The comic world has changed in many ways over the past several years, and writers have learned to adapt to this new mentality. Writing for the trade, or building stories in a certain way is considerably different now than it was even 15 or 20 years ago. The entire landscape is different.
Someone forgot to tell Larry Hama this.
To read the full review of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #189 click the Read the Rest of the Story link below.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #189
Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: SL Gallant
Inker: Gary Erskine
Colors: J. Brown
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Carlos Guzman
There’s a certain mentality and appreciation for what G.I. Joe is that goes into writing or capturing stories set in the Real American Hero universe. A few people have been able to do it well, but obviously Larry Hama has been the most successful. Issue #189 is just another example of how Hama “gets it”. For whatever reason, he can take these various characters and effortlessly craft an exciting story with new elements 30 years after writing the first one.
Amazingly enough, for the first time in 30 years, the infamous Red Shadows make their appearance in the old school G.I. Joe continuity (as long as you ignore their appearance in Devils’ Due) and Hama does them proud. Rather than reinventing them like the folks from DDP did, Hama takes them at their classic best and imbues the perfect kamikaze attitude and devoted spirit that we’ve seen before in those great UK produced comic books. Black Major is a great foil, and the Red Shadows troopers appropriately throw themselves into the fray with reckless abandon.
This issue tackles combat from three fronts…a small combat team on the ship, the WHALE Hovercraft, and the Tomahawk helicopter. These faithful classics carry around G.I. Joe team members wearing their familiar uniforms and every single panel feels like it was pulled straight from the late 80’s period of the comic book. High powered action and gunfire tear through every page, yet Hama seems immensely capable of crafting great dialogue and pacing among a hail of bullets and explosions.
At a number of different times throughout the issue, it seems as if the Joes are up against the wall, with no way out, but Hama’s creative storytelling and plausible twists get them out without leaning too heavily on typical deus ex machina techniques. Cutter’s WHALE maneuvers were absolutely awesome, and took the reader nicely by surprise as a simultaneously hilarious and death-defying way to take out the approaching Roboskull. Throughout the issue, men are injured, there are consequences of war, yet it still maintains the sense of fantasy and joy that a G.I. Joe title should express.
The fact that SL Gallant’s artwork so flawlessly takes Hama’s written words and etches them onto the comic book page with a care and grace that we don’t always see these days. His ability to take the classic vehicle designs and translate them spot on to the comic page, and yet still maintain a great sense of dramatic action is a skill that many comic artists and readers today do not appreciate or understand. I love what Gallant does on this title in general, and this issue specifically has a lot going on, with three separate fronts, many different characters, not to mention all of the Red Shadow Troopers and some really bizarre looking vehicles. Gallant takes all of this, throws it in a blender, and turns out 22 pages of magnificent naturalistic artwork that really brings Hama’s words to life.
Perfection. This issue was pure perfection. Action, dialogue, characters who act like the characters they represent, and an excellent translation of vehicle design. This issue could have come out at comic stores in 1986 and it would have felt natural within the confines of that epic era of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. If you’re a G.I. Joe fan, and a fan of the classic Marvel comics, and you’re not reading this title, you’re doing yourself a disservice. By far my favorite comic book title I’m currently reading, and the best comic series I’ve read in quite a long time.