Review: G.I. Joe - Vol. 4 #5

There is not enough nostalgia to pad this review.  Unlike Snake-Eyes Agent of Cobra where I was able to summon my childhood love of a character to gloss over the imperfections there just isn’t enough of my beloved Joe’s in the text to even raise any memories from my youth.  This is not G.I. Joe.  This is an Aaron Sorkin film told in panels. The first problem is that this is issue #5 but there are so many characters and so much story going on that it feels like we’re 100 issues into a dense, solidly constructed world.  Not even Sandman was this fucking complicated by the end.  There is just so much going on and it’s just all so boring.  It’s so boring that I had to take a break halfway through.  It’s so boring that time stopped around me and in that moment, between the ticks of the clock, I was able to see the face of God.  I saw the beauty of the divine and, overwhelmed, I reached towards it in an attempt to touch Grace itself.  And as I reached towards His outstretched arm He yawned.  This book made God yawn.  Then He stretched and then He farted and I came crashing back to this book.

G.I. Joe Vo 4 #5 2-11-15The art is real solid but it’s not enough to overcome just the page after page of dialogue.  That’s all this is, it’s just word bubble after world bubble, interchangeable character after interchangeable character.  The “Previously On…” does a good job of getting us up to speed and filling us in on who all is involved but the problem is that there are so many people involved in so many different locations doing so many different things.  We spend some time here and it’s all talking to establish context then before we can move on from the context establishing we’re in the next place with new characters establishing more context.  At no point do we move on from establishing context to actually doing something.  Just, god dammit, DO something.  I kept blanking out, I couldn’t keep up with what was going on.  It’s the sequential story equivalent of a roofie.  Where are we?  Who’s talking now?  Who are they?  Why should I care?  Why does the public trust a group called fucking “Cobra” over the CIA?  All these questions and more are NOT answered.

The tone of the comic is very much more “tense 24 style political drama” and less “two goofy armies filled with people with goofy nicknames shoot lasers at each other for some reason”.  It seems like they want to elevate G.I. Joe from glorified toy commercial to legit espionage thriller.  I don’t think that works.  I don’t think that’s the tone for G.I. Joe.  I think what works for G.I. Joe is broad colorful characters fighting over the top villains for the ultimate stakes every time.  G.I. Joe is not a PMC outfit struggling to figure out what’s moral in a morally grey world.  It’s not a spy thriller where you wonder who’s being honest, who’s lying and who’s playing who.  They have a guy named Cobra-fucking-Commander who is either a used car salesman or an actual fucking snake.  They have a guy named Destro who has a metal fucking head.  There’s a guy named Deep Six and his casual attire is a deep-sea mech suit.  This world isn’t subtle and it doesn’t play well with subtlety.  Just have a guy in a hood steal the Statue of Liberty to use as the ammunition for his super rail gun that he’ll use to take over the world.  Bam, that’s your first story arc right there.  Not this.  I don’t even know what this is, I just know that I wanted to take a nap when I was done.

Score: 1/5

Writer: Karen Traviss Artist: Steve Kurth Colorist: Kito Young Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/11/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital