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WiLDCAT: PREViEW iSSUE

<< GO TO WILDCAT INTRODUCTION

It originally took me the best part of a week before I read this free preview of brand new sci-fi comic, Wildcat. It wasn’t from lack of interest but rather the fact it was inside the last issue of OiNK. After realising this I wasn’t in the mood to read my favourite comic, never mind the free gift inside. But when I got around to it I found an original, exciting and yet oh so bleak story awaiting me. A day or two later I was in the shop buying the first issue proper and placing a regular order.

Created by editor Barrie Tomlinson it was very much his baby. It would be a comic with one story told over various strips but it had to kick off with a big, dramatic event, something so huge it would justify having all the strips tied in together. So how about the end of the world? The cover may have Earth at the mercy of meteors but it’s the first page inside, where these have turned into meteorites striking our world that really hit home to me. This was a seriously attention grabbing start.

The first page makes no bones about what the predictions for Earth are and I can remember being shocked as a kid. I didn’t think comics could do this sort of thing and I was instantly hooked into the scenario. It has all the markings of a disaster movie, right down to the government ignoring the expert and as I continued to read I was surprised this awesome Wildcat spacecraft, humanity’s last chance of survival, was only going to hold several hundred of us!

Quite brutal for kids to read. That’s why I loved it so much back then!

This preview story is all about introducing life on board and the regular characters. Written by Barrie and drawn by Ian Kennedy the eleven pages of strip action cover a lot of ground, move at a blistering pace and conclude with a cliffhanger to get the young readers excited for the premiere issue. Also given away inside Fleetway’s 2000AD, Eagle, Buster, Whizzer and Chips, Roy of the Rovers and Mask it certainly had a large pool of potential readers to pull from.

Predicting the end of everything is our main character, research scientist Turbo Jones. An apparent billionaire through some form of inheritance (being rich allows him to address the governments of the world, so some things don’t change) he buys worldwide advertising space, asking for volunteers to take humans into the stars, but he only has room for several hundred. He mentions picking suitable colonists but not what makes someone suitable, and the whole project is handily funded by more inheritances and lottery wins. While this reads as convenient now, as a young reader these sorts of things wouldn’t have interested us anyway so they only needed glossed over in the first place.

Saying that, Kitten Magee‘s finances seem to have a shady history and later she asks her robotic assistant, Crud (whose voice I always end up reading as K-9‘s from Doctor Who) to ensure her entire supply of something called ‘Lifedust’ is stored safely aboard. Along with animals reacting badly to her presence and even plants pulling away from her, there’s definitely a lot more to this particular character than her colleagues realise.

Given the welcome changes happening in our modern world now, I also like the fact she was once part of the World Campaign Against Male Domination and how she’ll lead an all-female team. Forward thinking for the day, it actually reads as quite topical now.

This is in contrast to all the lovely 80s futuristic spaceships and cityscapes. Think of the best sci-fi movies from that time and the kind of visuals they’d portray for future worlds. We’ve got shuttles that wouldn’t look out of place in Thunderbirds, self-flying taxis, futuristic “vid screens” which are clearly chunky CRT TVs with extra bits added on, as well as references to “massage slippers” (no, really), hi-tech shops, light-reactor engines and more. All this while at the same time Robo tells Turbo he’s successfully videoed the latest episode of EastEnders. It’s all great fun and has a lovely retro feel to it now.

While the purpose of the preview is to set up the main story and make people aware of the new comic, with Kitten it feels like those early episodes of Babylon 5 when hints, questions and mysteries abounded, setting up larger stories for the unwitting audience. Loner and Joe Alien are introduced although their development is kept for the regular comic. Turbo himself comes across as rather self-important to begin with, but given the circumstances this is understandable. He does seem to relax a little when around his new seconds-in-command though.

He has a robotic aid called Robo who appears to be a hybrid between robot and chimp and he can be rather snappy with him, but only because Robo insists on calling him ‘Master’ which irks Turbo. He tells Robo his friends call him Turbo, but his companion has his programming and keeps on using the term. It’s clear this back and forth has been going on for quite a while, which explains Turbo’s responses. It makes for a unique partnership and one I’m looking forward to more of.

