IDW Review Onslaught – G.I. Joe: Future Noir #1

Okay, I’ll admit, I’m as fired up about new concepts in G.I. Joe as the next guy, but initially I was not sure exactly what to think about this idea.  I’ve never really been enamored with the whole Manga concept, though I do know it has its share of fans.  Devils’ Due actually tried this experiment as well with the Arashikage Showdown trade paperback when they had the license, and that particular issue didn’t really resonate with me.

Is Future Noir any more successful?  Click the “Read the Rest of this Entry” link below to see my opinions.

G.I. Joe: Future Noir #1
Written by: Andy Schmidt
Art by: Giacomo Bevilacqua

Future Noir is written in a purely manga style, using a black and white artistic format, and takes place in an unmentioned time and place.  It’s fairly obvious from the atmosphere (not to mention the title) that the story is meant to take place in a cybernetic future, pulling many influences from “Future Tokyo” types of environments.

Donning much more “super hero” type gear and much less military influenced ones, the G.I. Joe team consists of Duke, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Sci-Fi, Roadblock, and Agent Helix.  They all appear much younger than they might in the real world, and do battle with futuristic weaponry infused with their uniforms.  Sci-Fi appears to be genetically and technologically altered, a fact that he isn’t all that comfortable with.

The Joes in this timeline don’t battle Cobra Commander, they battle “King Cobra” and his cadre of Vipers, some very nicely designed trenchcoat wearing psychopaths, that all seem to have this genetic alteration lurking just under the surface.  The artwork within the Cobra operatives is very sinister and gives them a very snakelike feel.  Along with Cobra human operatives, there are some other genetically created creatures like flying bats, and even “Nemesis Enforcer” a demon-like creature with tentacles, claws, and fur.  It’s a pretty drastic departure from the malevolent undercurrent of Cobra within the mainstream G.I. Joe title.

There’s a lot going on here, as can be expected with a 55 page issue.  From recent interviews it would seem that Andy Schmidt and the guys at IDW initially planned a 4-issue mini-series, but evolved into a large scale 2-parter, so obviously this first issue needs to capture a lot of energy and story into one single issue.

I find myself somewhat conflicted.  I don’t really care about the manga influences.  That won’t tempt me one way or the other, or really impact my love for this particular format or series.  To me, it’s about the characters and the spirit of the story.  From a personal perspective, I like what Schmidt is doing with Cobra’s history.  They’re a very cult-like organization here, using mystical energy as well as genetic alteration to create a band of followers, which makes a certain amount of sense.

But as much as I love how they’ve built Cobra up in this series, the infusion of creatures rather than more human troopers really makes it suffer.  Nemesis Enforcer just comes out looking ridiculous in my opinion, and goes a bit too far overboard to really blend with a G.I. Joe title.  My suspension of disbelief is pretty strong when it comes to the G.I. Joe universe…much stronger than many fans out there who only want the most gritty military realism…but when it comes to the Joes battling flying killer bats and a huge tentacled monstrosity, I just have a hard time getting into it.

It’s kind of a shame, because I love King Cobra, I really like the looks of this alternate universe Dr. Mindbender…but ultimately, the flood of creatures instead of humans, and a somewhat distracting manga style keeps me from becoming fully invested in this title.  I really like the way the Joe team is built, and especially Sci-Fi (who oozes some cool character and conflicts about his genetic “differences”), but in the end, I just couldn’t get fully into this first issue.  It’s very frenetic, very frantic, and as someone who doesn’t really have an attachment to the concepts of manga, the issue doesn’t really do anything for me.  Perhaps fans of the manga format will enjoy it more.

6 thoughts on “IDW Review Onslaught – G.I. Joe: Future Noir #1

  1. I find this review Ironic. This coming from the guy who has incessantly shoved a distinctly Anime/Manga stylized Renegades down our throats for the last several months, and who so thoroughly enjoyed the Sigma 6 cartoon, as well as virtually ANY new re-imaginings of GI Joe, suddenly doesn’t like such a “look” or theme for GI Joe?

    If it weren’t so ridiculous, it might even be funny, though, to an extent, it actually is. You know ALL the things I’ve been saying about Renegades? And ALL the things you like Renegades for? Well, it’s ALL right here as well, the only real difference being the concept and the lack of any color to make it slightly improved. Actually, if this Noir story had color and art like the covers look inside the book itself, I might have given it a shot, just because it isn’t really even trying to be GI Joe at all, unlike Renegades.

    If this Noir concept was being called Renegades and released as the cartoon you’ve been gushing on and on about in a disgusting display of fanboy giddiness for the last few months, rather than just being a comic book story, you’d be wetting yourself over it just like you have with Renegades. You’ve said it yourself DOZENS of not hundreds of times, even in your figure reviews, that you just LOVE the new and reinventions of GI joe stuff over existing concepts if you have your choice.

