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G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (2001 Series) #39

June 29, 2012 Leave a comment

January 28, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Union of the Snake Part Four

Cobra launches their attack on the Pit – and neither team will ever be the same!

Writers: Brandon Jerwa & Josh Blaylock
Pencils: Tim Seeley
Inks: Cory Hamscher
Colors: Val Staples
Letters: Robin Spehar
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: Tim Seeley, Andrew Pepoy & Val Staples
Publisher: Devil’s Due

Last issue, Zartan broke Cobra Commander out of G.I. Joe custody, only to reveal that the two men were using each other’s identities. Meanwhile, Destro has finally discovered the location of the Joe headquarters, the Pit. This issue, Destro makes his move against the Joes, just as Cobra Commander makes his move against Destro.

With two issues left in this storyline, it’s incredible to think that there are still more shocks to come. This is a seriously action-heavy issue. The Joes are in bad shape – the Jugglers have cut the team down to 12 members, they’re under the command General Rey, a man many of them have never met, and now their viscous enemies are descending upon them with guns blazing.

G.I. Joe has always been a book that could surprise you – it’s ostensibly a kids’ property, but the fans are in their 20s now. More than that, even when the fans were kids, this book could be pretty harsh at times with the violence, the action, and even the casualties. Although there have been resurrections during the course of this property (the original Cobra Commander being the most obvious example), there have been far more characters who have stayed dead. This issue ends on a major cliffhanger that will have fans of one of the characters in an uproar.

We also start to get a little characterization of the new leader of the “official” Joes (as opposed to the splinter group of former Joes carrying out their own missions). General Rey is still something of an enigma, but here he’s painted as a man of honor. The question, for the Joes and the readers, is whether he’s being genuine or if he’s just a puppet of the Jugglers.

Tim Seeley continues to own this book artistically. He has a beautiful, clean line, and Cory Hamscher and Val Staples all come together to make this the best this property has ever looked.

This may not be the best point to jump into reading the book, in the middle of such a major storyline, but if you can find the first three issues in this arc it’s a great time to come on board, because the Joe team has never undergone so many changes so quickly, and the story has almost never been this good.

Rating: 8/10

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G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (2001 Series) #38

June 15, 2012 Leave a comment

December 24, 2004

Quick Rating: Great
Title: Union of the Snake Part Three

G.I. Joe and Cobra both face schisms as they teeter towards the brink of collapse.

Writer: Brandon Jerwa
Pencils: Emiliano Santalucia
Colors: Brett R. Smith
Letters: Robin Spehar
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: Tim Seeley & Andrew Pepoy
Publisher: Devil’s Due

Last issue Duke and Snake-Eyes got sprung from prison by the unlikely duo of Scarlett and Storm Shadow. This issue, as they make their escape, Zartan and the Dreadnoks plan their own jailbreak – to free the imprisoned Cobra Commander!

Devil’s Due promises that next year will feature the biggest storyline in G.I. Joe history, and Brandon Jerwa is working overtime to make that happen. The Joe team has been pruned down to just 12 members, under the command of General Rey, but the members left out (or under fire) aren’t going to go down without a fight. Meanwhile, Destro has seized command of Cobra, but Zartan’s faction has other ideas.

We get a few nice revelations in this issue, about who’s really been in Joe custody all this time, the truth about Zartan’s mysterious condition, and a powerful scene between Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow, brothers too long at odds. There’s also a surprisingly powerful scene between Flint and Lady Jaye, the married couple caught up in the midst of this torment.

Emiliano Santalucia handles the pencils on this issue, stepping in for regular artist Tim Seeley, and the transition is almost seamless. The artwork looks a little more detailed, a little polished than usual, but the style is nearly exactly the same. It’s a great-looking comic book – as good as Seeley is, Santalucia would be a perfect artist on this book full-time if it came to it.

The Joes were my favorite toys as a kid, and even at the ripe old age of 27 I’m a huge fan, and this may be the best they’ve ever been. I can’t wait to see what’s coming up in 2005.

