(More Than) 10 Weird Terms from The Transformers Comics, and What They Mean
While the Transformers comics over at IDW Publishing may be coming to an end, the current continuity is still intact until Unicron finally shows up, and hopefully long after. Despite my bitterness for even having to contemplate the end of this universe I’ve grown to love so very much, I’m going to act like it’s sunny outside until the weatherman tells me it’s raining, so I’m celebrating that dear Transformers Universe with a bit of a Cybertronian Language lesson that doubles as a Transformers’ Civics class crossed with a robot health pamphlet that we read on our way to church. Cybertronians are, yes, aliens, and while they inexplicably speak English in a way that only fictional aliens can, Transformers also have what is tantamount to a national dialect in terms of their language. Much the same way that folks from Australia or England have certain words that mean absolutely nothing to other English speakers around the globe, Cybertronians have created terms and phrases that really only have meaning to them, and it’s some really weird stuff. From relationships, to torture, to, yes, procreation, religion, and more, we’re taking a look at (more than) 10 weird terms from The Transformers comics, and what they mean.
Transformers don’t take part in sexual reproduction as organic lifeforms like humans do. So how do new Cybertronians come into being? Well, there are a couple of ways, and the first one is via Forging. Forging involves Vector Sigma, a supercomputer located in the core of Cybertron that was created when the Cybertronian god Primus merged with the planet after being wounded by a fellow god (see below), sending out a flash of energy across Cybertron. This wave of energy creates Hot Spots, areas where Sparks would sprout from the ground like crops. A Spark is, for all intents and purposes, the soul of a Cybertronian. Sparks are collected and matured in a process called The Nurturing before being combined with another substance to bring forth a new life.
The malleable, metallic substance combined with a Spark to form a new Cybertronian is called Sentio Metallico, also known as Living Metal or Birth Metal. A Spark is combined with the puddy-like material to form a rudimentary looking robot who will then begin to look more unique as the Spark “programs” the Sentio Metallico giving the new Cybertronian her individuality, persona, personality, and a specific alt mode. And that is the most important aspect of Cybertronian reproduction via Forging: It’s natural. Vector Sigma creates a Hot Spot, Sparks are formed, Sentio Metallico accompanies the Sparks on arrival, and Cybertonians trained in helping this new life get started combine the two parts and nurture life into existence. It’s all part of the plan set up by the Cybertronians’ founding god Primus, or at least the plan as it was told in the religious doctrine of the society. Either way, it is a natural process of the planet Cybertron. But what happens when god stops creating?
Eventually Vector Sigma stopped sending out energy waves and Hot Spots began to popup less and less. Fearful that he would not be able to create the Cybertronian Empire he had envisioned, crazed leader Nova Prime tasked his scientists with pulling the energies of creation from another relic created by the Cybertonian founding gods, The Matrix of Leadership. And he succeeded. Nova began pulling Sparks out of The Matrix at an accelerated rate, but there was no Sentio Metallico to combine with these “unnatural” forming Sparks. So Nova Prime had prefabricated bodies manufactured, the Sparks were inserted, and new Cybertronians were born using this Cold Constructed method. However, despite these Sparks having the same genetic information as naturally occurring ones did, the prefab bodies could not be changed, trapping multitudes of Cybertronians in bodies and alt modes that weren’t truly theirs. Throughout Cybertron’s history this has lead to period of racism, apartheid, and overall ill-feelings towards a segment of the population that had absolutely no say in their current state, but who have been robbed of the abilities and reassurances of having their outward appearance match their true selves. Cold Construction can be tied to most of the major conflicts on Cybertron due to this innate difference and Functionism.
Functionism is a social structure most comparable to a class system, but is also tied to the religious idea that Cybertronians were created by Primus for a specific job. In other words, your alt mode dictates your role in society. If your alt mode is a construction vehicle, you are in the construction business. In cases of Forged Cybertronians where an individual’s Spark dictates their personality as well as their alt mode, this is not a terrible way to form a society. While individual freedom is suppressed, at least the alt mode fits the personality. In cases of Cold Construction, however, the individual’s alt mode may run counter to the goals and aspirations of the individual, leading to all sorts of problems. One such Cold Constructed Cybertronian became an outspoken opponent of Functionism after his aspirations of becoming a healer were dashed and he was forced to work as an energon miner due to his Cold Constructed alt mode. That Cybertronian’s name was Megatron, who would later rally like-minded individuals to his cause, eventually overthrowing the government, but also plunging Cybertron into millions of years of civil war.