    Well, it would seem that GI Joe doesn’t get much more reinvented than this, and if you love the crappy art “style” of Renegades, then this shouldn’t be so distastful to you, as the styles are extremely similar to each other. The only REAL difference in the “artwork” is that Renegades suffers from a complete LACK of line width variation (typical of Anime/Manga-esque stuff) and the Noir story suffers from an over exaggerated line weight, rougher and thicker than the usual Anime/Manga, but not completely out of the ordinary. The art in the Noir story suffers from what appears to be an insecurity of sorts with the artist being unable to decide where his lines should go, constantly retracing them over and over or inking them too heavy to cover up the roughness in general, maybe both. This is probably because it’s a non-Asian trying to mimic the style and claim it as his own. Just one possibility. With it being set in the future, it isn’t any worse than Extreme was, most likely a bit better…

    Additionally, you go on a good bit in your comic reviews about how fantastic the art is in Cobra. News flash, soup to nuts this art is just as rough and dark, or gritty if you prefer, as the Cobra stuff, but has a bit more personality to it than Cobra. Actually, if you were to combine the so-called “art style” of Renegades with the “art” from Cobra, the MUCH younger versions of the characters (just like in Sigma 6) and set it in the future with an all-new conceptual design, you’d have exactly GI Joe: Future Noir.

    Who’d have thought that if someone took all, or at least a lot, of the things that Justin LOVES about GI Joe and rolled them all together, he wouldn’t like it or have much of a taste for it? Wierd how that can happen isn’t it? Then again, I doubt very much I’d care for pizza, chocolate mousse, fettuccini alfredo, and caesar salad all mixed together…nasty.

    Probably, in order to appreciate it better, you’d need to look at it from the perspective that Asian culture is chock full of demons and unspeakable creatures in their stories. The Nemesis Enforcer you have such disdain for merely comes across as some type of genetically brewed Oni (demon) creature (Hmmm, Serpentor’s origin sounds familiar…), not very particularly unusual in that respect at all, much less ridiculous (no more so than Cobra-La’s “history/origin”). Add in a few other concepts that are almost trademark Asian, such as Cyberpunk, future apocalyptic, cult mystical and gang oriented (Japanese Yakuza and the Chinese Triads), with heavy gunplay, martial arts and sword play, all drawn in what someone has tried to make “anime/manga” styled (because that seems to be popular among younger fans who are heavily into that genre), and this Future Noir gives you all of that and more, only without the decency of color to make it marginally appealing. I will give Renegades that much over Future Noir, at least it has color.

    You do tend to go back and forth on the “manga” art issue, first you don’t care for it, then it doesn’t bother you one way or the other, then back to how it just detracts from the story for you, etc., tells me that, no, you don’t like the art in the book, which is fine, because frankly, neither do I. At the same time, however, you rave and rave about the awesomeness of the Renegades style, which is basically the same style only not as heavy handed with the black ink.

    For someone who loves everything GI Joe, I didn’t really see much positivity in this review, which I read and re-read three or four times before making this post, and that is also okay, as it was still informative and a good read without being all fanboy. I can appreciate that immensely. I will say that if you loved the cult/mysticism/cyberpunk aspects of the foundations for Cobra, you shouldn’t have any trouble accepting a myriad of genetically developed creatures serving such an organization, so far off the beaten paths as this Cobra.

    I mean, this stuff goes hand in hand pretty much, considering that even the regular Joeverse has clones (Serpentor, Dr. Mindbender, Hannibal, Alexander, Julius, etc.,), genetic experiments (V-Troops, Hydro-Vipers), Cybernetics/enhancements (Star/Strato-Vipers, Over Kill, Robo Joe, Super Soldier, etc.,), mysterious/mystical characters (Globulus, Nemesis Enforcer, Royal Guard, Pythona, Cobra-La in general, and more), and other types of concepts that break the norm, such as Ninja mysticism and Native American lore. It’s all part of the franchise’s fantasy aspect. You have little problem accepting any of this as GI Joe, but you can’t wrap your head around a bunch of creatures that can be genetically controlled as the majority of Cobra’s forces, with humans, who are not so easy to control oft times, being the minority? Not to mention being set in the future… I’ve seen your reviews, dios, and fanboy insanity over things that not a small number of Joe fans HATE. You’re pretty damn good at suspending disbelief to make anything fit in your mind’s eye of GI Joe, from what I’ve seen. I guess that’s why this is so surprising to me.

    I know this probably came across as me dissing you, Renegades and whatever else, but really, my entire purpose for writing this was strictly because I found this departure to be quite refreshing and interesting to read in one of your reviews, but I wanted you to know exactly WHY this was the case, and not just some generalized statement saying so in one sentence. It isn’t often that I get to experience this on GeneralsJoes, at least not in a few months anyway. Don’t get me wrong, Justin. I enjoyed this review, and if the art wasn’t so blase and boring, I’d probably pick this book up just for something different to read that wasn’t being pushed onto me as being part of the “mainstream continuity”.

    It’s okay if you like stuff like S6 and Renegades and I don’t care for it at all, or just a little (as with elements of S6 which I liked but hated overall). The bigger issue is when your overeagerness and excitement gets the better of you and you end up alienating the people who at first don’t care, but eventually despise it because of constant bombardment.

