Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artwork: Fico Ossio, David Garcia Cruz (colours)
Release Date: 2nd May 2018
One of the lesser known ‘80s cartoon-and-toy franchises, Visionaries has always been one of my personal favourites, due in no small part to its exciting blend of ‘knights and wizards’-style fantasy, futuristic technology and frickin’ awesome toys with cool changing holograms on them.
For their comic book return, writer Magdalene Visaggio and artist Fico Ossio have managed to put together a cracking self-contained series, establishing the stakes right from the opening issue by having Virulina – the leader of the “Darkling Lords” – actually killing long-time favourite Kup with her magic. Y’see, it turns out that Transformers are hugely susceptible to the magic the former inhabitants of Prysmos wield, a detail which scheming sorcerer Merklynn uses to his advantage, trying to wipe out all mechanical life on Cybertron and claim the planet for himself.
It’s a simple yet gripping premise that manages to deliver some genuinely high stakes, making it feel like things really matter and helping the series to feel like so much more than just a cheap dose of licensed nostalgia. This final issue sees the remaining Spectral Knights and Autobots travelling to the core of Cybertron to try to detonate a “counter-wave” bomb that will hopefully negate the magic Merklynn is using to decimate the Transformer population of the planet.
Okay, so there aren’t really much in the way of surprises in this final issue, but Visaggio provides a rewarding and enjoyable conclusion, tying things up neatly while still leaving the door open for all manner of follow-up stories. It definitely feels faithful to its cartoon source material, with bold gestures by Leoric – leader of the Spectral Knights – and two tense, action-packed showdowns happening simultaneously.
Something I’ve been particularly loving about the series to this point are the bold changes that Visaggio and Ossio have made to the distinctive look of the ’80s characters. A straight-up recreation may have felt a little dated, but Ossio works wonders once again with a striking, almost Horizon Zero Dawn-esque “rural tech” style that really helps to breathe some new life into the aging franchise.
Everything feels suitably kinetic here as the story reaches its conclusion, with dramatic character reactions and some truly cinematic visual moments along the way. It’s also worth mentioning that Ossio’s work is hugely enhanced once again by the colours of David Garcia Cruz, who keeps things bold without becoming too garish, and who really helps the magically charged moments to leap off the page.
At the end of the day, there’s no denying that the Transformers tie-in was enjoyable, and helped give the new incarnations of these characters a decent anchor to hold their story in place. However, if this series has done nothing else, it has managed to convince me that this is a franchise that has a huge amount of potential in the modern comic marketplace. I mean, surely an ongoing Visionaries series can’t be too far away? Whatever happens though, there’s no denying this has been a hugely entertaining mini-series, and not just for ’80s nostalgia junkies like me.