Category Archives: Comic Reviews

ViSiONARiES #5: SiRENA SONG

If you were to take a quick glance through this latest issue of Marvel UK‘s Visionaries from 1988 you’d think it was business as usual, with another lengthy strip featuring the Knights of the Magical Light and their quest to rebuild their crumbling planet. After last month’s superb story by new head writer Gerry Conway anticipation is also high. But look beyond the brilliant cover by Mark Bagley and we discover some bad news on the editorial page.

There we find a tiny message from editor Steve White announcing the horrible news that this, only the fifth issue, will be the last. He says there are more details to come so we’ll concentrate on the strip first and see what those details are later.

This issue’s story is called Dream Maker and begins with my favourite Visionary from the cartoon, the lightning fast Witterquick atop a cloud covered mountain answering the cries of a beautiful but entombed woman called Sirena. As he attempts a rescue a demon appears, apparently threatening to kill our hero for looking upon the woman’s beauty. It might appear this demon is jealous and has trapped his great love to be with him forever, but as we find out later it’s just a bit of clever writing.

I say clever writing, but with a name like Sirena and a front cover showing her in control of monstrous forces the game has kind of been given away. If there was any doubt left the comic’s editorial made sure to erase all mystery beforehand. It’s still a compelling read though. I get the distinct impression Gerry, co-creator of The Punisher, really enjoyed developing these toys into three-dimensional characters. This issue concentrates almost exclusively on Witterquick and the Darkling Lord Cindarr, who we also see awaken from the same dream, with him in place of the Spectral Knight.

Sirena tells both men she’s a former Queen who has reached out telepathically to the only man able to recover the magical stone that can open her prison. Not convinced the dream is real, Leoric knows there’s no stopping Witterquick’s impetuousness so he wishes him well but offers no help or resources. On the other hand Cindarr has to fight off Reekon and Mortdredd who accuse him of abandoning his post at Darkstorm‘s castle. While you might wonder why a Darkling Lord would care about an imprisoned woman, it’s the first sign of there being more to Cindarr than we initially thought.

Witterquick’s impulse to save the poor villagers is soon overpowered by his desire for Sirena.

The scene shifts to a crumbling mountain road where the giant ‘Bronze Warrior’ statue looks down upon a ramshackle village led by a despot warlord. The statue is a rusting metal ruin of unknown origin from the previous Age of Magic, now a tourist attraction with a gleaming jewel eye. Witterquick’s initial impulse to save the poor villagers from their maniacal leader is soon overpowered by his desire for Sirena, such is her power over him.

Soon he and Cindarr are in a race to claim the key. Both use their magical poems, Cindarr unleashing ground-shattering destruction, Witterquick giving himself incredible speed which he uses to grab the key first. Despite this, Cindarr still saves Witterquick’s life when they’re suddenly attacked by the villager’s warriors.

It’s a gut reaction by Cindarr and a big surprise for the reader. He’s the highlight of this story and showcases the potential for complex character arcs to come between the warring factions. How heartbreaking that this is showcased in the final issue. Offering up a temporary alliance he uses his incantation to shake the very ground upon which the statue stands, scattering the warriors and allowing both of them to escape, the statue left wobbling in the wind.

We also see Witterquick open up about who he really is, flaws and all, through thoughts and the well written (as always) narrative captions. In the comic his magical speed also seems to apply to his heart. He’s quick to fall in love, quick to jump to conclusions, quick to leap into danger, all of which can get him into trouble, all easily avoidable if he just took a step back and thought things through first.

I can empathise.

Struggling with his thoughts, Witterquick dreams once more. Today I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the image below, but in a toy comic of the time I think it shows Visionaries was aimed at a slightly older audience than Transformers, albeit an audience that still played with action figures. We’d have seen the likes of this in Conan comics so I thought it was interesting in the middle of a Hasbro toy licence.