The main characters and the Wildcat itself were all originally designed by Ian Kennedy although various artists would take them on for the fortnightly. Above is a small poster which makes up the middle pages and shows just how colourful the spacecraft responsible for the survival or extinction of the human race actually was.

An interesting little coincidence I spotted was how Turbo’s calculations proved the extinction level event he predicted happens to Earth every 67 million years. At one point he even says, “It’s happened before… and it’s about to happen again” which was similar to a popular phrase in Battlestar Galactica. However, Barrie assures me the TV show had no influence over the creation of Wildcat. It’s a nice coincidence though and, given how Earth is to be destroyed by collision with natural forces that orbit our galaxy, it makes more sense in this story.

Or at least that’s true as far Turbo’s prediction goes anyway. But on the last page that suddenly changes, just after the crew finally (after what must have been months of searching) find a planet which could in theory support human life. At this point, a few years before the predicted event our planet Earth just blows up! No meteors, no long-term destruction, no slow deaths by radiation. Just like that the entire planet and the billions left behind are gone.


“I was piling on the pressure, indicating that anything could happen in this story!”

Barrie Tomlinson (Editor)

I asked Barrie about this sudden change in the final panels. “It was creating a mystery which perhaps would never be solved,” says Barrie. “Turbo had predicted something different but it happened quicker than he had anticipated. It had a shock element for characters and for readers. I was piling on the pressure, indicating that anything could happen in this story!”

Whether we’d ever have found out what really happened will itself remain a mystery but for now it ends a story which was quite brutal for kids to read. That’s why I loved it so much back then! As as adult I can see how it had to rush through so much in such a short period of time, because the comic was going to kick off its regular strips with all of the teams landing to explore this potential new planet.

I was engrossed as a ten-year-old and now as adult I’ve enjoyed the rollercoaster and am in awe of how much Barrie and Ian were able to squeeze in here. The exhilarating ride of the strip has me hyped for next week and as such the pages of “The Creatures to Come!” aren’t even needed, but I can understand why they’re here. Again, you have to remember the target audience.

I do recall the so-called “Nightmare Alien!” is actually one of Turbo’s allies but this is just one piece of the misdirection the comic would be great as, which you’ll see as its stories develop.

The preview issue was smaller than the comic it was slipped into. It’s about the height of an American comic while being a little wider but the fortnightly was going to be the same size as the monthly OiNK. A small panel on page two of the piggy publication pointed this out, as did the promo on the back of the preview itself.

There was plenty to look forward to including free gifts, lots of strips and The Wildcat Complete tales and all on big, glossy pages that I remember made the action feel epic in scale. That premiere issue of Wildcat will be reviewed on the OiNK Blog in just seven days on Friday 22nd October 2021.

Wildcat had landed.  Figuratively speaking for now anyway.

RiNG RAiDERS #3: COMiX & CHiLL

Skull Commander Chiller pops up on the cover to the latest Ring Raiders introducing the free Skull Squadron poster, which I’ll show you later in the review. He’s easily the star inside too; a main character of two strips and he’s the pin up too. Chiller was a fan favourite, so much so that his Wing was hard to come by and in the end I wasn’t able to add him to my collection.

With a sleek plane equipped with a freeze ray and an equally slick haircut equipped with a cool white stripe he was the epitome of 80s villainy, probably more so than their leader Scorch at this early stage. Although to be fair the comic is slowing moving its way through the large ensemble cast and, instead of rushing, it’s taking its time with certain individuals. In the final issue we’ll start to see the second batch of stories begin and the focus moving slightly, so over time all of the characters would’ve received fair development.

In part two of Barrie Tomlinson‘s Battle Zone ’99 the remaining gravity-powered submarine is still under attack, as part of Skull’s aim to destabilise the governments of the world, a part of their overall goal of assuming control through a mix of all-out warfare and covert operations. Here, dozens are already dead but while trying to fire upon the sub Skull Leader Scorch accidentally damages Chiller’s F-104 ‘Ice Machine’ when Ring Commander Vector expertly dodges an attack, forcing his comrade to eject and abandon his awesome craft.

