Cobra as a peacekeeping force? The Joe team disbanded? Black is white, up is down and short is long, but what are the shattered remains of G.I. Joe gonna do about it? Your Major Spoilers review of G.I. Joe #1 awaits!
Previously in G.I. Joe: “G.I. Joe is the code name of an elite special missions force whose mission is to defend the world from Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization bent on ruling the world.”
But now, everything has changed.
PRETTY BLEAK STORY
There’s a lot of setup in this issue, with two parallel stories: Cobra, under the public leadership of Tomax (less his deceased twin brother Xamot) has become a peacekeeping force in troubled nations, while G.I. Joe (under the command of Scarlett, with assistance from Joe Colton, the original G.I. Joe) fights to keep her team funded in the new world order. I’ve seen a lot of G.I. Joe stories, and the ones that I find the least compelling are the ones that deal with lots of realpolitik and funding issues and the like, and this issue is chockfull of such moments. There are only five Joes in the book (possibly only five left): Roadblock, Mainframe, Scarlett, Flint and Agent Helix, and halfway through the issue they take their first mission as a fighting force. Unfortunately for me, it’s a request to assassinate the leaders of the resistance in the same country where Cobra has stepped in as moderator. This issue features a LOT of dialogue, and the only part of it that really pops for me is an exchange between Tomax and The Baroness (bless her leather-clad heart) wherein she calls him to task for the fact that Cobra isn’t DOING anything any more. Tomax’s argument that they need to capture hearts and minds to defeat G.I. Joe is a strong one, and informs most of the new direction.
SOME COOL LINEWORK
Although I rather dislike this issue’s cover, I’m very happy with the interior work. Steve Kurth’s artwork has a roughcut quality to it that fits the tone nicely, although the coloring is a bit bland during most of the issue. There aren’t any battle sequences to speak of, so I can’t tell you for sure how I feel about his work in action, but the quiet moments have nice resonance to them, even as his facial expressions are a bit loose and sketchy. This book promises a more real-world take on G.I. Joe and the whole special forces mythos, making for a “Bourne Identity” vibe rather than the more colorful take that G.I. Joe is known for, and I have to say, I am not entirely sold. A G.I. Joe title, to me, should feel a bit larger than life, and the biggest failing of the big-screen G.I. Joe movies was in the homogenization of the concepts at the heart of G.I. Joe. While I appreciate the moral ambiguity of a real world tale, and even get behind Cobra posing as a peacekeeping force for evil intent, having G.I. Joe sent in on an assassination mission galls me, and more than half the issue is spent on budget meetings and backroom intrigue.
THE BOTTOM LINE: TOO DARK FOR MY TASTES
There’s a clear vision in this book, and some decent artwork to be had, but I feel like Traviss has stripped out too much of the central conceit for this to be a really successful relaunch of G.I. Joe. With different characters in play but the same story and art, I might have found it more succcessful, but as it stands, G.I. Joe #1 is a little too grim, a little too real-world and a little too morally gray for me, earning 2 out of 5 stars overall. It’s not a bad comic, it’s just not a good G.I. Joe comic.