IDW Review Onslaught – G.I. Joe #23 and #24

So it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and while many folks are braving the crowds for “Black Friday” shopping, I’m taking some time to gather the last few releases of IDW comic books and trying to play “catch up” on some reviews.  I was surprised to find that I was actually a couple of months behind on  some of these.  How does that happen?

In recent months, I’ve been pretty hard on the main IDW G.I. Joe title, simply because I try and hold it to a higher standard.  While G.I. Joe: Cobra, G.I. Joe: Origins, and even stuff like Hearts & Minds should all be considered fringe titles, the main run is the run that should continue to breath life into this new G.I. Joe mythology, and while there was a really good stretch going there for a bit, it’s starting dragging just a bit again.

Well, I may be one of the only ones, but I was really looking forward to seeing what IDW was going to do with Agent Helix…and they finally introduced her in the main title in issue #23.  However, based on the 5-page preview I posted, I was immediately hesitant to buy in, simply because it was evident she was being designed as a new “super power”, even in her first appearance.  We’ve spent thirty years establishing what a bad ass Snake Eyes is, and here comes Helix in her first mainstream appearance, and she hands him his ass?  Well, I’m hesitant to base a character and an issue on only five pages, so I will review issue #23 and #24 below.  Click the “read the rest of the story” link below to check out these reviews, but be warned, spoilers will be evident.

G.I. Joe #23
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Robert Atkins

As I alluded to above, we got a look at Agent Helix during the 5-Page preview, and pretty much saw her take Snake Eyes to the woodhouse…now, while I’m not necessarily a fan of Snake Eyes being the uber-powerful commando ninja that he’s often portrayed as, seeing a newcomer waltz in and be the next “big thing” was a bit jarring.  I don’t mind a super powerful new character coming along, but too often they don’t let the character build themselves up.  They walk on panel, and suddenly they’re just the new big thing.  I’d rather see her develop that reputation, not just get it handed to her, and when you’re used to the Chuck Dixon style of pacing, it’s almost even more obvious.

But that’s just 5 pages…how about the rest of the issue?

Well, to be honest.  The rest of the issue kicks ass.  Absolutely and completely kicks ass.

As the Joes learn some information about Cobra’s M.A.S.S. device, they figure out that the key to uncovering its secrets is to acquire a Cobra “volunteer” in order to figure out just how teleportation truly works.  They scatter agents around the globe in various teams, and thankfully Team Bravo, which includes Stalker, Recondo, and Leatherneck, are the ones who luck out, and we get to see some awesome combat, including a great cameo by a modified Armadillo battle tank.  These newly designed Cobra Vipers are really growing on me, and I love the battle helmets here almost more than the traditional mirrored facemasks.

Along with the jungle battle, we get some nice elaboration on just how deeply Cobra goes to cover its tracks, The Baroness and Destro have a little falling out, and we get a lot of focus on Cobra Commander who seems to enjoy throwing his weight around.  He is another character who has really grown on me with his new look.  I still hope that if he ever ends up in the fray, he wears some sort of battle helmet that rounds off his  classic themed look.

The final page gives long time Joe fans what many of them have been asking for over the last twenty-two issues…a very key character is finally introduced, and introduced in violent fashion.

I will reiterate…this was a fantastic issue.  Great story pacing, excellent dialog, and Robert Atkins returns to the art chores and makes an absolute splash.  I love Atkins’ art, and it makes a huge difference in this issue.  As someone who has been hard on the mainstream G.I. Joe title for a little while now, issue #23 totally delivered in all phases.  It makes me a lot more optimistic about how IDW might round off  “Season One”…maybe the ride will end up paying off after all.

G.I. Joe #24
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Robert Atkins

Picking up right where #23 left off, we see Mainframe and Dial Tone in some flight simulators, trying to get familiar with the flight controls for what ends up being unmanned Predator drones.  Trying to expand their search base, the G.I. Joe team has started using the drones to scope out various hotspots throughout the world, hoping to stumble upon a Cobra operation.

“Needless to say, they get lucky, and discover a Cobra operation to wipe out a Middle Eastern town, and by using the weaponry on the drones, they fight back the operation, which saves soWhile I’m not sure this issue was quite as strong as #23, it certainly did continue moving the story along, with equally effective dialog, and Robert Atkins’ continued excellence at the artwork chores.  We get more glimpses of Agent Helix, and I found her personality a bit more engaging here than it was in the previous issue…we also get introduced to a new Cobra operative who calls himself “Krake”.  He has a slightly altered (and awesome looking) uniform and appears to be some sort of field commander.  At first I wondered if perhaps he was an Iron Grenadier, based on the overall design of his helmet, but he isn’t referred to by that name, and doesn’t interact with Destro at all, so I’m not sure how accurate that thought is.

We also see Storm Shadow in action for a few pages in this issue, too, and I really like the way IDW is kind of blending the movie aesthetic into the comic universe.

Overall, this issue wasn’t quite as awesome and explosive as issue #23, but we got some nice ruthless Cobra action, some great combat, and a nice progression of the Season One “M.A.S.S.” story.

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