Gary Collinson reviews the first issue of IDW’s relaunched G.I. Joe…
“YO JOE! The truth is out: the world knows the G.I. JOE team is real. Now Duke leads his squad directly into the public eye, confronting COBRA on American soil!“
With the cinema release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation now just around the corner, it seems like a good time for IDW Publishing to relaunch its G.I. Joe comic book line, and things get underway this week with a new #1 for the main series from the creative team of writer Fred Van Lente (The Comic Book History of Comics, The Incredible Hercules) and artist Steve Kurth (Ultimate Iron Man, Avengers VS. X-Men: Consequences). This relaunch is being touted as the “perfect jumping-on point for new readers”, and while it’s not a complete reboot, the story does seem to have been designed to avoid any potential continuity issues and gets underway as the Joes enter a brand new phase in their history.
Having been ‘outed’ by Cobra at the end of Chuck Dixon’s run, G.I. Joe has been forced to go public with their existence and operations. The “Original G.I. Joe” General Joseph Colton has taken over as commanding officer of the team from General Hawk, but it’s the Pentagon that’s firmly pulling the strings, choosing the Joes’ first mission “for maximum media impact” and even going as far as to select Duke’s field team “to ensure the right mix of ethnicity, gender and service branch for them to market around.” So, with a team consisting of Duke, Roadblock, Quick Kick, Tunnel Rat, Cover Girl, Shipwreck and Doc (that’ll be A Real American Hero Doc’s daughter, whose codename also happens to be Doc), the Joes set off to score their first PR victory of the war on terror by heading to the town of Warrenton, Ohio to take out what intel suggests is a Cobra chemical weapons plant.
This new concept of the Joes as “celebrity soldiers” is certainly interesting, and should provide plenty of story opportunities as things move forward, particularly in terms of the public perception of the Joes, and the political maneuvering behind the scenes. Sadly, Van Lent opts to start things off instead by introducing one of the dumbest characters in G.I. Joe history. To ensure “maximum media impact” for the mission, Duke and company are joined by another Joe – a young female blogger journalist who divides her time between the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and studying for a degree in Journalism. Somehow, this also qualifies her to be a member of the world’s most elite fighting force, even if it is just to tweet insider goss and real-time updates on all of G.I. Joe’s activities. And yes, she’s called Hashtag.
Anyway, as the Joes arrive in Warrenton, they’re met by a Cobra welcome party, who score a direct hit on their jet-helicopter. Someone really ought to have told Hashtag not to check in her location. Fortunately the vehicle rips apart mid air, allowing the Joes to fall to the ground among the wreckage with only minor injuries (well, Shipwreck’s in a bit of a bad way, but at least he wasn’t incinerated in a crash). Still, the Joes are left scattered and they quickly discover that the entire town is under the control of Cobra, leaving them outgunned and hugely outnumbered. To make matters even worse, Duke has been captured by a familiar foe, who now looks to be back in the fold at Cobra…
Hashtag aside, Van Lente and Kurth have delivered a fairly solid first issue with G.I. Joe #1. All of the core team members get a moment in the spotlight, and there’s plenty of action on offer as the Joes battle for survival in the streets of Warrenton. The artwork is decent enough, if a little inconsistent at times, and plot-wise it’s not really anything we haven’t seen before. However, overall it does a pretty good job of setting up this first five-issue story arc, and hopefully we’ll see a few unexpected twists and turns stemming from the fact that the Joes are now in the public eye.