REVIEW: G.I. Joe #1

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“G.I. Joe is the codename for American’s daring, highly-trained special mission force. Its purpose: to defend human freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.” C’mon, you know all that. But do you know how good the new G.I. Joe monthly from IDW Publishing is? You will after you read this Major Spoilers review of G.I. Joe #1 – and knowing is half the battle! I apologize, but I couldn’t resist.

GIJoe1CoverG.I. JOE #1
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Penciler: Steve Kurth
Inker: Allen Martinez
Colorist: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Editor: John Barber
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99

 

Previously, in G.I. Joe: Cobra “wikileaked” the existence of the Joe team to the US public. So the Joes are regrouping and embracing the concept of public marketing.

A REAL METATEXTUAL HERO

Man, this was a meta book. There are all sorts of winks here, from Shipwreck complaining about his crappy nickname to wisecracks about kung-fu grips and the idea of G.I. Joe action figure. It dangerously treads the line between stupid and clever – an embedded blogger named Hashtag tweeting operational details is pretty dumb, but forcing Navy SEAL Shipwreck to dress up like a swabbie is an amusing nod to the classic character. The basic set-up is that the Joe force’s existence is now known to the world. So the real American heroes decide to be proactive about the whole thing, embracing their role as larger-than-life “celebrity soldiers,” replete with goofy codenames, uniforms and DoD public relations mandates. Not everyone is going to like this change in concept. G.I. Joe #1 winks at the reader a little too much at times. It’s a good thing Fred Van Lente is a funny writer who lands his jokes more than he misses the mark.

With the exposition out of the way, the Joe team is quickly dropped into a mission in Ohio. The problem is a Cobra-infiltrated enclave named Warrenton, where something sketchy involving chemical weapons is going on. The op goes pear-shaped rather quick, with a few characters getting into serious situations in no time. I like Van Lente’s sense of pacing. He gets things established and moving quickly

WISH I HADN’T ALREADY USED LIEFELDIAN THIS WEEK

Steve Kurth’s work won’t be winning over Joe fans anytime soon. The big action scenes don’t land when the characters’ anatomy looks all wrong and the perspective is all screwy. There were a few splashy moments that I could not enjoy due to serious flaws in the illustration. Kurth has a problem when drawing faces – he’s too busy in his line work, which makes the characters look old or lumpy. Their features are often distractingly asymmetrical. Kurth does draw the uniforms nicely, but this issue suffered from the overall sub-standard artwork.

BOTTOM LINE: NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

The idea of a visible, publicly marketed G.I. Joe team is an idea that has some legs. This is the first title in a three monthly series roll-out, so this is a good time for Joe fans to get involved. Ultimately, G.I. Joe #1 was a fun issue and I will probably stick around for another issue or two. But I don’t see this title having a ton of mass appeal. There are just too many problems, whether in the artwork or the sometimes-cloying cleverness, for G.I. Joe to entice the fans. If the kinks do get worked out, I think Fred Van Lente can write some good stories around this concept. As it stands, G.I. Joe #1 rates an average two and a half out of five stars.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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