The comic book publishing rights, or licensing, of Hasbro's G.I. Joe and Transformers have quite a history. Over the last ~60 years, both franchises have been published by several companies, but a new company has taken them over and is garnering a lot of buzz.
Hasbro first licensed G.I. Joe and released America's Movable Fighting Man in partnership with Custom Comics to promote its new line of G.I. Joe action figures back in the late 1960s. As time went on, Hasbro released additional comics to cross-promote their toys, entitled The Adventures of G.I. Joe and The G.I. Joe Adventure Team. This would continue up until the mid 1970s, where they ended up taking a break for a few years. Fast-forward to June of 1982, where Saturday morning cartoons and action figures were perhaps at their peak... G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero launched in partnership with Marvel Comics. The series would run for 155 issues, seeing several tie-ins before bouncing around a few publishers: Blackthorne, Dark Horse, Benchpress, Devil's Due, and IDW. During this time, Transformers would go through a similar gauntlet, being published by another handful of established and independent publishers alike.
(Pictured: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #301)
G.I. Joe has attempted to maintain some kind of continuity in its main series (300 issues) while it bounced between publishers. Transformers continuity is technically complete and spans ~430 issues but has been broken up across 3 separate eras or relaunches/reboots while at IDW alone.
For both franchises, IDW has been home since the early 2000s... But all of that is about to change.
Void Rivals, a comic recently published by Skybound (an Image Comics imprint), snuck under our radar at 204Comics. We had seen solicits for a new comic book series being written by Robert Kirkman, but little did we know that just before the release date its surprise ending would be revealed -- Void Rivals was to usher in the new Energon Universe at Skybound. This would see a new continuity introduced for Transformers while G.I. Joe would start up again at issue #301, among a couple of additional spin-offs. For the first time in nearly 15 years, G.I. Joe and Transformers will be printed by a new publisher. The solicitation for Void Rivals #1 reads as follows:
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?
(Pictured: Promotional art for Skybound's Transformers #1)
So far, Void Rivals has been positively received in/around our shop. Not very many people saw plot leaks for the series before release date, including us, so we were all caught by surprise when every copy of Void Rivals #1 flew off the shelf on release day. A second printing is due out on July 12th, but we don't expect them to last long at our shop. If you want to find out what all of the hype is all about, reach out to us to order a copy of Void Rivals as the series progresses, or you can wait until the release of...
Transformers #1 -- October 2023
Duke #1 -- December 2023
Cobra Commander #1 -- January 2024