Adding insult to injury, Chiller is almost killed when his leader fires upon the sub again, not knowing he’s been pulled onboard and is assuming control. The episode is left with us unsure if Chiller is going to complete his mission or take revenge on Scorch! There’s a certain air of Starscream about the character. What I love the most is Carlos Pino‘s energetic, colourful art. In particular that panel of the F-104 being shot down. For my younger eyes his work was an action-packed start to each issue.

Apart from Thundercloud‘s Rescue Wing launching there are none of the toy range’s planes in the third part of Angus Allan‘s Trackdown. Instead the action takes part either on the ground or aboard (and hanging off of) a forestry service helicopter. A rather bold move for a tie-in based on those toys but it just goes to show the team wouldn’t confine their characters and stories to the cockpit.

The scale of these stories compared to what we might’ve expected was incredible to our young minds

It was exciting to see our Matchbox planes in action but look at that opening panel by John Cooper; the scale of these stories compared to what we might’ve expected (given the toy line) was incredible to our young minds. There’s a real feeling of confidence here, of being unrestricted and free to tell what the writer wanted to. Trackdown is the best example of how the writers weren’t being expected to shoehorn the planes into the stories. Character, action and story came first, and the planes became an organic part of the stories.

Our two original characters are still the stars, with Ring Raider Freddie Riley and the professor commandeering a helicopter to get above the mountains and radio for help. Runtz, however, clings to the side and the chapter ends with him bursting in and holding the professor by the throat! There’s a great little bit of humour there too from the Skull when he contacts Scorch. It’s an exciting read and, even though at this point we had no idea how long Trackdown would last, something in the way it was being told made it stand out as the main strip.

Trackdown might be the most fondly remembered tale in the whole run but this is the best strip in this issue. The complete character story is all about the leader of Bandit Wing, Chiller and it’s his turn to reminisce about an important part of his past to his wingmen. But first can I just point out he’s killed a Ring Raider! Max Miles has only appeared briefly and his Bravery Wing haven’t made the pages yet, but he’s definitely a man down, one of his pilots frozen into place in his cockpit, no parachute visible and the plane shattered on the mountainside. It’s dealt with in a throwaway manner but again backs up how the comic depicted the Skull Squadron, as I mentioned last time.


“You’re gonna stay down here and freeze like the scum you are!”

Skill Commander Chiller

The story continues with its bleak theme and the bodies really do pile up! I know you’ll think I’m cracking a joke when I say it’s a chilling tale but there’s no other way to describe what is the best of these complete tales in the whole series. Writer Scott Goodall depicts Chiller as an average guy with a job as a freelance mail service pilot flying between the mountains and the sea. Bitter and angry it’s clear he has an issue with the wider world and, as well as beginning his obsession with the killing potential of cold and ice, this story appears to push him over the edge and become the kind of person Skull Squadron would appeal to.

Remember that “twisted by war’s cruelties” line from last issue’s brief look at the history of the Squadron? That rings true here. We’re not told (yet) what made him into the character we see here but perhaps if the comic had continued we’d have had a look further into his past. The person hiring him ends up forcing him at gunpoint to land on the Devil’s Throne mountain where his diamond smuggling partner crashed his plane, within which he still sits.

John Gillat‘s art certainly sent a shiver down my spine when I first read this back in 1989. It was the most adult tale the comic would produce in its short life and cemented Chiller as the best villain and the most defined. It looks like the Devil’s Throne is going to encase him and the criminal who hired him until he sees a mountain climber, dead and perfectly preserved in the ice. Chipping away with his knife for a long time he lets the smuggler (whose leg broke in their fall into a newly opened crevasse) endlessly tell him what he needs to do to lift him out.


“Time’s running out, Kirkov! You can’t fly on Ring-Power forever or you’ll burn out your nervous system!”

