TRANSFORMERS VS THE VISIONARIES #1 BY MAGDALENE VISAGGIO, FICO OSSIO, AND DAVID GARCIA CRUZ
Art
Plot
Characterization
Summary
In TRANSFORMERS VS THE VISIONARIES #1, an attempt between fantasy and sci-fi try to come together in the Transformers universe. Magdalene Visaggio offers an interesting take incorporating the Visionaries in post-war Cybertron, however, the idea itself is too remote of a concept from the usual variety of Transformers franchise. David Garcia-Cruz paints this entire issue vibrantly with his colors, which aids the designs of the newly designed Visionaries and the mechs of Cybertron by Ficco Ossio. Ossio illustrations are refined and unique for the people of New Prysmos, but improvements can be made to match the level detail in Cybertronian expressions.
80 %
An Awkward Genre Collision
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There is a new approach coming to the Transformers comics! A group of magic-wielding refugees who want to claim Cybertron is up against Ironhide and his group in TRANSFORMERS VS THE VISIONARIES #1. Writer Magdalene Vissagio sneaks fantasy into the long-running, sci-fi established franchise.

The Transformers series itself has come a long way since it was first released and televised. It went through Beast Wars: Transformers, which is not something I would expect in the current series line-up. I cannot see a modern Optimus Prime (or Optimus Primal, in this case) and Megatron being robotic animals again. The success of Beast Wars saved Transformers as a series, so a change from the norm is not exactly unwelcome. Instead, new additions to the Transformers series that deviates heavily from the typical narrative are often put under scrutiny. Sometimes, the content turns into something that fans would prefer to forget.

The Visionaries did not appear out of the blue. They are from an old series called Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light. The series had a toyline, a comic book, and was on tv during the late 1980s. Admittedly, it was not very popular. IDW decided to bring them back from the forgotten media abyss and debut them in TRANSFORMERS VS THE VISIONARIES #1. Vissagio braves to introduce the Visionaries and making their plans and schemes relevant to post-war Cybertron. It is something new outside of battlefronts and galactic warfare, so it earns two thumbs up for its unique vision. Also included in this project is illustrator Ficco Ossio and colorist David Garcia-Cruz.

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Perhaps it is too early for me to fully embrace the idea. At the moment, I feel like it was an odd inclusion to the current storyline. I could see the idea fit in a TV series, but not so much the comic. Regardless, it promises some intriguing plot ideas that it could bring to the table.

A New Threat

The Visionaries bring sci-fi and medieval qualities together. From the first impression, you have knights, a dark lord, some magic, and magical artifacts. All things I would expect in some medieval-like setting, minus a dragon. It trumps the usual humans who work and represent their nation to aid mechs in their cause. That, of course, is often witnessed in the Transformers franchise. It definitely beats the human counterparts who attend school or are part of the whole “my life was normal until-” trope. As out of place as their backgrounds are, the New Prysmos people are more noteworthy than previous human additions.

Transformers vs The Visionaries #1
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

The New Prysmos’s agenda is yet to be established, but likely will be explained in later issues. A lot of the Visionaries’ past history is obscure in TRANSFORMERS VS THE VISIONARIES #1. For the most part, bots are allowing the people of New Prysmos to remain on Cybertron as refugees. The Visionaries want a planet to call their own since their original home was destroyed and needs to be rebuilt. Tensions rise as some of the Visionaries want to clear all signs of mechanical life. The other half, the Spectral Knights, disagree and team up with the Transformers to ensure such plans do not succeed. When it comes down to it, it sounds like your run-of-the-mill idea but with magic involved.

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The Visionaries Get an Update

It is difficult to keep up with the characters, quite honestly. It is also unclear what destroyed their planet in the first place. Perhaps there was some context provided in the television series when it came out. Even then, a comic can’t rely on public awareness of something created 30 years ago.

The artwork on the Visionaries exceeds the previous version from the television program and comic line. Granted, most cartoons prior to 2000 didn’t look so great, so I will give it that much. Ossio’s style, compared to Visionaries’ televised version, is modern. It is also futuristic while retaining a fantasy aesthetic. Ossio nailed the designs on Leoric and Merklynn and many others, but their designs were my favorite. Evidently, it was all thanks to David Garcia-Cruz, whose coloring enhances the newer looks. One improvement I would like to see would be for the mechs. Ossio illustrated the people of New Prysmos vibrantly and presented them with a wide range of facial expressions. Kup and Ironhide, for instance, mostly looked better from a distance than they did up close. Most of Kup’s close-up renditions did not have the same level of detail, which frankly makes him look awkward.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Transformers vs the Visionaries #1
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

Cybertron can never be in a state of peace for very long. Usually, someone decides, “Hey, let me conquer this planet and all its occupants.”

This time, it’s not Cybertron’s own civilians trying to stage warfare and conflict. Instead, it’s the organics who wield magic trying to claim Cybertron. For the most part, while small the cast is on behalf of Cybertron, they stay true to their dynamics. Kup understands the moral right of people who struggle to survive. Ironhide, on the other hand, is against a different species whose intentions are shrouded in mystery. Without revealing spoilers, there is a major character death who’s demise I was against.

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Sure, characters in the Transformers franchise easily come and go. But for a crossover event to plant these obscure characters in the plot and then determine a bot’s’ fate? It was a messy conclusion to their life. It did not provide closure. Instead, it drew me away from the quality and tone the comic was leading with. There wasn’t much of an exposition to the people of New Prysmos, so it was off to an abrupt start. It all just went downhill after the short world-building the Visionaries were trying to establish. Not to mention the end of TRANSFORMERS VS THE VISIONARIES #1 wrapping up with a lackluster surprise.

Final Thoughts on TRANSFORMERS VS THE VISIONARIES #1

The human involvement factor in Transformers has never been my favorite element. It was why I was always inclined to TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE. That comic has a sole focus on mechs in a space adventure. A large bulk of the Transformers franchise consists of (post) war and fighting content. Therefore, I’m willing to understand and accept the human addition in the series. This magical human part, though? Well, I am not completely against it. The Visionaries were featured once before, after all. While there are series that venture into the sci-fi fantasy genre, Transformers has felt more sci-fi than anything. I can’t see fantasy in Transformers, but I am willing to try. So, while I have my own reservations, I would like to see where this is going in the next installment.

Want to see a mix of magic and robots? Then catch TRANSFORMERS VS THE VISIONARIES #1, out January 3, 2018, here!

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