G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds #1


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G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds #1


  • Words: Max Brooks
  • Art: Howard Chaykin, Antonio Fuso
  • Colors: Lovern Kindzierski
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: May 26, 2010

I’ve been enjoying the G.I. Joe resurgence of the past year in comics. I haven’t actually been reading it, but I’ve been reveling in the knowledge that popular brands, like G.I. Joe, can be proven to be more than just a million-dollar premise. To the layperson, G.I. Joe may just be a war story featuring characters with funny names and clothes, but to people like Max Brooks, G.I. Joe is a world of rich characters.

G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds is a miniseries written by Brooks and drawn by various artists. Each issue looks at two characters, one from COBRA and one from Joe. Brooks takes you into their psyche and shows you what makes these characters really tick.

I did not expect Brooks to use the title so literally. He actually exposes one character’s emotions, while he shows the other’s biological status.

In this debut issue, Brooks shows us the heart of Major Bludd. As I said, I haven’t been reading the current Joe books, nor was I a fan of the old-school cartoon, but Brooks makes Bludd an interesting character even for a layperson.

Bludd is a ruthless killer. He kills a busload of people simply to get to their cargo of drugs, but beneath this is a story of family. I won’t spoil what happens, but I will say that Brooks takes a flat character and immediately adds a layer of realistic depth. Bludd, as it turns out, is frightened of something we all are, particularly in these financially-troubling times.

The art by Howard Chaykin is perfectly suitable. Chaykin draws a menacing, yet evocative, Major Bludd. He also draws symmetrical panels, in order to relate Bludd to his father and grandfather, in a way that is easy to understand and very cinematic.

In the second story, Brooks looks at Spirit, the Joes’ tracker. Where the first story was heartbreaking, this story felt too standard. It’s a scientific explanation of how Spirit is capable of detecting even the slightest sign of anything, but it’s a story we’ve seen a hundred times before.

The Spirit story shines in one area – the visual storytelling. As Spirit explains his medical condition, the art by Antonia Fuso quickly and easily shows you how Spirit experiences the world. These are panels you won’t see in your normal monthly book, and it was refreshing to see these design elements implemented to enhance the story.

Hearts & Minds is really for the fans of G.I. Joe. Brooks and his various artists will continue to take you deep into these characters, but there is no overall story to grab new readers. The introspective approach is Brooks’ forte, and I am sure this will be a rewarding read for fans of the franchise.

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