Posted on May 6th 2018 by Adam May
This article will cover the personal opinions of the crew behind The Visionaries.net on IDW Publishing's Transformers Vs Visionaries Issue 5 which concluded the mini-series.
WARNING: - This article may contain spoilers.
So here we are at (what hopefully what won’t be) the end of Transformers vs Visionaries.
The story in this issue felt a little rushed. It almost reads as if the number of pages for the final issue was reduced, or the story has been heavily edited by someone at IDW or Hasbro. If the later is true and it was edited to pieces, then it is a shame the original vision couldn't be printed on paper.
Merklynn's loss of ambiguity in his good/evil nature, Arzon’s surprise heel (and then face turn), various armour colour changes, the Transformers part of the "vs" hook simply reduced to background dressing... There is a lot to wonder about in this issue and unfortunately it isn’t the good kind of water cooler talk.
I was happy to see both Galadria and Virulena's rhymes in the final issue - albeit Galadria's with a fitting alteration. In some ways the fun updates of these concepts has been the strongest part of the series. For the same reason having the Waspinator "vehicle" come back was also great.
The end of the comic with Merkylnn foretelling Unicron's arrival pretty much sums up the problem with any IDW Hasbro-verse comic right now in that you're not sure if any of it matters. What is the reboot going to look like and will any of this be there?
As throughout the mini series the art is very strong. The facial expressions are dynamic and action sequences charged with energy. There are still a few blips here and there where you must work a little too hard to determine what is happening, but they do not detract from the whole.
Overall it was a disappointing final issue in what has been quite a strong mini series. I think on reading the collected trade release it will feel cohesive and strong, and it is always important to consider the whole rather than the parts. Some comics read better as trades and some as monthly instalments.
I hope that the sales and interest in the mini series proved strong enough for Hasbro and IDW to want to further explore the property either in this form or with a more classic take. At the very least the positive here is that after 30 years we got some new Visionaries material and that is something I never thought would happen.
May the light shine forever.
Thirty years ago (bar a few months) the Visionaries comic from Star Comics was cancelled after only six issues. The story was half way through a four-part story, the ending of which has yet to be seen. Jump forward to May 2018 and we reach the end of the five-part Transformers vs Visionaries comic series. The big difference here is that the story was always planned to be a five-part series.
The series, like with all the rebooted series, has split opinion. Those previously non-vocal Visionaries fans now had something to be vocal about. Many rejoiced in the return of the franchise, whilst others were filled with rage due to the changes and little resemblance there was to the original franchise.
For IDW, it will be interesting to see if they deem the series a success. Physical sales (according to one Diamond Comics reporting website) have the sales as ¼ more than that of ROM and the Micronaughts, but also only at 80% of the Transformers comics, and 50% of GI Joe: A Real American Hero. With the pending universe reboot because of the Unicron sage, due later this year, the Visionaries franchise could be given another reboot again.
Anyway, let’s have a look at issue 5, The Curtain. This issue felt rushed, due to the limited run of the comics. It’s good to have some fast-paced action sometimes, but this issue seemed more like a summary of past events rather than happening in real time.
We see Leoric change Cryotek back from a Darkling Lords to a Spectral Knight at the touch of a finger. We know he has changed sides as his armour changes from Red to Blue. I thought this concept was both kind of cool, but also a little bit of a cop-out. I guess it makes it easier for new readers to distinguish good from bad (having two colours, other than Virulina), and makes them feel more like an army, or team. I didn’t like Arzon’s faction swap in the previous issue, so it was nice to see Galadria kick his butt. It was also nice to see Galadria doing something other than moaning. Speaking of faction swaps, there appears to be very little loyalty amongst the Prysmosians with more faction swapping in the five issues than a lot of series have had in years. It’s nice to see Craggor and some other series two and extra knights in the comic.
The fight between Leoric, Virulina and Thrustinator was nice (we see another rare animal totem change), though Virulina seems to easily defeat him. (There is also a colouring discrepancy between two frames before and during Virulina’s spell casting (the purple around her eyes changes shade).
This issue also saw the introduction of two magical rhymes, Virulina’s and Galadria. Both have been changed (I’m not sure why change Virulina's). Having Virulina be effected by her own spell seemed a bit of a cheap copout, to secure Merklynn as the real villain.
The final battle scene underground however really annoyed me. Ironhide followed the pointless story of "I’m suddenly dying", but he is then saved by Galadria. Yay, right? Well, what about Quickswitch? They planted a bomb in him, as he was the only Transformer who could drill to the centre of Cybertron (yet there were other Transformers sitting inside him). Why did they not just hold the bomb? Then he died upon entering the cavern, yet Galadria now remembers that she has a healing spell? Poor Quickswitch.
The closing scene is another nod towards the upcoming Unicron series, and I’m generally fine with this other than the fact that Virulina is recovering and only Merklynn is in prison. That seemed a bit … odd. Speaking of odd, we finally see Galadria smile.
Overall this was the weakest of the five issues, and I feel this was due to the limited run. Had they had 10 or 12 issues to tell the story, I think it would have been flushed out better with more character development. As it is this felt exceptionally rushed (like a 52-part anime which is resolved in the final 5 episodes). I agree with other comments that reading this in a trade will probably help the story flow, rather than spread-out over five months.
