    I find it unbelieveable Joel is using a TV show to back up his point. I mean Seriously man, Doogie Howser???


    That’s just laughable.

  130. Jess says:

    (rolls eyes) Shee, Joel. I would’ve had to have been what, nine, if I wanted to be finishing up those twelve prerequisite years by now? I had(and have) really degraded gender concepts– I didn’t know back then the differences even existed.

    How can you expect a person like that to be interested in gender studies at nine? XDD I only became interested in it at all in high school (when I first realized how degraded my own concepts of gender ARE), and it was too late to get twelve years in by twenty one then.

    I don’t have much faith in credentials, myself– I’ve had professional doctors try to cut me open for things my stay-at-home mom fixed by changing my diet and teachers blame me for getting picked on because I had somehow “asked” for it by not fitting the social norm. (I was utterly failed by the school system.)

    If someone is articulate and knows enough they don’t sound like a total idiot (and aren’t using politikspeak– so many people are impressed with politicians that use big words and don’t realize they’re not actually saying anything that means anything) then I’m usually willing to listen and provide a counterpoint if I have one. And if I’m discussing it at all, chances are I know enough about it to be comfortable with the subject.

    Back to sparks and core programming.

    I think that while it’s harder to change a spark, it’s possible. BA was still a “bad girl” and didn’t really change much after her shell program was removed. It may well be that she had always been that way, but we can only work from what we actually know of her. She switched loyalties but she still snuck around and wasn’t exactly honest.

    When Silverbolt was “brought back,” he was emo. EMO. Really emo. DX (Sorry, pubescent Jess had a lot of problems with BM and the 180 personality changes of a lot of characters was one of them. But at least Silvie’s was for a really good reason.)

    The way I’d always looked at it was that mannerisms, emotional programs, and memories and emotional connections were stored in the spark. (Possibly a few more things, but I’m working off the top of my head here. In the case of gendered TFs, “gender” would be in there too.) It’s also possible that usually memories are drowned out by outside stimuli, which is why a backup would be in the computer or brain. Motives and the way someone felt about something could still change. It would just take either longer or a really tramautic event.

    It’s better to compare what happened to Silverbolt or BA to brainwashing or amnesia anyway– and you can deprogram people and/or bring them back from amnesia in many cases.

    Weren’t they going to go into the idea of copied memories and such in BW, with Dinobot and D2, but then the script got scrapped? I keep hearing about that.

    I’m of the personal opinion that Transformers shouldn’t be silly enough to keep their vitals in a poorly protected place like the head if they can help it. Although many people (mostly the anime guys, actually) writing battle scenes treat TF’s like guys in suits– since both losing a head and getting a sword through your chest can be fatal for a human being, that would probably explain the inconsistency. (If you went by my personal opinion, you’d almost be forced to use a spark system if you wanted the characters to be capable of dying! 😀 )

    Hmmn, funny how this started out being about “whether there should be girl-bots and boy-bots.” lol

  131. Joel says:

    ~ Whoosh! ~

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