The teasers about the debut of the Oktober Guard have been handled really well, making it sound like a pretty major G.I. Joe universe event, which is cool in my eyes. In the Marvel Universe, Larry treated the Oktober Guard pretty seriously, making them very impactful members of the G.I. Joe continuity, but they haven’t really gotten that much love in the toy world. Sure we got the excellent comic packs in 2004, and of course the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club just blew us away with the Operation: Bear Trap Convention set, but beyond that, to folks who only know G.I. Joe through the cartoons and retail shelves, the Oktober Guard is relatively invisible.
Mike Costa and Antonio Fuso jump right into the world of these Russian Special Forces troops and take them in pretty different directions. But what was the end result?
Click the read the rest of the story link below for the full review.
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Antonio Fuso
The issue starts off at the familiar Cobra prison camp that we have seen featured off and on throughout the IDW G.I. Joe continuity. Cobra Troopers are stationed throughout, in the typical COBRA garb. It’s a uniform style that I really love and I hope that Hasbro gets an opportunity to somehow toss us an Easter Egg with some IDW accurate Cobra Troopers at some point throughout the toy line.
As one might expect, with this Cobra prison camp being based in Russia, and this issue being the big debut of the Oktober Guard, we are quickly introduced to this new era of Russian Special Operations troopers. The team is reworked a bit, only showing us four members for this initial assault… Daina, Gorky, Shturmovik, and of course Horror Show. I’ll be interested to see if the team roster gives us some more familiar faces, considering some roles have been tweaked with these characters as well. Horror Show now seems to be an amalgamation of a heavy machine gunner and flamethrower, making me question the need for Dragonsky. Shturmovik seems to be the field leader of this particular operation, making me question whether or not Brekhov is around. We do hear a bit about Colonel “Shtern” but his identity has not been revealed completely.
Daina plays her sniper role well and Gorky has morphed from a cocky infantry specialist with a beret to a malicious knife-fighter with no hair and a scary disposition. Really, the characterizations fall into place nicely, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the alterations, both personality-wise and cosmetic. Horror Show is an armored beast, with a really crazy looking facemask/helmet while the others wear layered body suits with high collars and simple body armor. Daina is littered with piercings and the overall aesthetic is very, very cool. I wasn’t exactly sure how the Costa/Fuso book would handle the Oktober Guard, being a much more atmospheric book than straight up military, but both Costa and Fuso have managed to make the concept mesh quite nicely with the existing look and feel. Knowing the excellent history of the Cobra title, I probably should have expected it, but I still found myself pleasantly surprised.
The rest of the issue sends us to the newly formed dark operations branch of the G.I. Joe team and we get an interesting look at Ronin’s backstory as well as some fantastic interactions between Flint and Tomax. The G.I. Joe team finds out about the Oktober Guard attack on the Cobra prison camp, and they seem to be taken a bit by surprise with the Oktober Guard debut, a fact that Tomax finds endlessly entertaining.
The G.I. Joe team begins to formulate a plan for taking on this new Oktober Guard, putting Ronin back in her wheelhouse with a covert infiltration… things look like they’re about to get interesting.
As I’ve already said, this new Oktober Guard was handled very well. The aesthetic designs are very interesting, the characters are immediately developed, and they fit the theme of the book very nicely already. The build up here is almost instantaneous, and I really enjoyed the whole Tomax/Flint conversation within the G.I. Joe field operations base. Getting a peek into the backstory of Ronin was a nice surprise as well.
Fuso’s artwork is an acquired taste, to be sure, but I find myself really at home with it throughout the Cobra book. It certainly has its time and place, and there are times within the scope of a complex action sequence where I’m not sure how successful it is, but it works so well in so many other areas I find myself forgiving the action set pieces. This issue particularly actually had some nicely choreographed sequences, even if some individual frames seemed a bit choppy.
All told Another exceptionally entertaining issue. I really look forward to seeing this new Oktober Guard in action.
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