The end of the 80s was the end of G.I. Joe, but… now they’re gettin’ the band back together! Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of G.I. Joe #1 awaits!
Writer: Josh Blaylock
Penciler: Josh Blaylock (layouts)/Steve Kurth
Inker: John Larter
Colorist: Hi-Fi Colour Design
Editor: Scott Wherle
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.95
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $6.0
Previously in G.I. Joe: 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!
Or, at least, it used to be, before COBRA disappeared and their funding dried up. Now, seven years after the dissolution of G.I. Joe, only a few splintered cells of the street gang/crime syndicate/terrorist cell called The Dreadnoks is still active. And at one of their locations, an historic reunion is about to take place, and the Dreadnoks are preparing their highest security to welcome their guests. That security, however, is not up to the skills of a young ninja of the Arashikage Clan, who sneaks in, surveils the place and returns to his dojo to give his findings to the Clain’s Silent Master, who has a few secrets of his own.
In Washington D.C., Conrad Hauser, formerly G.I. Joe Master Sergeant Duke, takes the evidence to his bosses, showing them tangible proof that Cobra Commander is back and active on American soil. The Army, NSA, CIA, DID and several other factions agree: It’s time for Duke to get back to basics, and so he assembles some old friends to break the news.
For fans of the art in this book, I truly apologize for what I’m about to say: I can not stand it. The artist here is clearly working outside their comfort zone to emulate the then-hot work of J. Scott Campbell and Michael Turner, and it shows. Every face is contorted beyond recognition and the garish and overworked coloring adds insult to that injury. It looks bad to me, is what I’m saying. The assembled Joes meet the news with a combination of trepidation and excitement, with Shipwreck pointing out that Duke has clearly spent his missing not-quite-decade working in some sort of black ops, Worse still, the relationship between Scarlett and Snake-Eyes has clearly had better days, as she silently slaps him in the face and stomps away. Back in the Everglades, the reason for the unprecedented Cobra reunion are made clear: The Command has a plan.
His plan involves seeking out America’s enemies abroad to drum up a new army and the use of nano-machines to take out their opposition. His triumphant return is upstaged, though, by Laird Destro, who is apparently very Scottish, wears a silver full-head mask, and has made quite a name for himself as an arms dealer in the ensuing years. Apparently, when your weapons are wielded by people who can actually AIM, you get a reputation. While the bad guys muster their forces, Duke starts making calls to former Joes.
Oh, man. Poor Bazooka, bound to be the butt of a thousand heartless fat jokes. That’s not at all infuriating. And when General Hawk and Duke meet the new potential Joes, there’s an unhealthy helping of ‘Full Metal Jacket’-style testosterone nonsense that bothers me even more. While that’s going on, though, Hawk admits to Duke that the mysterious “Jugglers” (a group of high-ranking generals who manipulate society with their secret knowledge) do exist, and that he’s the one who gets to keep them in check. That’s an interesting change in status quo that actually ends up going places, though they eventually do overplay their hand. Back in Florida, Destro reveals to Cobra Commander that perhaps things aren’t quite as cut and dried as they seem.
And maybe he shouldn’t presume that he’s the one in charge…
That’s a nice change of pace, honestly, especially given this book’s heavy use of the characters and situations of the 80s Sunbow cartoon more than Larry Hama’s Marvel continuity. There are more than a few interesting ideas grafted onto these cartoony characters here (though there’s also a lot of edge lord nonsense and manly-manly B.S. that I’m not enamored of), but it’s also ugly as sin, leaving G.I. Joe #1 with a below average 2 out of 5 stars overall. I’m a huge fan of the Joes, and I think that it’s telling that, had the book started with the brilliant Hama working at his peak storytelling capacity with this artist, the entire franchise would probably have crashed and burned. As it is, this continuity has been declared non-canonical and reprints have referred to it as “G.I. Joe: Disavowed”, which I think is pretty clever marketing, making it clear that it’s no longer the real deal, but preserving the DDP continuity for those who love it. As we say here at Major Spoilers, your mileage may vary.
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G.I. JOE #1
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