Gary Collinson reviews G.I. Joe: Special Missions #5….
“The DREADNOKS return! When a COBRA satellite drops form spacer to crash in the Australian outback, Scarlett and the Special Missions team enter the race to retrieve it. They face not only the near-impossible challenge of finding the space debris in millions of square miles of barren and dangerous wastelands. The murderous, marauding, motorcycle maniacs who call themselves the Dreadnoks are in the neighborhood and led by Zartan!“
Having wrapped up the first story arc of G.I. Joe: Special Missions last issue, a new tale gets underway here as the creative team behind the main series of the previous volume, writer Chuck Dixon and artist Will Rosado, reunite for the return of Zartan and the introduction to the IDW Joe-verse of his extended family, the Dreadnoks.
The storyline here in Special Missions #5 is pretty straight-foward, with the Chinese shooting down a Cobra spy satellite and G.I. Joe dispatching a team – which includes Beachhead, Hard Drive, Tripwire, Spirit and Roadblock, the latter on loan from Fred Van Lente’s main title – to retrieve the wreckage from somewhere in the Australian Outback. Unfortunately for the Joes, it’s not only the harsh, unforgiving terrain they have to worry about, as the satellite has fallen into the hands of Zartan and the Dreadnoks and of course it’s not long before half the team are taken captive, shifting the odds squarely in the bad guys’ favour and setting things up nicely for the rest of the arc.
Since IDW’s recent soft reboot, the Baroness has been front and centre in both G.I. Joe and Special Missions, so it’s nice to see some new faces popping up here in the Dreadnoks. Of course, they’re not quite the Dreadnoks we remember from back in the day, but the update works well and sees them as much more of a legitimate threat to the Joes, as opposed to the bickering buffoons who mainly served as comic relief in the Sunbow cartoon. Which, I guess, is how it should be when you’ve got a gang of bikers riding around with chainsaws, blowtorches and assault rifles with giant tin-opener bayonets. Zartan too has undergone a bit of a revamp, but it’s actually a much more traditional representation than his previous appearance in IDW’ continuity, and of course his big screen incarnations in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and this year’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Can’t say I’m overly fond of his “Zee” nickname though…
I was impressed by the artwork in the last issue and fortunately the transition from Paul Gulacy to Will Rosado is handled very smoothly here. By now there’s little doubt that Special Missions is the best-looking of IDW’s Joe books, and while I’m a big fan of The Cobra Files, it’s also the title that’s the most faithful to the original essence of G.I. Joe, outside of Larry Hama’s ongoing Real American Hero, naturally. It’s a little light on action (which we can excuse, after last month’s issue), but Special Missions #5 has done a good job of hooking my interest in this arc and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.
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.