G.I. Joe #1 - IDW Publishing
New comic day has been a meaningless event for me for quite a while now...I've long since grown past my huge comic collection and no longer feel the need to drop $3-4 per book per month in order to stay current on the latest events of the Marvel Universe. Even while Devils' Due was doing the title, I didn't bother "keeping up" I just waited a few months and ordered them in bulk from an online retailer (*cough cough* SmallJoes.com *cough* ). I caught G.I. Joe #0 a short while ago when it came out, and was immediately captivated. Yes, it was a new continuity, which caused the requisite uproar in the community... yes it was quite a departure from the standard G.I. Joe fare. But I really LOVED the darkness of the concept...soldiers "dying" in order to be indoctrinated into the team. Purely the best of the best hand-picked for a black ops top secret team. I love it. It's essentially the concept I used for The Renegades, so obviously I have an affinity for that idea. I found #0 to be interesting enough that I felt the need to trek out to my local comic shop on new comic day for the first time in several years, and picked up Issue #1. I was not disappointed.
It's tough to nail down the essence of G.I. Joe, because it's been so many things over the decades. An over-the-top science fiction fantasy of the Sunbow days, a much more "real world" military crew in the Marvel comic days, or somewhere in between as shown in Devils' Due. To me, the concept is very fluid because it has been so much to so many different people...the important thing to me is the essence behind that concept. How do these characters "feel"?
Well, IDW takes the concept of G.I. Joe and takes it to the absolute extreme, something that is bound to tick off the "hard core military" fans, but the most important thing, the essence of the characters is intact in a BIG way, and I found the entire issue to be nothing but enjoyable.
The plot is your typical introduction to the team. G.I. Joe as an organization is established, and in fact some of the members have grown a bit bored. It's not clear why the team was formed if there wasn't an over-arcing threat to face off against, but it's clear that COBRA has not yet become "public" yet the Joes obviously have a massive operating budget and a ton of resources.
We get a look at the monstrous new "PIT" which is essentially an entire underground city full of towering buildings, a huge support staff, vehicles (many of them quite identifiable) scattered about and totally state-of-the art technology. To me at first glance, the Pit seems almost too large...to overwhelming. So much of this story is written as relatively real world, so seeing a veritable full blown city underneath the ground is almost too jarring in the midst of this fairly realistic story. It quickly becomes evident that the technology and science in IDW's world is much beyond our current daily lives, but even so, the first glimpse of the Pit kind of takes you out of your zone...you sit back and kind of go "wha--?". Thankfully, the dialog manages to pull you back in, however.
As "state-of-the-art" as the Joe organization is, they've got nothing on COBRA, as we soon see. At least, if we are correct in assuming that the strange looking teleporting operative is a COBRA agent, which I think is a safe assumption. That's right, there is a high-tech commando who actually teleports from nowhere, unloads some futuristic weaponry, then appears to evaporate into powder. He's closely followed by our first look at Snake Eyes, which leads me to think that COBRA is behind this mysterious new soldier.
We get some more snippets of action on top of and underneath the sea, focusing on a small dive team with Shipwreck, Torpedo, and Deep Six. Airtight, Dusty, and Frostbite all make cameos, as does Dial Tone, though in a female form.
As I said, the basic plot is mostly introductions, but it's the characters and the dialog that really drive this story.
First impressions? This would certainly appear to be a fun ride. Duke and Beachhead jogging through the desert, tossing military jargon seamlessly back and forth... Scarlett and Duke's obvious past history, and just the talking through each panel...well, it just feels "real". It feels like the way real people would talk, and you get an impression of these characters through their words in a way that I don't think Devils' Due was ever able to capture. Every scene of a Devils' Due comic felt sort of like a poorly scripted action movie, whereas this first issue flows like a real group of real operatives, even in surroundings that are totally out of the ordinary.
The plot itself flows fine as well with some mysterious technology showing up here and there, a nice mix of action, and good atmosphere. Chuck Dixon and IDW obviously are not afraid to go over the top with a huge underground fortress, COBRA technology that is light years ahead of its time, yet they manage to ground it all with sharply written conversations and a nicely flowing story.
As far as the art goes, Robert Atkins does a fine job. Crisp art, a nice sense of perspective, and easily recognizable characters and vehicles all add up to a successful first foray into IDW's G.I. Joe tale, which is a lot harder to accomplish than it might sound. There aren't many artists out there who can successfully pull off the G.I. Joe "feel", and I think Atkins does good work. The best part is I think he will grow as the title grows, and if he can get even better from here, I think we're all the better for it.
A very solid first entry into a new G.I. Joe universe. I was a bit hesitant to accept this new continuity, but in a way, it's enlightening. I'm much more able to accept a fully trained Navy diver Shipwreck when he's not shoehorned into his goofball personality in a prior world. Dial Tone can work as the opposite sex when we're not dealing with the same universe as we were. We can have an entire city buried underground servicing a technically advanced covert ops military team, because this universe is a totally separate and new continuity from what we've been used to. As I've said with many aspects of A Real American Hero, if the fans can embrace the over-the-top science fiction nature of the G.I. Joe mythology and not paint themselves into a "real world" military corner, I think there's a lot to enjoy with the G.I. Joe mythos, and IDW seems to be making a number of steps in the right direction.
GRADE: out of 5