Rating: 9/10

G.I. Joe (2008 Series) #7

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

July 23, 2009

G.I. Joe #7 (IDW Publishing)
By Chuck Dixon, SL Galant & Howard Chaykin

Okay, okay, you got me. After picking up the paperback of the first six issues of this series, I couldn’t wait another six months for the next one. Scarlett is on trial, accused of aiding the renegade Joe called Snake Eyes, and her only hope to come out alive is to prove that her actions were justified. It may well be that the only way to prove that is to track the man down himself. Duke, meanwhile, pleads with her to save herself, shedding a little more light on the hidden past the two share in this continuity. This is one of the most tense, dramatic G.I. Joe stories I’ve ever read, and we barely even see the bad guys. Dixon has proven he has a flawless grasp on who these characters should be and how to play them. The only real complaint I can even have about this book is that the build may be a little too slow. We know we’re leading up to the confrontation to Cobra, but c’mon, let’s see the bad guys. Of course, I suppose people reading the G.I. Joe: Cobra series already are. Once the paperback edition of that series hits, I may have a totally different perspective.
Rating: 8/10

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (2001 Series) #36

August 14, 2011 Leave a comment

November 11, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Shroud (Union of the Snake Part One)

As the G.I. Joe team falls apart, Cobra begins to rebuild.

Writer: Brandon Jerwa
Pencils: Tim Seeley
Backgrounds: Jason Millet
Inks: Cory Hamscher
Colors: John Rauch
Letters: Dreamer Design
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: Tim Seeley & Jeremy Roberts
Publisher: Devil’s Due

After a rather blasé two-issue story, Brandon Jerwa is back in full force this month with a great offering for the readers, if not for the G.I. Joe team. With Hawk out of commission, permanently, it would appear, his replacement with the Jugglers shows none of the compassion for the team he brought to the table. The new bosses want to gut G.I. Joe, just as Destro is getting Cobra up and running again.

This issue is very much a tale of two armies. The Joes are being ripped apart from on-high, while their personal bonds and loyalty to the cause are still strong. Over at Cobra, the command is in place and functional, but the individuals still harbor deep anger and mistrust for one another. Can either army function in such a state?

Destro also pulls off a few unusual operations in this issue, plots and schemes to chip away at the American faith, which are much more subversive and, potentially, much more effective than anything Cobra Commander ever did.

Tim Seeley does a fantastic job with the art this issue. The characters look strong and distinct, and it’s a lot of fun for an old-school Joe fan like myself to see this issue focus on a lot of the original core members. (We also get a reminder that, no matter how iconic Duke has become to the team, he wasn’t one of the originals.) The cover echoes that fact, and it’s really a beautiful piece of art. At first blush it may appear to be a standard, generic pin-up cover, but it turns out to actually be germane to the story. Plus it looks really, really good.

This is a strong start to the next storyline, which is especially good after the last two issues. It seems this series is back on track.

Rating: 8/10

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (2001 Series) #35

August 6, 2011 Leave a comment

November 8, 2004

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Bad Moon Rising Part Two

The battle you’ve been waiting for – Snake-Eyes versus Wraith!

Writer: Brandon Jerwa
Pencils: Tim Seeley
Backgrounds: Jason Millet
Inks: Cory Hamscher
Colors: Brett R. Smith
Letters: Dreamer Design
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: Tim Seeley & Sunder Raj
Publisher: Devil’s Due

Perhaps it’s because the book is still coming down from a really spectacular, Earth-shattering storyline, but the two-part “Bad moon rising” hasn’t quite lived up to the best of Brandon Jerwa’s work on G.I. Joe. Once Destro’s new operative Wraith was introduced a few minutes ago, we were told he was tough and skilled and basically cool, but we didn’t have a real chance to see him in action until this issue, when he takes on Snake-Eyes. It’s a well-done fight scene, but a pretty standard one, a scene that seems to be included mostly for the purpose of convincing us how tough Wraith is. One of the best things of the last story arc, the return of General Colton (the original G.I. Joe) is barely touched upon this issue.

There’s more plot in this issue, of course – Destro gets a major shock at the end of the issue, but the best scene is a conversation the bedridden, paralyzed Hawk has with Kamakura, and even that is somewhat clichéd. The victim lashes out at the world – it’s realistic, yes, but it’s still something we’ve seen many a time before.

Seeley, Millet and Hamscher continue to score very high marks on the art side. The comic looks consistently clean, the fights are well-choreographed and the explosions and conflagrations come together beautifully. Quieter scenes, like Hawk in the hospital, look just as good. They may not be action-packed, but they are necessary to give the story weight, and the art team keeps them from getting dull. Colorist Brett Smith deserves major credit too – his work goes a long way towards establishing mood

This two-issue arc seems more like it was in place to tidy up a couple of things from the last arc and establish a few things for the next arc. It does its job, but it doesn’t really pop the way G.I. Joe usually does. This story just wasn’t meaty enough.