Skull Commander Mako

Letting the man think he’s listening, he gets a sudden awakening as he watches Chiller climb out, leaving him to freeze to death. The takeaway from all this is how hardened it’s made a man who previously had a chip on his shoulder, but who wouldn’t necessarily have considered leaving someone to die. This was his tipping point and it’s expertly brought to the page as a tense little thriller. It makes me wonder if the people who actually created the Ring Raiders franchise ever saw where the UK team took their characters.

Leaving with the diamonds, when he was approached to join Skull Squadron he helped fund their efforts and I’m sure they welcomed him, given how his appearances seem to be amassing the biggest death toll in the whole comic. In addition, though it isn’t confirmed, the way he berates the American makes me think he’s actually British. Given his dress sense I think this could possibly be the case and I hear a British accent every time I read his stories. A brilliant character.

With this third issue some input from the readers has made its way on to the letters page and it’s been decided the Skull Squadron will get first crack at choosing who gets to appear. The opposing sides would take it in turns each fortnight, with the prizes also changing between those featuring the good guy or the baddies. The toy package images have also been replaced by a Sandy James depiction of the guest editor and who better to kick things off than the big bad himself, Scorch.

Just across from this is the first proper Next Issue promo and it looks like the plane stars will be back in full force in Trackdown. Just to answer the question posed here, yes my copy was on order at the paper shop, in fact it had been ever since I bought issue one, before I even took it home.

Just below this is a coupon for The Ring Raiders Club. This was just a preliminary coupon to show interest, a bit like when we sign up for updates on new websites or Kickstarters today. When the final issue of the comic arrived I was desperate for more Ring Raiders action and sent off my own coupon but I never heard anything back. With a different address to the comic this wasn’t a Fleetway Publications club and in fact I’m unsure who was actually planning it, but unfortunately it looks like it never took off (ba-doom-tish).

Moving on to writer James Nicholas‘ and artist Don Wazejewski‘s Bomber Blues and after a last minute pull out of a crash dive, ‘Cub’ Jones crashes through the air traffic control tower and has to pancake his F-5 ‘Sky Tiger’, destroying its undercarriage and rendering it unusable. The World War II airfield has been destroyed, the leader of Hero Wing is down and Hubbub‘s Rebel Wing are returning with replacement planes to attack at full strength and enact his revenge on the American pilots. He and his men could easily wipe them all out.

Don’s artwork is gorgeous here and oozes atmosphere, whether that’s on the eerie, flattened airfield or just a couple of panels later with the Air Carrier Justice cruising the night skies. Vector stops any rescue attempt, telling the other Raiders this is a personal mission for the new pilot Jones and it’s something he has to figure out for himself. Well, figure it out he does with a rather surprising moment you can see above.

It’s a fun solution to the problem although my adult mind can’t help but think how that possibly worked? The bomber wouldn’t have been able to hover over the F-5 while they attached it, soo are they meant to have scooped it up on a flypast? Oh, who cares?! Given the set up for the whole comic I’m not going to get hung up on this! Plus, as a kid I loved this, it was genuinely surprising, I laughed and I do believe I reenacted it when the larger bomber toys were launched the next year. It’s fun! That’s the point and it certainly ticks all the boxes in that regard.

The Skull Squadron weren’t just the stars of the letters page, they also had a full page advert to themselves. With illustrations by Sandy James and some rather lacklustre toy photographs, it was still enough to elicit excitement for the upcoming Christmas season in this young reader. With my birthday four days before Christmas Day it was a bumper Matchbox festive season so these adverts were all hype to me, tying these tiny planes into the stories in the comic in brilliant fashion.

I do wonder if the comic and toys had carried on for longer (as they both deserved to) would we have seen this relationship develop further and where would it have led? Would we have seen Sandy’s artwork on the toy packaging? Would Barrie and his team have taken responsibility for the little comics we got with our planes? Just wondering aloud as a fan who really saw their potential and continues to do so to this day.

Chiller continues his comic takeover with this issue’s pin-up, also drawn by Sandy. In fact, the last several pages pretty much belong to Sandy as this leads on to the final strip, part three of Freedom Flight and his glorious, full-colour artwork bringing Tom Tully‘s script to life. It was a particularly exciting one for readers because this was the first time we saw a ring being used to connect pilot and plane.

