Transformers Vs. Visionaries #3
The third issue of Transformers Vs. Visionary marks the midpoint in this crossover between two staples of Hasbro's shared comic book universe. Following the promising but poor paced first issue and an improved, charming second issue, issue #3 is a noticeable downgrade, bringing the momentum of the previous issues to a screeching halt. Though it isn't horrible, with writer Magdalene Visaggio and artist Fico Ossio still able to turn the series around, issue #3 is a noticeable setback that borders on the mediocre.
The Spectral Knights, the magic powered Visionaries' heroic faction, have been made pariahs by the former population of the planet Prysmos, all of whom are seeking refuge in the Transformers' homeworld of Cybertron. The Prysmosians find the leadership of ruthless Virulina, leader of the malicious Darkling Lords, much more preferable, not caring that her conquest of the planet will slaughter the indigenous Cybertronians. It is revealed in issue #3 that some of the Spectral Knights have actually stayed behind, pledging their loyalty to Virulina and viewing Leoric and the other Spectral Knights’ continued cooperation with the Cybertronians to be a traitorous insult to their people’s survival. Defection, as it turns out, is the word of the day, with the captured Cybertronian security guard Waspinator offering his services and loyalty to Virulina in exchange for leniency (which happens, just not in the way he expected) and the cowardly Darkling Lord Mortdred asking to join with the Spectral Knights, fearing Virulina would toss his services aside due to having much more useful and loyal subjects in her arsenal. Counterattacks are planned, but even with the dubious proposition of Mortdred’s aid and the developing anti-magic arsenal from Cybertronian scientist Wheeljack, the ticking clock for Cybertron’s survival is not in the Transformers favor.
Like previous issues, Visaggio and Ossio are dealing with a lot of moving pieces that are, understandably, hard to work with. Visaggio made huge successes last issue by focusing the attention primarily on the Visionaries, even though the appearances of their Transformers co-stars felt lacking. Issue #3, in contrast, feels chaotic, jumping from her various plot points and adding more sub-plots like the newly introduced characters shifting in allegiance as soon as they debut. This gives the script a directionless, busy feel. However, to Visaggio's credit, Cryotek does not appear randomly, having been mentioned in previous issues, with his absence in issue #1’s meeting occurring due to his belief that the gathering was “shameful.” Based on his motivations in this issue, a dislike for the Cybertronians, and a loyalty to his people, it can be assumed that his qualms were having to beg for their lives at the hands of the Cybertronians, which explains why he is easily swayed to Virulina's side.
Much more jarring turns are the allegiance shifts of Waspinator and Mortdred. While both characters have histories of cowardliness in past iterations of their respective franchises, including other series in the IDW continuity, the events leading them to treachery in this issue come off as rushed. Neither character has even appeared in the pages of Transformers Vs. Visionaries until their respective introductory scenes in issue #3. Admittedly, in Waspinator's case, joining the Darkling Lords side results in a really clever homage to past continuity that is appreciated fanservice, but this makes it all the more frustrating that the legitimately cool moment of the reveal is brought down by the contrivances that led to it. Their actions feel like means to accel the plot forward instead of the natural progression of character motivation.
While Fico Ossio's art is still dynamic and engaging, it also suffers again when his stylized figures are standing still in at-rest exposition scenes, particularly his Transformers. Another weak element of character design is the Darkling Lord Mortdred, who looks distractingly similar to fellow Darkling Lord Cravex. However, there are other highlights to Ossio's art, such as the final page's reveal, which is an imposing image that evokes awe and disgust. Ossio also succeeds at illustrating captivating magic effects, brought to life thanks to the colors of David Garcia Cruz.
Transformers Vs. Visionaries is not a bad series, and issue #3 is not a bad comic. It is a disappointing comic that follows a promising second issue in a momentum-killing, lackluster way. Hopefully, Visaggio and Ossio do salvage the run with the final two issues, making it a much more enjoyable read when collected. As of now though, the midpoint issue of the series leaves a lot to be desired.