Posted on September 10th 2017 by Steven Mapes
30 years after their initial release Visionaries would return to the public eye via comic book mini-series Transformers Vs Visionaries which would be released by IDW Publishing in December 2017. The release would mark the end to an almost 17 year run of attempts to relaunch the brand. As with any relaunch, the announcement would be met with a mixed reaction from new and old fans but, for us, simply having an official Visionaries product back on the shelves is an exciting development and one that we shall support as best we can.
IDW Publishing announced that they would be producing a Visionaries comic on the 20th July 2017 whilst at SDCC 2017 along with an accompanying Tweet sent via the IDWPublishing Twitter account. It was also announced that the creative team working on the project would be Magdalene Visaggio (writer) and Fico Ossio (artist) with Sarah Gaydos as Editor.
On the 1st August 2017, Fico Ossio announced, via Twitter, that his Visionaries designs had been approved and that he would begin work on the first cover.
On Friday 8th September 2017 during their panel at the inaugural HasCon, IDW Publishing announced that Visionaries would return via a crossover event with Transformers as part of the Transformers Vs series. During the panel, the first set of new designs were shown off along with three covers for the first issue. You can view all of the images within the gallery at the bottom of this article.
The design of the clothing is completely different to the original series and certainly feels much more in-keeping with the current ActionMan product. You can easily visualise a more modern animated style as well as the potential for 4" action figures fitting much closer to the relaunched ActionMan and the upcoming relaunch of G.I.Joe under the Hasbro Combined Universe. The characters appear to have all kept the same animal totems with some designs being very close to the original Floro Derry artwork from the 80s. Others, such as Arzon, have been updated with a new look. Whilst the designs that there released as part of HasCon do not show the power staffs themselves, the cover of Issue 1 of Transformers Vs Visionaries does show Virulina with a staff which is clearly made up by her combining her shield and energy axe weapon. In fact, the model sheets, which can be viewed at the bottom of this article, show that the shield connects to the bottom of her weapon which is likely to be the same design used for each of the other characters who we shall now take a closer look at.
The first thing that you notice about the Spectral Knights is the welcomed increase in diversity amongst the characters. This was inevitable as the original series was extremely lacking in racial diversity. The characters, whilst being updated, are still recognisable with Leoric, now sporting long blonde hair that is reminiscent of a lion's mane, having the most significant changes which were to be expected. The characters each keep to colour palettes that are similar to their original designs, in terms of clothing, with a general increase in black being the common theme amongst everyone. Their weapons are now energy/magical weapons which have been designed to resemble the original toys. You'll also notice that Galadria has a shoulder armour that pays homage to the original designs. The characters clothing and skin now contain markings which have a circuit pattern design but are most likely going to tie into the magical theme. Ectar is now the only male character to be clean shaven, other than Merklynn, whereas Leoric was the only heroic knight to originally have facial hair.
Whilst five Spectral Knights were revealed at HasCon 2017 only four Darkling Lords were shown with Darkstorm most notably absent most likely with his new design being held back for a big reveal during the comic series. It appears that Virulina will play a major role in the series appear and may well be the main protagonist during the initial mini-series with the Transformers. The Darkling Lords are, again, recognisable with Virulina being the most physically changed of the bunch. Lexor who, with his new design, has more of a Dreadnok (G.I.Joe) feel to him whilst being the only Darkling Lord to keep the shoulder designs that were common throughout the original series, not that his original character especially had them. Cindarr was labelled as Reekon on the presentation, this was confirmed as being a mistake by Fico in a reply to a question that we raised on Twitter.
Whilst he was not directly labelled, the updated design for Merklynn was also revealed during the HasCon panel. Long gone are his trademark beard and hair with the character now being totally bald and appearing more like a regal priest than a traditional wizard. His model also gives the clearest look at the new ear design that many of the characters share. The new designs give many of the characters a pointed helix much more akin to Elven designs.
The power staffs were an important part of the Visionaries lore giving the characters their 2nd magical power and reason to fulfil quests for Merklynn. So far it is not known how the new IDW-verse Visionaries characters will use their power staff with what is known being extrapolated from the released character designs.
From the notes on the character models that have been released, the power staffs are now going to be known as "banners" with the pole comprising of three parts with two of the parts often carried by their owner on their back as batons in between their back and shield/totem itself.
So far the banners contain the same totems as the main character suggesting that these banners are now powered by their animal spirit rather than containing their own magical power.
The image above shows how Virulina's mealy weapon connects to her shield to form the pole for the banner. When you then look at the comic covers it appears that the staff may also extend, though the design is inconsistent between artist.
Within Issue 6 of IDW's First Strike crossover, Garrison Kreiger is revealed to actually be Merklynn in disguise! Within the comic book he uses the talisman to erect a forefield on Cybertron and raise a new city from the ground which he names as "New Prysmos".
In the time since this article was originally published and prior to the release of the first issue of Transformers Vs Visionaries, various additional images have been released which include the first look at Feryl, now female, Cryotek as well as Craggor and Braxe from series 2.
In one of the images, which you can view within the gallery below, it's shown that Cindarr is now a smoker as he listens to Virulina whilst smoking a pipe. IDW Publishing released a series of images via Instagram which included the first piece of dialogue from the series which was a conversation between Leoric and Virulina. The dialogue not only confirmed Darkstorm as a character within this universe but also that Virulina was now the leader of the Darkling Lords.
Virulina -"You heard Merklynn"
Leoric - "Yes I did, and Merklynn is a war criminal we shouldn't be treating as a prince anymore"
Virulina -"We're the protectors of Prysmos. That means we have a duty..."
Leoric - "That isn't a word you or your Darkling Lords get to say. You and your people sent the Visionaries into schism. You chose Darkstorm's way of fear and domination. You are the protector of nothing."