As well as communicators or time-meddling warning signals the rings could be used to “receive improved flying skills in times of crisis”, to quote last month’s issue. By being inserted into a special part of the cockpit they flood the plane and its pilot with raw energy. At the end of last issue’s episode Commander Kirkov was plummeting towards the fort in his F-4 Phantom ‘Comet’, his death (and the destructive changing of history) seemingly imminent. Here’s how it’s picked up.

With the energy of the ring the plane gets a burst of power but in order to control it so does Kirkov. While the ring is inserted it’s obviously affecting his body too. (Each ring was programmed specifically for each pilot and their own aircraft.) While it could have other uses in other dire situations (perhaps for bursts of speed when ambushed for example) the fact it could be incredibly damaging to the human behind it means they’re only brought into play in absolute emergencies, as a last resort and can’t be used for long for fear of the pilot passing out.

Mako makes reference to this while he tries to gun down Kirkov, but the two men are such incredible pilots they can’t get a lock on each other. But this doesn’t matter to Mako, he knows all he has to do is keep Kirkov in the air long enough for him either to disengage the ring and lose control of the failing aircraft, or pass out and crash anyway.

In desperation Kirkov banks into the smoke-filled sky above the battle and loses his pursuer. But he’s still in a predicament and upon spotting a landing strip behind friendly lines he lands so quickly he does’t spot it’s about to be overrun by the rebels. It’s an exhilarating ride and all these years later a real thrill to see the ring power finally used in this way. There are so many fantastical elements to introduce in the world of the Ring Raiders it makes sense to do them a little at a time and this has been well worth the wait.

On a side note, in the cartoon the ring power was used to kind of ‘supercharge’ the planes and a previously unseen silver armour would slide out from hidden panels and cover the entire aircraft, even the cockpit. How did they see out? In this too I much prefer the comic’s version. Why would you want to cover these wonderfully designed decals?

There’s the free poster, up on the wall of my current home office. I’ve various free posters and the like plastered all over these walls, making it the perfect spot to write this blog and the Skull Squadron poster takes pride of place. Now if only I could track down the Ring Raiders one to go with it! It’s been lost over the years but one day I will reunite them.

So that’s it. The third issue of Ring Raiders comes to an end and it’s been a rollicking good read. I can’t wait for the rest of the series simply because I know it just keeps on getting better. You’ll see what I mean in a fortnight when #4 lands on the OiNK Blog on Thursday 28th October 2021.

ViSiONARiES iN TRANSFORMERS PART ONE: WEEKLY MAGiC

Four covers? What happened to covering these in real time? Well, I still am. Let me explain. As mentioned in the review of the final issue of Visionaries monthly, the Knights of the Magical Light’s final two stories appeared as back up strips in the pages of Marvel UK‘s The Transformers in September and October of 1988. With only five or six pages available to them in each issue they’d be split over four issues apiece.

With #183 of The Transformers a new look came to the comic and new stars temporarily replaced Action Force (G.I. Joe). That’s a bit of a strange colour to their logo on the first issue but it matches the image I suppose. Inside, the Visionaries are mentioned in the editorial and there’s a chance for readers to catch up on the story so far, or at least a very simplified version of it.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the depth of character and the evolving story on the planet Prysmos and the questions it was raising. I especially enjoyed how Leoric and Darkstorm both wanted the best for their planet but just had very different views on how to achieve that. Leoric’s was by collaboration and helping each other, Darkstorm’s was to enforce law and order to rebuild his planet’s strength, as #4 showed perfectly.

But none of this is included in this catch up, with unfamiliar readers left thinking the Darkling Lords are evil just for the sake of being evil, kind of like the Decepticons were at the beginning. This isn’t the first time our heroes and villains have appeared in the pages of this comic though, and you can read all about the hype and the free mini-comic in a previous post.

Will we get any answers in these final chapters?

On to our story and I thought I’d wait until the date the final part was printed and do one review for it like I had with the monthly, rather than four tinier ones. Right up to the last issue of their own comic it was suggested there was more to Merklynn than anyone knew, and that there was also more to their magical totems (the animals they could transform into) than he had let on. Will we get any answers in these final chapters?

