Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Wednesday Comics: The Energon Universe

When Skybound/Image started the Energon Universe back in 2023, I was only mildly interested. And that interest was more curiosity at why they chose to start this shared universe of Hasbro toy properties, named after a substance from the Transformers with a completely original comic, Void Rivals. It was a title whose whole point of existence seemed to be to provide the surprise reveal of a Transformer link--which for marketing purposes had to be spoiled pre-release so it couldn't be a surprise.

Well, I still don't understand the point of that as I haven't read Void Rivals or the Transformers series written by Daniel Warren Johnson, but when I read a review of Duke #1 written by Joshua Williamson with art by Tom Reilly, I got onboard to the universe in general. 

Cobra Commander #1 followed a month later by Williamson and Milana. Issue 2 of that series hits comics shops today, I believe.

What they're doing is sort of Ultimate G.I. Joe (in the sense of Marvel's original Ultimate Marvel Universe), but the more realistic/modernized version of the cartoon G.I. Joe universe than Hama's original comics. Duke #1 opens at a point before there's a G.I. Joe, where Duke is a traumatized soldier (he saw a bud crushed in the hand of a giant transforming robot who the reader might recognize as Starscream) and his command structure (personified by Hawk) tells him he's mentally ill and dismisses what he saw.

Duke hooks up with a group of conspiracy theorists and discovers a link between the robot alien technology and M.A.R.S., who seem to be building a private army with advanced tech. The conspiracy group is killed, and Duke has to go on the run. Hawk is forced to send other elite troopers to bring him in--a group which the informed reader will recognize as including Rock-n-Roll and Stalker. Duke is renditioned to some sort of secret prison where he meets...

At this point, you are either the sort that this will appeal to, and you are already sold or it doesn't interest you at all, in which case these series probably aren't for you. I will say I think Williamson's stories for both series are a nice balance of fan service and inventiveness. The world is made more "real" in the sense of implications of alien technologies and human motivations, while retaining all the fantasticness (perhaps goofiness) of the source material. I wouldn't have thought he could make Cobra-La work, but he pretty much does.

1 comment:

JB said...

Ha! I missed this post. This sounds...not terrible?

I was never huge into G.I. Joe...the toys were just starting to get good about the same time I grew out of "action figures" and the cartoon was horrendous and a hard pass. However, I did pick up some of the early Marvel comics and I enjoyed these...after all, they were shooting people with actual bullets and telling some brutal "war" stories, even if there were aspects of "superheroism." Compared to standard Marvel fare, old Joe was a bit "mud core," at least in the early days (I was never a collector).

Giving the toyline comics a common universe and an Ultimate imprint wash isn't a Bad Idea. However, after seeing the other Ultimate series run off the rails after a couple/three story lines, I don't have much faith in Marvel's ability to crank out consistent material over time.

I'll wait for the trade paperback.