The latest season of IDW’s G.I. Joe title is cruising along, with Fred Van Lente on the writing duties as he makes great strides building this G.I. Joe universe. We’re already getting some backstory that has been previously unrevealed…but are the memories real, or manufactured?
It’s an interesting look into Duke’s background, though some questions remain.
Click the Read the Rest of the Story link below for the full review.
G.I. Joe (Season 3) #3
Writer: Fred VanLente
Penciller: Steve Kurth
Inker: Allen Martinez
Colorist: Joana LaFuente
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Consulting Editor: Carlos Guzman
Editor: John Barber
This issue was a very interesting experiment, demonstrating a sinister interrogation ploy by Dr. Mindbender and the Baroness, who are trying to infiltrate Duke’s mind in order to dig up a code word indicating “all safe”, hoping to avoid a full scale G.I. Joe attack on their small stronghold. This experiment gives us a chance to look into Duke’s past a little bit and see what some of his motivations were for joining the G.I. Joe team, and how his background influenced his decision to be “dead” in order to be fully involved in their covert operations team.
There are some nice Easter eggs in the flashback, as we see Duke playing with some of the 12″ Adventure Team toys, and how his rejection from West Point motivated him to lead from the field and turn down the promotions that continued to be offered his way. VanLente even includes the exact quote from his filecard within the scope of the issue itself, which is a pretty cool touch. We see some character building as Duke develops a relationship with a translator from “Trucial” (evidently a cool homage to Trucial Abysma in the Marvel series) and ramifications from that relationship helped drive him to fully invest himself in the G.I. Joe team. We even get a little shot of Bulletman in the flashback as well. Pretty neat stuff.
It’s not just character building in the flashback, though, we see Duke more or less single-handedly defend himself from a squad of assailants, proving his ability in combat, much to the chagrin of a watchful Major Bludd…
At the end of the flashback, we see Mindbender using these memories as a conduit to pull information from Duke’s head, which makes one wonder if these were actual flashbacks, or merely an advanced mental construction by Cobra, or a little bit of both. In a somewhat surprising twist, Duke gives up the code word… or does he?
The pacing of this issue was actually really great. The interjection of the flashbacks with current day interrogation techniques, along with the Baroness and Mindbender facing off against each other all intertwined quite nicely together. As I mentioned, there are great Easter eggs scattered throughout, but they aren’t heavy handed, and they feel natural. Van Lente’s dialog is very good, feeling quite in line with the G.I. Joe mythology. I felt like this issue built nicely and could be on the verge of a major climactic battle. By the end of the issue certain revelations are made, and Colton must decide how he’s going to proceed next. I was surprised we saw no sign of other G.I. Joe team members in this issue, but it still felt like a natural departure. A credit to Van Lente for being able to take a team book down to a singular focus, without sacrificing the team dynamic.
If I have one complaint, it’s with the flow of Duke’s battle in the desert. I’m not sure if that’s the way it was written, but seeing him basically just walk forward with no cover as he takes down a dozen enemy troopers just felt really unrealistic. I wish there had been a bit more tension, with him taking a bit more cover and battling a little more strategically rather than just waltzing forward “macho style” taking down the enemy with no visible repercussions.
From the art side of things Steve Kurth does a decent job. He’s actually able to balance combat and non combat events fairly well, though the composition I mention above with the desert battle wasn’t really impressive to me. While I don’t need or want to see uber-realistic (but somewhat generic) military combat like we’ve seen in the Dixon work some tactical composition would have been great. I won’t say there’s anything with the art that takes me out of the energy of the book, but I’m not sure it adds much either. I will say his Baroness is really nice, and his dramatic action-oriented panels are generally nicely laid out, too. He remains not one of my favorite artists, but there’s nothing there to detract from the crisp, fun story either.
Another good issue in this first arc of Season 3. The character development has been good, and I enjoyed this look into Duke’s background, which developed the character more than I’ve seen in the IDW universe so far. Here’s hoping some other characters get the same treatment. Keep up the great work, Mr. VanLente!