Nudity in dreams is said to represent vulnerability, perfectly summing up Witterquick’s thoughts at this juncture in the story. The bewitching hold Sirena has over him, believing it’s true love, makes him shake off the doubts and carry on. From here on we see both Knights frequently cross paths with each other, more as competitors than enemies, creating an interesting dynamic and lots of fun moments.

They come up against a monstrous beast guarding the caverns underneath the toppled statue, providing us with an example of their back and forth race. Cindarr scoots past in the background (above right) as Witterquick struggles with the beast before transforming into his cheetah totem, biting the beast and escaping, the captions hinting at themes covered in last month’s review.


“But in the end, we fought as allies. Imagine if our leaders could find a way to do the same.

Witterquick to Cindarr

These caves take our Knights back underneath the statue where Witterquick uses his speed spell once again to grab the stone before it collapses. The Darkling Lord is buried under tons of metal but not before changing to his gorilla form for protection. After bursting out, in a moment of revenge he shames and embarrasses the warlord in front of all of his followers, freeing the people from his evil rule.

It’s another surprising Cindarr moment I didn’t see coming for a character so simplistically depicted in the cartoon, and it would appear it surprised him too. Both characters seem to be fighting against where they’ve been placed in this new world, seeking to find their true selves inside all of the magical armour that now defines them.

Attacked and ashamed by Sirena’s demons (below), the truth is laid bare and his heart is broken. About to be set free, she no longer needs him, he’s a complication. I actually felt for Cindarr here; the spell had him genuinely believing he was in love and doing the right thing, something he shouldn’t care about doing.

Now in the area foreshadowed earlier we see the demon attacking Witterquick but it’s holding back, not wishing to kill our hero, claiming he’s there to stop evil from being released. It’s at this point we realise those panels at the top of this review now read very differently.

Witterquick is unable to listen to reason and only the intervention of a vast gorilla (complete with Grimlock-like speech in this form) stops him from unleashing Sirena. Cindarr could have simply walked away. More evil being unleashed into the world and one less Spectral Knight should be a good thing, should it not? But he’s become an unlikely hero, trying to keep the witch imprisoned and saving a warrior he’s come to respect.

But unwittingly they’ve gotten too close and the jewel floats on a magical current right into the lock of Sirena’s tomb. Here her true horrific appearance is revealed as she pushes against the dissolving seal in a scene reminiscent of scenes from popular mini-series V just a few years previous.

His mind set free at last, Witterquick’s horror is clear. This leads to a final desperate bid to not only save their planet but also their dignity, as they use both staff powers together, combining speed and destruction into an unstoppable force and unleashing it directly upon the dissolving force field.

The prison explodes, taking Sirena with it. My favourite part is not this appropriately action-packed finale itself, but rather the immediate aftermath when the two enemies help each other out of the rubble and share this moment.

Gerry’s scripts are just so beautifully written in these quieter character moments. I laughed when I read this. After being at loggerheads through the long quest and intense action these two simple words sum everything up for the men. The next page also reveals a little about their views of the ongoing battle for the planet. I’d have been disappointed if the story hadn’t included this conversation after all they’ve been through.

It’s a nice final page, the second panel summing up a lot of conflicts in our real world, particularly here where I live. The respect and understanding between Cindarr and Witterquick is clear and it’s left very open ended. There can be no other outcome, for now at least. No, they’re not friends but can they truly be enemies again? At least they get to end their adventure with a shared laugh and as far as the comics go I’ve got a new favourite character in Cindarr.

This dynamic is just crying out for further exploration but for now Visionaries bows out. At least it does so in style with another superb story, nicely developed characters and plenty of surprises. As you can see the promised “details” don’t amount to much, just the date on which their remaining stories will be serialised in the weekly Transformers comic.

It’s quite the wait but a new look was coming up in Transformers so a new back up strip (temporarily replacing Action Force/G.I. Joe) would help launch it and bring in Visionaries readers eager for more. There are still a couple of publications to come for our intrepid, magical heroes in the form of an annual at Christmas time and a Spring Special next year. That annual may have been released in August but let’s face it we all got them as Christmas presents. So that’s when it’ll be covered here, following the real time nature of reading these as originally intended.

