Take Transformers, take G.I. Joe, give them to the guy who made American Barbarian, let him filter them through Jack Kirby and gonzo art comics, and lo and behold, you might get something like Transformers vs. G.I. Joe.
In the past, G.I. Joe and the Transformers had plenty of crossover series, first with Marvel Comics (which helped develop both properties in The '80s), and later when their licenses were with the likes of Dreamwave Productions and Devil's Due Press. But when both publishers either went belly up or lost the licenses, IDW Publishing saw it best to snag the licensing rights to both.
The series, written by Tom Scioli (who also draws the series) and Transformers group editor John Barber, has the war between the Autobots and Decepticons colliding with the war between G.I. Joe and Cobra. But things don't exactly go as paint-by-the-numbers as you'd think it would...
The series started on May 2014 with an issue #0 serving as a prologue for the series. The series proper continued with issue #1 in July 2014 and concluded with #13 on May 2016. A follow up comic was made as an In-Universe Comic Adaptation of the In-Universe Movie Adaptation of the In Universe Comic version of this comic was made in March 2017.
This comic series contains examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptation Decay: The In-Universe Comic Adaptation of the In-Universe Movie Adaptation of the In-Universe version of this comic parodies this and takes it Up to Eleven. The first half is more or less a summary of the events in the original comic with most of the things right...but are not. Such as Scarlett becoming Optimus' Head Master when she was Scorpinok's, Snake Eyes fighting with the Joes When he was a Double Agent inside of Cobra.
- All Just a Dream: The end of Issue #6 reveals the whole adventure was just pure imagination from Scarlett. Subverted in the very next issue when it turns out that Scarlett was being manipulated by Cobra's Doctor Mindbender and the Decepticon hypnotist, Mindwipe.
- Anyone Can Die: It happens surprisingly very often.
- Bumblebee's out of the picture in the prologue...until Issue #8 reveals that he's still alive.
- Cobra Commander and Baroness die in the prologue too. But issue #5 shows they both survived...albeit comatose in Cobra Commander's case and heavily scarred in Baroness' case.
- This hits Soundwave pretty badly in Issue #1...until his brother, Shockwave, resurrects him in issue #10's side story "Black Cybertron"...kinda.
- Grimlock is a goner as of Issue #5.
- As of Issue #8, we can add Optimus Prime into the corpse count.
- And of Issue #10, the entire population of Earth.
- Issue 13 has Destro, Hawk, Cobra Commander, and Storm Shadow.
- Some of the above get better or appear again in the afterlife, though.
- Back from the Dead:
- Optimus, in the finale. And it is awesome.
- In issue 13, the narration assures that Megatron will one day return as Galvatron.
- Came Back Wrong: Shockwave (who is is Soundwave's brother in the canon) does his damndest to resurrect Soundwave, but Soundwave ends up sounding monotone rather than melodious, much to Shockwave's horror.
- The Cameo: Bludgeon appears as guardian of the afterlife in issue 12.
- Combining Mecha: Defensor as combined by the Rescuebots, which are comprised of Inferno, Jetfire, Ratchet, Prowl, Red Alert, Blades (who is styled after his Transformers: Rescue Bots toy incarnation physically while sporting the colors of his G1 self), and Arcee. ...We did say this comic series was insane, right?
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Parodied with The Movie Adaptation.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting:
- Covers Always Lie: Ultra Magnus appears in the cover for Issue #7...but he's nowhere in the actual story...until issue #10.
- Crossover: Between Transformers and G.I. Joe, natch...but be warned, for it is...
- Denser and Wackier: Compared to the previous Transformers and G.I. Joe crossovers, this one goes...out there.
- Dramatic Unmask: Cobra Commander and the Serpentress (formally known as the Baroness) have one in issue #12. The Serpentress' scars aren't so bad, but Cobra Commander's? He's pretty bad looking.
- Eldritch Abomination: Koh-Buru-Lah is a... thing made of tentacles and teeth.
- Enfant Terrible: Crystal Ball predicts Serpentor will be one.
- Fantastic Slur: The Joes initially negatively refer to Transformers as "Go-Bots", which is also a Take That! to a different franchise, the rival US Transforming Mecha show Challenge Of The Go Bots. It's eventually revealed that Go-Bots exists as a fictional show in-universe.
