GeneralsJoes Reviews IDW G.I. Joe: Hearts and Minds #4

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?”.

4 thoughts on “GeneralsJoes Reviews IDW G.I. Joe: Hearts and Minds #4

  1. There’s no way this book is worth $3.99. For the handful of minutes it takes to breeze through these Hearts and Minds books it should be sold for $1 or $1.50. Probably one of the big reasons I’ve passed on on buying the floppies for this series.

  2. I didn’t actually read the review yet, since I’m waiting to pick up my copy this week, but having read the first 3 issues, these stories have really hit me in a way few Joe stories have. Prior to this series, I can only remember 2 other stories having a huge emotional impact on me.
    One was in the original Marvel run series where Stalker, Snow Job and Quick Kick are captured in Borovia, and Stalker orders Outback to escape. Everyone else treats Outback like a traitor and a deserter, but when the three finally return, they tell Outback how knowing that he had escaped to share their story kept them going during their imprisonment.
    The second was during the America’s Elite/WW3 days when a Joe (don’t remember who) suggested to Joseph Colton that a captured Cobra agent (may have been the Baroness) be interrogated using enhanced methods. Colton responded that that was exactly what G.I. Joe was fighting against, stating, “We’re G.I. Joe. We’re better than that.” Coming amidst the allegations of American mistreatment of detainees, I thought it was a poignant statement of the importance of what it means to take the moral high ground, and it was coming from a comic book.
    With Hearts and Minds however, I think I have been moved multiple times. Tripwire’s story was brilliant and beautiful. While not emotional, Firefly’s story is one of my absolute favorite Joe stories ever written. Just seeing Major Bludd with a family, and learning about his background and how he lives when not working for Cobra was also sobering. I’d love to see this series continue every few months, as I don’t think Brooks, with all of his other projects and going on, could manage it.

  3. Agreed on all counts really.

    These stories are fantastic but ultimately empty and leading nowhere.

    Though I do wish they would lead somewhere, like a regular series about these characters, but they are still enjoyable for what they are.

  4. It’s funny how we in fandom clamour for someone to do something different and innovative with the property, then when they do, we gripe that it’s not enough, not right, not etc…

    I find the storyettes short and well done, but definately leave me wanting more. Consider these tastings of a larger portion – a dram of a good vintage to show you what can be done. Perhaps one day Brooks will bring us to the cellar for a proper booze up.

    Metaphor over – you can unpinch your nose now. :)

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