Welcome to G.I. JoeVersity: Version 2.JOE, Multiversity Comics’ now MONTHLY look at all of IDW’s G.I. Joe comics and beyond.
August 2012 was one busy month, with five — count ’em 5! — new G.I. Joe comics, and two extremely cool collections from IDW. For those of us who remember when you were lucky enough to get one Joe comic each month, that’s pretty radical. But enough reminiscing. Let’s dive into some comics, soldier!
G.I. Joe #16
Written by Chuck Dixon
Illustrated by Will Rosado
Cover by Tommy Lee Edwards
DEEP TERROR concludes! Scarlett and Team Bravo are trapped a mile beneath the Earth’s surface with an army of COBRA killers beneath on their tail! Their only hope is–Mainframe? Also: COBRA’s too-public campaign to destroy the Joes rolls on. How can America’s super-secret heroes survive in the light of day?
In the finale to ‘Deep Terror’, the separated Joes manage to simultaneously get the upper hand on Dr. Mindbender and his Viper support team, seemingly putting an end to Cobra’s mysterious Section Five installation in Patagonia. But of course, all’s not exactly as it seems, as there’s the still the lingering question of just what in the hell was Mindbender trying to accomplish in the South American underground?
So how’s the issue? Not a bad ending to ‘Deep Terror’, all in all. Following the huge nature of stories like ‘Civil War’ and ‘Cobra Command’, this was a nice change of pace, with Dixon dialing things back just a bit, and zeroing in on a much smaller team and mission. There’s really some nice character explorations in this arc, too. Duke’s a guy who’s normally on top of everything, but when he took the reigns from Hawk, he discovered that running an outfit like G.I. Joe has its own set of problems. And even more so when your budgets been cut down to nil, and Cobra exposes your top secret team to the entire world. Yeah, Duke’s job got a lot harder in ‘Deep Terror’, but with the way this issue ends, it’s going to be a blast watching Duke put things back together.
But the biggest surprise of ‘Deep Terror’ is that Scarlett and Mainframe’s flirtation has turned into something maybe a little more serious. I gues this has been building for a while, but no kidding, Dixon pulled the romantic escalation between these two off really well, and has added a nice little twist to traditional relationship roles we’ve come to expect from G.I. Joe. This felt very organic and natural, and I’m anxious to see what happens next. I’m pretty sure it won’t be Snake-Eyes versus Mainframe, because — no offense, Mains — you’d last, like, negative minutes in that one.
It goes without saying, but Will Rosado brought his A-game to this issue again. Rosado’s storytelling’s beautifully clean and simple, but never dull or boring, and each character’s got a look all their own. Also, as a G.I. Joe tech-junkie, I couldn’t have been happier with each and every gun, plane, underground gadget and related accoutrement that Rosado drew these last few months. Here’s hoping IDW lets him stick around or he at least comes back soon. He’s the real deal, and the perfect artist for Dixon’s take on G.I. Joe.
Written by Mike Costa
Illustrated by Antonio Fuso
THE HUNT IS ON! The key to all of Cobra’s secrets is in the crossfire as FLINT’s secret G.I. Joe squad converges on FIREFLY and BLACKLIGHT! Everyone has their own agenda–and everybody has a lot of guns! It’s not-stop action and betrayal as secrets come to light and bodies hit the floor!
“Cobra” #16 was a pretty action heavy issue, but still managed to dig in pretty deep on fan-favorite Firefly, who hasn’t gotten nearly enough face-time in the IDW books. While Flint and Chameleon interrogate Firefly, Lady Jaye and Ronin came face-to-face with Blacklight in a darkened room with Cobra Commander’s son, Billy’s life on the line.