Speaking of further publications, on the back cover is another gorgeous contemporary advert. Dragon’s Claws was created by the ace Transformers team of Simon Furman and Geoff Senior. Set in the distant future of Britain it was a comic I’d seen advertised as a kid and had always wanted to try but never got around to. This is going to be corrected in 2022. The complete collection is sitting on my comics shelves waiting patiently for their own real time read through on the blog. Watch out for that in the spring of next year.

In the meantime you can expect reviews of the final two Visionaries stories on the dates of their respective conclusions in the pages of Transformers. Each story was split into four parts as was custom for the back ups, so the first story’s review will be on the OiNK Blog on Friday 1st October. Join me then, won’t you?

JURASSiC PARK #1: ADAPTiNG THE ADAPTATiON

We’re jumping back 28 years now to the first issue of Dark Horse International‘s UK version of the Jurassic Park comic. How can that film be 28 years old? Anyway, published by Topps Comics in the States, over here it was repackaged on larger A4 paper of a higher quality, with that distinct Dark Horse banner and over the course of its run included extra features, competitions and back up strips like most UK comics.

By a happy coincidence 24th June was a Thursday in 1993 so it looks like each issue will be up on the blog on the same day of the week as the original run. Surprisingly this first issue went on sale before the movie was released over here, which didn’t stomp its way into cinemas until 16th July.

As I noted in the introductory post I’d originally spotted an issue of the adaptation in a shop but never bothered to buy it. I hadn’t enjoyed comics adaptations of movies previously and also felt I’d moved on from the medium. (We all make mistakes.) My first issue ended up being issue six and by then it contained three strips per issue, but it hadn’t started out that way. This first issue is cover-to-cover Isla Nublar, containing the first full chapter of the adaptation, a whopping 29 pages in length with the rest of the 36-page comic containing features that I’ll get to below.

Edited by Dick Hansom (Aliens, Total Carnage, Speakeasy) there was never an editorial and instead a simple credits page for the strips, but the background of the park sets the scene. Let’s talk about that team Topps Comics assembled to adapt the film to comic form! As a fan of the franchise I’m pleasantly surprised by the names here. I may not have been aware of who all but one were at the time but I certainly am now.

The one name I did recognise originally was Jim Salicrup thanks to Transformers and whose adaptation of the Visionaries origin story has also been reviewed here on the blog. He also edited multiple superhero comics for the company before moving to Topps and eventually to Papercutz where he now resides as Editor-in-Chief, alongside being a trustee of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. Writer Walter Simonson was tasked with adapting the screenplay and is probably best known for creating Star Slammers (featured in Havoc comic here in the UK), writing/drawing Thor for nearly five years in the 80s, drawing Robocop vs Terminator and writing Iron Man 2020 who popped up in the UK version of Transformers.


“You’ll decide you’ll control nature, and from that moment on you’re in deep trouble, because you can’t do it.”

Michael Crichton

Penciller Gil Kane sadly passed in 2000 but leaves a wealth of comics work on everything from Action Comics to Teen Titans and co-creating Iron Fist for Marvel. He was the artist on landmark stories in The Amazing Spider-Man, tales which led the Comics Code Authority to rewrite their rules about the depiction of drug abuse. Inker George Perez has won several awards for his comics artwork throughout his career, co-creating the characters White Tiger and Taskmaster for Marvel and he was artist on Crisis of Infinite Earths, The Avengers and Teen Titans amongst many others. George also wrote and drew on the highly regarded Wonder Woman of the late 80s and early 90s.

Colourist Tom Smith has worked for so many comics companies it’d be impossible to fit them all in here. Marvel, DC, IDW, Topps, Top Cow, Malibu and more. The Avengers, Hulk, X-Men and Justice League are just some examples of his artwork and he’s coloured for such legendary artists as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Finally, John Workman lettered the complete run of Doom Patrol and has been a frequent partner of Walter’s. His style stands out, opening up the panel frames when his speech balloons or captions touch them, as evidenced throughout these early issues of Jurassic Park. John has also created strips for Star*Reach and lettered critically acclaimed titles such as Thor and Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse. What a team!