Beginning in Leoric‘s castle with an atmospheric opening around a roaring fire, Merklynn appears in cold flames to summon the knights to Iron Mountain. In response to Leoric’s anger at being treated like his chess pieces, only there to do his bidding, Merklynn responds by telling him, ‘In this life, only gods and fools are truly free to choose”. What an evocative start. Oh, how I’ve missed the writing in these stories!

So begins The Quest for the Four Talismans. Gerry Conway is on top form throughout with the dialogue here, Mark Bagley returns to pencil the action-packed mix of the medieval and sci-fi alongside regulars Janice Chiang on letters and Julianna Ferriter on colours. They’re joined by a new inker, Dave Simons who is best known for Ghost Rider and has also worked on everything from Thor to Savage Sword of Conan, all of which perfectly suit this comic and its heady mix of genres.

Basically, four jewels representing the four elements are lost and must be recovered. In these first pages all we know is they contain incredible magical energy and it seems foolhardy to tell this to Darkstorm, who suddenly feels like all his Christmases have come at once. The different questions posed by the two leaders perfectly sum up their characters and why they’d consider risking their lives for this quest, reminding me of the “Who are you?” and “What do you want?” questions posed by the Vorlons and Shadows in Babylon 5. A little hint is given when Feryl wonders if the usual booming voice from the rock face sounds a little weaker than normal.

Before setting off there’s something to take care of first, namely giving the final two characters without staffs or vehicles their magical powers. Galadria and Virulina weren’t in the toy range but were very much canon, also appearing in the cartoon. Given shields instead of staffs I personally feel like the only two female characters got the better deal because the shields look really cool. Such a shame Hasbro never got a chance to make them into action figures. With a typical portent of doom from Merklynn this is where things were left for a week.

The second week moves up a gear. Merklynn is desperately fighting, clinging to life, his powers fading rapidly. This raises so many questions. Why is this happening to him? How are the talismans involved? Why were they scattered and lost? Most importantly, why didn’t he simply tell his warriors? Surely they would’ve helped after all he’s done for them? For now the story will keep the readers guessing, which I really like.


“Stop, you idiot! We had them beatennnn!”

Cravex to Reekon

The first teams we’re following are Cryotek and Galadria for the Spectral Knights and Reekon and Cravex for the Darkling Lords. Throughout there’s the beginning of a mutual fondness between the former pair developing. It’s not forced and it was clearly written to be played out over several months. It’s handled maturely and adds a nice dimension to the usually brutish Cryotek. On the other side the camaraderie between Reekon and Cravex can be hilarious. They know they work incredibly well together, which really annoys them and they bicker constantly as a result.

So we have an innocent burgeoning of romantic feelings on the one side, and in contrast a kind of clichéd comedic old married couple between the males of the other team. This contrast works brilliantly. Of course, each side is oblivious to these comparisons and that’s very funny. The perfect example is below, where we see the teams starting their search, following their respective magical guides and a topical (for today) pronoun conversation is mirrored between them.

This part ends with our heroes under attack from the fearsome Dagger Assault vehicle after Reekon spied on their location in his lizard form. But before we’re left hanging for seven days an anonymous yell from off camera and a stone to the head of Cravex signals the locals aren’t too happy and could be coming to the rescue.

Under attack from local villagers and unable to use their vehicle at close range, Cravex recites his fear spell but Reekon is unprepared and becomes affected too, driving them both away in fright in a humorous start to part three. Trakk, the leader of a nearby village introduces his people to Cryotek and Galadria before showing them the ‘God-Tree’. He claims it spoke to him in a dream and asked him to care for it. In return his people would be looked after for all time. Ever since, their crops have been in abundance and they’ve wanted for nothing.

But there’s a problem.

Clearly it’s no god, it’s the Earth Talisman feeding the ground with its magical energies, producing everything needed to feed the previously starving (after the cataclysm) villagers. But they aren’t for sharing. Galadria tries to explain but they won’t listen, not even when she says they have the ability to feed other villagers and still have enough to spare. Sneaking about in plain site is Reekon in lizard form again, listening to the paranoia of the villagers who believe they’ve been chosen by god.

