Void Rivals #1-Is it more than meets the eye?
This past week saw the release of Skybound’s newest series, Void Rivals. Void Rivals #1 is your standard sci-fi action comic fare, but more on that later. The reason people cared about this comic is that it is a stealth debut of one of the biggest IPs in the world—Transformers—but this time under a new comic publisher.
Rumors and Rumblings
From 2005 to 2022, Transformers was published by IDW comics. After IDW confirmed they were going to lose the rights to Transformers and GI Joe, rumors began to swirl that the licensing rights were going to Robert Kirkman’s (Walking Dead, Invincible fame) Skybound entertainment in 2023. Yet, for 6 months, there was silence, and, in that vacuum, speculation grew.
Recent announcements that Rom, Space Knight and Micronauts (other Hasbro Properties with extensive comic history) were returning to Marvel to finally get reprints only served to fuel the speculation about the status of the Transformers/GI Joe licenses.
Afterall, a new Transformers movie was dropping in June and there hasn’t been even an announcement or solicit for a new Transformer comic series from anyone.
Enter Void Rivals
With the creative team behind Oblivion Song behind the book, it was likely going to be a decent seller. Yet, for the better part of the week leading up to its release various review outlets began to hype up the comic. News started coming out that retailers were told to order extra copies of Void Rivals #1. Void Rivals was being built up as some large project and one that no one could miss. Yet, no real mention of Transformers from the reviewers or even the solicitations.
Void Rivals #1 dropped on June 14th and within it was the appearance of the Jetfire, an Autobot and decidedly a Transformer. With that it was confirmed that Transformers (and GI Joe) were indeed coming to Skybound.
Now, for the better part of the week leading up to its release various review outlets began to hype up the comic. Retailers were told to order extra copies of Void Rivals #1. Void Rivals was being built up as some large project and one that no one could miss. Yet, no real mention of Transformers from the reviewers or even the solicits.
The blockbuster OBLIVION SONG team of ROBERT KIRKMAN & LORENZO DE FELICI debut the biggest new comic book series of 2023 with the launch of AN ALL-NEW SHARED UNIVERSE and a SURPRISE you won’t see coming!
War rages around the Sacred Ring where the last remnants of two worlds have collapsed around a black hole in a never-ending war.
However, when pilot Darak and his rival Solila both crash on a desolate planet these two enemies must find a way to escape together. But are they alone on this strange planet? And what dark forces await that threaten the entire universe?Void Rivals #1 solicitation
Obviously, there was a surprise hinted at in the solicits but nothing concrete. Kirkman has a habit of messing with solicits and making surprise announcements in his comics. The Walking Dead famously ended abruptly with 3 additional months of solicitations being published. All a ruse to surprise the readers. It is no shock that Kirkman wanted to deliver that again here.
I have my reservations of Kirkman overseeing Transformers and GI Joe. I don’t find his writing to be that enjoyable overall and his pacing issues aggravate me. That’s not even touching the less than stellar business record he has accrued in regard to paying his creative teams and providing proper credit, but I will give him this—the creative teams announced for the Energon Universe (the name for this Skybound Transformers/GI Joe Universe) does inspire hope.
Void Rivals #1 Review
Now the big questions: “how does Void Rivals itself stack up?” And “Is the Jetfire appearance worthwhile?”
Well, Dear Reader, the answer to both questions is a resounding, “It’s okay.”
Void Rivals #1
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Lorenzo De Felici
Colors by Matheus Lopes
Letters by Zeus Wooton
Void Rivals #1 is a good comic. The premise is laid out in the solicit. It is about two survivors from opposite sides of some sort of galactic war finding themselves marooned on a planetoid. The duo discover they are not alone, and that surprise is Jetfire.
On its own, Void Rivals feels very much like the various trendy Image comics of the 2010’s that were soft pitches to land some sort of TV/Movie development deal. The premise is very boilerplate sci-fi. That doesn’t mean it can’t be good, though. I like that meat and potatoes style of sci-fi and it’s the actual reason I decided to pick up the book.
De Felici’s art and character designs are strong. The book has a nice look and a profound sense of pacing. The layouts give a sense of motion and energy that I enjoy.
It does bum me out that Jetfire is straight up the G1 design, but I can live with it. I prefer it when artists get to take liberties with the Transformer designs, but it’s a new company running things this time so new style guides are expected.
Kirkman is my main concern. I find his writing to either be so dour I can’t stand it or worse—the pacing of the plot is so slow that a single issue feels like eating popcorn, sure its light and fluffy but it often leaves you hungry and unsatisfied. Kirkman writes his comics with the trade in mind and does so in the worst possible ways. Every issue feels like it moves at a snails pace and it takes until the end of the arc for hopefully something of substance to have occurred.
That said, Void Rivals #1 skirts those concerns. It is a breezy read, but it manages to help flesh out the world of this Energon Universe and provide foundation pieces that I am curious to see develop. I will be continuing the series. It’s not a revelation of a comic. It is not going to turn the industry on its head. However, it’s an enjoyable comic.
Jetfire aka Poochie
His appearance can best summarize by this Simpsons gif.
Jetfire shows up and…it feels tacked on. It feels like something that they could have easily cut if the licensing deal fell through at the last minute. The idea of doing a stealth reveal is neat and it created a lot of buzz for the series. The appearance itself is neat but it really does interrupt the flow of the comic.
So yeah, check out Void Rivals #1 if you get the chance. It’s a decent sci-fi comic but temper your expectations in regard to the Transformers. It’s just an appetizer and not the full course.