It’s important to put this story in the context of its time. Nowadays, mainly thanks to the film series we know details about dinosaurs and their social orders, hunting habits and intelligence. They’re no longer the lumbering, stupid lizards of stop-motion special effects. This all changed with the first Jurassic Park and reading this exchange between Dr. Ellie Satler (portrayed in the movie by Laura Dern) and Dr. Alan Grant, taken from the novel rather than the film, takes me right back to that time when this was all new information.

But taking me back also worries me. You see, as a kid I found comics adaptations of movies always seemed to have issues, such as excising whole scenes, leaving huge plot holes behind, or they’d copy some moments word-for-word but with artwork that failed to convey any of the drama, making exciting scenes rather dull. They felt very rushed with little thought given to what would work.

It’s brave to take up four pages with the opening of a gate!

Instead of falling into the traps above for a quick cash in, Walter seems to be properly adapting the story for the comics medium. Take the scene above for example. In the movie Alan (Sam Neill) simply described the hunting techniques of a velociraptor to the child. With his raptor claw fossil in hand and using it with slow, deliberate movements, Neill’s tone and delivery made this scene foreboding and funny in equal measure. This wouldn’t work in a comic, so instead we’re shown what the kid could’ve been imagining at this moment. It’s from this we get our cover image too.

Some scenes remain unchanged, at least in their dialogue if not their setting. The classic Dodgson scene with Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) is played out pretty much as it is in the film, but then again what’s in the film is almost verbatim what Crichton originally wrote in his book. So when it’s already worked in written form it doesn’t require changing. Speaking of the book, on more than one occasion some of its original ideas and dialogue, changed for the film, can be found here.

The following page is a good example, showing our main characters arriving on a helicopter at Isla Nublar, an island which was also covered in a thick fog in the original novel but not the film. There are also more details from Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) on how Chaos Theory predicts the experiment will fail. Crichton’s novel can often give several pages at once to Ian to describe his theories so obviously the movie had to simplify things, but they were utterly fascinating to read and in the comic just a little bit more of that original text is slipped in.

With an adaptation like this the aim is to have it on the shelves when the movie hits cinemas. This means work could commence with an earlier draft of the screenplay. As the screenplay changes from one draft to another some of those alterations come too late, meaning the comic could contain parts of the previous versions. In the case of Jurassic Park it makes for fascinating reading at times for a fan like me who knows the film so well.

However, the biggest change in this first chapter definitely comes as a result of the medium and the requirement to split the film’s story into five chunks. If I were to tell you that the cliffhanger at the end of chapter one is the first encounter with the brachiosaur, where John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) had his “Welcome to Jurassic Park” moment in the film, fans should instantly be querying why these next four pages are in this issue. (Actually, Hammond had his moment in the comic when they landed in the helicopter.)

These pages do look wonderfully dramatic, though. It’s brave to take up four pages with the opening of a gate! In the film this didn’t happen until after we’d been fed all the science behind the park and the characters were heading out on the inaugural tour.  But this isn’t the comic team taking liberties with the story. The first chapter is very much the build up to what was to come and with a distinct lack of dinosaurs some changes had to be made to grip readers to the overall story. If that means some iconic scenes have to be moved or elaborated on visually (like with the child’s imagination earlier), then so be it.

I think it was a smart move to rearrange the placement of this scene, but some people will always complain about such changes, like how movies have to change certain aspects of a book.  Well of course they do, it’s a completely different medium. Books based on films also add and rearrange elements of the story or characters to suit the reading experience, but they’re still the same story, just adapted to suit each medium. Having read the novel, I’ve always felt Spielberg did the perfect job of translating Michael Crichton’s novel to the screen and now the comic was adapting Spielberg’s adaptation!