- Feed It a Bomb: Dr. Venom is killed by having a live grenade pushed into his mouth.
- Grim Reaper: Turns out Cybertron has one...and it's Ultra Magnus. No, really!
- I Fight for the Strongest Side: Dr. Venom will always suddenly undergo a moral conversion to whoever seems to be winning, or claim to have been secretly working for them all along. This eventually gets him killed.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Megatron turns out to be one after eating a very much alive Skidmark in issue #10, much to the horror of most of the Dreadnoks.Ripper: GORE BLIMEY! I fink I've gone and lost me bloomin' happytite.
Torch: Not me, mate. (CHOMP CHOMP) Grub's gotten way better since we shanghai'd that G.I. Joe celebrity chef.
- In Name Only: Deliberately played with in a lot of places, in that a lot of characters and concepts are vastly off from the originals - for instance, the Oktober Guard goes from a Russian counterpart to GI Joe to a Halloween-themed squad of villains, and Rodimus goes from a youthful cavalier given a sudden promotion to an exiled philosopher-king who now harvests "hot rods." The overall sensation is intentionally like a kid playing with their toys and making up lore and backstories as they go along.
- Intercontinuity Crossover
- Interspecies Romance: As a Last Minute Hook Up at the end, the human Cover Girl and the Autobot Brawn.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Doctor Venom is very insistent that his name should be pronounced with a German "v" sound, to sound like the first two syllables of "phenomenon", and not with an English "v".
- Mythology Gag: Let's just say if you have an intimate knowledge of the mythos of both Transformers and G.I. Joe, you're gonna get a kick out of finding the various Easter eggs to both franchises.
- After Megatron killed Grimlock in issue #5, he starts wearing Grimlock's T-Rex head over his hand a la Beast Wars!Megatron.
- When Soundwave is resurrected in issue #10, he starts speaking like his G1 cartoon self. And his resurrection itself is a lot like how he became Soundblaster in Transformers Headmasters.
- When Optimus Prime is revived, he comes out of Ultra Magnus and is all white, in reference to the fact that Ultra Magnus is a repaint of the original toy Optimus came from, Powered Convoy, and looked exactly like Optimus without his trailer armor.
- In a Whole Episode Flashback of Destro's origins, Cobra Commander asks Destro if his castle is still haunted by the ghosts of everyone who died at the end of a Destro gun, and Destro assures him that he ghost proofed it.
- Snake Eyes' birth name is revealed at the end of the comic to be Francis Witwicky. "Witwicky" is the surname of several significant human characters in various Transformers continuities.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: By the end of the series, Billy has become a Cobra-G.I. Joe-Transformer-Arashikage-Reptile-human fusion who not only leads the remnants of COBRA as the new Cobra Commander, he has also inherited the Master Sword and the both title and costume of "Snake Eyes." But to show him embracing both roles, there is now a COBRA insignia on the chest.
- Retraux: Looks and feels like a much older comic series. While the storyline is heavily influenced by the styles of the 80's and 90's, the Kirbyesque art style, combined with the deliberate browning of the pages, is more along the lines of a vintage 60's or 70's book.
- Shoot the Rope: Happens to General Flagg when he's about to be hanged for war crimes and a pardon almost arrives too late.
- The cyborg-augmented Joe animals are referred to as the US7, a punning reference to the comic WE3.
- In the finale, Megatron's corpse crash-lands on Equestria. No, really. The depiction's more in line with the original 80s version of MLP, as befits the Retraux feel.
- One of the Previous holders of the Matrix of Leadership is named Amazon Prime.
- Villain Team-Up: Cobra teams up with the Decepticons in Issue #3 onwards.
- Wham Episode: Issue #8 ends not only with Optimus Prime dying at the hands of Megatron, but also the apparent destruction of Earth itself.
- Whole Episode Flashback: Issue #9 is a whole flashback to the origins of the Destro family in Dark Ages Europe and Issue #11 is a flashback to the Duke acting as Drill Sergeant Nasty to his half-brother Falcon as he is training to fight the Cybertronians.
- Your Head Asplode: Cobra Commander's fate, thanks to that helmet full of explosives he has.