Fred Van Lente talks to CBR about G.I. Joe relaunch – First look at the new Joes!

I think it’s fair to say that IDW shocked the G.I. Joe world at NYCC with the revelation that their series of G.I. Joe books would “relaunch” in 2013 with brand new #1 issues and some new creative teams mixed in there, particularly on the flagship G.I. Joe title.

Taking over for Chuck Dixon on G.I. Joe is Fred Van Lente with Steve Kurth doing the pencils, and Mr. Van Lente spoke with Comic Book Resources about this new direction for G.I. Joe.  It’s an interesting one to be sure.  You can read the full interview right here.

Reading this interview brought a few different thoughts to mind, and I’ve got to work them over in my head a bit over the next couple of months before the book debuts.  First and foremost, immediately evident from the first look at the new G.I. Joe team, this book is certainly making some changes.  Perhaps making some changes worthy of the “relaunch”.  No longer a covert operatives team, G.I. Joe is now out in the spotlight in more ways than one, and looking at this first image…  wow.  I see a lot of super hero elements here.  Form-fitting uniforms, armor plating, a distinct lack of helmets, backpacks or flak vests.  Granted, this is a single image, but I could see some G.I. Joe fans being taken aback by this new look.

Perhaps one of the most alarming details is the distinct and conspicuous lack of Snake Eyes… I would imagine they’re holding something back where he is concerned, either to maintain some suspense for his current title or to keep his return as a potential “event” to lead up to in this new book.

For me personally, I don’t mind the super hero elements infiltrating G.I. Joe somewhat, but I do want to see at least some indication that these are military operatives.  I suspect they will look more military within the confines of the book itself, but this initial image has me a bit…well… concerned isn’t the right word.  I guess I’m surprised.  In my opinion, no matter how much they integrate into a super-hero like universe, the core look of the G.I. Joe team should have military elements…and just carrying guns around doesn’t count.

As anyone who reads my site knows, I will remain optimistic, and as I’ve researched the new writer Fred Van Lente, I’ve found myself thoroughly enjoying his work.  I suspect if anyone can make this new look and feel work it’s him.  But let’s just say I’ll be watching this closely, mostly to gauge the reaction of other Joe fans.  While I’ve always thoroughly loved an injection of super hero mythology into my G.I. Joe universe, there is a pretty large subset of G.I. Joe fans who are into the hard core military stuff, and upon first glance, these uniforms don’t scream “hard core military”.  Of course, many folks would argue (myself included) that “hard core military” never involved dudes in football jerseys or not wearing any shoes, too, so really a lot of folks who clamor for the real world military stuff, but also want things vintage accurate are sort of talking out of both sides of their mouths.

In fairness, I think Duke’s uniform design specifically is extremely cool looking.  I like the shoulder pads, I like the layered look of the pants and vest.  The throwback to his classic colors.  Those are all very cool elements that I think bridge the comic book and military world very, very well.  Shipwreck also looks extremely nice, with some call backs to his Devils’ Due appearance and just the right additions if flair to the uniform.  That only makes sense with Steve Kurth as the artist on this book (he was the first artist when Devils’ Due launched the title way back when as well) and I can certainly see some of his style showing through.

Thinking about the plot ideas, I do think this has the potential to be very interesting.  Embedded journalists/bloggers is a very modernized take, and using the G.I. Joe team as a living, breathing recruitment poster is a pretty intriguing concept.  It truly is a new direction, and I am really looking forward to seeing where this goes.  As I said, I suspect within the pages of the book there will be many more military-themed images, concepts, and uniforms, but I just had to voice my concerns over the first release image of this new team.

Again, check out the interview right here, and the first image has been posted as well.  I won’t mirror it out of respect for CBR, but you can see it in the interview.

30 thoughts on “Fred Van Lente talks to CBR about G.I. Joe relaunch – First look at the new Joes!

  1. I think the new look is rather good and an interesting change. It’s nice to see a vet of Devil’s Due Joe comics run make a return to the franchise and and I like his work. However, whether or not I pick it up is going to depend more on how COBRA is portrayed. But otherwise my curiosity is definitely piqued.

  2. Judging by that one piece of artwork, I’m very concerned. Other than GI Joe, I haven’t followed any comic books in close to twenty years, but this piece of art instantly reminds me of Rob Liefeld’s work from back then, and as far as I’m concerned there’s nothing positive about that. It doesn’t look as completely unrealistic as his work, but it still suffers from many of the same things that I didn’t like about Rob’s style. As you said, GI Joe has always had tons of aspects that are not “real world” military, however at the same time, it has kept enough “real world” military elements to satisfy those of us that are looking for that. If you take that away, then in my opinion GI Joe loses its identity, and loses the things that made it special. I’ll stick around and give it a chance, but just judging by this one piece of art alone, I’m not at all happy with this direction.

  3. If it has Gi Joe attached to it I will at least give it a chance. The one thing I really like about the Joe mythos is that you can keep or throw out what you want. I have gotten lost in the IDW titles. I have no idea how many there are and some of the titles have changed names. I need to go back and get up to speed but I don’t know where to start. I will say I have always like the covert part of Joe. This interview and pic definitely give the Joes a real super hero vibe that I’m not sure about. We will see.

  4. Another thought about this direction is that it’s been well established that the Joes in the IDW universe have all had to give up their old lives, and all of their families and loved ones believe them to be dead. If they are now going to become well known “celebrities”, then I assume that the writer will touch up on how the news of them being alive affects the loved ones that thought they were dead. If that plot point is ignored, it would be a shame.

