Welcome back to G.I. JoeVersity, a monthly look at all of IDW’s G.I. Joe comics and some other related stuff. Let’s see what October 2012 had to offer!
Without question, the biggest G.I. Joe news of the month was IDW’s announcement that they would be restarting the G.I. Joe titles. Beginning in February 2013, a new G.I. Joe ongoing will launch with writer Fred Van Lente and artist Steve Kurth replacing the books’ existing creative team of Chuck Dixon and a rotating group of artist. But Dixon’s not gone, as G.I. Joe: Special Missions launches in Marc by Dixon and the legendary Paul Gulacy, with April seeing the debut of the renamed Cobra Files by the returning team of Mike Costa and Antonio Fuso. Not as much a entire reboot, but a slight rebranding with Van Lente and Kurth added to the mix.
It’s probably worth noting that the relaunch just happens to coincide with the March 27, 2013 release date of G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D. IDW’s taking a page from the Marvel playbook here, and facilitating a brand new jumping on point for those whose interest gets piqued by the movie. Seems like a pretty good idea to us, but like it more if they hadn’t just done this about two years ago. But c’est la vie (can we even use French in a G.I. Joe column?).
Finally, Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow, the line’s current third title, won’t be returning in February, raising a few eyebrows, as Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and that Arashikage are set to play major role in the upcoming motion picture. What’s in store for everyone’s favorite silent ninja commando in the comics and on the silver screen? We’re not betting against the guy yet, but you never know… could ‘Snake Eyes R.I.P.’ be around the corner?
Watch this space for our interview with new writer Fred Van Lente, coming soon!
G.I. Joe #18 and Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow #18
‘Target: Snake Eyes’ runs through two of the three core books this month. G.I. Joe #18 spotlights the reunited Joe team as they coordinate the mission to bring-in Snake Eyes, and the internal strife that spills out of it. Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow #18 follows the ninja master himself, as he and a crew of Arashikage storm a Cobra airbase to keep the snakes from moving their entire operation to a sovereign island state.
So far, the most interesting moments in Target come from Scarlett and Mainframe, as we see how Snake Eyes’ return affects their potential for romance. Scarlett’s ready to get it done, and to just bring her ex down hard. Mainframe, surprising both Scarlett and the entire Joe team, isn’t sold on Snakes’ defection to the Arashikage, and argues on his friend’s behalf. Neither’s quite sure they’re right, but both are unquestionably drawn to the others’ point of view. It’s a month of good moments for both characters, and I’m liking this odd little love triangle (with only two active players) more than I ever thought I would.
This issues sees the IDW debut of the Oktober Guard, the former Soviet Union’s version of G.I. Joe, and they are none too nice.
Created by classic G.I. Joe scribe Larry Hama back in the Marvel series’ heyday, the Oktober Guard immediately became fan favorites, appearing in the comic regularly, and even spilling over into the animated series a couple times. But don’t confuse the old Guard with the new. Under Mike Costa and Antonio Fuso, these new guys are brutal loyalists to the old Russia, and in just a few short pages, we’re given an intense history lesson on their place in the world, and the shocking emancipation of Cobra baddie, Major Bludd by the Guard.
Beyond all the vague notions about what they’re up to and where they’ll take the Major, the best part of the whole issue was getting to see these updated versions of Dragonsky, Daina, and of course, Horror Show (a masked psychopath who handles a gattling gun like a boss). I’ve been waiting to see if these guys would turn up in the IDW continuity, and boy howdy, they did so with a blood red splash this month.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero # 183
Larry Hama continues chronicling the adventures of the classic Joes, giving old school fans a taste of what’s missing from the other books. Darklon. Okay, well, not just Darklon, obviously. But the kind of thing Darklon represents — over the top action in the Not-So-Marvel manner, with fan favorite Joes abound, Clutch and Rock N’ Roll on stakeout, Cobra taking over and setting up shop (again) in a small, unoccupied subdivision, and Python Patrol Conquests and Stuns scooting all over the place.
Collect Them All
Also out this month, G.I. Joe the Complete Collection Vol 1. And whether you’re a Joe fan of old or just getting into the pit, this thing’s about the coolest collection you’ll ever get your hands on. Seriously, and I mean hands. You’ll need both of them. At 240 pages, this over sized reprinting of the Marvel series’ first 12 issues is massive, and should probably come with a warning of some kind, like, “Do not read standing up; knees subject to severe buckling.
I’ve read these issues more times than I can count, but with this collection’s retouched art and lettering, it definitely enhances the entire experience. It’s a lot cleaner than IDW’s previous collections (which were pretty clean already), and the coloring’s bolder, and more splashy. And while I never got to read these issues “new”, I can’t say for sure, but I imagine it probably felt a lot like this.
As for new stuff, there are the original series’ pin-ups, most of which have never been reprinted before now. The best part of this collection though, has to be the Hama interviews and the original series pitch material, illustrating just how much the series changed from initial pitch to actual production. There are some great notes by Hama and Marvel editorial, as well as some of Hama’s original file card notes. There’s just some really brilliant behind-the-scenes stuff for both Joe fans and fans of comics in general.
This one’s highly recommended, and available online and at finer comic shops everywhere!