Another story arc wrap-up issue, but not nearly as satisfying as I had hoped it would be. “Cobra” is my favorite regular Joe book, as I’ve said before, and I’ve been enjoying this Vegas story quite a bit. But I suppose I was hoping for something a little bigger, and splashier, maybe, and instead… well, this issue just kind of happens, and doesn’t give us much beyond a cool looking tussle between Lady Jaye and Blacklight.Continued below
But the good news is, that even when Cobra’s just so-so, it’s better than most of the other books I read. So with that in mind, I can only be so negative about the issue, and am confident that Mike Costa’s long term plans are going to lead to some big payoffs down the road.
Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow #16
Written by Chuck Dixon
Illustrated by Robert Atkins
Cover by Andrea Di Vito
SERPENT’S SHADOW concludes here in the lair of the COBRA Commander! Snake Eyes, Storm shadow and the murderous Rika must free themselves from a trap set by the Commander in the only way they know how–KILL their way out! Will Snake Eyes show his hand and reveal his betrayal of the Arashikage or play this round out to the end?
Notice a pattern here? These books all started at the same time and share the same numbering, which means all three ended their current story arcs this month. While I enjoy the numerical connectivity, it does make it tempting to want to compare each book’s respective arcs, and almost pit them against each other. Though if I were someone inclined to do so, I’m not exactly sure where I’d put “Snake-Eyes & Storm Shadow” in the ranking.
It’s certainly got the recognizable characters, and the most accessible story of the shared-universe Joe books. And yet it’s that familiarity that I find a little disappointing, I guess. It never just goes for broke, and doesn’t strive to be anything beyond what you’d expect it to be. And while that’s not inherently a bad thing, it does leave you with a relatively by-the-numbers comic, and I’d like just a little bit more.
But there’s a lot of good too. I mean, there’s the Snake-Eyes origin stuff, which Dixon’s just crushing. There’s the inner workings of a more modern-minded ninja assassin corporation, and that’s not exactly something we’ve seen before. Big stuff happens this very issue, in fact, as Cobra Commander severes his ties to the Arashikage and seeks to replace the ninja assassin’s with an even deadlier group of fanatics.
Artist Robert Atkins work feels a little rushed this time around, and he’s even supported by the addition of art-finisher Atilio Rojo. I understand a delay here and there, though, and I just hope he’s back to doing full issue’s next month. He’s a big draw for this series, and I don’t want to see him switching out just yet.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #181
Written by Larry Hama
Illustrated by S L Gallant
Covers by Herb Trimpe, Ron Frenz & Sal Buscema
G.I. Joe’s mission at a Comic Convention comes to a close, only to reveal a new, intriguing enemy that may share a history with the Arashikage clan. Meanwhile, Darklon remains a prisoner of the Joes… until an attempt to transfer him from the Pit goes horribly awry! What is the Machiavellian arms-dealer’s nefarious plot and how is Destro involved in it? Secrets are unveiled in this pulse-pounding issue of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero!
This issue follows last month’s Comic-Con romp, but disappointingly so. The resolution to the Joes tailing of a high-stakes weapons drop off on the floor of San Diego Comic-Con literally takes place between issues. I’m not even joking here. We’re basically told everything that happened in a briefing, with some confiscated blogger footage tossed in to show some of what went down.
But I can’t get that upset about it, I guess, because that’s what Larry Hama does. A lot happens between issues, and that’s just the way it is. Still, the SDCC thing was one of the coolest ideas he’s tossed out since the RAH relaunch, and it would’ve been nice to see a little more time devoted to it.
Danger Girl/G.I. Joe #2
Written by Andy Hartnell
Illustrated by John Royle
Cover by J. Scott Campbell
It’s the most dangerous event of the summer, and the action continues right here! COBRA’s surprise attack has brought the G.I. JOE team to its knees. But when Lady Jaye learns that Flint has gone missing behind enemy lines, she joins forces with the Danger Girls on a covert mission that aims to rescue her man and get the Joes back on their feet!
