Bodily harm in MTMTE #49

Since #50 was postponed until 9th March, this gives me an unexpected opportunity (which I had previosuly thought I wouldn't have) to write a few words about #49 in regards to bodily harm. I'm not really sure if this was the most drastic issue of all when it comes to robots getting hurt, but to me it felt like it (still, there are those DJD issues...). Let me elaborate a bit.

(With obvious spoilers to MTMTE)

(If you remember, 8 months ago I wrote a piece about violence in MTMTE; it seems it's a pet topic for me: )

There are three instances of bodily harm in #49 that I'd like to address. The first one is the one most people got upset about, and that is Getaway being tortured. His limbs are clamped down, he can't move, he can't even talk, as he is gagged - it looks as if his imprisonment is something inspired by the Middle Ages. Bear in mind that Getaway is a renown escapologist, so it would probably make sense to incapacitate him in any possible way. But also please remember that there were three people who could have decided upon it. The first one was Megatron, and he was one of the victims, the person Getaway was actively plotting to hurt. He might not be violent anymore, but that doesn't mean he can't hold grudges, right? The next could have been co-captain Rodimus and we know he can be quite nasty and cruel sometimes. But my money is on Ultra Magnus, since the imprisonment is very thorough but at the same time Getaway is granted certain freedoms, like the window to look through. And if it was Ultra Magnus, then this imprisonment is legal. Harsh, yes, but legal. 

I'd you like to point out, for future reference, that we are talking about mechanical beings here and the body atrocities for them and for us differ most of the time. A human being in Getaway's position would be in pain, but we can't be sure if he is as well. I mean, please bear in mind what Pharma did to Ratchet - and yet Ratchet survived. So I'm not judging what the Lost Lighters did to Getaway before I get more information.

The second bodily horror is much, much more atrocious. Sunder makes his victims literally turn inside out - another thing a human being wouldn't survive. We are told it hurts a lot and it is one of the most painful things a Cybertronian can experience. Would you judge me if I told you I really liked this idea? Let me clarify: it's not the robots getting hurt that appeals to me, it's the idea of torture that is particular to Cybertronians. We had this before, to small extent, when the Funcionist Council decided to punish Whirl and took his head and hands, or with Senator Shockwave. But please bear in mind that Cybertronians change parts, hell, even whole bodies (see Starscream's new body) all the time - so it really boils down to the change being done against someone's will. You can call it torture, assault, even rape. But what Sunder does is much, much more terrible. He takes bodily harm to a whole new level.

(Mind you, what DJD does is, at least in my opinion, far worse, because they revel in torture. They are sadists. And to me, Sunder was a dr Mengele of mnemosurgery, testing the limits of what can be done to a Cybertronian body. Scientific curiosity, the crew members were more like guinea pigs than sentient beings to him. But I guess the perception of these acts can differ from person to person.)

And then there's a third instance of bodily harm, the one that made me think: this warrants a trigger warning. At least for me. Let me explain, I'm going to get a bit personal.

When I was a child, I spent summers in Lublin, next to Majdanek concentration camp. It's a meadow now, with a proper tarmac road to mausoleum - looks a bit like Necrobot's garden, to be honest. And when you get to the mausoleum and look inside, you can see ashes. Ashes of people who got cremated there during WWII. And you can see furnaces as well, they are in the barracks a bit to the right. But it's not a museum like Auschwitz, it's really peaceful. Auschwitz is terrifying, because it looks like a proper town. Heck, I lived in a brick house like this, only in another city. It was a technique to trick prisoners into thinking they got moved into a ghetto, that they would live, just imprisoned. But later, when the number of prisoners got so high the Nazis couldn't keep up the charade any longer, they built barracks in Birkenau and just "maximised" the production. Trains with people in transport wagons got out on a platform in the middle of nowhere (trees were cut down, because furnaces needed fuel), got shaved, their belongings got confiscated and they were herded into showers. Or at least they were told those were showers. They looked like showers, but instead of water, they distributed Cyklon B, a poisonous gas, and people suffocated. Human fat was then turned into soap, gold teeth were extracted, hair got turned into wigs and so on. The camp was a factory where human beings were merely resources. And I should have realised with Tarn being called commandant... But it still came as a shock when they melted the prisoners who were told they were going to be teleported to another planet to colonise it - because this is exactly what happened in Auschwitz.

But what chills me to the bone, really, is that I've read a few analysis of #49 but every single one of them assumed that melting Cybertronian bodies for materials is just something that happens to robots. No, it isn't. This is a bodily harm that can happen, heck, that happened to human beings as well. And that's why it's so scary. I already wrote once what I think of the brilliant way James Roberts makes the violence relatable to the reader and I thought it was obvious to everyone, that I was writing truisms. And it seems I am doing it yet again. But please do realise what I have written above - it is a part of our history as well.


And since you are already here, I've written bits about MTMTE previously:

50 reasons I love MTMTE
Romantic tropes in #47
LGBTQA in Transformers (in Polish)
General introduction to MTMTE (in Polish)