G.I. Joe Volume 1
Written by Chuck Dixon
Art by Robert Atkins
G.I. JOE: COBRA
Written by Christos Gage and Mike Costa
Art by Antonio Fuso
G.I. JOE: Origins Volume 1
Written by Larry Hama
Art by Mike Hawthorne
I had not really cared about any of the G.I. Joe comics being produced by Devil’s Due Comics for the last few years, which is not to say they were good or bad, just that I couldn’t be bothered to actually buy them. However, when I heard that IDW had picked up the license and was going to be making a new series, I was intrigued. I was further intrigued when I heard of their plan to release three series, all focusing on different aspects of the G.I. Joe mythos. Then they suckered me in with G.I. Joe #0, which came out last year, and gave a preview of all three series. Since they’ve started, I’ve been eagerly waiting for each new issue, mostly because each series has its own place in the story, but also because each has its own unique feel.
The main series, G.I. Joe, is the most traditional of the three series. It’s got all the characters you enjoy, running around in their familiar costumes, fighting crazy robots controlled by Destro, and looking for Cobra. It’s a fun series, particularly if you’re a fan of the original. It’s got everything I’m looking for in a G.I. Joe comic. The problem I have with it is the pace, which is moving a bit slow for my taste. We’re coming up on issue #8, and we’ve seen neither hide nor hair of Cobra Commander, although we have seen Destro and the Baroness. In fact, the Joe team isn’t even fully aware of what Cobra is, which works for the story, because it’s kind of cool that Cobra is this big mysterious organization, but it makes the main characters seem like losers.
The series is written by Chuck Dixon, who is the perfect writer for this series. He knows how to write great action sequences, and has gone nuts so far. This is the comic series that feels most like the cartoons, with lots of robots, cool vehicles, secret bases, and terrorists threatening world domination. It’s fun, it’s not as serious as the other two series, I always have a good time with it, and that’s what I’m looking for. The art by Robert Atkins is nice and clean, very reminiscent of the cartoon, which fits the tone of the book. He has updated some of the characters looks slightly, but there haven’t been any big redesigns, which I’m good with. He gets the action across well, which is the most important thing in this book. I mean, I want to be able to enjoy the characters, but it’s not the first thing I look for in a G.I. Joe comic; I want ACTION! The main series delivers that action; I just wish we could move the story along a little faster. There are 7 issues out so far, issue 8 is out on August 12th, and the trade for the first 6 issues is out now.
G.I. Joe Origins is pretty much what the title implies. This series looks at how the Joe team was formed, specifically how the core team of Duke, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Road Block, and Rock n’ Roll got together. It also has the origin of someone we assume will be Cobra Commander, although that hasn’t been definitively stated. This one has been pretty much straight action, which is always a good thing for me. There hasn’t been a lot of crazy technology used in this series, it’s as close to a straight up war comic as you’ll get with G.I. Joe. The characters all use their military know-how and standard weapons to get stuff done, so it’s a nice change of pace from the main series. Also, it’s moved fairly quickly, not at the slow pace that has plagued the main series. Larry Hama is the ideal choice for this series, since he knows these characters inside and out, and he really nails all the military stuff. There are six issues out for this series so far, and it was originally planned as a mini, but IDW has decided to make it an ongoing.
G.I. Joe: Cobra has been described by some as the 24 of the Joe universe, and that is a pretty apt comparison. Cobra is the series that most feels like it could be happening in the real world, at least until the last issue, where the robots start showing up. The story follows Chuckles, the undercover agent of the Joe team. We see how he goes deep into the mercenary world in order to infiltrate Cobra, and then the choices he has to make in order to stay there. The closest thing I can compare it to is Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips classic series Sleeper. Even the art by Antonio Fuso is reminiscent of Phillips’ style. Fortunately, Sleeper is a good series to imitate, and the creators do an excellent job of building the tension. If you wanted to give one of these series to someone who isn’t interested in G.I. Joe, this would be the series to give them. Four issues of the series have been released, which is the whole mini, although a special fifth issue will be released. A trade for the series is due out in October.
So, if you’re looking for some good new G.I. Joe stories, and the movie disappoints you, you’ve got three great options here. You should be able to find one that appeals to you, even if you’re not a lifelong fan. If you are a fan and you’re not picking these up, give one of them a shot. I think you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of them.