Dr. Venom? Isn’t he DEAD? Your Major Spoilers review of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #256 awaits!
Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: Ron Joseph
Colorist: James Brown
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Editor: Tom Waltz
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 12, 2018
Previously in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: Bombstrike, Ambush, Sightline and Milo have smuggled themselves into Springfield via a dangerously mysterious weapons shipment out of the Revanche Complex in Darklonia. But Getting home is only half the battle. Can they find a way to stop the evil machinations of… Dr. Venom?
I REMEMBER READING THIS THING BACK IN ’82
The beginning of this issue is a master class of how to introduce a situation, as we follow two delivery men into Cobra Headquarters, with the necessary exposition seamlessly integrated into a walking dialogue as they bring a crate into Dr. Venom’s lab. Dr. Venom, by the way, has been dead for a number of years (30 or more in real life), but thanks to his Brainwave Scanner has reinserted his mind into the body of Dr. Mindbender, another Cobra goofball, albeit one who is much less disturbing. Once inside the facility, we find out that the crate contains four Joes (or at least three Joes and someone who seems to be a cocky little kid named Milo) who are ready to shut down Venom’s operation once and for all. Unfortunately for our Joes, Dr. Venom has assembled a giant armored android, bristling with weapons, into which he intends to put his mind, thus giving him the means to avenge himself on Snake-Eyes. Of course, the major hurdles to this are the fact that Snake-Eyes is dead, Dr. Venom is out of his mind and the Joes’ attack interrupts the mind-transfer. leaving aa giant battle-robot possessed by a half-transferred brain pattern.
This is probably bad.
AND THIS ISSUE IS A DIRECT CONTINUATION OF THAT?
As I read this issue, I was a little bit bothered by slight inconsistencies in the art, but this issue’s back-matter actually took that off my mind: The artist apparently was hospitalized and underwent open heart surgery DURING the production of this issue, and still MET THE DEADLINE! It’s really hard for me to get upset about the moments that didn’t quite work. Ron Joseph’s art actually falls somewhere between Darick Robertson and Alan Davis, with some subtle facial expressions and nice storytelling throughout the action sequence, while Hama’s dialogue is, as always, witty and amazing. There are the usual references to military actions, weaponry and such (Sightline’s remarks that the android might deflect 5.56 NATO but not RPG-28s took me back to the old days of G.I. Joe comics) as well as some interesting dialogue from Dr. Venom and a really disturbing rant from the mad scientist-possessed robot.
BOTTOM LINE: HAMA’S STILL GOT IT
I had been out of this series for the better part of 40 issues, but the recent story arc with G.I. Joe’s new Snake-Eyes drew me back in, and this issue reminds me of the good old days of Trucial Abysmia and Stalker, Rock N Roll and Outback trapped behind enemy lines. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #256 combines the old-school nonsense that I loved as a kid with a new edge and a scary old villain to make an impressive story with art that is actually pretty amazing given the circumstances but never dips below pretty good, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. It’s good to see the creators of the 80s still getting work, but even more impressive, delivering good stories and making enjoyable comic books.