Robot Overlord: I’m more of a Cobra Commander fan, than that of the Joes, but Stephen and Matthew are always going on about the “good guys”.Â I’m giving them a chance to express themselves this week as they dive into G.I. Joe Cobra II.
Previously, on G.I. Joe:Â “G.I. Joe is the code name for America’s daring, highly-trained, Special Mission force. Its purpose: To defend human freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.”Â Â Thus have dozens of soldiers, sailors, and what-have-yous have come together, taken on special code-names and lent their abilities to the cause of freedom, opposing the evil snake-themed paramilitary cabal led by the used car salesman from Springfield.Â While the glamourous guys like Stalker, Roadblock, Scarlett, Snake-Eyes and company due the heavy lifting, G.I. Joe also has a number of offline combat types, such as Chuckles, the team’s undercover specialist.Â In this new incarnation, Chuckles has been sent to infiltrate Cobra, and has been forced to do things that he never expected to do.Â In the vein of Donnie Brasco and Patty Hearst, Chuckles has to ask himself an important question,Â “Where is the line between acting like a villain and actually BEING a villain?”
Matthew: My experience with G.I. Joe begins with the 1981 Sears catalog, in which my cousin Elwood and I saw a set of toys that consisted of a little Jeep and four 3 3/4 inch action figures.Â When G.I. Joe #1 came out, we both bought it, and I was immediately hooked.Â I actually own that #1 issue in like four different formats, including the super-giant Marvel Treasury Edition, and my G.I. Joe action figures are still in storage about forty feet away from me as of this writing.Â I mention this to establish my bona fides:Â I knows me some dang ol’ G.I. Joe.Â So, believe me when I say that this issue is NOTHING like what I expected.
Stephen: All my friends had G.I. Joe figures – one had everything including the battleship. I, alas, had none of that (Let’s hope someone starts a series of LEGO comics, so I can claim the upper hand in the discussion).Â Still, I’m familiar with the franchise, and while I couldn’t tell you who all the characters are, I’m familiar with their positions and duties.Â This includes Hawk, but in this issue he seems like a total dick willing to let people die under his watch to satisfy some desire to bring down Cobra.
Matthew: I’m not thrilled with the portrayal of Hawk here, as a black ops jerk bludgeoning a general with his “need to know” status.Â Sure, I’m all for realistic military likenesses, and unlike 1982, we’re not facing an accountant dressed up as a falcon, but this hardcase characterization in my G.I. Joe grates on my last macho bull$#!+ nerve.Â Tomax and Xamot, the mirror twins are here, as is the Baroness and her leather catsuit.Â The focus of this issue seems to be on a Ms. La Tene who looks just like the Baroness (whose backstory I am unclear on) and we only see Chuckles at the tail-end, held in a cell by the brothers Paoli.Â Having not read the previous series, I’m not sure how he got in jail, but the issue sets up what’s going to happen in a way that isn’t too obvious.
Stephen: I enjoyed the set up in this issue. Jinx is introduced and given a mission, we get to learn that Ms. La Tene has gotten in way over her head, and most importantly, this issue kicks you in the teeth just to show you this isn’t your father’s G.I. Joe story.Â If anything, this episode does give the reader a creepy feeling that things are just not right in the world, and when you dance with the devil, things are probably not going to go the way you hope.Â I think this is explained perfectly clear in Ms. La Tene’s narration that starts off the issue, and carries through to the end.Â It’s a solid piece of espionage story telling, and is something I expected to find in a Tom Clancy novel.
Matthew: The Howard Chaykin cover is pretty awesome, but our interior art team is quite good too.Â Antonio Fuso (who sounds like a superhero himself) gives us darkness where appropriate, some interesting facial expressions, and a very realistic looking crocodile.Â I like his characterization of Jinx and especially his Baroness, but I some of the art to be a little distractingly in the Mike Mignola vein.Â Characters can be suddenly grotesque (as with the General in the first sequence) or freakish (like the minor functionary who greets Miss La Tene.)Â Did youÂ find any uneveness throughout the issue?
Stephen: There’s quite a bit of awkwardness in the art in terms of character shading, but the on thing I hate with a passion is the current trend where artists take a photograph of something, then Adobe Photoshop the hell out of it to make it look comic-booky.Â I hate it.Â I don’t know if Fuso is doing that here, but it looks like it in many of the panels.Â The art was probably my least favorite element of the issue.
Matthew: For a first issue, though, it gets the job done, thrusting us into a new situation (albeit not entirely new, hence the COBRA II: Electric Boogaloo of the title) and giving us just enough light to work out the dimensions of our playing field.Â The use of things that I knew (Tomax, Xamot, Jinx, Baroness) gave me enough of a hook into the drama that I was engaged throughout, and Costa & Gage have created a story that I want to see the end of.Â The only downside for me comes in the clear message (one shared by all the IDW Joe books, now that you mention) that this is absolutely NOT the G.I.Joe I grew up with.Â Given the same characters, likenesses, and names, it’s sometimes hard to get around that.Â Overall, though, this is a nicely done book, and G.I. Joe – COBRA II #1 earns a well-rounded 3.5 out of 5 Stars overall from Matthew…
Stephen: I’m less excited about the issue than you are.Â I think the story is well done; it hits all the right points at the right moments in the story.Â There are plenty of moments to make you jumpy, and there’s enough mystery to make me interested in seeing issue #2, but the art brings it down, which means I can only give this issue 2.5 out of 5 Stars.