Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici's Void Rivals sprung a helluva surprise on the comics community a couple of months back when it was revealed to be a secret tie-in book to Transformers and G.I. Joe.
The first part of the shared new Energon Universe, Void Rivals #1 saw protagonists Darak and Solila cross paths with the Autobot Jetfire. In #3 - published today - Kirkman strengthens the links between the new book and the wider Transformers continuity. Spoilers from here on in.
The second issue ended with the surprise appearance of a Skuxxoid - one of a race of reptilian alien mercenaries first introduced in the G1 animated series' third season opener 'Five Faces of Darkness, Part 1'. The Skuxxoid recurred in later episodes of the cartoon, appearing in several other episodes and later in the Transformers: Wings Universe manga.
In the new issue of Void Rivals we only see one (simply referred to as "Skuxxoid") who seems far more genial than you might expect, referring at one point to his "wife and kids".
Now #3 goes deeper into the weeds of continuity, with a direct reference to Slizardo - a literally and figuratively slimy alien introduced in the original cartoon's second season episode, 'The Gambler'.
Slizardo has a long history in Transformers lore as a sort-of-baddy who has worked with the greedy gangster Lord Gyconi of Monacus. Although he doesn't appear in the issue, we've got to assume that a future cameo for Slizardo is on the cards.
There are other beings on Skuxxoid's Rockeroid too, including a mute robot scorpion (there's shades of Scorponok here, but this particular robot does not appear to be a Transformer) and a Quintesson Prosecutor.
The latter is a particularly fun inclusion. The alien Quintessons were introduced in Transformers: The Movie and greatly expanded upon in the third season of the animated show, where it was revealed that they were the creators of the Autobots and Decepticons.
Finally, Skuxxoid offers to trade Darak and Solila's ship for an old Nebulon transport.
The Nebulons (sometimes spelled Nebulans) are a space-faring people who could binary bond with Transformers. Their appearance has changed over the years. Initially looking like regular humans, they now are usually depicted with green skin.
Speculation time: we know that the golden-skinned Agorrians and the Zertonians, are effectively the same species save for the different gems in their foreheads. Could it be that there's a link with the Nebulons/Nebulans there? After all, Darak is only one letter away from Zarak, the name of a famous Nebulan leader.
Whatever the case it's clear that Robert Kirkman is keen to make the most of Void Rivals' ties to the wider Transformers lore as we get closer to the launch of Daniel Warren Johnson's Transformers #1 on October 4.
Void Rivals #3 is available from Image Comics now.
Robert Kirkman breaks down Void Rivals and the Energon Universe in our exclusive interview.