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Robert Kirkman details plans for Transformers/G.I. Joe-centric Energon Universe

Comic Books

Robert Kirkman details plans for Transformers/G.I. Joe-centric Energon Universe

The Energon Universe is similar to Marvel’s Ultimate universe.

A new universe is unfolding today, and it involves the giant Hasbro properties of Transformers and G.I. Joe. The aptly-titled Energon Universe launched via Void Rivals, an all-new series from Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici. (Kirkman is, as you’d expected the “showrunner” for Skybound’s big plans for this new mega Hasbro universe.) Given that we’ve been waiting literal years to see what Skybound is up to, there’s certainly expectations attached — and real hints that the Energon Universe could deliver.

If this news comes as a surprise, it’s because that was fully by design. Kirkman personally ensured this secret was safe for some time, as he detailed to AIPT. Sure, it was no secret that Skybound had gained the rights to both Transformers and G.I. Joe, but since the news was made official today, very few details have actually been revealed. That way, when Void Rivals #1 revealed as a Transformer halfway through, even fans simply picking up a new sci-fi book from their favorite creators were in for a massive treat.

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To shed light on Void Rivals and his plans for the Energon Universe, Kirkman went in-depth during our Q&A, touching on, among other topics, his collaborators, the characters involved, and how these two universes will actually come together.

energon universe

Courtesy of Skybound.

AIPT: In the first issue of Void Rivals, we’re introduced to a Zertonian and an Agorrian, both of whom feel very human. How much might we expect to be revealed about these cultures in the first story arc?

RK: The first story arc a lot. The first few issues, not that much a little bit in the second issue, but I wanted to kind of start the story small with these two characters so that you can get to know them and really become familiar with them. And then the world is just gonna expand issue to issue, to issue greatly until by issue six, it’s almost too much to handle.

AIPT: Speaking about big teases in this first issue. Let’s talk about the Cybertronian in the room.

RK: Oh baby!

AIPT: In addition to Void Rivals, you’re overseeing a new shared Hasbro universe. The Energon Universe as we see in this dope poster behind you. Can you walk us through how this came together and what your duties look like as showrunner of this new universe?

RK: Hasbro reached out to us, and I wanted to try and come up with a new way to do Transformers and G.I. Joe comics because IDW had been doing a lot of great Transformers and G.I. Joe comics for a long time. You didn’t want to just kind of come in and do more of the same. I thought doing a ground zero, like square one, like a retelling of the origins of these characters, the Energon universe is very much like a new beginning for these characters. It’s kind of like new origins. It’s retelling of familiar origins in a lot of ways. It’s akin to kinda like the Ultimate universe from Marvel. So all of these characters will be familiar, but there will be kind of new angles to them.

We wanted to kind give audiences a new starting point for these characters. A big reboot of these franchises in comic book form. The Energon universe is really a cool exploration that I’m overseeing with Daniel Warren Johnson and, and Josh Williamson. There’s also gonna be some other stuff going on. As far as the Void Rivals aspect of it, it was just like, what’s the most exciting thing you can do in comics, is what I’m always trying to think of. If I was reading a, you know, Brian K. Vaughan comic and Jason Vorhees showed up on page 12, that’s new and exciting.

Something that’s akin to Die, Die Die and Firepower and Oblivion Song, my recent books, but has a familiar existing character that has an existing fan base, kind of pop up randomly in it. It just seemed too unique and exciting not to try and pull off. I thought that would be a really cool way to introduce the Energon Universe in a way that would get people that maybe haven’t tried Transformers and GI Joe comics to give them a shot. I think that these characters are absolutely amazing and it’s such a insane, nutty, nearly impossible idea that when Hasbro was absolutely game to jump on and do it, I was thrilled. So then it was like, well, I guess we have to do this. So, ah, here we are.

Robert Kirkman details new Transformer/G.I. Joe Energron Universe plans

The cover to Daniel Warren Johnson’s Transformers #1. Courtesy of Skybound.

AIPT: What made Daniel Warren Johnson and Josh Williamson the right fit for this universe?

RK: They’re extremely talented. Everybody knows they’ve done great work, you know? Josh’s stuff at Skybound Image, DC, you know, Daniel Warren Johnson’s myriad of series that he’s writing and drawing himself that are absolutely excellent. Daniel Warren Johnson might have more Optimus Prime figures than I do <laugh>, and Josh is just somebody that knows G.I. Joe in and out, absolutely loves the characters. We’ve all been fans of these characters since our childhood.

AIPT: How many months or years are you planning ahead with this universe?

RK: <laugh> I’m planning far too long in advance. That’s just how my brain works, you know? I was plotting vague ideas for Walking Dead #50 when Walking Dead #2 was coming out, and I didn’t know if there would be a Walking Dead issue #7. I’m always trying to think like, if, if, if, you know, if this happens, we can do this. If this happens we can do this. We’ve got far-reaching plans. There’s a lot of potential to the Energon universe if you think about, how these characters could be introduced and how they all interact and various different stories that we could build to. There’s gonna be a lot of familiar stories that we’re gonna be able to retell from old Transformers and G.I. Joe stories. So that’s gonna be really exciting. You kind of get to see the potential of the enormity of what we could build.

AIPT: Just to be clear, are the G.I. Joe and Transformers interacting in the universe at all, or?

RK: Oh, yeah. Definitely. In some really, cool and, and exciting ways. We’re gonna try to do this in a different way than things have been done before. I know these characters have interacted a lot in the past but we’re trying to do an organic rollout where the existence of Transformers on Earth kind of leads to the formation of G.I. Joe in some interesting ways and, and kind of tying them together and hopefully in a new and startling way that excites longtime fans and brings in new time fans.

AIPT: Do you have a favorite Transformer?

RK: Yeah. My favorite Transformer is Hot Rod. Hot Rod or Rodimus Prime. They’re kinda the same guy.

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