Posted on January 3rd 2018 by David Mapes
This article will cover the personal opinions of the crew behind The Visionaries.net on IDW Publishing's Transformers Vs Visionaries Issue 1.
WARNING: - This article may contain spoilers.
Having not read any IDW comics since 2015, other than Revolutions in 2016, I came into Transformers vs Visionaries without any of the baggage of regular Transformers comics readers who were starting to get upset that their title was being used to try to launch various other brands under the IDW Combined Universe. This allowed me to have more of an open mind for the return of my beloved Visionaries franchise, something I had been waiting to see for thirty years.
Having openly accepted that this would not be the Visionaries from my childhood, I was looking forward to seeing the creative team of Magdalene and Fico would do with the brand. The new look was, to some, controversial, but for me, it made more sense of a post-apocalyptic society than the original Knights of the Magical Light design. In fact, the new brand has made no mention of knights in any of the marketing material, so the argument that they do look like knights anymore is kind of irrelevant.
This would be the first IDW Comic which I purchased on release day, and I even took a lunch break to read the comic (one of a few I've had in the last 10 years). Coming in clean to the story I was comfortable in just picking up the book without really knowing a great deal about what had come before. This is good for any Visionaries or general comic fan, so long as they have a basic idea about the Transformers. This was nice, as I did wonder if I would be left confused not knowing a great deal what happened previously.
The comic looks great, Fico and David have done an amazing job on the Visionaries, they really pop and look nice and vibrant. The art on the Transformers isn't amazing, but it does the job and I was especially taken with Breakdown (I wasn't expecting the Transformers prime version). The story was far better than I had feared, you always have some trepidation when you are invested in a franchise, but I liked the "are they refugees, are they invaders" storyline. The statue of Darkstorm was a great add, his design looks spot on and I am hoping that the limited series comic proves popular enough to spawn a full Visionaries title, so we can see more of Darkstorm and the back story.
In my mind, they could have introduced the Visionaries in a very simple way via Lost Light / More Than Meets The Eye, with the Transformers arriving on Prysmos. Even having them cause or involved in the cataclysm, but I thought they were both brave to take the story in a different direction and successful in doing so. I really enjoyed the comic, it told a good tale and leaves you wanting more.
If you are one of those fans that do not deal with change that well (an underlying factor in the nature of Transformers) then this comic may not be for you. If you are after more Knights of the Magical Light material, from the original 80's line, then you are probably better off waiting for our collector's book. That said if you genuinely like the Visionaries brand, or if you are totally new to them, then I think you will like what they have done. Thirty-one years after Visionaries ended the brand is being talked about again. Positive or negative the brand is back, and I really hope it can stay for longer than it originally did.
Much like my brother, I am years behind on the IDW-verse but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from jumping right into Transformers Vs Visionaries as I’ve been longing for a return of those former Knights of the Magical Light for 30 years. I must admit to being both worried and excited when their return was first announced. By the time the new designs were first shown I’d already accepted that this was going to be a fresh start and I found myself at ease with the new look and be open to see what the new team would do. At the end of the day if I hated the designs, story and characterisations then I’d still have the original comics, cartoons, and figures to fall back on. The months waiting for the comic to be released lead to hours spent picking over the designs for any little detail until today. I read the comic on a tablet, though I plan to pick up all of the physical covers as well and must say that I enjoyed the story a lot more than I feared I would. Sure it was never going to be the story I would have told which would have seen the Transformers land on Prysmos and have been affected by the great cataclysms affecter effects in a Beast Wars style “limited robot form” leading to them requiring help to leave that world, but I’m no writer so that’s probably a good thing.
I loved some of the little touches especially the Darkstorm statue with his design being so much closer to the original 87 design, could that mean we may have flashbacks to Prysmos before the trinary de-alignment with the characters in outfits closer to those designs!?! I was glad to see Merklynn is still looking out for himself and having his pool with him, though it’s still going to take a little more time to get used to his new look. I’m interested to see where Cindarr’s story is heading. No longer the dumb brute, could something be coming to cause him to lose his intellect and be cursed?
I finished the issue wanting more which is always a good sign, I want to learn about these new incarnations individual characters, see them reintroduce each of their magical powers and learn more about what was happening on Prysmos.
The comic series is bound to be divisive, like any property re-launch, so I hope that fans of the original series give it a chance as, like it or not, this is the only attempt at a relaunch that has got anywhere. Allowing the world to be reintroduced to the world of the Visionaries increases the chances of growing the fan base which can only be a good thing.
It may not be the return you wanted but it may well be the return that the series needed.
First things first - the art is great. The much debated redesigns may not be to every child of the 80’s cup of tea, but they look fantastic on the page. In particular the art on Virulina‘s expressions is fabulous, so bonus credit to Fico Ossio for the effort put there alone. I also hadn’t noted from the previews that Virulina’s weapon is a sharks fin - how cool is that?!
