I feel very sad and disappointed that I didn’t get this review done more quickly, as this was an amazing issue of A Real American Hero. This was pure Hama greatness, almost as if pulled from the 80’s, with some great hints of Special Missions tossed in for good measure. This isn’t a “feel good” story of G.I. Joe, it’s wrought with many of the same government tensions and political frustrations as you may have witnessed with the old Special Missions series, yet it’s not obvious, it’s just a part of the story.
Every day that a new Real American Hero issue is released is a day that I’m one happy G.I. Joe fan. Check out the full review after the jump.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #190
Writer: Larry Hama
Penciller: SL Gallant
Inkers: Gary Erskine and Tom Simmons
Colorist: J. Brown
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Carlos Guzman
This issue kicks off a new story arc, that frankly I thought would suffer for not matching the intensity and awesomeness of the Red Shadows arc over the past pair of issues. What I quickly learned, though, is that while this is a very different story than that one, it has the same intrigue and suspense, and features a typical Larry Hama writing a South American jungle adventure at its very best.
The story features Lady Jaye working under cover with a local tribe trying to make them more self-sufficient, and to help throw the local power structure out of whack. The purpose of this seems to be to flush out a local dictator, but the Joes get more than they bargained for when Major Bludd appears to be working alongside this dictator.
With an entire issue revolving around only a handful of Joes (Chuckles, Low Light, Jinx, and Lady Jaye), I’m amazed at how well Larry writes these characters and injects them into these situations flawlessly. I wouldn’t have thought to use Jinx on a jungle operation like this, yet her purposes seems immediately clear and she works within the team dynamic quite well. The presence of Chuckles as a pseudo government liason and Low Light as…well… an assassin, the story is a surprisingly frank and up front look at what the G.I. Joe team is sometimes called upon to do. Lady Jaye is shortly revealed by Major Bludd, who recognizes her, and the mission quickly goes south. Low Light and Chuckles face numerous frustrations as General Hawk is not able to get clearance from Washington for them to take the shot.
The issue ends as the dictator takes revenge on the local tribe for attempting to become more self-sufficient in a shockingly brutal attack on the entire village, which seems to eliminate nearly every man, woman and child within, while at the same time taking Lady Jaye hostage. As one might expect, this attack does not sit well with the small G.I. Joe squad in the area, and Chuckles determines that the Generalissimo just signed his own death warrant, with or without Washington permission.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why this issue (and this title for that matter) resonates with me so much. Larry Hama certainly has had moments throughout his runs on various G.I. Joe titles where he has missed a few beats, but for whatever reason, his work here just seems like the most natural fit ever. The character selection is perfect, the dialogue is great, and the setting is fantastic as well. I was surprised at the venturing into political unrest and I’m always fascinated by how Hama can continue to find interesting standalone stories to tell with these characters after 30 years.
Gallant’s art continues to be excellent as well, with just the right balance of realism and exaggerated action. The characters have their own unique charm, but still feel just like their old school versions. Hama is perfectly able to tell a fun, light hearted story, while diving deep into malice and vengeance by the last page and the result is a captivating and excellent story told through terrific writing and amazingly great artwork. Another excellent installment.