First Strike ended with Garrison Kreiger revealed as the magical Merklynn, scion of the lost world of Prysmos and hell-bent on restoring his culture to its former glory by any means nessecary. He got his wish... kind of.
As Cybertron's new government struggles to pick up the pieces, the Transformers turn their attention to the colony of "New Prysmos" underground, populated by the last vestiges of the Prysmosian race. But the Darkling Lords aren't pleased with the prospects of having to share their new home with a civilization of mechanical beings, and — urged on by Merklynn — plan to remake Cybertron into a copy of their lost homeworld with the power of the arcane Talisman... and not even the vaunted super-science of Cybertron can stand up against such an onslaught. The only hope for the Transformers lie with Leoric and his Spectral Knights, but can two such diametrically opposed powers put their differences aside?
Part of the Hasbro Comic Universe, Transformers vs. Visionaries is a 5-issue miniseries written by Magdalene Visaggio (Kim & Kim) and illustrated by Fico Ossio (Revolutionaries), featuring the introduction of the Visionaries into the universe while delving deeper into the mysteries of the always-enigmatic Talisman.
- Adaptational Intelligence: Cindarr goes from being a Dumb Muscle Minion with an F in Evil to being a pipe-smoking Wicked Cultured Genius Bruiser and intellectual, who acts as an advisor to Virulina.
- Adaptational Villainy: Merklynn goes from an amoral Jerkass who merely profited from the implicitly highly destructive return of magic to having actually caused said return for his own benefit. Also, whilst there may be other reasons behind his choosing to create New Prysmos through Hostile Terraforming of Cybertron, it's made quite clear through his dialogue and actions that his primary justification is sheer disgust at the idea of a free-willed, sapient machine race.
- Adaptation Distillation: Rather than separate animal totems and animal-based Power Staffs, the Visionaries now just have a single magical totem that they draw power from.
- An Arm and a Leg: Breakdown gets his arm amputated by Wheeljack to halt the magical infection.
- Apocalypse How: Prysmos suffered a class X as the gravitational forces exerted by its three suns tore it apart. Merklynn and his forces stand poised to enact a Class 4 on Cybertron as part of their attempts to terraform the world into a copy of old Prysmos.
- Ascended Extra: Breakdown was previously a bit character in Till All Are One, but here he's a main member of the cast and serves as Wheeljack's new lab assistant.
- Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: Part of the ethos of the redesigned characters was to give them a resemblance to the animals of their totems; this is most apparent with Leoric, whose barbarian dreadlocks resemble a lion's mane.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In issue #5, the Prysmosans willing to follow Virulina have red armor, whilst those willing to follow Leoric have blue armor. When they switch sides to serving Leoric, his touch causes their armor to spontaneously change color.
- Continuity Nod: As per Revolutionaries, Kup tries out the universal greeting on the Prysmosians. Unlike the Micronauts, it doesn't work.
- Days of Future Past: Merklynn's ultimate goal — to topple technology and force his people to return to the old ways.
- Death by Adaptation: Darkstorm — leader of the Darkling Lords in the original cartoon and the primary antagonist of said show — apparently didn't make it off Prysmos in time. Instead, the Darkling Lords are now led by Virulina.
- Depending on the Writer: Merklynn is a bad dude no matter how you slice it, but different authors have left the nature of his evil up to authorial interpretation. In Revolutionaries, "Kreiger" was a Pragmatic Villain who saw the Talisman as a source of personal profit; in First Strike, he was played up as a Visionary Villain with a god complex, and under Visaggio's pen, he's a spiteful Well-Intentioned Extremist, with a hint of Trickster Mentor.
- Fantastic Racism: In addition to the return of Transformers disliking organics, many of the inhabitants of Prysmos regard the Transformers with disdain, either refusing to believe they are any more intelligent than the robot slaves they had on their old world before the three suns aligned, or else finding their existence as free-willed machines inherently wrong, if not blasphemous.
- Homeworld Evacuation: Only a handful of Prysmosians managed to escape Prysmos before it self-destructed, and their search for a new home led them right back to Merklynn's new colony on Cybertron.
- Hostile Terraforming: Merklynn's end goal is to use the Talisman to remake all of Cybertron into a copy of his old homeworld. Which won't end well for the Transformers — see "Magic Versus Science" below....
- Karma Houdini: Virulina killed Kup in cold blood and tortured Waspinator until he became a mindless beast of burden. She, the other Darkling Lords, and the New Prysmosian refugees who were shown cheering for the Darkling Lords all get off scot-free.
- Killed Off for Real: Kup gets stabbed by Virulina's magical spear and disintegrates.
- MacGuffin: Carrying on from Revolutionaries and First Strike Talisman continues to uphold its role as the chief source of conflict in the plot.
- Magic Versus Science: The central crux of the conflict — magic of the Prysmosian variety is anathema to Transformer life, and even brief exposure to its energies causes their bodies to crumble and die... as several of them learn the hard way.
- Mythology Gag:
- The entire backstory of the Visionaries — where three suns aligned, shutting down all technology on the planet and plunging the world into a new feudal age, prompting the reawakening of Merklynn — is a straight adaptation of their origin tale in the 1980s cartoon. The new twist for their 2018 update, however, was that Merklynn himself deliberately caused said solar alignment... and that he didn't forsee the suns moving back out of alignment and destroying the planet as they did so.
- The Darkling Lords' statue of Darkstorm, rather than being redesigned as all the other characters have, is entirely based on his design from the original cartoon.
- After being magically mutated by Virulina, Waspinator's is transformed into his "Thrustinator" form from the Transformer's Collector's Club.
- Waspinator's mutated form, with its asymmetric blend of organic and cybernetic parts, is reminiscent of the Transmetal 2 model Cybertronians from his native Beast Wars setting.
- Not So Different: Cybertronians and Prysmosians when it comes to civil war. The former eventually learned from their mistakes. Sadly the latter never got the luxury as their own planet was destroyed.
- Oh, Crap!: Leoric's reaction to Kup's murder.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Once a minor character, Breakdown gets a mention in the opening roll call.
- Post-Apunkalyptic Armor: The Visionaries sport "techno-barbarian" designs, rather than their original power armor/full plate look.
- Race Lift: Most of the Visionaries got drastic makeovers for their debuts in this universe; in particular, Leoric, previously a Tom Selleck lookalike, is now a younger African-American.
- Sacrificial Lion: Kup sacrifices himself to save Ironhide's life.
- Shout-Out: In issue #5, Mortdred suggests that Witterquick could use his super-speed to vibrate his molecules and phase out of his bindings, referencing a common trick of DC's The Flash.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Sure, Merklynn and his loyalists are cheerfully going to kill everyone and everything on Cybertron, but if it means bringing back their home planet....
- World-Healing Wave: In issue #5, Galadria attempts to heal a dying Ironhide with a magical spell, which somehow combines with the counter-wave bomb's explosion to restore New Prysmos and place it on Cybertron's surface at the center of a comparatively small portion of organic terrain. It also healed Waspinator, Ironhide, Virulina and Leoric of their respective maladies.