Dropped in Midstream Review: G.I. Joe #9 by Chuck Dixon & Alex Cal

Now, this should be an adventure. I have never really read the G.I. Joe series, when it was from Marvel Comics, Devil’s Due, or its current publisher IDW. Almost all of my pre-conceived knowledge comes from my watching of the 80s G.I. Joe cartoon. This can be very dangerous, as I can seriously ruin my geek cred and alienate a comic book fan base. But, maybe I’m the best person to answer whether G.I. Joe is enjoyable and accessible to an average Joe comic book reader. 1

It is rather remarkable how the 1980s cartoon shows still maintain a fan base over 20 years later, especially in the world of comics. Transformers, G.I. Joe, Voltron, Thundercats, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are all viable comic book properties in 2011, and even Masters of the Universe rumors abound these days. 2 I guess it’s a solid plan to tie in to an existing fan base, and hope that the current younglings follow a hyped book.

But currently the G.I. Joe series is being written by Chuck Dixon, who I used to read during his 1990s Batman run. So, this should be pretty good.

If anyone has any suggestions for the Dropped in Midstream Reviews, please feel free to let me know. My only qualifications are that I haven’t reviewed the title yet, that it is available digitally, and that I’ve heard of it before. 3

G.I. Joe (Ongoing) Volume 2 #9

Published By: IDW Publishing
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Alex Cal
Release Date: 01/04/2012
Cover Price: $3.99
Review: Digital Copy (from Comixology)

Okay, I’m going in blind, other than what I read in the headings of comic book news sites. So apparently Cobra Commander has been killed, and a new character Krake has taken over as the new Cobra Commander. According to the previous issue blurb, Duke was almost eliminated and General Hawk has to answer for recent losses by the G.I. Joe team. Splashy!

Synopsis

  • Cobra invades the country of Nanzhao in Asia. Cobra Commander Krake realizes that as this country is an oppressive dictatorship, the rest of the world will not react swiftly to the news.
  • The news of the invasion breaks, as General Hawk is meeting with a government official who is reallocating the resources for the GI Joe group.
  • Colonel Flint is boarding a plane with troops, and is joined by Team Foxtrot who was authorized to accompany them by Scarlett, as Snake Eyes is the only member of G.I. Joe who has been to the region.
  • Snake Eyes apparently has a past in the Nanzhao with the Cobra operative, Storm Shadow.
  • A general is trying to leave Nanzhao when his caravan is stopped by Storm Shadow and his new charges, The Crimson Guard.

Analysis

To be honest with you, I enjoyed this much better than I expected. I’ve followed talented writers to existing Indy properties, and I rarely was pleased with the results. Dixon keeps the plot and the action very simple in this book, but he doesn’t reduce it down to dumb standards either. There were several smart things in play here.

Determining the lesser of two evils is something that isn’t seen enough in comic books. It’s an easy plot, but it also can be very complex. Dixon uses this really well, and on a very grand scale. I mean, what would the United States do if an organization that they define as “terrorists” (like Hezbollah) took over an “enemy” country (like Iran). It’s rather clever. And I loved Scarlett’s description of the situation.

The dichotomy of the villagers about to be brutalized, and then ‘saved’ by the Cobra forces is very clever.

It’s an interesting take to have Cobra be a shadow group that has not been acknowledged by the American (or any) government. This is totally unrealistic, mind you 4… but it’s still interesting.

And yeah, it’s a cheap gag, but to go from this:

to this:

was still pretty clever.

I don’t know who this Savane girl is, but she’s got a really cool modern look. G.I. Joe should reflect the times, rather than be stuck with the images of characters that were designed to be modern in 1985. I totally buy a modern piercer being a member of Cobra. I’m hoping that she’s a modern day Dreadnok or something.

I also like the self-confidence of Cobra Commander Krake. It’s nice when a writer creates a villain that purposefully goes away from what other villains have done in the past. I mean to reference the cartoon, were Cobra Commander and Serpentor really that different from each other in terms of philosophy. No, not really. 5 Unless you think that screaming more is a strategy. But here, Krake really goes out of his way to distinguish what he is going to do, and what he isn’t’ going to do. He’s got a plan, a strategy, a motto, a raison d’etre.

The second half of the book goes downhill a little bit. The first half was meant to grab my attention, and the second half left me a little lost and confused. Now most of this is because I don’t read G.I. Joe. So, the following confused me:

  • Why Flint seemed to have an issue with Snake Eyes and Foxtrot.
  • Whether the Snake Eyes flashback was something that has been shown before in comic books, or a tale that has never been told.
  • The General who was being escorted to the border, whether he was the leader of Nanzhao or just some random general.

And it’s total ignorance on my part. But why can’t Snake Eyes tell his teammates about Operation Boarhound? I don’t mean why he can’t talk. I know that’s part of his character. But he can’t write stuff down? He can’t communicate in anyway what happened in the past?

Verdict

All in all, it was a pretty good experience overall. I’m very tempted to keep reading the IDW G.I. Joe, and I’m very interested in the trade paperback collections. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a MUST READ, but if you like G.I. Joe and aren’t reading the series, you’re probably missing out on something you would enjoy.

7.5 Quite an enjoyable surprise

Footnotes

1 – I want to apologize for the use of that pun. It’s Monday, and I wanted something witty, so I had to resort to something that’s barely half.

2 – Personally, I’m waiting for the Inhmanoids revival. All hail Tendril!

3 – I’m happy to review things I haven’t heard of before, but I wouldn’t do it under the Dropped in Midstream Review heading.

4 – It’s not like the purchase of 10 million tons of steel would go unnoticed or anything.

5 – Yes, I know it was a show geared at 10 year olds, but still you can write better than that.

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