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Robert Kirkman was planning that Transformers reboot surprise years before anyone expected

Duke writer Joshua Williamson explained that the idea of hiding a Transformers revival in plain sight was always the plan

Void Rivals
Image credit: Lorenzo De Felici/Image Comics

This year saw the Transformers return to comics in a big way as part of Skybound and Image Comics’ Energon Universe — a shared universe that includes the Transformers, G.I. Joe, and the all-new Void Rivals series co-created by Robert Kirkman. The line launched with a surprise that took the industry by storm… but, it turns out, it was a surprise that had been waiting to happen for quite some time.

Upcoming Duke and Cobra Commander writer Joshua Williamson told Popverse that he first spoke with Skybound’s Sean Mackiewicz about the potential for working with Hasbro “five or six years ago”… and that there was already a piece of what would become the Energon Universe in mind even back then.

“I remember at one point in that conversation, Sean was like, ‘Robert has this idea of doing a creator owned book, and then the last page is a twist: ‘Oh, there's Transformers’.’ I was like, ‘Dude, I love that. That's so crazy. He should do that.’ Then we never talked about it again,” he explained.

This was, of course, exactly what Kirkman would go on to do with the first issue of Void Rivals earlier this year — a series that was initially promoted as a creator-owned science fiction title featuring all-new concepts, only to have a surprise Transformer cameo midway through the first issue as the reveal that the Energon Universe was happening.

That Kirkman had the idea in his back pocket for years is quite something — but, according to Williamson, there was an unexpected side effect: “Every time Rob would do a creator owned book after that, I kept thinking there was going to be a Transformer in it. So, Fire Power #1, I thought there was going to be a Transformer in it.”

Williamson’s full conversation with Popverse, alongside Duke co-creator Tom Reilly, will appear soon. Duke is released December 27, 2023.

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