Porter C. Powell is Chairman of the Board of Sumdac Systems and, peculiarly, a major financier of the experiments and business ventures of one of Sumdac's chief rivals, Prometheus Black. A capitalist of the sleazy, profit-at-any-price type, Powell is not above working with the villainous or demented to make big bucks.
Basically, he's a rich jerk. His mullet, however, is truly inspirational.
After the highly public failure of Black's test subject, Colossus Rhodes, Porter C. Powell spoke to Black via the video link in his lab. When Black tried to sell Powell on his latest innovation (a super-corrosive derived from Autobot mech fluid and Black's own steroids) and the necessity of a new human test subject, Powell informed him that Black's investors were unwilling to sink any more money into his mad science— and, furthermore, even the prison system wouldn't provide Black with a new guinea pig. Regretfully, Powell ended both the call and his business relationship with Black.
After Isaac Sumdac was abducted by Megatron, Sari took over leadership of the company. Powell disapproved of having a mere child responsible for the business, especially since she was diverting corporate funds to the search for her father. Powell wouldn't have to deal with her for very long, however: He was unable to discover any legal documents referring to a "Sari Sumdac"— no will, birth certificate, adoption papers, Social Security Number...absolutely nothing! Not only was there no proof she was Sumdac's daughter, from a bureaucratic standpoint, there was no proof she existed. Powell was installed as new CEO of Sumdac Systems and one of his early decisions was to lock Sari out of Isaac's lab and offices. He then rather smugly informed Sari of her "lack of existence". What a nice guy.
Totally unsympathetic to Sari's circumstances, Powell evicted her from Sumdac Tower, confiscated Tutor Bot and Sparkplug and gave her bedroom to Henry Masterson as an office. Powell had invested considerable effort in clearing up that whole attempted nuclear terrorism thing and wanted to use Masterson's skills to gain access to lucrative military contracts that had previously been ruled out by Isaac Sumdac's "silly, unprofitable conscience". As part of his new research and development, Masterson body-jacked Sentinel Prime and Powell helped him out, preventing Optimus Prime from searching the tower for evidence and trying to conceal Masterson from detection. However, when Powell phoned Masterson to warn him the Autobots were looking for him, an eavesdropping Optimus traced the call and was able to apprehend the nerdy ne'er-do-well. Powell wasn't about to let a corporate asset go to jail; even as Captain Fanzone was slapping the cuffs on Masterson, Powell drove up in his limo to announce that no real crimes had been committed (the damaged property belonged to Sumdac Systems and the alien robots technically had no legal rights), and further that the alleged crime had occurred in international waters and thus outside Fanzone's jurisdiction.
Powell continued his ruthless streak by holding out on having the company service the city's malfunctioning trashbots until the mayor would agree to a renegotiated and more lucrative contract. During these delays, his research team showed him that they'd retooled the nanomachines that used to produce rampaging giant insects, and that now they were more useful for eating garbage. As a bonus, they cost a fraction of what the materials for the trashbots went for. Powell realized that this, combined with charging the city more, meant he was soon to be even more fabulously wealthy.
Unfortunately, this was all derailed when the armored car containing the sample was cracked open by the ever-affable Wreck-Gar. Powell hurried to tell Edsel that the demonstration had to be called off, only to be cut off by the sighting of a garbage scow with a rapidly decreasing load. Smugly claiming credit, he was about to nail that new contract when it was further revealed that the garbage scow itself was rapidly decreasing as the nanobots devoured it. After Ratchet managed to avert disaster, the mayor steadfastly refused to renew the contract— until the curmudgeonly Autobot picked up both parties and gave them a good shake and a yell, accompanied with the threat of tossing them in the water. Negotiations proceeded in good faith from there on.
Powell went so far as to rename Sumdac Tower into "Powell Tower". Offended, Sari reprogrammed the Reception Bot into saying the original name again, as well as informing visitors that Powell was a booger-head.
