If folks have been reading Hearts and Minds throughout the first three issues, they pretty much know what to expect at this point. The fourth issue is more of the same, which is good or bad, based on your perspective.
To avoid unnecessary spoilers, I will continue the review after the “Read the Rest of this Entry” link below.
As with the previous three issues, Max Brooks takes a much more thought-provoking and introspective look at the G.I. Joe characters, and not the more familiar action-packed shoot ’em up fare that we see in most of the other books. The themes throughout this issue are more mature in nature, and Brooks ends up taking two pretty separate characters and writing both of them into a pretty interesting book, though the fact that the only shots fired are whipping past Doc’s head as he rescues a fallen soldier speaks volumes about what Brooks and IDW are trying to do.
My take on this?
I’m a bit on the fence. I can’t argue with Max Brooks’ accumin. The book reads very crisply, very quickly, and is honestly quite captivating. Even with only ten pages of work, I found myself quite drawn to the character of Dr. Mindbender and wondering what really makes him tick. However, it’s tough to argue that as captivating as these characters are, there really isn’t much “there” there. You peek into their head…look at their past…but you don’t really get a chance to see them do anything. I found myself so drawn to what Mindbender was becoming, I’m somewhat disappointed that it will just end there.
Same thing with Doc. Brooks obviously tries to tell a very confined story within the limit of half a comic, and while you get to peel back a few layers of these characters, in the end, the result is just a bit unsatisfying. Such an amazing amount of depth using so few words, but in some cases I would almost prefer to read more words to really find out what motivates these characters and drives them. I will admit, as a father, the substory throughout the Doc portion of the comic did choke me up a bit, and added a nice layer to the story, but ultimately was just a sidenote.
I enjoy every page of these books, but at the end of the day, when you’re done reading an issue in four minutes, and it doesn’t feel like anything has happened, is it worth it? Especially with such a focus on minor characters, will we ever see what becomes of them? Certainly Mindbender has already been featured in the IDW book and will appear more, I would imagine. However characters like Doc, Tripwire, and Interrogator are probably destined for obscurity, and as much as I identify with the characters in this excellently crafted limited series, it almost feels for naught.
I commend IDW, Max Brooks, Howard Chaykin, and Antonio Fuso for what they’ve done in these pages, but ultimately remain a bit empty about the final result. Perhaps IDW can enlist Brooks for more more follow up work, or perhaps the whole point of the series is to leave us wondering “why” or “what’s to come?”.