I have to mention my favourite single moment of the issue was seeing Darkstorm’s old throne room. The mollusk throne and giant Darkstorm statue in his classic armour was both fantastic. It made me ask did all the Visionaries of this continuity once wear the armour we are more familiar with? It certainly got me drooling for some flashbacks.
The colouring and letters also work really well and compliment the issue. My rating of a good comics creative team is if I don’t notice how good they are. If you notice art or story dominating (or one flagging in comparison) then there’s problem and I am glad to say there’s none here.
One small criticism of the art is a few sequences of action did not flow as well as they could and I have to cycle back a few panels to be sure what was happening. It is worth saying that I did read a digital copy in guided view so maybe this was the issue rather than the panel and action arrangement. Some comics lend themselves to this reading style better than others.
Tying the story in with existing Transformers continuity immediately grounds the series, yet doesn’t make it feel bogged down. I infrequently read the Transformers comics and certainly read nothing of the events leading to this issue. Even with this I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything, and could immediately get into the comic.
I have to say that as a fan I was sad to see we didn’t get any totem transformations or staff rhymes in this issue. Maybe they’ve been abandoned as too hokey in the update or maybe they’re to come in a subsequent issue. I hope so!
Whilst everyone might not see their favourite Visionaries character in this issue (or much of them), we do have several installments to go so I wouldn’t lose hope. Despite the great line explaining his absence I am still holding out for a hero/muscle bound Cryotek to rock up and slap some thick heads together!
The issue focuses on Leoric, Virulina and Merklynn, and all three of these pivotal leaders are set up for the reader in this first issue. A few other character do get nice moments like Witterquick’s snarky comment. Cindarr especially stands out as a greatly changed character from the dumb kitty loving brute we knew, now with his awesome old man pipe and all. The gears in my head are already turning and asking questions of if there is more to this than just a character update (he is sitting on the throne). Perhaps I can pull off a Cindarr cosplay at a convention with my shiny head and greying beard?
Overall it’s a great first outing for a property that hasn’t really seen the light of day for some 30 years. I can’t wait for the next issue and hopefully this all leads to bigger things for the Visionaries as a whole. Please spread the word and let’s get reader momentum behind this comic.
May the light shine forever.
I have been waiting for this comic for roughly 30 years so you could say the anticipation has been high. When I found out about the fact that the Visionaries were being included in the Hasbro/IDW combined universes I was over the moon, or whatever orbits the Planet of Prymos.
My excitement turned to confusion when the Visionaries were nowhere to be seen after a number of series starting with Revolution and getting through the majority of First Strike. All we had to show for the Knights of the Magical Light was a throwback Leoric action figure in the Revolution box set but then BAM!! HasCon hit us with an IDW panel that showed us the new designs for The Transformers Vs Visionaries comic and I was blown away! I was instantly locked into the new aesthetic and very much enjoyed the interesting direction they took a number of the old characters in. I tried my best to avoid the naysayers and boo boys that dominate the online landscape nowadays, who seemed to be bemoaning the fact that there had been change. In any case, I was happy and waited patiently for this new iteration of a beloved brand.
I was not disappointed. What Magdalene Visaggio (writer) and Fico Ossio (Art) have done with the Visionaries is fantastic. The story holds well in the first issue, which basically helps to set up the characters and establish some plot points and also allows us to get to know the new core team. This new lineup is made up of both Spectral Knights and Darkling Lords led by Merklynn and it would also appear as though Darkstorm is dead and whatever conflict the two factions had previously, had been quashed in order to save what remains of their people. Virulina has taken the lead for the Darkling Lords and does not work well with others, especially Leoric.
The issue mainly focuses on the build up of what will clearly be a new conflict with the Transformers. The Visionaries are seen as refugees but it is found out that the magic emanating from the artefact is causing issues on Cybertron and that forces Kup and Ironhide to confront the Visionaries. Virulina strikes out at Ironhide who is saved by Kup only for the old Autobot to be killed by the female Darkling Lord’s magic. The death is shocking but makes for a huge spike of emotion in a previously steady story. A very grand start and I can’t wait to see what Magdalene has written for the rest of this series.
The art is beautiful and works so well with both Transformers and Visionaries. It’s amazing what Fico can do with what is often just scenes of dialogue with very little action. Your brain is tricked into thinking that more is happening and even when Virulina is just looking to the sky in frustration, the panels move so well that you are drawn into the drama. I am impressed and based on the fact that I have been anticipating this comic since it was announced, that is a very big deal. Usually when you are excited for something the reality can let you down but in this case all I feel is more excitement for what is to come. Let the age of magic begin...