Tag Archives: Gerry Conway

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.

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?

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.