Dual Review: G.I. Joe #1

Well originally this was to be a group review, but so many people dropped out after reading it that it came down to just Nick and Dustin covering the book. That might be all you need to know about the issue, but they’re still going to give you their opinion and scores. Here’s what the issue is about from the mouth of IDW: DOES THE WORLD NEED G.I. JOE? Cobra had become an international peacekeeping force… and the future of G.I. JOE looks bleak. SCARLETT leads what's left of America's ultimate fighting force - but will she be able to keep the team together? Real-world action and politics collide… and nothing will be the same.

NICK: 2/5

GIJOEv4_01_covA-1-9.24.14So here’s where I’m at in terms of my relationship to the G.I. Joe brand: I thought G.I. Joe was one specific person. Color me surprised that that’s not the case, I suppose. As a newbie jumping into the brand with this new number one though, I found very little to like. Mostly because this commits the cardinal sin of #1 issues: it’s boring as hell to look at.

Karen Traviss goes for a more realistic approach to the Joes and the world they inhabit, where Cobra lives in the grey market, supporting privatized militaries in conflict zones, and the Joes themselves are on the budgetary chopping block. The whole story plays out like a very good episode of The West Wing, which would be great if this were television or a novel. Where in one of her novels, Traviss might be able to write an extremely propulsive scene that takes place between two power brokers in the men’s bathroom, there’s no need for that to happen for two pages in a G.I. Joe comic. I’m not even mad that Cobra Commander only makes a cameo as a poster in a cadet’s barracks (the oldest 16 year old cadet in history—seriously, that dude is 30 if he’s a day), I’m mad that in a whole issue, there was one page of anything resembling action, and otherwise it was people talking in rooms. There’s not a strong visual component to the story that Traviss is putting together, which doesn’t make it a bad story (I actually find the story kind of fascinating), but it doesn’t make much sense in this medium.

Steve Kurth’s art is solid, and he does well with what he’s given, but the real star of the show for me is the cover by Jeffery Veregge. It’s very Saul-Bass-y, which is awesome, and it gives the readers a heads up that hey, this isn’t going to be the everyday G.I. Joe with hyperrealistic covers of explosions, it’s going to have a little more intrigue. It’s a stylistic choice I like for a story I’m not crazy about.


I’m going to start by answering the question from the synopsis… No. The answer is no because if it’s going to resemble what this issue has to offer then no one needs it. Also my one point goes to the art which admittedly deserves a bit better, but I just couldn’t bring myself to reward this issue anything more.

GIJOE_s401_cvrSUB-1-9.24.14The problem with this volume of G.I. Joe is that it continues the hot mess that was the last volume of G.I. Joe. You know the volume that saw the creation of the Joe named “Hashtag” or some shit equally terrible. I don’t know if that was Fred Van Lente’s idea to make the Joe’s more realistic or IDW’s but both should probably feel bad about the current mess that the Joe’s are in. Why IDW didn’t just reboot the entire franchise is beyond me, I mean if the sales where bad enough that it needed to be rebooted then what made them think that continuing the continuity was a good idea? They don’t do that for Godzilla and that seems to sell just fine.

The Joe’s are realistic… they deal with red tape and so does Cobra. This G.I. Joe series is geopolitical and a bureaucrats wet dream. Which means if you want anything to happen in this issue you should just put that idea to bed and kiss it goodbye because it’s going to die in its sleep. This was a boring issue and nothing happens… nothing. It’s a series of conversations about what could happen and even what did happen. It was like being stuck in a conversation with a friend that both lives in the past talking about high school, but then is always talking about their big dreams for the future. Does that sound like a good conversation to you? If not then don’t buy or read this issue.

Since it’s clear that IDW doesn’t know the formula for a good G.I. Joe story I’m going to spell it out for them. Do the opposite of everything you’ve done since you picked up the license back in 2008.

That means that it doesn’t take place in our world because in our world war is a terrible, terrible thing. We don’t root for the bad guys or think that they’re dressed cool. No we fucking attack them with drones and spend billions of dollars to fight them and lose thousands of lives and who the fuck wants to think about that when reading G.I. Joe? No one. NO ONE. ABSOLUTELY NO ONE.

We want over the top good guys fighting over the top bad guys and no one really dies, but occasionally you kill a great character and make it count towards the bigger story. There’s fucking future tech that we’ll never see in real life and both sides fight in areas that aren’t populated. Hell, throw in some new characters, but remember that they need to be as cool as The Baroness, Lady Jaye, Snake Eyes or Destro.  I know it seems like a dumb formula, but it works and the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke… don’t fix it.” If like me you were looking forward to another chance to jump on G.I. Joe… don’t bother.

Writer: Karen Traviss Artist: Steve Kurth Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/24/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital