Skybound Teases G.I. Joe & Cobra Corner Energon Universe With Hasbro At Image Comics!


Skybound Teases G.I. Joe and Cobra Corner Energon Universe With Hasbro At Image Comics!

G.I. Joe logo classic

Skybound reports.

Joshua Williamson On His G.I. Joe Series – Duke And Cobra Commander

Cobra logo

Arguably the most prolific writer in mainstream comics today, Joshua Williamson has penned everything from Aliens to The Flash to Skybound’s Dark Ride. Perhaps his most eagerly awaited series to date are his upcoming G.I. Joe comics for Skybound – Duke and Cobra Commander. We caught up with Williamson at SDCC 2023 and he told us how he came to work on the next chapter of the Real American Hero franchise…

When did your relationship with G.I. Joe begin? Were you a fan of the toys or the cartoon?

Yeah, it was the cartoon. The original ‘80s cartoon. I watched VHS tapes of G. I. Joe. My friends and I, we had the tapes. We would play ’em over and over and over again. My first memory is the intro music. That’s the thing I hear. But that’s really it. It was just VHS tapes of G.I. Joe. Like those were my memories. Watching the cartoon, being really into the toys, and my buddies and I coordinating for Christmas to make sure that we weren’t getting duplicates. [Laughs.] So we would get some, I would get some, and that way we could have ’em play together. You’d build your own armies.

How did you become involved with Skybound’s upcoming comic?

I started working with Skybound back in 2010, 2011. I’ve known the company for a long time, and I’ve had that relationship. Sean Mackiewicz and I would talk every once in a while, about different kinds of projects. I was working on different things they were working on. And at one point, G. I. Joe just came up during a conversation. We started talking about this before they had the license. So we kept talking about it, and then when they finally said, “OK, we’re going to get the license,” obviously those conversations increased. So I had a lot of ideas for what I would always want to do if I was ever in charge of G.I. Joe, and those thoughts really aligned with what Robert was already thinking, and what we were thinking with Skybound. It was just a lot of conversations, and then… It’s weird, I don’t think they ever asked me.

I don’t think I ever asked, it became a thing of “Are we doing this?” “Yeah, we’re doing this.” “OK, let’s rock and roll. Let’s get working on G.I. Joe!”

Joshua Williamson Skybound G.I. Joe Cobra

Did you read any of the Larry Hama-written comics in prepping for this? Or did you want to approach it totally fresh?

I had read them before. I’m a fan of the property. Back when Devil’s Due started up, they started making the G.I. Joe comics back then. They started doing those really awesome reprints of the Hama stuff. So I was reading those as they were coming out in that format. Then I read whenever someone else would come around and do it, like IDW. I read those. They would relaunch and I would read them again.

So I’ve read a lot of it. But when I actually got to work on this, I made a point to actually not read too much of it, because I didn’t want to mimic too much. However, I did go back and started looking at Larry Hama. Because it’s really good.

It’s a genuinely good comic book. Hama would even get experimental with things like his famous silent issue (#21).

Yeah. It’s just a good comic book, man. It’s a good book. The first issue I read was so good. There was a lot of stuff in there that really worked. I like how a lot of the stories were done in one issue. But he was still building a major narrative.

But again, when I started actually working on it, I took a pause. I was like, “I don’t wanna get too deep in rereading those old comics. They might influence me too much. I wanna find what my version of this is.”

Can you drop any hints as to what your version will involve? Can you give us a sense of the approach you’re taking?

Well, with Duke, you know, I really approached it as being this espionage story. I really wanted it to have this kind of paranoid thriller feel, but really it is an action book.

Whereas with Cobra Commander, I really thought it was a horror comic first. It’s definitely creepy with science stuff, and it’s about him being this master manipulator who pulls together all these different forces. First and foremost, I was like, “I’m gonna make a horror book.”

What kind of approach are you and Daniel Warren Johnson and Robert Kirkman taking in terms of it being a crossover?

Well, Robert had already built a lot of stuff. He already had little ideas in his head when I came into it. So I was already aligned with what they were thinking, and they had a lot of big ideas about Transformers and what influence Transformers would have on the rest of the world and the human characters. That includes people like Duke and Cobra Commander, and how the introduction of Transformers impacts their stories and their worlds.

They kind of lead because of that, because it starts with Void Rivals, and then it’s Transformers, and then it’s Duke, and then it’s Cobra Commander. Each one does lead to the other, you know?

That’s why it’s always so hard to talk about it. Because talking about my book spoils theirs. So it’s always difficult… But we’ve had a lot of conversations about this world that we’re building, and how the books are gonna influence each other and then eventually hit a big climax.

Duke #1 A Skybound Energon Universe Hasbro Image Comics

Is it possible that you and Dan might get a kick out of switching books one day? Could you ever see yourself taking a stab at Transformers or do you feel more at home with G.I. Joe?

I’m more at home with G. I. Joe. I know Daniel is very much a Transformers person. He’s not a G. I. Joe person. He will tell you that. He doesn’t really know a lot of it. We were just talking the other day and I was telling him about stuff that was gonna be happening in Duke and he knew who Duke was, but the vehicle and location I was talking about, he didn’t know what they were. He was like, “I don’t know what those are.” I was like, “Oh, alright…”

One thing that’s funny is that I do know Transformers. I know a lot of it. I don’t know the mythology that well. I know like the basics of it. Especially the G1 type stuff and the movie and the cartoon. I know that really well. But it is a very deep, deep mythology, and the fans of it are very particular about it. I respect that. The same thing with G. I. Joe. That’s the thing about it, it’s kind of funny… Daniel is very much a Transformers guy, I am very much a G. I. Joe guy.

Do you have a favorite G. I. Joe character? Or a top three?

Well, obviously, Snake Eyes. And I really like Clutch. A lot. What’s funny about this is that I was always more of a Cobra guy. I have a lot of favorites that are all Cobra characters. I really like Major Blood, even though I like Cobra Commander, Destro, I like Tomax and Xamot. I have a lot of Cobra characters… But I really like Rock ‘n Roll. I really like Stalker. I have a lot of favorites. I love rewatching the cartoon now, discovering things I didn’t see before. It’s always funny with the things you love when you’re a kid versus what you love as an adult.

What’s next for your other Skybound comic, the horror title Dark Ride?

Issue 9 is gonna be really focused on Halloween, and really delving a little bit more into her story. We haven’t shown a lot of it, so that’s something I’m really excited about. We have a lot of really cool stuff coming. We’re gonna reveal a little bit more about the park and the mysteries and we’re finally gonna reveal what Arthur’s actually been building in the park. But I think the Halloween issue is going to be really fun. That’s what I’m really looking forward to people seeing.

Cobra Commander #1 A Skybound Energon Universe Hasbro Image Comics

These series look promising.

John is a long-time pop culture fan, comics historian, and blogger. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief at Comics Nexus. Prior to being EIC he has produced several column series including DEMYTHIFY, NEAR MINT MEMORIES and the ONE FAN'S TRIALS at the Nexus plus a stint at Bleeding Cool producing the COMICS REALISM column. As BabosScribe, John is active on his twitter account, his facebook page, his instagram feed and welcomes any and all feedback. Bring it on!