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I hate the Neo-Knights.

Of all the things Simon Furman brought to the US Marvel Transformers, the Neo Knights is strangely the one that bugs me the most. Maybe because we were sparred Arcee’s treatment from the later IDW comics. The reworking of the Creation Matrix into a Matrix Of Leadership bugs me as an unnecessary retcon. Even Furman now questions the Primus/Unicron origin. The Neo Knights are special, though.

The Neo-Knights, as they were designed, are out-of-place in a Transformers universe.


G.B Blackrock: brilliant industrialist, terrible superhero costume designer.

Debuting in the comic I reviewed last night, The Transformers #68, the Neo-Knights (I will admit to liking the name, at least) were a replacement for RAAT (the Rapid Anti-Robot Assault Team), replacing an entire army with G.B. Blackrock’s personal superhero team. Initially the team was Rapture, who can cause people to fall into a dreamlike state, seeing their greatest desires come true, and Thunderpunch, who could enlarge his hands and feet, making them superstrong. In their debut issue they were joined by Dynamo, a man who could tap into the Earth (whatever that means) and create elemental disasters. GB also convinced long-time robot hunter, Circuit Breaker, to join their ranks. You may recall she was paralyzed except for one arm in an attack by Shockwave on GB’s high-tech oil rig, which she designed out of high school. It was Shockwave’s first attack. She blames all robots for her condition and seeks revenge, usually going right after the Autobot in the battle. Heck, the one time she finally attacked a Decepticon it was when he was getting fuel without stealing it. The others joined either to avoid the law (Thunderpunch & Rapture) or to find a place to belong (Dynamo).

Josie’s the only one whose powers are artificially created, via the circuitry “tape” that she’s wrapped up in. The other three are…well, let’s just call them what they are, mutants. As in the X-Men variety. Furman wanted to get away from Transformers and the Neo-Knights (who would get that name in their second appearance) was his planned way in. From the TF Wiki:

Speaking of which: the Furman/Wildman plan was to rework the Neo-Knights into a team called Techno-X, who would serve not only as a team but a base of operation for cameo appearances from every mechanical or cyborg superhero and supervillain in the Marvel universe. The art accompanying the pitch showed Circuit-Breaker and Thunderpunch would be getting redesigned costumes to better fit the early-90s “shoulderpads and guns” aesthetic, with Thunderpunch in particular undergoing a sort of binary-bonding uplink to a cartoonishly oversized semi-sentient cannon named Symbiosis. Rapture would now be wearing a coat, and the team would have been rounded out with the addition of new character Phase, a humanoid supercomputer. The Transformers would have been explained away as having actually been computer-simulated training programs, meant to teach Techno-X how to fight their “real” evil robot enemies, particularly Ultron; similarly, Dynamo would have been written out of the story as a mere invention of that simulated training program because the writing team could no longer think of anything to do with him. G.B. Blackrock would have had a deep dark secret which would have been so deep and dark that even now, twenty years after the story was cancelled, we still can’t tell you what it is. And he would have fought Tony Stark too. (source: Hasbro Transformers Collectors’ Club issue 41)


Techno-X concept art

Somehow that’s still better than their original costumes. Although Rapture looks like she’s cosplaying as Rogue.

This is the guy some of you declare THE Transformers writer. He didn’t want to write Transformers anymore and it’s only recently, when he learned so many people loved his work, that he embraced his run. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes what’s awesome to us fans is just a job to the people working on it. It was the same for Budiansky for a while, too. However, he had visions beyond the Transformers.

So what are my problems with the Neo-Knights? The first are the characters, or at least half of them. Circuit Breaker is one of those characters you like hating because she’s at least interesting. I just wish for once she’d target a Decepticon who was actually doing something wrong. Dynamo was also a nice guy with some cool powers. Naturally he’s the one Furman and partner Andrew Wildman wanted to write out of the comic. Rapture and Thunderpunch, however, is another story. Rapture hates men and authority figures who are men, while Thunderpunch is a sexist pig who saw a picture of Circuit Breaker and wanted to know if she liked to party. And GB chose these two jackasses to become superheroes. Which would be correct for the later 90s.

My real issue with the Neo-Knights, however, is that they don’t belong in the Transformers universe. (Not surprising since he wanted to write the TFU off as their training exercise.) Spider-Man and the Savage Land had long since been ignored by continuity to the point that the Beyonder, in Secret Wars II, had pulled Josie out of that universe to listen to her go on about how evil robots are. (That was so Marvel could claim ownership of Circuit Breaker, if not Josie herself, which explains her absence in IDW’s ReGeneration One.) This confirmed that Marvel had decided that, since this was now a monthly ongoing instead of a bi-monthly four-part miniseries, they were going to keep the Transformers universe (and later G.I. Joe) in a separate universe but still written in the Marvel style, where heroes are feared as much, if not more, than the villains, regardless of the evidence. People in a Marvel universe tend to be stupid like that.

By bringing mutants (and that’s what they are) into the TFU you change the dynamic of the TFU, since now it has more than tone to share with their former home continuity. Perhaps if G.B. had followed Circuit Breaker’s method, using exoskeletons and technology to mimic these powers, I wouldn’t be as put off. Let’s remember, however, that Furman intended the Neo-Knights/Techno X to be his way out of Transformers and into the main Marvel series of books, so he made them mutants, even thought the term wasn’t used, at least in the issue I’ve already reviewed. With Spider-Man out of continuity now, there is no evidence of humans having superpowers of any kind until now, with out technological assistance (Josie’s “tape”, the tools the Mechanic stole from Ratchet and the Ark, Buster having the Creation Matrix). Then out of nowhere we have at least three people with paranormal abilities. Were mutants just coming into existence? Can we blame this on Primus as well? This is never explained, making them wrong for the Transformers continuity. At least when superpowered people show up in Transformers Animated it was new enough to accept since it was a different universe.

And that’s why I hate the Neo-Knights. Only one is likable, only one is unlikable but still a good character, and the other two are just annoying characters that I’m glad I’ll never see again once I’m done reviewing the original Marvel series. So long, Neo-Knights. You aren’t missed.


About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

2 responses »

  1. passerby says:

    In the issue #68 and #73 it is specifically mentioned that they have “genetic quirk” and that they were born with powers. Also Blackrock really comes off as a Xavier-like figure. I do agree with the sentiment that Neo Knights just didn’t fit in TSF, even if techno-x would have been a good MARVEL book.


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