I do believe Hammond’s famous line would’ve worked better as part of this cliffhanger, but that’s just personal preference. There is one difference from the film I’m not keen on. In Crichton’s original story, while Grant overlooks the landscape he mistakes a brachiosaur’s neck in the distance for the trunk of a tall tree, until the dinosaur moves. Here, he’s meant to mistake a leg for a tree instead as they drive within a few metres of it. They didn’t see the giant tail or the belly over their heads?  If this was the original idea for the film I’m glad they changed it.

The final double-page is a beautiful image of their first encounter, with the remainder of this classic scene hopefully playing out next month. The captions make reference to the creatures welcoming them to the island and is also lifted straight from the book. In the novel the brachiosaurs come to this area whenever the helicopter approaches the island, eager to see the humans who they associate with looking after them. It’s a lovely, tender moment in the book designed to give a false sense of tranquility to the island.

When I collected Jurassic Park back at the time it was cover-to-cover strips, with the occasional competition and comics adverts thrown in for good measure. It was a pleasant surprise to see a series of additional features about the making of the movie in these early issues.

They begin right back at the beginning, long before any filming had taken place, informing the reader about Amblin and Spielberg buying the rights, their first impressions and what they felt were the scientific and moral highlights. These were the important things they’d want to concentrate on when developing their own vision.  It makes for a good if somewhat brief read and there’s more to come over the next few months.

There’s also a checklist of Dark Horse’s local and import comics to be released over the next month. I can remember picking up an issue of their Aliens comic at some stage on a family holiday. It must’ve been before Jurassic Park because the trademark banner on the cover of this comic was very familiar. I didn’t know there was a Dracula title and, while Jurassic Park has started out with just one strip every month, it’s clear its stablemates were similar to other UK comic publishers’ titles, especially the aforementioned Aliens.

So there you go, our first look at Jurassic Park UK, a comic which has been sadly largely forgotten in the intervening years. I adored this comic and I can’t wait to share those later issues with you but so far I’m actually enjoying a comic movie adaptation, which is noteworthy in and of itself.

To finish here are your obligatory retro advertisements. I’m not too sure about some of those t-shirt designs but given half the chance as a 15-year-old I’d have jumped at the chance. On the back page is Kenner‘s toy range. I wasn’t even aware there was one. Obviously for a younger audience than I was at the time but I’m still surprised I never spotted them in the shops.

There are some brilliant Jurassic merchandise adverts in this series and I’ll definitely be including them as we go, alongside those for some very-90s comics. I hope you’ll come along for the ride because it’s going to be great. After all, it has been 65 million years in the making.

Issue two of Jurassic Park will be roaring its way on to the blog on Thursday 29th July.

ViSiONARiES #4: KiCKiNG OFF TOO LATE

With hindsight I know the next issue of Marvel UK‘s Visionaries will regrettably be the last, but for readers at the time there would’ve been a real feeling of the comic taking off this month, ironically enough. With the introductions now out of the way this feels like the first proper story about these characters and their new abilities upon the ravaged planet Prysmos. Unfortunately, the writing may have already been on the wall at Marvel UK, evidenced by a downgrade in the physical comic.

The outer eight pages are no longer of a thicker, glossier stock and instead the whole issue is made up of the same paper as the weekly Transformers. At least editor Steve White is introducing the story in the editorial rather than solely plugging other titles. Action Force Monthly still gets a mention though, they must really have wanted to push it, but the main thing is we finally get a proper editorial for this comic.

With characters beginning to develop beyond the information on the back of the toy packaging and some larger scale world building taking place, The Star Stone is a brilliant story which asks big questions about the choices we make and why, as well as clearly setting things up for as-yet-unknown events further down the line. Gerry Conway was now in charge of developing the storyline and it’s clear he understood the subject matter and its potential.

