I find myself looking forward to the Real American Hero title every month, but this week…wow. Seems like we got some IDW G.I. Joe overload. I really found myself loving the issues dealing with the modern style of IDW G.I. Joe comics this week, so suddenly being thrust back into the old school Marvel Universe was a bit jarring, but still a lot of fun.
We get a lot more tank action, some more convoluted military stylings, and a whole lotta Larry Hama goodness.
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G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #174
Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: SL Gallant
In issue #173 we got the art chores divided up a little bit, and it worked to separate the various stories within the issue, but I wasn’t wild about it. This issue we get the great SL Gallant back on the whole issue, and I love it.
As we’ve become used to, his vintage aesthetic is a joy to read and really helps make this book the incredible success that it is. You immediately feel pulled back to the 80’s and 90’s and you get the impression that he’s following the steps of Rod Whigham or 80’s era Ron Wagner perfectly.
But it’s more than just getting the uniforms or vehicles right (which he does). It’s the solid, finished, realistic style that still maintains a sense of comic wonder. It’s not “sketchy” or over-detailed and it works to perfection. Along with this, his layout and action scenes are so nicely executed, each page just flows into the next. Some folks do great “talking” scenes, but not great action scenes. Gallant does both, and he’s able to do hand-to-hand action as well as vehicle-to-vehicle action, each of which presenting its own unique challenges. He really is the perfect artist for this book, and that continues to be true with this issue.
Now I’m not sure if he’s influenced by Larry Hama with what vehicles to use, or if it’s an artistic decision…if it’s Hama, I’m glad SL is trusting in what he instructs. If it’s Gallant’s choice, I think he’s doing a fantastic job pulling influences from all over the place, giving us classic HISS Tanks, the DTC HISS, the HISS II, and heck, even the much-maligned G.I. Joe vs. Cobra HISS IV!
From a story perspective, Hama is at his best here, although I’ll admit to having a somewhat hard time following the weaving storyline. Cobra is attacking the city with a column of HISS Tanks, and it’s up to G.I. Joe and some Russian soldiers (including former Oktober Guard Daina) to protect this region. We get that story mixed with some more Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, some Destro, and some Cobra Commander, all pretty seamlessly interacting with each other and offering many different elements of a great story.
Great art, awesome writing, and another great extension of the Marvel Universe. I’m starting to run out of nice words to say about it.