Overall, I’m happy to have Visionaries back. We’ve made no illusions over how much we liked the original series, and although version is far different, I quite like the character designs and I’m just happy to have had new Visionaries material. Hopefully this isn’t the end for Visionaries as a franchise, whether the rebooted IDW Universe has an affect on the Visionaries of not. I’d love to see a story set back on Prysmos (prior to these events) so we can see the Visionaries gain their powers and have the Spectral Knights battling the Darkling Lords.
Having waited 30 years we are once again at the end for Visionaries with the release of IDW Publishing’s Transformers Vs Visionaries mini-series. Before I run through my thoughts on this issue I would very much like to express my thanks to the IDW and Hasbro teams for taking a chance and bringing back the Visionaries series. It may not be Visionaries as older fans know it but having had no material for 30 years and a generation that have not even known of its existence having the brand return in any form is something to be thankful for.
Whilst obtaining official sales figures is basically impossible we can go by the Diamond order charts for trends and to compare those orders of physical books to the other IDW Publishing series and the other Hasbro Shared Universe properties. At the time of writing sales figures for both issue 4 and issue 5 have not been released but issue 1 through three have so left take a quick look at those.
If we look at the other shared universe titles for the sale months those come out as:
Issue 1 (Jan 2018)
A strong start for the series as you would expect for a first issue, with only Lost Light and ARAH outselling it.
Issue 2 & 3 (Feb 2018)
So almost 1/3 of sales have been lost by the 3rd issue though that issue still outsells the other non-TF shared universe titles with ARAH still top of the list but outside of that universe.
By these figures I expect that the series will probably end up selling around the 3,300 mark by issue 5.
If you look back over IDWs sales figures for the last few years there has been a big decline in general with only G.I.Joe A Real American Hero, Optimus Prime and The Lost Light generally maintaining their sales. First Strike issue one sold 10,611 copies which dropped to 6,054 by issue 6 (6237 by issue 5). Rom Vs Transformers issue 1 sold 8,624 copies but by issue 4 sales had dropped to 4,857. Scarlett’s Strike Force debut in December 2017 selling 3,852 issues with Rom & The Micronauts selling 4,889 for their debut issue the same month. M.A.S.K issue 3 (Jan 2017) sold 4,965
What does this tell us? Generally, sales are down across the board for the Hasbro shared Universe titles and whilst the debut issue of Transformers Vs Visionaries sales did not sell as many copies as Rom it has been performing much stronger than the other Dec ‘17/Jan ’18 relaunched titles.
With the facts out of the way here are my thoughts on the final issue of the series. This issue suffers from the same problems as issues 2 and 4 for me that there was too much of the story to tell within a limited number of pages which results in a frantic pace and somewhat rushed storytelling. The trouble has been that the whole premise behind the series need far more than five issues to really tell the main story, introduce the Visionaries concepts, establish characters and flush out reasons behind their actions especially when you consider the number of faction changes that take place. It was an ambitious aim that deserved 1-2 years to do it justice.
I thought it was interesting that they finally stated that Witterquick’s superspeed was magic whilst also dropping in another Flash reference with the vibrating to escape comment.
Whilst it was nice to see some more season 2 characters appearing in the issue even I did not understand where Virulina was and what she was doing during the time that it would have taken Leoric to break out Witterquick, recruit a mob, including a character Cryotek knocked out earlier, and march on Merkylnn and Virulina. Did she not realise what was going on? Obviously, the answer it page count but it just stuck out too much. That being said I did really like the layout of this page and would love to have a copy hanging on my wall.
It was great to have both Virulina and Galadria use updated versions of their magical rhymes, it's a shame that they were not used earlier, and it does beg the question why did Galadria not try to save Quickswitch in the previous issue, but at least she got to do things this issue and it was fitting that they were the ones to use their old powers.
The Transformers were pushed even further into the background in this issue which continued to rush to its expected conclusion rendering the series rather pointless but with the universe reboot coming soon that was always going to be the case.
The final few pages wrapped things up though it was odd too see Virulina just sitting in a med bay whilst Merklynn was locked in a cell.
I felt that the final page of the comic was setup perfectly for Merklynn to be drawn closer to the original incarnation with the reason being that the effects of the loosing most of his magics had taken a strain on his body and aged him.
As always, the art and colours within this issue were great, that was some inconsistencies such as Braxe’s undercut now being on the opposite side, but overall the art on the series has been fantastic and something I am looking forward to revisiting. We finally got to see Galadria smile in this issue which did make me chuckle.
I'm looking forward to re-reading the series as a collection/trade in a few months as I believe it will help with the flow. I do wish that they had been given a longer run to tell the story as the pacing has been the biggest flaw due to the nature of the story.
With the universe rebooting I do hope that we do not have to wait another 30 years until we next see Visionaries return. It’ll be interested to see if and how they join into the reboot.
Is it the return that Visionaries needed? We’ll know that in 18-24 months time. If no other Visionaries material is released, then perhaps not. But that the same time Visionaries had returned and hopefully the new fans have been created who will seek out the older media and learn more about the Spectral Knights and Darkling Lords.