It kicks off with plenty of action as Reekon‘s new Dagger Assault, the biggest and best of all the toys in the range, tries to eliminate the Darkling Lords‘ contractor Harkon to stop him supplying any magical vehicles to the Spectral Knights. Reekon also goes up against the Sky Claw which is still in the hands of their enemy, but its owner Mortdredd recaptures it this issue, sneaking into Leoric’s castle in beetle form to steal it back. This act introduces one of the changes from the cartoon that I actually prefer.

The characters’ magical totems would emerge from their chest plates and become fully formed as the human behind them faded away. The totems in the cartoon looked like glowing holograms to match the toys and in the context of a cartoon it did look brilliant. But comics are a different medium and in this more serious take on the story their animal selves maintain the colour of their real world counterparts, meaning they are a proper disguise. This is used to great affect several times this issue.

More humour slips in too, for example that background exchange between Lexor and Virulina happening behind a major plot point. The main story itself, once the characters are all in place, sees the discovery of an ancient scroll which tells of a hidden device, forgotten about for millennia that could end the Age of Magic and return the world to the Age of Science. This is revealed after a startling discovery by Arzon.

After the initial battle Arzon finds himself approached by child beggars, homeless and desperate for food after being abandoned by their parents following “the change”, which is how the cataclysmic events of the origin story are referred to. This is where Gerry’s world building comes in. The toys and the cartoon hype this fancy new age, the wonderful powers that came with it and all the action and adventure kids could hope for. But Gerry’s Prysmos is a grittier, medieval place where Arson finds himself suddenly faced with the harsh truth.

The origin tale placed a lot of emphasis on how reliant humans were on their technology. At the end only a few Knights were deemed worthy of Merklynn’s magic, the future of their world placed on their shoulders. You could view it as an allegory of the dangers of relying too much on technology (technological advancements were happening at breakneck speed in the 80s), or a reference to the class system and how those in a position of power, whether earned or not, have a responsibility to those less fortunate. The Spectral Knights and the Darkling Lords just have differing views on what their responsibility is.

While all the magical action is there, seeing them have philosophical debates, questioning their powers and being properly affected by the world around them has been a very pleasant surprise.

The coming of the Age of Magic has left many suffering and having these starving children approach Arzon, who is unable to help, is a particularly dark moment for a toy licence. It makes for a surprisingly mature thread throughout, one of many planted by the comic’s new head writer.

Arzon thinks returning to the previous age is a way to end this suffering. His leader Leoric isn’t so sure. Suffering still occurred before and humans had lost their way, their compassion, their true selves. The Age of Magic is a chance to rebuild together, to fix all that was wrong before. But at what cost in the short term? The scene in which this is discussed is a lovely, quieter moment between the characters and shows how they’re now being treated as three-dimensional characters who just happen to have magical powers.

But when Mortredd steals the Sky Claw it’s clear he could be taking the information from the scroll back to Darkstorm, so Leoric has no choice but to track down the device. We see Arzon in his eagle form, a true animal and not a holographic projection, alongside more lovely atmospheric captions. He’s unable to catch the Sky Claw, so he and Leoric leave to seek knowledge from Merklynn about the scroll, which results in a rather funny exchange from the usually serious wizard.

We now get a few pages told through Arzon after he casts his Power of Knowledge poem, telling us of a time ten thousand years ago during the earliest days of the Age of Science when a meteor fell to the ground. Upon its discovery the military’s head scientist, Tech-Colonel Ragni Fiesel found none of his equipment worked within its vicinity.

Identified as a ‘Reversal Field’, Fiesel ordered the building of a bomb containing the meteor as a way of deterring any other region from invading. It was promoted by the government as a way of keeping the peace. But Prysmos had been at peace for millennia, there was no need for such a threat against other nations. Some things never change and it would appear the mythical world of Prysmos was in reality no better than our own.

It was clearly a ploy by a corrupt government, one which was soon overthrown in a coup. But not before the bomb had been built and secreted in a mound of earth, over time becoming overgrown and part of the landscape, indistinguishable from its surroundings. All records of the bomb vanished, apart from the one scroll discovered by Harkon, who as an engineer longed for the return of that age.


“Can a man become a beast, for however short a time, and still remain a man?

