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#30

Swerve

By inflatable dalek

"Y’know- Swerve’s alright. He’s got this reputation, and-y’know- he’s not sure if he wants it anymore."

Percentage of vote: 19.6%
Average ranking: 15.6

The very first entry on our list is a character who, even two years ago, would have struggled to make it onto the list of the 100 Greatest Transformers From the ‘80’s. Hell, he’d have had a bit of trouble making it onto a list of the Best 1986 Minibots Who Were in Five Faces of Darkness. Certainly you’d have never expected him to make a poll like this instead of the toy he’s a reworking of, Gears, who not only got a whole episode of the cartoon to himself but was pals with Spider-Man.

(Sorry to spoil the absence of Gears further up the list for all you Gears fans.)

But all that changed at the start of 2012 when James Roberts came aboard the IDW comics in a permanent capacity, and used his role as writer on More Than Meets the Eye to bring the focus onto various characters who had been somewhat neglected by fiction. Unsurprisingly for someone who became a big fan of the British comic in 1987, this includes various Autobots from the second half of the original toyline, such as Brainstorm, Tailgate and our boy Swerve.

So suddenly someone who had never been more than a little red and white toy whose only real legacy had been to have his name slapped on any generic red car Transformer Hasbro couldn’t think of another one for, got an entire personality and back-story. Or as voter lastmaximal put it: "Finally after years of being shoehorned into damn near every toyline, a Swerve I actually want. Fun."

"Doubled the funny in
TF comics overnight."

--Patrick Anguirus Stinson

Like an onion, or an ogre, Swerve’s personality is one of layers. On the surface he’s a wisecracking motormouth who comes up with a gag a second, and the strong sense of humour he brought to the book was clearly a hit with many of our voters. An anonymous voter summed up the feelings of many with "Funniest. Transformer. Ever And, um, more depth than meets the eye..."

That last part is telling, for as the series went on it became very clear that Swerve was in fact a deeply insecure, lonely individual who never shuts up because he’s scared of the silence. A big recurring theme of More Than Meets the Eye is the importance of friendship, and Swerve explores this by showing someone who, before he found a place he fitted behind his bar, was so desperate to fit in that the sheer amount of noise he put out wound up alienating more people than it made like him. A character so isolated and yet so keen not to be seen as isolated, the famous best friend he’s so boastful of is someone he met for thirty seconds who almost certainly doesn’t remember he exists.

Of course, a danger of a character that is deliberately written as slightly annoying is he will annoy a lot of people, and there was perhaps a general feeling towards the end of the second year of the comic that Swerve was in danger of being badly overexposed. However, as voter Blackjack put it: "A lot of people hate Swerve for being an annoying comic relief guy. And he does get really annoying, like more than half the time. But I like Swerve. I already liked him before MTMTE thanks to owning his cute little toy, but after that one issue where Swerve shows that he’s a broken kid with absolutely no self-esteem who covers his wounds with bad jokes and false bravado... it simply became kind of impossible to hate Swerve for me. So he gets this spot."

"Many dislike the comedy stylings of Swerve but I've
enjoyed him bar one or two over-reaching moments. But
his stand out parts were nothing to do with comedy -
the standing up to Rodimus's wild plans and his sad
moment when he realizes Blur never gave him his number -
two of the top moments in the MTMTE run."

--Red Dave Prime

That is the key to the character’s success, not the jokey surface moments but those where we saw the damaged individual beneath. As such, for me, the highlight of Swerve’s time on the Lost Light is the quiet, confessional scene between himself and a dying Duobot who doesn’t know who he is in the More Than Meets the Eye Annual, where we see all his neuroses and fears- and even his spiritual side- laid bare.

It’s heartbreaking stuff and, considering another theme of More Than Meets the Eye is redemption, it leaves you hoping he’ll find a place in the Universe where he can just relax and be himself constantly, and as such be really happy for the first time in his life. And that’s the mark of a great character, where you really care about what will happen to them.

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