Rating: 7/10

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (2001 Series) #34

July 5, 2011 Leave a comment

September 25, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Bad Moon Rising Part One

With Hawk out of the fight, who will lead G.I. Joe?

Writer: Brandon Jerwa
Pencils: Tim Seeley
Backgrounds: Jason Millet
Inks: Cory Hamscher
Colors: Brett R. Smith
Letters: Dreamer Design
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: Tim Seeley
Publisher: Devil’s Due

General Hawk, leader of the G.I. Joe team, is paralyzed. He has retreated into himself, into a state of depression, and someone else needs to step up and take the reigns. Although the replacement isn’t who any of us would have expected, it’s an elegant solution and one that I expect to make for some interesting stories.

This issue picks up on several threads from previous storylines. With Cobra Commander captured by the Joes, Destro makes a move to claim leadership of Cobra – with the help of a new friend. A Joe team heads out to Colorado to investigate a Cobra front that they’ve had under surveillance for some time (since issue #14, actually), and the new Joe leader has to face down the Jugglers, the shadowy group responsible for the Joe team, yet for some reason, openly hostile towards it.

This issue, by design, is somewhat all over the place. It advances several storylines without devoting much time to any single one, so as a result it’s not quite as tight as the series can be during a more focused story arc. Still, each story is advanced of its own right, there’s no filler in this issue. Nothing superfluous.

Tim Seeley always does a fine job on the artwork. He doesn’t have quite as much action as usual, but he manages to work in a couple of exciting scenes. His skills aren’t limited there, though, he handles the “talking heads” aspect of most of the issue with equal skill. He also provides us with a great cover that deftly summarizes the mood of the entire issue.

G.I. Joe, the core title, is still one of the best bets every month for fans of the old series. Even though the property, in this incarnation, is over 20 years old, there’s still a lot of room to grow.

Rating: 8/10

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (2001 Series) #33

June 17, 2011 Leave a comment

August 20, 2004

Quick Rating: Great
Title: The Road Less Traveled & Fathom Part Three

General Hawk lingers on the brink of death, and no matter what happens, the Joe team will never be the same.

Writer: Brandon Jerwa
Pencils: Tim Seeley & Talent Caldwell
Backgrounds: Jason Millet
Inks: Cory Hamscher & Jason Gorder
Colors: Jeremy Roberts & Christina Strain
Letters: Dreamer Design
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: Tommy Castillo (Cover A); Michael Turner (Cover B)
Publisher: Devil’s Due

Last issue the G.I. Joe team stopped Cobra from rescuing the captured Destro… but at what cost? In the closing pages, General Hawk was shot in the back by Cobra Commander, who in turn was shot by the treacherous Baroness.

This issue, Hawk wakes up from his coma to find that things have been very different in his absence. Jerwa walks us through how the team has been cleaning things up while he healed, and how he prepares for a world where G.I. Joe is not needed… but something is haunting him.

I knew where this story was going by the third page. By page 15 I was certain, and I was just marking time waiting for Brandon Jerwa to pull the big last-page switcheroo I knew was coming. Well, he pulled it all right, but the switch was not what I was expecting at all – it was something that took me totally by surprise, and that’s about the highest praise I can give. Plus, it’s about all I can say without spoiling a great ending.

The “Fathom” storyline by Jerwa and Talent Caldwell comes to its conclusion this issue as well and, frankly, it was a little disappointing. This last chapter, just four short pages, is a quick attempt to give the character an origin, establish his place in the G.I. Joe universe and show how tough he is before Caldwell finishes up.

Tim Seeley does a nice job on the artwork on the main story, including some particularly creepy sequences that work very well and tie in beautifully with Cover A, by Tommy Castillo. It evokes the feel of an old EC horror comic, and while that may seem an odd choice for G.I. Joe, it works wonderfully.

This was an excellent issue, an incredible epilogue to the “Players and Pawns” storyline that sets up the new status quo for the series in a big way. The solicitations for issue #34 say “everything changes” – and it’s not hard to believe. Not hard at all.

Rating: 9/10