Hasbro has had a long-running relationship with comics. This all began in the late 1970s when the toymaker partnered with Marvel Comics. The publisher was tasked with developing lore for Hasbro’s action figures, which was not only found in the comics they published but on the packaging and in animation too. What started with Rom and Micronauts paved the way for mega successes like Transformers and G.I. Joe – all comics that readers from the 1980s remember fondly.
While Marvel Comics ended its partnership with Hasbro in the mid-1990s, many of Hasbro’s properties were revived, and in some cases thrived, in the 21st century at IDW Publishing. Transformers and G.I. Joe had extensive universes under the publisher, which eventually converged and were joined by Rom, Micronauts, and others. However, these properties disappeared from the shelves in recent years as licences expired. (IDW still has the right to publish My Little Pony and Dungeons & Dragons comics.) Many Hasbro titles firmly ingrained in the comics medium, and their absense has been firmly missed by fans.
But what if I told you that a bunch of them are returning? Transformers, Micronauts, ROM, and G.I. Joe are making their way back to comics!
Read on to find out in what capacity, where their new homes are, and heaps more.
New publisher: Marvel Comics
Rom is not a household name like Transformers or G.I. Joe. However, it’s a series that was part of the fabric of 1980s comics and is fondly remembered by readers of the time. The property began as a toy developed by the board game company Parker Brothers (now owned by Hasbro) as a superhero robot. The toy was a flop, famously panned in Time Magazine. However, it lived a long life in comics, where the series ran from 1979-1986 for 75 issues and 4 Annuals.
The series detailed the adventures of Rom the Spaceknight, a robot hero who battled the Dire Wraiths – a foe only he can identify. These battles had him trekking throughout space and the wider Marvel Universe, crossing paths with many of the publisher’s heroes.
Marvel Comics will be reprinting the original run in omnibus editions. The first one will collect Rom #1-29 and Power Man and Iron Fist #73 and will hit the shelves in January 2024. A second volume will be released in June 2024 and collects Rom #30-50, Rom Annual #1-2, and Marvel Two-In-Two-One (1974 series) #99.
A facsimile edition of Rom #1 will be published in September. This reprints the original comic with all the advertisements, editorials, letter pages, and more.
It’s an exciting time for those who have wanted to read Rom as it’s the first time these comics have been reprinted. This is due to the number of cameo and guest appearances made by Marvel heroes, making it difficult for any other publisher to reprint.
New publisher: Marvel Comics
Like Rom, Micronauts is another comic that outlasted the toy it was promoting. The toy line created by Mego, and now owned by Hasbro, featured highly articulated 3.75-inch tall (9.5cm) action figures and vehicles based on Takara’s Microman. Micronauts toys were available from 1976-1980.
Micronauts made their way to comics after Marvel Comics writer Bill Mantlo was curious about the toys that his son received at Christmas 1977 and wanted to know their backstory. He convinced Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter to acquire the licence, with the first Mantlo-penned comic was published in early 1979.
The series is set in the Microverse, a microscopic universe full of strange planets ruled by tyrannical Baron Karza. A group of heroes known as the Mirconauts work to free their world from Baron Karza’s reign.
Micronauts ran over multiple series between 1979-1986. The first series ran for 59 issues and 2 Annuals. This was followed up by a crossover 4-part miniseries that crossed over with the X-Men. Another ongoing series called Micronauts: The New Voyages ran for 20 issues and rounded out the Marvel Comics run. The series had short-lived stints at Image Comics, Devil’s Due Publishing, and IDW Publishing in the 21st century.
Marvel Comics will be reprinting the comics for the first time since their original run in omnibus editions. The first will be available in April 2024 and collects Micronauts #1-29, Micronauts Annual #1-2, and material from Micronauts Special Edition #1-5. Subsequent volumes will be available at a later date.
Like Rom, a facsimile edition of Micronauts #1 will be available in September.
New publisher: Image Comics (Skybound imprint)
You probably don’t need an introduction to the Transformers. They’ve been present in one form or another for almost 40 years through an ever-present toy line, animation, movies, and more. They’ve been present in comics for most of that time too. There was a decade-long run (1984-1994) at Marvel Comics, where the publisher developed the franchise’s lore. Dreamwave published Transformers comics for a short time before going bankrupt. Afterwards, IDW Publishing had a lengthy and successful run between 2005 and 2022, where they crafted an extensive shared universe.
2023 sees Transformers return to comics at the new home of Robert Kirkman’s Skybound imprint at Image Comics. There will be a new comic, written and drawn by Daniel Warren Johnson, one of many series in a new shared universe known as the Energon Universe.
This reboot will focus on the beginning of the Autobots and Decepticon’s conflict on Earth. While that has been explored many times in different media, it has been promised that there will be new takes and surprises. There will also be a greater integration of the Transformers and G.I. Joe, who will occupy the same universe and interact in ways we haven’t seen before.
Check out How To Love Comics’ guide on the Energon Universe. It will be updated regularly as more comics and details are announced.
As part of the Energon Universe SDCC panel, Skybound hinted that classic Transformers and G.I. Joe material will eventually be reprinted.
Transformers #1 goes on sale 4th October, 2023.
New publisher: Image Comics (Skybound imprint)
Finally, we have G.I. Joe. Like Transformers, the military adventure series lore was developed by Marvel Comics in the 1980s and has been used in various mediums ever since. While G.I. Joe has been around since the 1950s, it’s the 1980s reboot that people remember most fondly. Marvel writer/editor Larry Hama and an all-star roster of artists were responsible for developing the characters and concepts that fans love in a series that ran for 155 issues (plus other tie-in series) between 1982 and 1994. G.I. Joe would have stints at Dark Horse Comics, Devil’s Due Publishing, Dreamwave, and a lengthy run at IDW Publishing.
Skybound is the new home of G.I. Joe comics, with a mixture of series that will be part of the Energon Universe or a continuation of a classic series. The Energon Universe will see four G.I. Joe limited series. At the time of writing, only G.I. Joe: Duke and G.I. Joe: Cobra Commander have been announced, with two more to be announced later. Both series will be written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Tom Reilly on the former and Andrea Milana for the latter. These comics will begin in December and January.
Check out our Energon Universe guide to keep up to date with future G.I. Joe comics and more.
The classic G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series will also return. This series had an initial run of 155 issues at Marvel Comics. It was then revived in 2010 at IDW Publishing, where its issue numbering was continued. There it reached issue #300 in 2022. Skybound will continue the series with new stories starting with Larry Hama and Chris Mooningham’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #301. It will be published on 14th November 2023.
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