“World War III: Part One”
Writer: Mark Powers
Artist: Mike Bear
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing
As I’m out scouring local toy retailers for the arrival of the G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary figures, the G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary event has begun in the pages of Devil’s Due Publishing’s G.I. Joe: America’s Elite. The Devil’s Due run with the Hasbro licensed property has been met with as much negative criticism as it has with praise. The America’s Elite run has focused primarily on a smaller group of Joes to allow for character development and the resurgence of Cobra after their leader disappeared. Big events are becoming the norm in comics these days, with Countdowns, Initiatives and World Wars. However, DC’s Sinestro Corps Special has changed the way I look at big events. With the possible reinvigoration of the franchise, Devil’s Due reminds everyone why we all loved G.I. Joe growing up. Devil’s Due may be small fish in a big pond when it comes to mega-events, but G.I. Joe is one of the best books on the market, and “World War III” is why the characters were created.
To briefly bring you up to speed, Cobra Commander was hiding out in the White House posing as the Chief of Staff learning America’s secrets. G.I. Joe has been trying to round up former Cobra operatives. In the last issue, the conclusion of the very well-done “Sins of the Mother” story arc, Destro and the Baroness gave up everything to get their kidnapped baby back from Cobra Commander. Destro bargained with the Commander and turned over his multi-billion dollar weapons firm, M.A.R.S., which made Cobra Commander the most powerful man on the planet.
Being a G.I. Joe fan and a critical comic book reader, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this issue. With the state of the world, G.I. Joe has a sense of relevance as it’s difficult not to compare Cobra to Al-Qaeda. I know it’s a bit of stretch, but think about it for a second and you’ll understand the logic. I’ve been extremely satisfied with G.I. Joe but with the 25th Anniversary there was definitely something needed to launch it back into the mainstream spotlight. G.I. Joe America’s Elite #25 is that “something needed.” This issue of G.I. Joe is quite possibly the best ever, even going back to the Marvel days. While I have enjoyed Mark Powers writing through his first arc, I noticed there were points of over-exposition, unneeded dialogue that just didn’t work well in the overall flow of the story. This issue is free and clear of expositional dialogue and full of great characterization, action and serves as a great set-up for what’s coming. This is absolutely what G.I. Joe vs. Cobra is all about.
One of the first things I noticed about this issue was the change in Mike Bear’s art style. It’s not a drastic change overall, but he has added a greater level of detail and taken away the darker shadows and tones prevalent throughout the “Sins of the Mother” arc. He captures the locations and environments beautifully; his characters maintain their updated looks, and their faces stay distinct. He meshes a style of “cartoon realism” that really works well for G.I. Joe. That is to say that everything looks real, but maintains a cartoon-type look that harkens back to the animated series.
This entire issue is madness, Devil’s Due has really stepped up to the plate in terms of returning G.I. Joe to glory. While G.I. Joe is busy picking up Cobra Operatives, Cobra Commander is continuing to rebuild his army. There’s an interesting twist to Cobra Commander’s character; in the Joe universe he is the most dangerous man alive, a true terrorist. However, there’s an instance in this issue that takes place in Darfur. Cobra Commander is recruiting a U.S. Soldier into his army, and he begins to spit out a philosophy previously unspoken by Cobra Commander. Most remember Cobra Commander as the whiny buffoon from the cartoon, but here he is anything but that. Here Cobra Commander is a genius, a brilliant man fed up with the state of the world who wants to use extreme force to change things. This, of course, is the way Cobra Commander should always be, but I couldn’t help but want to root for Cobra Commander. I bleed red, white and blue through and through. One of my favorite comic book characters is a G.I. Joe by the name of Flint, but for the first time I thought to myself “maybe Cobra Commander has a point.”
The action sequences are brilliant. Again, Mike Bear does a fantastic job with the artwork, and while the sequences aren’t huge in scale, they are well executed. The core team has also expanded to include fan favorites such as Cover Girl, Gung-Ho and Wild Bill. General Hawk also returns to command the team alongside Joseph Colton. America’s Elite finally feels 100% like a G.I. Joe title again and the 25th Anniversary of G.I. Joe vs. Cobra is off to a magnificent start. And of course, Flint is back. The ending of this issue will most certainly send chills down your spine, it’s beautifully drawn, and the dialogue is so cryptic it almost echoes the real world.
This is quite possibly the best issue of G.I. Joe since the “Silent Issue” of the Marvel days. I highly recommend this issue, and I highly recommend that you buy multiple copies of this issue before they sell out completely. The writing is superb, the art is fantastic, and I say again, this issue alone is what G.I. Joe is all about. I am overly excited about “World War III.” It’s the conflict that G.I. Joe was created for, and now it’s going to happen. As a G.I. Joe fan, I’m obviously ecstatic and as a comic book fan, I can’t wait to see what next month brings. I will make an early judgment and say this is my Pick of the Week. Yo Joe!
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