Gary Collinson reviews G.I. Joe: Special Missions #1….
“A NEW BEGINNING! The legendary team of Chuck Dixon and Paul Gulacy lead the G.I. Joe team undercover and into action! The BARONESS tries to get back into COBRA’s good graces—and it’s up to SCARLETT to assemble a team to take the villainess down!“
If last month’s IDW relaunch of its flagship G.I. Joe title left you feeling a little cold, then you’re probably keen to explore this new series from veteran G.I. Joe writer Chuck Dixon, who has teamed up with artist Paul Gulacy for the new ongoing series G.I. Joe: Special Missions. Inspired by the classic Marvel secondary title of the same name, Special Missions is set to offer “an espionage-fueled counterpoint” to the public superheroism of the main series, and things get underway with a four-issue arc that ties in directly to Fred Van Lente and Steve Kurth’s book, detailing how the Baroness has managed to get herself back into Cobra’s good books after losing $40 billion of the terrorist organisation’s funds.
Unlike the first issue of the main title, G.I. Joe: Special Missions #1 wastes precious little time here with character introductions, with Dixon focussing instead on setting up what promises to be an exciting underwater showdown between Scarlett’s covert-ops team and the Baroness’ band of pirates and mercenaries. If you’re a little out of the loop with regards to IDW continuity, essentially all you need to know going in is that the Joes have sunk a ship carrying $40 billion of Cobra’s cash (thanks to Snake Eyes, who is MIA, presumed dead) and now they have a lock on its final resting place a thousand feet down on the floor of the North Atlantic. G.I. Joe plan to mount a salvage mission, although with Duke’s public team gobbling up most of the budget, they’ll have to do so in an unarmed commercial submarine. Naturally, this would all be in a day’s work for the team if it wasn’t for the fact that, unbeknownst to them, the Baroness has also discovered the location of the wreck and is en route in a heavily-armed ship crewed by pirates and mercenaries.
So, we’re two thirds of the way in to IDW’s G.I. Joe relaunch and Anastasia DeCobray is the main antagonist in both titles, which is of course good news if you’re a fan of the Baroness. If that’s the case, then you’ll definitely want to pick this issue up; Dixon has a better grasp of the character than Van Lente (you won’t find any Gangnam Style references here) and Anastasia is all business in Special Missions #1 as she puts her particular skill set to use in order to gather the necessary resources to mount her salvage operation. Although the Baroness gets the most to do in Special Missions #1, Dixon does throw in an action sequence featuring Scarlett, Beach Head, Tripwire and Iceberg battling Cobra forces in Libya, which helps to provide some excitement on the Joe front before the standard expository mission briefing. Meanwhile, it was nice to see Serpentor popping up to remind us that the Baroness isn’t the only snake G.I. Joe have to contend with – although at this point in time his main concern is eliminating his former colleague in an effort to prove his worth to the new Cobra Commander.
If I had to pick between this and G.I. Joe #1 (or G.I. Joe #2, which is also out this week), I’d have to give a slight edge to Special Missions #1. While it’s probably not the best jumping on point for new readers, it delivers a great set-up for the rest of this first story arc and I’m eagerly anticipating the next instalment.
Gary Collinson is a writer and lecturer from the North East of England. He is the editor-in-chief of FlickeringMyth.com and the author of Holy Franchise, Batman! Bringing the Caped Crusader to the Screen.