One of the most blatantly abused and often misrepresented characters in the entirety of the Transformers fandom is Starscream (second is Megatron, but I will discuss him in a separate blog post). In the canon, Starscream is never anything but treacherous, arrogant, manipulative, selfish, egotistical, self-centered, you get the picture. So how can he be anything else? Well, he can be, and is. Allow me to introduce you to Heroic Decepticon Starscream.
So who is Starscream? Well, he is certainly ambitious, yes. But is he a traitor? No, absolutely not. Is he arrogant, egotistical and self-centered? Again, no, although he is passionate, strong-willed, up front, and stands up for what he believes in. Most people (or mechs) probably could not tolerate his straightforward, don’t-care-what-you-think attitude, and may even find him abrasive or intimidating. But that is precisely the reason why he is Air Commander, and second-in-command of the Decepticons. I want to be absolutely clear here; he’s no pansy, and he is definitely no weakling. He does not tolerate victim-ness, or cowardice, or abuse. He is quite the opposite, in fact, to the way that canon portrays him, or most fan fiction writes him.
Starscream is a magnanimous character. He is one of those truly great characters, who possesses a larger-than-life persona and a very strong personality. Intelligent, skilled, fast – yes, he’s all those things, too – but there is also a strong sense of royalness about him, both in a spiritual and a symbolic sense (remember the coronation – you think that’s just a coincidence?). And I think that is the real reason why he’s such a controversial character who finds himself perpetually in the spotlight (and either much adored or much despised). He can’t help but reappear again and again and again, no matter how many times the official authors or the fandom attempts to kill him off for good or permanently replace him (immortal spark – another coincidence?). They can’t get rid of him that easily – he’s simply too strong and has too much of an impact.
What about the relationship between Starscream and the rest of the Decepticons, in particular Megatron? Well, again, I don’t agree with the canon. Watching the early G1 cartoon episodes, it’s blatantly obvious to me that the attempt to portray Starscream and Megatron in a constant power play against one other just feels very contrived. The spoken lines and motives presented in those early episodes in which they endeavour to establish rivalry between the two just feels forced and unnatural. But it’s difficult to suggest the true nature of their relationship without first delving into Megatron’s character as well, so for now I’ll just say that as Heroic Decepticons, no such rivalrous relationship exists. Instead, we have two very different, yet two very powerful characters in their own right coming together in a common cause that forms the basis of an extremely strong and loyal bond of friendship between them. Prequel: Origins in the Rise of the Decepticons series delves into their individual backgrounds a little bit and shows how the two of them both played an equally important role in bringing about the rise of the new Decepticon faction, out of necessity as well as a mutual desire to conquer their enemies and assert their fundamental freedoms as Cybertronians. Here, Megatron is Starscream’s long-time mentor, but is also a most loyal and trustworthy friend who is willing to do whatever it takes to assure the ambitious seeker’s safety and well-being. Very different to the canon, I know, but I feel that a friendship built upon loyalty and trust is a far better representation of the true nature of their relationship.
Another manufactured aspect of Starscream’s character that the official material loves to repeatedly present to us is that he is incompetent. In almost every episode he appears in, he fails in one way or another, or is the one who chooses to work against Megatron or the other Decepticons, or indulges in some selfish plot or another which ultimately backfires. In fan fiction, his portrayal tends to be even worse, because in fan fiction his incompetence is allowed to extend into personal relationships and all sorts of other (questionable) grey areas that are never touched upon in the official stories. I struggle to find a story that depicts him as the strong, competent and highly intelligent Decepticon Air Commander that he actually is.
Starscream’s natural leadership and stubborn determination are exemplified in Trouble in Paradise, where he plays a crucial role in helping the Decepticons earn the Paridisians’ trust. In most Heroic Decepticon stories that Starscream has starred in, he has been cast in a leading role, or is an important part of the story. Even in Heroes, his personality can’t be diminished nor can his spirit be dampened, no matter the situation he finds himself in or the trials he must go through. But nowhere are these character traits more highlighted than in Last Mech Standing, a fast-paced psychological thriller in which Starscream is forced to deal with a situation that requires all of his courage, skill and heroism if he is to save himself and his friend from certain death.
His relationship with the other Decepticons, particularly his trine mates, is another point that leaves a bad taste for me when it comes to his public portrayal. It is the basis of one of the major differences between the canon character and the Heroic Decepticon Starscream: the issue of loyalty. Starscream is completely loyal, not only to the Decepticon cause but also to his Decepticon companions. He would never dream of usurping Megatron, or betraying his wing mates. Thundercracker and Skywarp are not just fellow seekers, they are like brothers to him.
And what about that thing with Skyfire that many fans can’t seem to lay to rest. Once again, however, we can thank canon for encouraging the ridiculous notion that Starscream has some sort of intimate relationship with, or deep feelings for, Skyfire. It’s just a terrible idea that doesn’t really make sense. In the Heroic Decepticons main timeline, Skyfire does appear as a fellow scientist who worked at the same research facility that Starscream did, and yes they were even amicable towards one another. Eventually, however, after many vorns pass and countless battles are fought on many fronts, Skyfire is just another Autobot who is wary of all Decepticons by the time they arrive on Earth with the rest of the Ark crew (unlike canon, he is not found trapped under the ice after eons), and for him Starscream is no exception (as hinted at in Last Stop Station).
In terms of his physical appearance, Heroic Decepticon Starscream is identical to the G1 version. I hope to come up with some art work that I can post here at a later date.