Tag Archives: Steve White

ViSiONARiES ANNUAL 1988: REPEAT PERFORMANCE

When I reviewed Marvel UK‘s monthly Visionaries comic earlier this year the general reaction on social media fell into two camps. There were those who’d forgotten all about the comic and those who never knew it existed. Even fewer knew about this annual. Exactly 33 years ago to the day, back in 1988 I received it on Christmas Day, not knowing about the existence of a regular comic until it was mentioned inside. I was gutted I’d missed out, being such a fan of the cartoon, so finally reading their origin story was a thrill.

Of course, today that thrill is diminished somewhat after only reading that story several months ago in the comic. I can imagine fans weren’t too pleased that over half the book was reprint material either. But let’s start at the beginning with that eye-catching cover by Martin Griffiths (Thundercats, The Real Ghostbusters, 2000AD) and John Burns (Transformers, Sable and Fortune, G.I. Joe). Original Marvel UK pieces like this are the envy of American Visionaries fans, like the opening spread by Dougie Braithwaite (The Punisher, The Real Ghostbusters, Batman) and John.

There’s an editorial matching the comic’s design, although at least here it’s all hype for the annual in the reader’s hands rather than advertising for other titles. Surprisingly it explains the strip is a reprint but it does make a big deal of the fact there are two brand new prose stories and a handful of fact-files. There’s also the obligatory space to fill in your name in case your friends decided to steal it away from you.

Monthly Visionaries editor Steve White is credited as designer here, most likely because most of the design is taken straight from the comic with minimal changes. The editor is Marvel UK stalwart Richard Starkings (Transformers letterer, The Real Ghostbusters launch editor, Elephantmen writer and Comicraft founder) and with limited resources to produce an annual for a comic which had proven unsuccessful, so no UK originated strips, he’s done a fine job in pulling together a book I have very happy memories of.

So yes, the most exciting thing in this annual for me originally was finally reading how it all began and it’s always a good read, no matter how many times I do so. The End… The Beginning takes up a whopping 38 of the 64 pages available here and is the original version of the strip, minus the great big lump of text that removed some important panels from the start of the second half when published in #2 (see below).

Based on the teleplay by Flint Dille, adapted by Jim Salicrup, pencilled by Mark Bagley, inked by Romeo Tanghai, lettered by Janice Chiang and coloured by Julianna Ferriter it’s still a masterpiece in origin storytelling today, however I’m not going to read it again for this review. It may have been brand new and exciting 33 years ago but I read it for the comic’s reviews last spring and again in the pages of Transformers this year! (I’ll explain that at the end of the review.) So for the full details of this story check out the reviews of #1 and #2 of the comic.

So I’m just reading the parts that are new and as such it’s a much different, much shorter experience this time around. We begin with the fact-files, of which there are six featuring Spectral Knights Leoric, Witterquick and Arzon, and Darkling Lords Darkstorm, Cindarr and Cravex. I’m not sure who drew the images for them but they are rather basic. Four of them were used for the editorial page, although just their faces. Given how far in advance annuals are created I think we can conclude these were drawn for these fact-files and then used in the monthly’s editorial.

The descriptions have basically been lifted from the toy packets, reworded slightly to include the occasional reference to the origin strip. While the cartoon and comic had our heroes turn into the animals on their chest plates, the toys simply said these totems “represented” the characters’ personalities and you can see that’s used here too, which is a bit strange. Also, by this stage Darkstorm‘s goal had been established as more than simply wanting to conquer his foes (I’ve gone into that in depth in the monthly reviews) so it’s a shame to see that included.

I loved getting my Marvel annuals every year with their mix of strips and text stories. Unbelievably, some of my friends didn’t read the prose tales and wished their books were strips from cover to cover. They really missed out, these were some of the very best stories told by Marvel UK; it was one of the annual text stories that created Megatron‘s background of being a gladiator before the war, something that’s canon in basically every interpretation of Transformers today.

The writers would often concentrate on a couple of characters for the whole story, using the format to have some fun with them. While Transformers used it to develop them, for most of the other annuals it was a chance to take one small battle or incident and create a story full of personality and humour. That’s definitely the route the two new stories take here. First up is The Edge written by Ian Rimmer (Zoids, Action Force, Transformers) with art by Will Simpson (Transformers, Hellblazer, Rogue Trooper) and colour by Stuart Place (Captain Britain, Transformers (yes, again!)).

The story is bookended with Merklynn playing a game of chess, or whatever the Prysmos equivalent is, and equating his game to the ongoing battles between the two factions of warriors he’s created. The theme here is luck, that no matter the strategy in the game chance will always play a part. The story itself is simple but fun and these bookends are an attempt to make it all feel more substantial than it actually is. It’s an interesting way of doing it and a good example of the more experimental writing techniques used in the text stories.

Reekon and Virulina are stalking about the lake near Leoric‘s compound when they happen upon Cryotek gathering drinking water and immediately hatch a plan to take him out involving both of their totems, a plan which is quite smart and very entertaining. In the midst of the fight the wooden shaft of the Spectral Knight’s staff gets snapped in two and the magic power itself disappears from within. This is a moment of revelation for the Darkling Lords but surely they’d have known this already? Has no damage come to their own wooden staffs in all this time?

