Transformers Vs. Visionaries #2 Review
Issue #1 of Transformers Vs. Visionaries set up a deep story of political intrigue and perpetual war, elevating the source material of two ‘80s action cartoons, thanks to Magdalene Visaggio’s strong script. The book was a fun experience that offered promise, with the hope being that Visaggio and artist Fico Ossio could move on to a more streamlined vision after the heavy burden of set up had been met. While issue #2 has unfortunately inherited very bad habits from both the previous installment of this series and other series’ in the Hasbro stable, it still is a fully action packed experience with early potential to excel into something greater.
The second issue opens directly following the cliffhanger from the previous installment, as all diplomatic solutions between the two groups of fantastically powered races have been dissolved. The Darkling Lords have revealed their intentions and declared war on Cybertron in the name of all Prysmos, much to the dismay of the heroic Spectral Knights, who have the spotlight for the majority of the issue. With the clock to Cybertron’s destruction started, Merklynn freed, and the fates of innocents, Prysmosian and Cybertronian alike, hanging in the balance, the largest question the issue asks is a fascinating one: should loyalty come before what is right?
The Spectral Knights are, for all intents and purposes, Arthurian knights, believing in chivalry, honor, duty, etc, etc. Their ideology does not condone the conquest of Cybertron through unprovoked war and deceit, even if it may be for a nobler mean like their own preservation. But they also have a sworn vow to the people of Prysmos, they are their protectors, and have qualms reconciling that weight of responsibility with their values and morals. It’s an incredibly deep subject matter for the source material, and further illustrates what a talented scribe Magdalene Visaggio is.
Even though the writing is still top notch, it is thankfully complimented by much more appropriate art. As noted in the previous review, Ossio works best when he is depicting very action oriented scenes and this issue provides. Large parts of the issue are dedicated to battles between the Spectral Knights and Darkling Lords, which are brought to spectacular reality thanks to Ossio’s electric linework and bouncy framing. It’s actually a great marriage of script and writing this time, as there are several moments where the Visionaries exchange scathing banter along with their magic powered blows. This marked improvement in mixing print with image eclipses the dissonance that Visaggio script caused when Ossio had to do more calm scenes. One of the most breathtaking series of panels from the book is the confrontation of the two faction leaders (Virulina and Leoric) as they shoot energy from their respective power staffs to release their two animal totems: a sort of astral familiar each Visionary is endowed with.
All of those positives are well deserved, but the book still has some growing pains that it can hopefully shed with the release of further installments. Firstly, there is a distinct absence of Transformers in a book called “Transformers Vs. Visionaries.” A cardinal rule of crossovers is that one participant is not favored over the other. When the spotlight shines brighter on one franchise, it ultimately hurts both and can even alienate an audience that only follows the less highlighted character(s). In this case, the Transformers have been shortened for attention, only appearing at the bookend portions of the issue, and, while the Spectral Knights certainly shine as the lead protagonists for this issue, some indication would have been nice that this was also half a Transformers story. Maybe a scene in between the Spectral Knights facing off against the Darkling Lords while the Transformer Wheeljack’s is studying their magic; in doing so, he makes a distinction between the two energies and notes that they were clashing with each other during the battle. This way, when the Spectral Knights meet with Ironhide, he has an incentive to trust them and realize they are not aligned with Virulina and her Darkling Lords.
One could assume that the reason Visaggio chose to leave the battle uninterrupted was due to keep a consistent flow, which, in general, is distinct from the previous issue. Some reader’s could’ve seen the dense dialogue scenes from issue #1 as slow or dragging. Instead, not only is the issue now graced with an abundance of action scenes, their beats seem to be moving at a more expedient pace, bordering on rushed. However, this is very excusable considering there was so much set up in the last issue and there are still three more entries to help balance out the story as it progresses.
Overall, Transformers Vs. Visionaries #2 is exactly what a reader thinks of in terms of a progressing story. It might have a problem figuring out how fast it should go or where to focus its attention, but makes up for this with further great characterization and themes. It brings everything that worked in the first issue back with improvements, and is a very fun experience for the fans of these 80s action franchises.