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G.I. Joe: America?s Elite #13

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G.I. Joe: America?s Elite #13

Credits

  • Words: Joe Casey
  • Art: Josh Medors
  • Inks: Richard Zajac & Le Beau Underwood
  • Colors: Jason Jensen
  • Story Title: Dark Horizon Line
  • Publisher: Devil's Due Publishing
  • Price: $2.95
  • Release Date: Jul 12, 2006

Joe Casey’s second year on G.I. Joe begins, with the return of a long absent hooded foe. How does the much-hyped return of Cobra Commander measure up?

Joe Casey has put the G.I. Joe team through hell. Since General Colton took over, Duke has gone AWOL, Snake-Eyes was killed (and then his body stolen, resurrected and brainwashed by the enemy), T’Jbang was effectively killed, Sei Tin usurped control of the Red Ninja Clan and a disillusioned Flint resigned. With Storm Shadow temporarily out of commission and Snake-Eyes adjusting to his resurrection, the Joes get a moment of peace and an opportunity to follow a lead on the missing Duke. As the teams tries to get their footing, Cobra Commander puts his latest scheme into motion, bringing General Rey back into the field.

Looking at issue #13 by itself, Casey puts forth a number of interesting concepts and plots. It’s one of those "quiet" ones, sort of the calm before the storm, where readers get an opportunity to catch up with all the major players. Long out of commission, the team member Colton brings back to the fold will be a welcome, although potentially disruptive addition, to the team. Stalker’s mission is a nice tight adventure, wrapping up some threads from the recent Hunt for Cobra Commander Special. The return of General Rey, a relatively new character who quickly blossomed in the final issues of the last series, seems to promise some interesting complications for the heroes.

Despite all of these potentially promising plots, the sequence with Snake-Eyes probably best sums up what is becoming my problem with the book. Coming out of the traumatic events of recent issues, Casey has set Snake-Eyes on a "back-to-basics" approach. Gearing the character away from his "ninja-mode," and more in tune with Larry Hama’s original concept of a commando, makes a lot of sense in my mind. In and of that itself, it strikes me that there’s a lot of room for storytelling and exploring where the character’s head is at. What left me with a leery feeling was the revelation that during his time in the thrall of the Red Ninja Clan, it appears that Snake-Eyes has been hideously disfigured…again. This being the third horrendous facial disfigurement that Snake-Eyes has gone through – the shocking revelation has little impact on me as a reader. In setting the character back-to-basics, Casey has done just that, just doing the predictable and not adding any new twist. This was the same concern I had with the last story arc, where again the fan speculation perfectly predicted the reason why T’Jbang had betrayed his friends.

There’s a lot of really interesting ideas in this book, but the payoff never seems to be there. G.I. Joe is becoming a book where I expect the expected. Devil’s Due has put together a marvelous campaign regarding the return of Cobra Commander, and the inclusion of General Rey in his plans is something that should be exciting me. Already however, this seems to be the same old Cobra Commander. While his plan seems to be taking a slightly Machiavellian approach, his actions in the first part of the issue are closer to the traditional maniacal "curse-you-G.I. Joe" foe from the animated series (I mean, he shows up with even the cliché "rubber mask that looks completely real" disguise). I came into this issue with the expectations of seeing the character handled as a manipulative, cunning terrorist, and so far, indications are pointing toward a standard "super-villain."

The art by Josh Medors is less polished than I’m used to seeing in the book, but stylistically I think he suits it better than Caselli. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to the look of G.I. Joe, leading me to prefer a more "realistic" look than Caselli’s exaggerated style. Medors comes much closer to that feel, more like a Herb Trimpe or Rod Whigham than a Caselli or Andrew Wildman issue. In some cases Medors goes a little too heavy on the early 90s style of heavy crosshatching, but generally hits the mark in many of the combat or darker scenes.

Overall, G.I. Joe: America’s Elite #13 is the start of a new arc that’s loaded with potential. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to feel that Casey can draw out all of those initial good ideas into a satisfying conclusion.

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