    It’s sort of like going to a dinner party with a group of friends and getting trapped by the wierd kid who only wants to talk about his pokemon collection and explain the minute details of his most powerful card deck and who knows the stats and abilities of every single card by heart. I know you know someone like this (maybe not Pokemon, but you get the idea) and you probably try to avoid conversation with them as much as possible because you don’t care about Pokemon (or whatever it is).

    So, yes, this IS your site (your party, as it were), and you certainly are able to do whatever you please with it, even intentionally piss people off if that is what you choose to do, but eventually, people will tire of the detailed Pokemon (Renegades) discussions and lose interest in posting opinions or discussing anything at all, except for those few who are right there with you on virtually everything you like. I would really hate to see your site nose dive into oblivion because of your obsession and disdain for those who either disagree with certain viewpoints, Renegades or just whatever in general. That would be a shame to have happen, even if we don’t always see eye to eye on topics. I enjoy your reviews on figures and toys more than anything else of late, and our discussions whenever we have them, and this is basically the only site I bother with currently for GI Joe topics. Of course, I may be banned after this one, but if that’s what happens then it’s completely up to you. I hope you will receive this as being more constructive criticism, as it is intended, and not as some personal attack, which it isn’t intended to be.

  2. you sure have a lot to say for being the silent master. most of it off base and tripe. i dont always agree with justin, but if you dont like his opinions and his “fanboy exuberance”, they why do you go to his site and read what he says?

    “It’s sort of like going to a dinner party with a group of friends and getting trapped by the weird kid …..”

    if its the weird kid you don’t like throwing the party, you know what to expect and if you don’t like it you don’t go. i don’t like poking myself in the eye with a needle repeatedly so guess what i don’t do it. its really pretty simple.

    i don’t care for the art in future noir but i do like the art in renegades. your analysis of the line width is accurate but irrelevant. the change in the line width changes the style and feel of the art bottom line. so to argue that some one should like them both because they like one or the other is asinine. future noir is not manga, and its a shame its being advertised that way. the artist has his own unique style and fits in well with “noir” style. art is too subjective to apply logic to it. art is about how it makes the person looking at it feel.

  3. @ Dragongravy: First off, I never said I didn’t like his exuberence, merely that at times he goes overboard with it. Secondly, as I mentioned, while I may not always agree or be interested in everything he has to say, I do enjoy quite a bit of it, particularly his toy reviews. I also specifically made mention that I liked this one as well.

    As for the party illustration, yes we already know it’s Justin’s party and I never said I didn’t like Justin or his site, my point was merely to illustrate the level of his giddiness over Renegades and how it affected SOME (not ALL) peoples’ interest in participating in discussions on this site. It’s pretty simple, so don’t go making it more than it is. Obviously, Justin understood the point and simply let it go. I wasn’t attacking him, just drawing a parallel.

    Further, my analysis isn’t irrelevent at all. The styles are the same essentially. The line width changes may change the “feel” of the art, but it doesn’t necessarily change the style of it so much. Two different inkers over identical line art can make things look completely different, but the art beneath is still the same. I see it as an artist, while you seem to be seeing it as a viewer, which is fine. Also, I never said he should like them both because of the artwork, just that it was surprising that he didn’t, considering both are basically the same style at the base of things. You are right though, Dragongravy, art IS subjective, but it CAN have a certain amount of logic applied to it as well, ask any editor or art instructor and most if not all of them will tell you the same. So, for you to say my comments regarding the art are asinine, your own “assessment” of the artwork, is just as asinine as you claim mine to be, no offense. As we agree, art is subjective.

    Before you go calling someone’s opinions “off base and tripe” and trying to defend Justin where he doesn’t even need defending, you should just remember that according to Justin, MY opinions are JUST as valid as YOURS or anyone else’s are. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, just as Justin and I don’t always agree with each other either, especially where Renegades is concerned currently. Nonetheless, we’re both Joe fans, we like what we like and dislike what we don’t care for, that’s just the way of it. Beyond that, Justin has his own voice and doesn’t need anyone else to be his defender in absentia, just as you have no right to nullify my views simply because you don’t like what I have to say about something. We have differing opinions, mine no less legitimate than yours, and vice versa. I’ve expressed my thoughts on the matter. You’ve expressed yours. We don’t agree, and let’s leave it at that. I think that’s pretty fair, don’t you?

  4. Finally picked up issues #1 & 2. What a horrific waste of $16.00. I should have looked at the art in this review a little better. I can’t get past the art to the story. Holy crap, what a train wreck. So long, future noir.

  5. I really don’t see a manga influence in the art. It’s sketchy, were manga is usually smooth and crisp. It has a heavy dose of blacks to the inks, were manga is usually just outlines. It’s moody in look, were manga is usually light.

    I do though see a strong influence of Guy Davis (longtime comic artist and current artist of the Hellboy B.P.R.D. series) so much so that I would swear that Guy was drawing this comic without first seeing Giacomo Bevilacqua’s byline. I would call this art expressionist or noir-ish but I don’t think manga would ever come to mind.

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