  5. I agree with TSmith – I was wondering just how GI Joe going public is going to play with all of the families that believe that their loved ones had died. There’s a lot of good stories there and maybe we’ll finally get to see some backstory on the Joes and the team itself.
    I wonder if this core team was picked specifically to be the public face of the Joe team – these characters either didn’t “die,” don’t have any family to be mad about them coming back from the dead or just lend themselves in another manner to being at the forefront of a PR scheme (a very interesting idea, but I wonder how long it can be sustained).

  6. I’m leery, because this reminds me of the fluff that was GIJOE Extreme. For my money, I’d prefer a take that is more like Pursuit of COBRA, with the “Metal Gear Solid” vibe going on.

  7. The look doesnt bother me at all, and if the scaled down team lets them work on actual characterization for those that are featured then all the better. I’d be even happier if Snake Eyes isn’t in it at all. It seems no writer can do this book with Snake Eyes in it without revolving the entire universe around him. I’d much rather see them focus on all the other Joes and just give it a rest with Snake Eyes and all the silly ninja crap.

    Of course, even better would be if Hasbro gave us toys to tie in with the comic. I’ve always felt the IDW stuff wasn’t really official GI Joe because it has no toy support. I so loved seeing DDP make use of the toys at the time and even inspiring some.

  8. I never thought of POC as “Metal Gear Solid” but it does feel like that. Nice analogy.

  9. Huh? The only one I see that is a different race/sex is the chick in the red. Is she supposed to be Lifeline? I do wonder who the 12 year old with the pistol is though.

  10. I’m assuming that’s Doc, who was a black woman in G.I. Joe: Reloaded, and then was introduced as the niece of the original Doc in the figures and DDP’s series.

  11. This actually more reminds me of the uniforms seen at the very beginning of America’s Elite. Shipwreck, especially. I’m not sure if this is more like the cartoon, but form the description, it sounds to me that this may be closer to a more “classic” G.I. Joe than IDW’s more realistic tone.

    BUT, the one thing that I hate here? A “blogger”? In charge of an elite military unit’s Twitter feed. Aside from the illogic of that, how dated can you get? I’m not saying the idea of the government exploiting some team like that in some franchise is a terrible one. I just don’t think this works for G.I. Joe. And “and that there’s a whole toy line about to come out based on their likenesses”. Sorry, that just sounds like they’re trying to be a bit too clever.

  12. Oh, one positive comment. Steve Kurth has come a long way as an artist in ten years, hasn’t he?

  13. To be completely fair, his art was never actually bad, it was that he drew everyone with a thousand wrinkles that got everyone all ticked off at him. His layouts were always well done. If my memory serves me correctly he is actually a GI Joe fan and it’s always great to get a creative team that cares about the property they are working on.

  14. To date everything I’ve read by Fred Van Lente has been fantastic. He’s stated that Larry Hama’s run on ARAH was one of the best comic series of the 80s. These two facts alone should be more than enough to quell any fears that this is going to suck. It’s in good hands, breathe easy and be happy we’ve got GI JOE comics to look forward to.

  15. I do like the fact that they’re focusing on a smaller team. For me, one of IDW’s major flaws was tossing dozens of Joes at us at once. The Marvel series had lots of Joes, too, but it worked better when that expansion happened over time.

  16. I wasn’t really one of the one’s who hated Kurth’s art, so I didn’t really mean it as an insult. He just seems to have refined his skills since then.

  17. Fred is a really great writer so I have hope this won’t suck despite the lousy roster and absolutely terrible character designs.

  18. I liked Joe Casey as a writer as well, until he wrote Joe. Joe is a hard thing to handle, and past experience alone isn’t the best indicator. Come to think of it I’m pretty confident i’ve read some DC by Dixon and liked it, but I wasn’t a fan of he handled joe either. Editors also have a big effect.

  19. The wrinkles did hurt it, but wasn’t that to show the age that DDP went with? that seven year gap? The art isn’t bad, but Atkins is my fav Joe artist.

  20. This is exactly what I thought, America’s Elite (Casey’s) run had a disastrous shift in look and tone. The artist they got was great (see master and apprentice) but the designs were just terrible. AE also took a shift to a smaller core team, a new writer, and a new more superhero like tone. I still think that the negative response to the changes they mind there was the nail in the coffin for DDP. WWIII was excellent! and at least Duke’s story was good in Casey’s run, but the rest so bad and the fans turned so negative, DDP closed their boards! could we see a repeat here? Or here is a better question, why mirror that stuff?

  21. Is anyone else baffled that they made a new Joe (Hash Tag) when this sounds like the perfect time role for scoop? IDW really needs to stop making new characters at this point. Here and there they are great, but, the constant introduction, with zero ties to the toys just alienate IDW from the rest of the brand.

  22. if they touch on that, it might be neat, but they never did explore Beachead’s insomnia did that? it may not be touched at all, if not that, would be another con.

  23. I’ve never believed in buying anything just because it has the joe name on it, I really think that muddles voting with my dollar. I love the Joe brand, I want Hasbro, and it’s liscensures, to know what aspects of it I like by spending my money only on what is good Joe imo.

  24. Thanks for the info, I haven’t followed the IDW in a while so I missed it. That negates my point about that.

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