Leoric

During their quest to find the bomb Leroic gets to muse to himself about the magical totems they now possess. After witnessing Feryl find a path through twisting thorns as a fox (this is an error, Ectar is the fox, Feryl is a wolf), Leoric notices his friend’s voice sounds less human every time he transforms. It surprised me they can speak in their animal forms at all! But that’s not the point I want to make. Leoric’s foreboding thoughts set up possible future storylines about just how much these powers change those who use them.

I’m loving all of this extra depth because I just didn’t expect it. While all the magical action is there, seeing them have philosophical debates, questioning their powers and being properly affected by the world around them has been a very pleasant surprise. It’s bittersweet of course and I can’t help thinking about how this could’ve developed if it hadn’t been cancelled so early.

Gerry clearly had plans for the future and he was carefully planting seeds here. But the main thread this issue concerns how little they know about their planet’s current situation, enough to throw doubts on whether they should attempt to change their future yet again. With all these unknown factors they could make things even worse.

Fortunately for the Spectral Knights, and for Hasbro, inside the meteor’s casing their ancestors saw fit to place vehicles which could work near the Reversal Field by drawing energy from a magical source instead of a scientific one. Fiesel knew that if his government really did have to throw the switch, they’d need some kind of advantage.

Say hello to the Capture Chariot (the one vehicle I didn’t possess) and the Lancer Cycle, completing the comic’s take on the toy line.

The large scale battle at the end of this issue is brilliantly brought to life (with no more mistakes I should add) by penciller Mark Bagley, inker Romeo Tanghai, colourist Julianna Ferriter and letterer Janice Chiang. We even get to see the Capture Chariot‘s power and I was thrilled to see it resemble that of the cartoon’s. There really was no other way to show it and, even if it’s not in the ghostly green colour I was used to as a kid, it’s still pretty neat to this old fan.

In a moment of desperation against ever decreasing odds Darkstorm uses his staff’s Power of Decay to try to destroy all of the Spectral Knights in one swift move and it’s Galadria who saves the day, throwing herself into its path. She may not have her own powers yet, but here she shows her willingness to sacrifice herself to save others. This sets her up to receive her Power of Healing from Merklynn. See also how cowardly Lexor now throws himself into battle, but only because his Spell of Invulnerability can stop anything in its tracks.

In a clever moment Leoric’s Power of Wisdom and Arzon’s Power of Knowledge are shown to be two very different things indeed. The Spectral Knight leader isn’t sure the reversal bomb should be set off and Arzon questions this, “Think of all the pain we’ll save the world!” Leoric’s response isn’t the kind of thing you’d expect from a toy licence comic.

“But pain is a part of life, Arzon. When a mother gives birth, she knows pain. Would we deny the newborn child to save the mother pain?”

As Arzon then notes, knowledge and wisdom must be used together.

In the end Darkstorm accuses Leoric of being weak and reference is made to their opposing plans to rebuild their world. Leoric sees a better world, Darkstorm a stronger one. Most of the time the villains in our cartoons and comics in the 80s were evil simply because they were. Darkstorm genuinely believes only by ruling with an iron fist can his beloved Prysmos regain its strength and position in the heavens. Leoric believes in compassion and fairness instead, even if rebuilding takes longer to achieve. It’s an interesting dynamic.

As discussed before Visionaries has no extra features, in fact this issue there’s even only one advertisement. It isn’t even for the toys the comic is based on which seems a strange choice. Instead it’s a promotion for the new Flintstones & Friends title. It feels rather out of place here, surely it had a different target audience? The fact it’s out twice as often as Visionaries yet has more pages is a bit of a blow for fans of the Knights too. The Flintstones comic would last for just under a year, managing 24 issues before being cancelled and rebranded as Cartoon Time.

It’s sad to think of this as the penultimate issue of Visionaries already when it seems to have so much promise. However, there is at least some more to come even after the final issue next month. I’ll let you in on what when I review that fateful #5 on Wednesday 21st July.