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.