Cobra Command has won the war and conquered the United States. But what is Major Bludd up to? Your Major Spoilers review of G.I. Joe #4 awaits!
Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Niko Walter
Colorist: Brittany Peer
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 1, 2020
Previously in G.I. Joe: Journey into the heart of Cobra as Major Bludd searches for the hidden truth behind Cobra high command! What will Cobra’s new vision of America mean for G.I. Joe?
A JOURNEY INTO THE MIND OF MAJOR BLUDD
After conquering the world, Cobra Commander found that the hardest part is keeping everything under control. That’s why he has Major Bludd, former mercenary-turned-functionary, who has been tasked with finding out where the G.I. Joe rebels have been hiding. He quickly identifies the distinctive jacket worn by newest Joe Tiger, even tracking him to the local store where he picked up his supplies, but finds more resistance than expected from the shopkeeper. After taking the man away for reeducation, Bludd tracks a suspicious energy source, only to find that it’s not a G.I. Joe base, but a secret Cobra installation working on clean energy and solutions for a better fascist future. He is horrified to discover that Cobra Commander isn’t just a demagogue, but in fact an idealist, making him much more dangerous. Worse still, Cobra has secretly allied itself with Destro, whom Bludd hates. Doctor Mindbender unexpectedly covers for his discovery, even offering him information that will lead Bludd straight to Tiger and, presumably, the G.I. Joes, but as the issue ends, he weighs what to do with all his new knowledge.
COBRA AS METAPHOR
Every G.I. Joe story has political underpinnings, be they set against The Cold War, the various modern conflicts in the Middle East or (going all the way back) Vietnam, but this volume of G.I. Joe is clearly a metaphor for modern politics, analogous to the rise of nationist, right-wing governments around the world. It’s a gamble, but one that pays off in this issue. The use of G.I. Joe in a Star Wars Rebel Alliance context is something we haven’t seen extensively, and this issue makes great use of one of the minor players of modern G.I. joe since 1983. Allor’s script does something that I didn’t think possible, making me not only understand, but sympathize with the murderous Sebastian Bludd, even hoping that his better nature will cause him to switch sides. I’ve commented before on the naturalistic look to Nike Walter’s art in this volume, and this issue finally solidifies exactly what they’re going for: Normal humans in an abnormal, even deadly, but still mundane situation. A major conflict in the story involves no guns or knives, just The Baroness and Daemon arguing on whether a problem needs a military or an administrative solution. Thanks to the art, it’s still riveting stuff, visually and verbally.
BOTTOM LINE: A VERY SLOW BURN
This issue is a pretty big gamble, as our first real deep dive isn’t into one of the Joe team at all, not to mention the overt politics of it all, but it’s a gamble that pays off. G.I. Joe #4 is a whole new take on the Real American Hero, and it succeeds with strong art, a thoughtful story and a stunning character revelation for an old villain, leading to 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. If this book doesn’t get shut down by brigades of naysayers, this will be the issue that people remember as the turning point.
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G.I. JOE #4
I'm stunned and impressed by this issue, and greatly respect what they're trying to do... This is a whole new G.I. Joe.