While Cybertronian procreation is both joyous and full of problems, there isn’t any need for physical contact between two individuals to create new people. That does not, however, stop Cybertronians from having romantic feelings for each other, and when two (or more) Cybertronians decide to commit to a lasting relationship it is called Conjunx Endura. Seeing as Cybertronians are all but immortal, this take on Transformer marriage can last for millions of years.
BFFs are serious for Cybertronians. Seeing as, again, they live for forever unless killed, becoming legit best friends for Cybertronians requires an entire ceremony, and it is known as Amica Endura. Imagine Jay and Silent Bob or Blood Brothers, only for big transforming alien robots. While it’s not relegated to a duo, most Amica Endura do take place between two individuals, and it’s always good to know someone has your back.
During the pre-war days of Cybertron, the tradition of cutting off the hands, feet, and head of Cybertronians and replacing them with more robotic-looking features in an attempt by the powerful to publicly shame them was known as Empurata, and it’s the epitome of racism and class prejudice. When Whirl was able to overcome his Functionist roots to drop out of the Air Force and become a watchmaker, the powers that be forced him to undergo Empurata, taking away his delicate hands and leaving him no choice in the matter, while also leaving him a Scarlet Letter, as it were, as further punishment.
A Transformers with a specific set of abilities and traits can physically enter the mind of other Cybertronians for healthful or harmful purposes. Known as Mnemosurgeons, these skilled “doctors” come equipped with special finger-needles that attach to a subjects mind allowing for a plethora of outcomes. A dangerous exercise that leaves most surgeons dead at a young age, Mnemosurgery can help remove bad memories to help cure mental instability, or help discover repressed or lost memories. However, the same procedure can be used to “edit” memories and even completely change a subject’s personality.
Prior to the civil war, Cybertron’s political structure was quite similar to most on Earth. There was a senate, senators, a Prime, or President, courts, etc., and all of them, just like those on Earth, were full of corrupt politicians who had no qualms using dirty tactics. One of these more brutal tactics involved Mnemosurgery and the art of completely altering the personality of a victim. Known as Shadowplay, it is among the most evil acts imaginable. Shadowplay was used to turn Senator Shockwave from a Man-of-the-People into an emotionless mad scientist, with far-reaching and deadly repercussions. It was used to create a series of Sleeper Agents for the paranoid Zeta Prime during one of Cybertron’s darker periods. It was even used to erase the entire identity of Mnemosurgeons guilty of committing the same act on thousands, even from themselves. It’s brainwashing taken to a sinister extreme.
One of the less sinister entries on this list is the Cybertronian ability to communicate through touch. Chirolinguistics allows two individuals to communicate through physical contact by using a series of hand motions. Sort of like Sign Language with a bit extra, most Cybertronians know at least a bit of this unique, if not awkward, quasi-language.
The Guiding Hand
While I won’t get into the actual doctrine or the stories that they are developed from, The Guiding Hand are the Cybertronian deities that make up the pantheon of the Transformers religion. Made up of five members (Primus, the Light-giver and Life-giver; Mortilus, the Death-bringer; Solomus, Wisdom Incarnate; Epistemus, Knowledge Personified; Adaptus, Blessed with an Infinity of Shapes), The Guiding Hand are the primary players of the Transformer Creation Story, the birth of a race, and the history of Cybertron. While that story, as well as the proceeding war among The Guiding Hand themselves, the rise and departure of the Knight of Cybertron, the rise of the 13 Primes and the creation of the 13 Tribes, etc, is quite compelling reading for anyone who enjoys solid lore, the very fact that Cybertron has a creation story that revolves around Transformer gods is a testament to just how rich and full the entire IDW Publishing continuity truly is.
Did I get something wrong? Did I leave out your favorite term? Let me know in a comment or find us on Facebook.