COMIC BOOK REVIEW – GI JOE (2013) # 1
G.I. JOE #1
Fred Van Lente • Steve Kurth (a) • Juan Doe, Kurth (c)
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! 32 pages • $3.99
I tried getting into the last iteration of G.I. Joe by IDW when it rolled out. I liked some of what was going on and disliked other elements. Eventually I dropped all the books because none of them seemed to hold my interest. It wasn’t that any of those books was poorly written or badly drawn, I think they were competent books, but they just didn’t have anything to draw me in and keep me on board in the long run. It is more a side-effect of serialized fiction in general than any statement on that particular initiative to revive the G.I. Joe brand.
Now in 2013 IDW is giving it another go, this time with Fred Van Lente, a writer I very much enjoy, taking the reins. Van Lente is tasked with the difficult task of giving a fresh look at the franchise while keeping things familiar enough that longtime fans won’t revolt. Looking at the first issue of this new series, it would appear that he has a good idea of what to do. I personally would have loved to have seen his take on screen instead of the hodge-podge that made up Rise of Cobra.
Van Lente drops us into the middle of a continuity that will eventually be fleshed out. Here we meet a Shipwreck who doesn’t like his codename or the outfit he’s been stuck in, a G.I. Joe operation that is meant to be a public relations maneuver, complete with statistically engineered racial/gender demographics, facing off against an enemy that is established within the confines of the story but still somewhat a mystery to the reader.
The book gives us G.I. Joe through the lens of military action and the way the media handles units like these. In the wake of Zero Dark Thirty and the celebrity status of Seal Team 6, this is a logical progression for a franchise like G.I. Joe. The concept of G.I. Joe is the very essence of heightened reality but the world they live in, within the context of this new series, is a very acute reflection of our own. Our divisions over military reaction to terrorist threats, along with the idea of our military utilizing the media to fight a war are pushed to the forefront here and give the crux of what will make the book work so well. This Joe unit has an embedded journalist, code-name Hashtag, and is introduced to the reader by General Joe Coulton at a media press conference. If there is any doubt to what the central theme of the book is, let’s just say that this new series seems heavily focused on the idea of media in warfare and public opinion as a weapon.
I don’t want you to think this is the sort of heady, Oscar-bait military story that Zero Dark Thirty was, although they oddly feature similar themes. G.I. Joe is still an action comic, meant to entertain the reader and inspire a bit of nostalgia for a long-established brand. In that department, the issue excels as well. Seeing Roadblock toss out a “Yo, Joe” with his finger on the trigger hit all the right notes. This is still the sort of G.I. Joe that long-time fans can enjoy.
All in all, if you’re a fan you won’t be disappointed, and if you’re looking for a good place to jump on, this is a very new-reader-friendly issue. How much mileage you’ll get out of it is something that will vary from person to person, but there’s plenty to enjoy between the covers here.
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars of 5