Transformers: Acid Storm

It’s weird that the Transformers series are het, right?

It’s not weird, when you look at it from the outside, that it’s primarily an advertising vehicle made to sell toys to a particular market, which has been isolated to the cooties-averse category of young boys aged seven to eleven, as set out in around the 1980s, and every change to the franchise since then has been a matter of a modest step away from that same base narrative. In the original G1 continuity, there are around 400 characters, and of them, there were three women, but there were a few dozen stories about robots getting crushes on human women, or vice versa. The default was heterosexuality, which, y’know, that’s what heterosexuality wants.

But the robots are robots and they have an enormous amount of control over their identity and expression. Like, there’s no Robo Boobies to signal femininity, unless you actively choose to have them. When you view these creatures as people of a culture, then it kind of stands to reason there’d be robots that chose a different gender. Heck, they’re called trans formers, why would they have a specific gender as a constant?

Anyway, hey, let’s talk about Acid Storm!

Acid Storm is a villain from Transformers Cyberverse, who’s notable thanks to a bit of the genders. See, in Cyberverse, in English, the character has a feminine voice, as expressed by Jaime Lamchick. Thing is in multiple scenes that represent different points in the narrative, Acid Storm’s physical body is either a classically masc Seeker body, and sometimes a femme one, with cyber-lipstick and all. This was down to an animation error — and like, this fluctuation happened scene to scene, it wasn’t like a one-off error. When asked about it, one of the writers opined that in-universe, it must just be something Acid Storm does.

This means that Transformers Cyberverse is one of the first times in a mainstream animated Transformers property that we have a character presented as being some form of genderfluid.

That’s amongst a number of traits, mind you. Acid Storm isn’t exactly a deep one, despite them being a villain in a kids’ show (shock, I know, imagine those being a bit one-note). They prefer Starscream’s rule to Megatron’s, which you know, I don’t see that as a binary with good answers. But then maybe that’s a sign of Acid Storm, all along, as someone who doesn’t participate in binaries well.

This isn’t about Transformers Cyberverse, mind you. This is about the character, who ostensibly shows up in Transformers G1, and then their new appearance in the newish series. If you’re not familiar, Cyberverse is a 2018 Transformers series that uses familiar designs to the Robots In Disguise era of characters, and focuses on kind of a flashback story told in concert between Bumblebee, Transformers’ original annoying little brother, and Windblade, a the girl.

I haven’t watched it yet, not properly. I actually thought I had seen it, because I watched all of Robots In Disguise, and the character designs are pretty similar. Fortunately, Transformers series are pretty simple, something about being ads for little kids. It’s not like I need to be in deep on the nuances of the story presented here.

Acid Storm, the character, is one of those Transformers characters who owes their existence to the neverending need for endless material to make TV episodes about. Back in G1, they needed three Seekers – the American-style fighting jet lookalikes – for a short set of plots. There were three characters at the time, dudes called the Rainmakers — Acid Storm, Ion Storm and Nova Storm. They could make acid rain and… yeah that’s basically all you need to know there. They showed up in one episode.

But nothing that shows up in one episode can be left alone in Transformers and subsequently, the character showed up in a bunch of different sources. He was a Seeker, if you learn how to draw a F-15 fighter jet, you can now draw about forty characters. Background shots, group shots, hey, just colour one of them bright green and it’s an Acid Storm reference.

The Seekers also have a ridiculous inverted cultural presence: They usually don’t have much in the way of a personality beyond what’s conveyed with their names. Dirge is doleful, Ramjet likes charging things, Thrust doesn’t think, Skywarp teleports — and Acid Storm is an asshole who uses acid. It means that any time the story wants a villain that’s convenient to use and reasonably recognisable, you grab a Seeker.

In this case, it’s just worked out as fun coincidence… but also, now we’re at a point where instead of this being made a joke, a writer was willing to go ‘oh well, I guess so’ and that’s okay.

Welcome to being LGBTQ, Acid Storm. As with all of us, it doesn’t matter how you got here, but we’ll support you anyway. Well, in the queerness way, I’m not in favour of burning down rainforests, ya asshole.

Back to top