As it turns out, one of Powell's main concerns in "Powell Tower" was keeping tabs on his former business partner, Prometheus "Meltdown" Black, in prison. Thus, he was rather unnerved when, in response to Sari and Bumblebee asking him to provide information on anything that would incriminate Powell, Meltdown said that it would be useless, but if they freed him, he'd make all their problems "melt away". (Read: liquid Powell.) Although Sari and Bumblebee clearly thought that was taking things too far, Powell still considered this bad news, so much so that when the Dinobots broke Meltdown out, he showed the tape to Fanzone, trying to implicate Bumblebee. Between the fact that Powell had illegally hacked into the prison's security cameras and his earlier arrogance while freeing Headmaster, Fanzone wasn't inclined to take Powell seriously.
Powell's frustrations rose even further when Optimus and Grimlock charged into Powell Tower to learn the whereabouts of Meltdown's genetic modifier. When Powell refused to divulge the whereabouts of his private property, he found himself swallowed by Grimlock. (Step one in his karmic debt payment to the universe, many more to go.) Terrified, he agreed to lead the Autobots there and was duly spit back out, covered in the Dinobot equivalent of saliva... nasty, purple saliva. (Step two performed, still many more to go.) After Optimus took away the modifier (and an accident named Grimlock happened to several of Meltdown's leftover experiments), Powell contacted Fanzone about the "robbery". However, Optimus returned the modifier in the end... ruined by contact with Meltdown. Enraged, Powell demanded that Fanzone arrest Optimus for destroying private property. Fanzone retaliated by saying he was more inclined to arrest Powell for being a public nuisance. Fanzone and the Autobots then left Powell to stew in his own pompous indignation.
When Isaac Sumdac returned from his time in capture, he fired Powell and Masterson after the latter insulted him. When Powell threw a passing insult about Sari, both he and Masterson were pushed into the elevator by Sari's newly-discovered Cybertronian power.
During Christmas, Powell was selling Soundwave toys all over Detroit. When Issac Sumdac was furious about it over Powell's TV ad, Powell mockingly wishes Sumdac a merry Christmas and states to him that he acquired the patent for Soundwave legally while running Sumdac's company. . Unfortunately for Powell, the Soundwave toys were actually mind control devices created by the original Soundwave. When the Autobots defeated Soundwave it released the people of their brainwashing. Powell can later be seen crying about how he was ruined because he'd have to refund everyone who bought a Soundwave, with Professor Sumdac saying he better be the first one to get refunded (3rd step Karma debt: End result- Powell is pwned!).
- Powell seems to be a caricature of the stereotypical businessman who will do anything to make a profit. At the current rate, he's also shaping up to be the biggest human villain in the series. Sound familiar?
- Powell has pointed out that as giant alien robots from outer space, the Autobots don't have any rights. Thus he believes (and presumably can prove in a court of law) that it's not only fair game to attack them, it's legal. He may rethink his policy if he meets the Decepticons.
- This leads to a reversal of the situation when Captain Fanzone is sent to Cybertron. When Fanzone arrives, Sentinel Prime quiets him and tells him that he has no rights on Cybertron since he is an organic.
- At BotCon 2008, it was revealed by one of the Cartoon Network guests that Powell's limo was based on the Renegade GoBot Tux because another member of the production staff still owned one from childhood.
- So what's with the pink sunglasses? (They're AWESOME! And they look very stylish with that suit.)
- There is no logical explanation for the C in Porter C. Powell.
- He bears many similarities to Homer Simpson's half brother Herb Powell including the same last name, ending up being the CEO of a top manufacturing company and living in Detroit.
- Powell's official business seems to be a mystery. In The Arrival issue 4, he's depicted as the head of a car company. In Season 2, he's on the Sumdac Systems board of directors, and is eventually made the company's CEO. Then in Season 3, he's shown selling toys! What does this guy do?!