I’m enjoying the hell out of this mini-series. “Danger Girl/G.I. Joe” is pure fun. It’s about the campiest take on G.I. Joe ever, and it’s so drastically different from the other titles, that honestly, it makes me wish the other books would stop taking themselves so gosh darn seriously and loosen up a little. This book’s not at all embarrassed to be what it is, and in fact, it revels in it.
Danger Girl/G.I. Joe #2 manages to top the first issue’s awesome Skystriker vs. Rattler opener. This time out, we’re treated to an high-stakes deep-sea excursion by Deep Six to find an sunken German submarine, and the old-school warheads therein. When was the last time we saw Deep Six in a G.I. Joe comic? For that matter, when was the last time we saw any underwater action in those books? I’m not bashing “Cobra”, “G.I. Joe”, or “Snake-Eyes & Storm Shadow”, but all I’m saying is, I’m willing to occasionally trade a little of those books’ modern sophistication for maybe just a bit more cast utilization now and again.
My biggest complaint is that there’s never really any effort made to properly introduce the Danger Girl cast. The DG crew shows up about 3/4 of the way into this issue, and nobody really identifies themselves other than Sydney Savage. Of course, Johnny Barracuda was introduced last issue, and Abbey’s been names now, but still… who’s the girl with the bow and arrow?
G.I. JOE / Transformers Crossover, Vol. 1
Written by Michael Higgins & Larry Hama
Illustrated by Herb Trimpe, Chris Batista, Steven Leiber, William Rosado, & Jesse D’Orozco
Cover by Klaus Scherwinski
The worlds of G.I. JOE and TRANSFORMERS combine in this first volume reprinting the classic crossovers. Contains the 4-issue G.I. JOE and the TRANSFORMERS limited series plus issues #139-142 of A REAL AMERICAN HERO. MEGATRON and COBRA versus the JOEs and the AUTOBOTS, who will come out on top?
“G.I. Joe and the Transformers” was one of my favorite comics as a kid, and I’m really happy to see IDW collecting this finally. It’s a cool little story, that despite being kind of all over the place, fits nicely into both series’ ongoing adventures as well as standing on its own.
What’s disappointing is the latter half of this collection. It reprints “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” #s 139 – 142, which is the lead in to Marvel’s “Transformers: Generation Two” series, and it’s a pretty terrible story. But here’s my issue — IDW just reprinted these in Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 14, which was released earlier this year. I get them wanting to collect the original mini-series, sure, but why not just collect that as a shorter trade paperback and put a $14.99 price tag on it instead of double dipping and charging $24.99?
G.I. Joe: Field Manual
Written by Jim Sorenson & Bill Forster
Relive your favorite memories of the classic G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon with the G.I. Joe Field Manual, Volume One–an amazing archive of beautiful animation models. From Roadblock to Zartan, from the Skystriker to the H.I.S.S. Tank, from the Weather Dominator to the U.S.S. Flagg, all of your favorite characters, vehicles, and world conquering devices are present in this amazing volume. Thrill to never-before-published production artwork and behind-the-scenes designs that made the classic 80’s Joe cartoon so memorable.
IDW’s final G.I. Joe book this month is the “G.I. Joe: Field Manual” Volume One. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from it, but now that I’ve got it and have had a chance to read through it a couple times, I’m absolutely in love. It’s a fantastic resource for fans of the toys, the cartoon series, and the comics. It’s wonderfully laid out, and contains just about every design and character sheet for the first season and a half of A Real American Hero. And what’s even more awesome, is that comics legend Russ Heath did a majority of the character work on the show, so this book’s just loaded with Heath’s concept work and notes. And this is only the first volume!Continued below
Of everything out this month, “G.I. Joe: Field Manual” comes with the highest possible recommendation.
That’s it for this installment, gang, but we’ll be back next month with a look at all of September’s G.I. Joe rations.
Remember, if you’ve questions for me or any of the books’ creative teams, or have a suggestion for the column email me at firstname.lastname@example.org