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covers credit: Skybound Entertainmen and Image Comics

Has it been a year already?

That is the question many comic readers wound up saying this past week. It came as a bit of a surprise that in the past 365 days, a universe emerged to take imaginations by storm. Two pop culture fandoms returned to the comic shops.

It was a move that caught most readers off-guard. Who knew that on June 14th, 2023 that an unknown new series would be the kickoff to what has become staples for readers’ pull lists.

The series: Void Rivals by Robert Kirkman, Lorenzo De Felici, Mat Lopes and Rus Wooton (June 14th, 2023)

The fandoms: Transformers and G.I. Joe

The universe: The Energon Universe by Skybound Entertainment and Image Comics

Let’s take a trip back and see how the past year has been. *** POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING ***

When Robert Kirkman’s name is attached to a series, there’s a certain buzz behind it. With such hit series on the resume as The Walking Dead and Invincible, Kirkman warrants that attention. The book had two names attached as characters. They were Darak and Solila. However, with the books’ announcement, there was mention of an all new shared universe. Fans started to speculate what that meant. The book also promised a “Big Surprise”. This is not uncommon with new series. Debut issues are known to come out of the gates hot. That said, no one expected it to be burning like JetFire.

And with a flip of the page, an exclamation point was dropped….

As the story progressed on an unknown planet, the unlikely pair come across a character that many fans know. That was Jetfire of the Transformers franchise. Knowing that Jetfire, who is “more than meets the eye”, just cameoed in the issue, many were in shock. This had been highly kept secret. Once word got around about the release, it re-lit many fans’ interest in some familiar faces. Having a cameo made waves. What followed made even more news.

Shortly after Void Rivals #1, Skybound had announced that Void Rivals was a part of the newly born “Energon Universe”. This new universe would be shared with the Transformers and G.I. Joe. Both fandoms have a rich history in comics. From Marvel Comics in the 1980’s to most recently IDW Publishing in 2022, they both have generated hundreds of stories along with hit toys, animation and live action films. How would this new universe make it’s mark?


With Void Rivals slowly revealing more characters, fans were waiting for another entry to join the new universe. They didn’t wait too long as October 2023 brought for a new Transformers series. The mastermind behind this new volume was Daniel Warren Johnson. Johnson has made a strong impression with fans for big action and incredible storytelling. Anyone who’s read Murder Falcon or Do A Powerbomb knows what he was bringing to the table.

The series wasted no time in bringing the action and emotion. As previously stated, Bumblebee was killed off in the first issue. This was a huge gut punch but to paraphrase his NYCC panel speech, Johnson had no issue playing the heel like MJF in AEW at the time. The series has been a smash hit. It just wrapped up it’s first arc and continues to ramp up the drama and destruction (with Jorge Corona taking over art duties in issue #7).


During the initial are, Johnson introduced the franchise of the G.I. Joe universe in issue #2. The stage was set with an encounter between a daring pilot named Conrad Hauser and Starscream. This lead to the start of mini-series introducing the Joe side of the Energon Universe to new and seasoned readers alike. Joshua Williamson helmed the first two spinoffs. They were the action fueled “Duke” (w/ Tom Reilly, Jordie Bellaire and Rus Wooton) and the horror themed “Cobra Commander” (w/ Andrea Milana, Annalisa Leoni and Wooton). Both were released in December 2023 and January of 2024 respectively. Both did not disappoint.

Along with this new universe, Skybound and Image revived the classic G.I. Joe series. It was even more fitting with legendary G.I. Joe writer Larry Hama steering the ship. Picking up in November of 2023, the series didn’t skip a beat and dived into the lore of the fandom right where Hama left off with issue #301. This has led to one of the biggest kickstarter campaigns in recent memory/ The compendium set which includes the original G.I. Joe run has made literal millions in its’ campaign pledges. Suffice to say, the fans want more G.I. Joe content, both classic and new.


It is fitting that one year later, the Energon Universe is starting a new phase. Two new G.I. Joe series just debuted. Scarlett (by Kelly Thompson, Marco Ferrari and Lee Loughridge) and Destro (w/ Dan Watters, Andrei Bressan and Adriano Lucas) premiered in June of 2024. Both have been huge hits with fans right out of the gate. They are complimenting the ongoing Void Rivals and Transformers series. This fairs well for another big project. An announced joint-shared G.I. Joe/Transformers movie is slated within the next couple of years. If anyone has worry about how it will go over, all they will need to do is just check out the comics.

The books are setting the standard and pace. Fans are locked and loaded into each series. Every new title is hitting the mark. With this universe ever evolving, has it plateaued? The answer is no.

How can it when it’s pretty clear that not only is the comics world but Pop Culture is running on Energon.

Hit me up on ODPHpod and Nerd Initiative socials and let me know if you agree or disagree with that statement.

Till next time, Thanks for reading!


Ken M.
Ken M.https://odphpodcast.com/
Executive Producer/Host of the ODPH (Ocho Duro Parlay Hour) Podcast. Ken is also Nerd Initiative's Comics Editor-In-Chief/Brand Advisor and host of "Turn A Page". Ken is also a freelance Pro Wrestling Blogger and an all around fan of Sports, Movies Tv, Comics and Pro Wrestling

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