G.I. Joe #1


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G.I. Joe #1


  • Words: Chuck Dixon
  • Art: Robert Atkins
  • Inks: Joe Clayton
  • Colors: Andrew Crossley
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Jan 14, 2009

A mysterious machine sinks a freight liner off the coast. This event and increased communications on something or someone by the codename of Cobra sends the elite military unit into a frenzy of activity at headquarters.

Chuck Dixon uses this as the start of his and IDW’s run on G.I. Joe . When the company received the license they decided that a fresh start was the way to go. This will keep down on trying to shoehorn needless continuity and give the characters and readers a chance to find their own way. Dixon introduces everything like a spy movie. Distant locales, nonconclusive intel and niftily framed shots are the name of the game.

It is certainly an interesting approach to a franchise built on a line of kid’s toys. This is no gamble here, it will keep the target demographic of current comic book publishers happy. Just like Devil’s Due did with their run, this is a sophisticated approach to the material. This is not a bad thing, per se, although it does lead to standard attrition in sales.

At the height of Joe mania, the Marvel comic worked as a gateway comic bringing in new readers from the cartoon who had been lured in by the rabid obsession with the toys. It is easy to remember keeping a file card box with Duke, Snake Eyes, and the whole crew’s stats as cut from the card packaging each figure shipped in. The kid who got the motorized tank first on the block was immediately the coolest kid, until there was a plane or fortress that trumped that item’s uniqueness. 20 years later and the owners of the right to publish the comic think that the aging fan is the way to go. Those same 12 year olds now in their middle thirties are the main guys shopping at the comic store.

When Hasbro’s cash cow was king, it was all about the kids. The comic and the cartoon were little more than slick promotional tools to sell the action figures. Which at the time crowded the shelves of the local K-Mart and that Mecca known as Toys R’ Us. Your typical story revolved around stuff blowing up, the good guys winning and some kind of moral being taught.

The problem with this book is not that it is poorly written, because it isn’t. The problem is that instead of feeding the 12 year old’s fantasies of excitement and patriotism, it is catering to standard action movie tropes and the nostalgia of the aging fan boy. Really, it is just a little sad. The book is filled with familiar characters and vehicles, but it ignores the spectacle that is G.I. Joe . Is it just that today’s parents are too PC to let their children contemplate the spoils of God and Country? It certainly can’t be the violence, because when one visits the local Walmart, they find rows stuffed with WWE merchandise. Is the lure of fake wrestling more palatable than the righteousness of America? Are we so jaded that playing army is no longer appropiate for little boys, but headlocks and piledrivers are perfectly acceptable?

As a work of mostalgia, Dixon hits all the right notes. He gives the fans what they want to see, whether it makes sense to the heart of the original or not. Scarlett, Duke and Snake Eyes are in the end all you need. Well, you could use some Cobra Commander, Baroness and Destro. They are certainly important to the formula. But those three musketeers of the property are the key. It is good to spend some time giving them characterization and the spotlight. It is possible in the end that it doesn’t matter, there are five more issues to go before there will need to be a collection. There is plenty of time for explosions and menace. Unless, of course, you lose the readers now.

Atkins does a fine job of recalling the archetype of the 80s comic and cartoon while giving the book a more modern feel. Through his line and Crossley’s coloring, there is a pop. It may all be from digital coloring, but it looks good... even if it is a little misdirected in focus and content.

A typical and methodical action set up plays to the obvious audience of the book. It is put together with a lot of skill and certainly a healthy respect for the rich history of the franchise. However, one has to wonder if this was really the way to go with the book.

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