The Lords launch a mass attack in which their targets aren’t the Knights themselves but their staffs, and they begin destroying them one by one. Surely a risky manoeuvre since their own staffs would be just as vulnerable, surely? Cryotek is holding the two pieces of his and needs a free hand to fight, so he holds them together in one hand at the point where they snapped apart. The magical energy returns, all it needed was to be held together and connected via the inner energy of the person whose persona is embodied within it. The battle ends in a draw and we read about Merkylnn resetting his chess game ready for the next battle and laughing.

It’s a strange little tale that doesn’t make an awful lot of sense if you think about it too much but there are some nice character moments, particularly for Reekon and Virulina. The dialogue between the two is snappy and funny as they whisper and bicker about their plan, and Reekon shows a masterful mathematical mind in working out the odds of success (and survival), an aspect of his character we never got to see in the comic before its premature cancellation. Definitely worth it for these moments alone.

The second prose story in this book in the final new Visionaries story of the whole run, so in hindsight it has an awful lot to live up to. I’m very happy to say it does so with aplomb. False Light at Fulch Rock stars Arzon, Darkstorm and Cravex and is written by Dan Abnett (Doctor Who, Knights of Pendragon and a legend on The Real Ghostbusters), with accompanying art by Dougie Braithwaite and Cam Smith (Supergirl, Sinister Dexter, New Mutants), and colours by Chris Mattews (Thundercats, Mighty Max).

I was won over from the very first sentence, which paints the picture of a monastery on a cliff edge in the middle of a “dark storm”. With an image of the similarly named leader of the Darkling Lords on a purple horse across the page it immediately draws you in; we’re in for a treat with this one in atmosphere alone. However, everything else about the story is a winner too.


Darkstorm: “The Crystal of Light. With it, I will be supreme.”

Cravex: “You?”

Darkstorm:”The Darkling Lords. Whatever. Now come on!”


It tells the story of the Knights and Lords travelling to townships offering protection in this new dangerous age and Arzon’s next stop is Fulch Rock where the Order of the Lightfinders have taken refuge, led by Murnoc. Before he can get inside he’s set upon by Darkstorm and Cravex, barely escaping thanks to his Power of Knowledge spell poem, with which he’s able to predict the most likely next attack from his foes. However, he eventually falls over the cliff, transforming into his eagle form at the last second, slowing his decent enough to survive although he’s badly injured. He’s found by the Lightfinders and brought inside, where Darkstorm is ordered not to harm Murnoc’s guest while he works out which side to accept protection from.

It’s a great start. The rest of the story explains how the Lords are only offering protection because of the rumour of a Crystal of Light much like Merklynn’s being hidden inside. There’s some cracking dialogue here which we’ve come to expect from Marvel UK text stories and in the end we find out it’s all been a ruse to lure the Lords there to steal their armour, the “Aftertech” these religious nuts worship as their salvation, to power themselves and take over the land. The crystal is a fake and the three Visionaries must work together to escape due to the vast numbers of followers Murnoc has amassed.

Dan’s writing paints a picture in the mind and I think the story works so much better as prose than I think a strip would have. The Visionaries comic was always very good at building atmosphere with its descriptive panels, but having what is essentially seven pages of that kind of writing is something else! After the final battle Arzon tells Darkstorm the lesson to be learned is not judging others by appearance alone and that it’s a shame the two sides, so formidable together for the greater good, couldn’t work together to rebuild the planet. Darkstorm actually hesitates here. But in the end they leave as enemies. It’s a nicely written reference back to the monthly and the fact Darkstorm truly believed he was just doing what was best for his world.

See if you can track the whole series down, you’ll enjoy some of the very best 80s comics you’re ever likely to read.

So if you’ve read the strip is it worth your while picking this book up? Most definitely. The exclusive art and text stories are worth the entry fee and it’s essential for the completist. It’s also a bittersweet moment because as I finished Fulch Rock I realised that was the last story these wonderful characters had. There’d be a Spring Special a few months into 1989 which was a page-for-page reprint of #5 of the comic, released to plug the fact Visionaries were returning to the Transformers comic, which I’m reading in real time on the blog’s Instagram. But when they did reappear it was yet another reprint of The End… The Beginning, making it three times it was published in the UK in one year!

I’ll take a look at those reprints next year in time for their own anniversaries but for now it’s been a blast reliving the feeling of receiving this annual all those years ago. It’s sad to know there are no more stories to come when there were so many that could be told. The comic had some of the greatest potential of any licenced comic. It began in such strong shape and was developing so fast. I truly believe it’s a great loss we didn’t get to see what could’ve happened if the lifespan fellow Hasbro franchises like Transformers and G.I. Joe had been granted to the Visionaries.

After Christmas get yourself on to eBay and see if you can track the whole series down (it won’t take too long to complete), you’ll enjoy some of the very best 80s comics you’re ever likely to read.

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.