Monday, January 20, 2014

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #25 - Prowl

Prowl was one of my first Transformers, and so I've always had some affection for the character. Unfortunately, my impression of the character differs significantly from the now-prevailing opinion held by most fans. Personally, I think Prowl has gotten a bad rap.

Prowl's original Tech Specs bio calls him "a listener, not a talker," and emphasizes that Prowl is a being devoted to reason and logic. I have thus always imagined Prowl as a perhaps-friendlier version of Mr. Spock, and Prowl's (admittedly unremarkable) appearances in the cartoon seemed to support this interpretation. Unfortunately, because those appearances in the cartoon were so few, and did so little to flesh out Prowl's personality as distinctive (and Prowl's comic appearances of the era did even less), another interpretation has since taken predominance.

In the last few issues of the Marvel comic before it was cancelled (and presumably in some issues exclusive to the UK, as well), Simon Furman started writing Prowl as a foil to the aggressive Grimlock (undeniably Furman's favorite character). While Grimlock was promoted to the role of Autobot leader (completely ignoring Grimlock's earlier, undeniably disastrous, run as leader under previous writer Bob Budiansky), Prowl became a whiny, very un-reasonable character who opposed everything Grimlock wanted to do (and, adding insult to injury, Grimlock was invariably proven right in these arguments). Prowl came off as the guy who thinks he's smarter than everyone else, and thus comes off as a condescending jerk who everyone hates. Unfortunately, this is the characterization of Prowl that seems to have stuck.

In fact, recent interpretations of the character have only heightened Prowl's antisocial tendencies, making him into an almost amoral schemer willing to do horrible things so long as he believes (again, being smarter than everyone else, after all) that it is to the Autobots' benefit in the long run.

These less-flattering versions of Prowl's character have held dominance for far too long now to ever expect a return to the "friendly Spock" interpretation that never really got any meaningful appearance in the fiction in the first place, but that's still the way I prefer to see the character, and I'm sticking to that.

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