Gary Collinson reviews G.I. Joe #5 (minor spoilers to follow)…
“Homefront reaches its explosive conclusion and we do mean explosive: If Baroness can’t hold the city of Warrenton, no one will! And the fate of the entire G.I. Joe team rests in the hands of its newest and most inexperienced member, Hashtag. What will she decide? Plus: The return of a fan-favorite Cobra character You’ve been clamoring for since he first appeared!“
And so we come to the end of the first arc of the flagship title in IDW’s relaunched G.I. Joe line as ‘Homefront’ concludes with G.I. Joe #5. Now, I’ve been on the fence with this book since the first issue, and quite honestly I haven’t been able to make up my mind about whether I like it or not. At times, it’s bordered on unreadable, but every now and again writer Fred Van Lente has thrown up interesting questioned, or delivers a solid slice of action, as we saw in issue #4. Inconsistent is probably the best way to describe it and that continues to be the case with G.I. Joe #5. However, the negatives here far outweigh any positives, and the “explosive conclusion” left me scratching my head and wondering just what it is that Van Lente is trying to achieve with this book.
Having done an effective job of setting up the climax with the last issue, G.I. Joe #5 starts off well enough, as we get to see the pay-off of issue #4’s cliffhangers (if you recall, Baroness was at the mercy of Hashtag while Tunnel Rat and Roadblock found themselves in stand-offs with Scrap Iron and Croc Master respectively). The first seven pages are among the best of this run so far, but as I turned to the eighth I let out an audible groan, and from there it goes down hill fast. The Joes acquire the targeting skills of trainee Imperial Stormtroopers and decide for some utterly bizarre reason to forget all about the three Cobra agents in order to round up the brainwashed citizens of Warrenton (because, you know, they’re the big threat). Oh, but that’s not before they’ve gone all Team America on the town – seriously, all that’s missing is Shipwreck shouting “F*CK YEAH!” (instead, he shouts “I LOVE THIS JOB!”, while Cover Girl chimes in with “YO FREAKIN JOE!”).
It’s virtually impossible for me to air my grievances with this issue without giving away the entire story, and I’m trying my hardest to keep things as spoiler free as possible. Without going into too much detail, ‘Homefront’ seems to end with the Joes playing right into Cobra’s hands, and achieving the very endgame the terrorist organisation was after. Only the Joes celebrate it as a victory, Cobra looks upon it as a partial defeat, and the entire “now public G.I. Joe team in the full glare of the media spotlight” angle is completely forgotten about. The message seems to be, “no matter how badly your country / government treats you, you sit quietly and take it, or we’ll blow the hell out of you, before celebrating with some well deserved R&R” (or as Duke puts it, “a Hearts and Minds campaign”). Now I thought it was The Cobra Files that was meant to blur the boundaries between the good guys and the bad guys, but I really had no idea why I was rooting for the Joes by the end of this issue. Is this a satire of G.I. Joe? If not, then it’s American jingoism at its very best.
As I said at the start of this review, I was unsure whether I liked this G.I. Joe series or not going in to issue #5, but coming out of it there’s absolutely no confusion whatsoever. ‘Homefront’ should have been a standard “outnumbered and outgunned” G.I. Joe tale, but instead all it offered was a few pages of decent action in the run in to an utterly ridiculous finale. It’s all the more frustrating that Van Lente teased the possibility of it becoming so much more, before failing to deliver on any of the counts. Five issues in and I’ve seen nothing from this creative team to suggest they’re the right men for the job on the flagship G.I. Joe title, and unless there’s a major improvement in issue #6, I’ll be ready to declare the series killed in action.
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.