|Author: Mark Powers||Series: G.I.JOE: America's Elite|
|Rating: 8.5||Reviewer: Jay|
|Genre: Comic Book||Publisher:Devil's Due|
|Pages: 32||Orig Pub Date: July 2007|
|Binding: Comic Book||Illustrator: Mike Bear|
We are quickly put at ease that the last issue was merely a minor bump in the surprisingly triumphant return of G.I.JOE as a comic worthy of being paraded as near top of the stack material. In truth we are not even given the moment to consider continuing our trepidation as we are thrust right into the line of fire. In the first issue of the twelve-part Word War III storyline, we witness an alley knife fight, an assassination foiled, and some good old-fashioned executions.
The issue’s true worth is that it introduces and furthers a plot point that gives an organic reason to create new characters or bring to the forefront characters that have existed in other forms and have rarely used comic incarnations. The JOE team officially given the mandate to take out the known and suspected COBRA agents and past allies, and COBRA’s simultaneous recruiting to swell its own ranks in an arms race and to counter its own recent losses is a natural progression of the occurrences in the immediate past. Veteran enthusiasts can now view these additions a sensible growth instead of feeling force-fed, a move away from what is perhaps a comfort zone but into the excitement of a hot landing zone. We know that in earlier runs of this comic creative clashes occurred usually regarding the direction of its different commercial forms – indeed in terms of bottom line a nice problem to be burdened with to have a popular cartoon series, comic, toy line and even feature film - but now with years past since the prime of the franchise any element used seems like an old friend or a previously forgotten memory where even aspects we didn’t like we welcome being reminded of. It creates a stage that has almost limitless possibilities and as long we don’t extend that into la la territory.
I am hesitant to make absolute statements especially dealing with a name that has been given to so many different interpretations, but I feel it is now safe to say that this is Cobra Commander as he should be, as he only could be – the best he has ever been portrayed. There is an eccentric buffoonery that comes off even in the Marvel run (that is still much more preferable to the clown in the cartoon) that always grated on me. This is the most dangerous man alive and never has he felt and for the first time we believe it. He isn’t trying to defeat G.I.JOE as much as it they are trying to defeat him and they are just a passing mussing along the way to a greater plan. Certainly there is contempt for the team and in some cases a focused personal hatred as shown in the previous issue (as I mentioned in my review) as was berating Snake Eyes; but there is also a man with a goal that goes beyond the immediate conflict. Eccentric? Sure, but he is no longer a man that is the butt of jokes – he is the killing joke.
The very first page is the most unlikely of iconic nods to fans and is a perfect example of the above. It is most likely most have never seen a page with him on it, but no diehard JOE fan didn’t instantly recognize COBRA Mortal as soon as they opened the cover. The original COBRA Mortal figure has long been one of the 3 3/4 collector’s grails, and although I’m a proud owner of one, no doubt any who has or sought one had long resigned to the likelihood that the adventures of the elusive Mortal would be limited to hunts on EBAY and those born of imagination and dios, and to see the COBRA sniper grace the pages of G.I.JOE: America’s Elite is what has become that calculated, requisite, and most importantly correct bone to throw to the existing fan base. Powers and the jugglers at Devil’s Due have their pulse on the JOE comic reading nation, they do so because they were first on the scene to revive what has been a DOA franchise for better than decade. Names like Vypra, Ghost Bear, and Night Creeper interacting with classics like a sleeveless Gung Ho in the snow and Wild Bill flexing like Hickok in a panel. The past meets the future and we find out that it’s all good.
I would be remiss not to mention the cover, a piece that serves as a roll call and a celebration – Front and Center – where G.I.JOE should be and once again is.