He then uses this while the Spectral Knights rest to manipulate the villagers. It soon becomes apparent they won’t trust either side now so Cravex uses his fear spell once more. If they can’t get them on their side then the Darkling Lords’ backup plan is simply to create enough of a distraction to steal it. By waiting until Galadria and Cryotek are in the middle of the highly paranoid crowd the fear spell is devastating! The villagers begin attacking and Cryotek (in abject fear from the spell) feels his bear persona rise up from within and he transforms, flinging innocent people left and right, causing a fire in the process.

being special is a curse if it sets you apart from others, putting them at a disadvantage due to your own privilege

Being special is a curse if it sets you apart from others, putting them at a disadvantage due to your own privilege.

Galadria, noticing her fear is starting to subside, knows this must mean the spell isn’t being cast because their enemies are making a break for it for the jewel. Knocked out by Cravex, this issue’s makeshift cliffhanger is brilliant with Galadria unconscious, surrounded by fire and Cryotek out of control.

This is how The Transformers presented each subsequent part of the story and here you can see Cryotek finally regain control as we race towards the climax. Only able to return to human form thanks to the intervention of the magical guide, how far would he have gone otherwise? This question, first properly posed in Gerry’s premiere story in #4 is getting more prominence and I get the feeling it’s something that would’ve made the basis for a large story after this multi-parter.

One negative I have here is how Cryotek puts out the fires. He recites his spell poem which as fans will remember ends with, “Fill the archer’s bow with might”. But unlike the cartoon no archer appears from his staff and instead he just kind of glows and is able to summon increased strength. Unbelievably he claps really hard and the power blows out all the flames. It’s right there in the poem, there’s meant to be an archer. It just doesn’t make sense in the comic but that’s the only criticism I have.

In the end the fear spell has seen the Darkling Lords scurry off with the jewel and win the day, leaving the village in ruins and the people battered and bruised. Still weak, Galadria decides to use her new shield and its spell poem to restore everyone and everything around her. Cryotek is concerned. The spells use energy from those who cast them, she might not be strong enough but she knows they brought this destruction here, it’s their fault so she must try to make amends.

Her spell and its effects take up two full pages and I just love them. They’re beautifully drawn and give a real importance to her character and abilities, which I’m glad of after the importance of having female characters was completely ignored by Hasbro (something a lot of our toy ranges were guilty of, unfortunately).

She ends up collapsing but it was just enough. Any more and it could’ve possibly killed her, but it’s clear that wouldn’t have stopped her from trying. Now forced to work with other villagers, Trakk mourns how they’re no longer chosen by god, they’re “no longer special”. The last word on this fittingly goes to Galadria who explains being special is a curse if it sets you apart from others, putting them at a disadvantage due to your own privilege. I liked this. A lot.

Action, humour and heart. A superb story. It may have been more basic than the previous two (due in part to its having to introduce the quest in the first place which took up a quarter of the page count) but next time we’ll be able to focus on the quest and a few characters from beginning to end. I can’t wait. The Quest for the Four Talismans was meant to be the first multi-part epic for the American comic but was tragically cut short only two parts in. I’ll discuss that more next time.

Before I finish here’s a little bonus for you. Every issue of The Transformers and Visionaries had a humour strip by OiNK star Lew Stringer. Combat Colin (co-starring Semi-Automatic Steve) had come over from the pages of Action Force months previous and was the perfect way to sign off these issues. Below is the strip from #184 of the newly merged comic. Enjoy!

I’ve really enjoyed reading a little bit of Visionaries on a weekly basis and if you’re interested you can join my journey through all seven-plus years of Transformers on the blog’s Instagram. I’m reading an issue every Thursday and posting a handful of photos of the physical comic along with a few paragraphs of information and opinion. It’ll be a venture that’ll come to the blog eventually but for now you can follow along there.

The next (and final) new strip adventure for the Visionaries will be here for review on 29th October 2021. It won’t quite be the end though, as you’ll find out next time.