“World War III" (part 3 of 12)
Writer: Mark Powers
Artist(s): Mike Shoyket, Jean-Francois Beaulieu (c)
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing
Last week, Devil’s Due Publishing provided a compelling and interesting look into the personnel of G.I. Joe and Cobra with G.I. Joe: Special Missions: The Enemy. While the story was not directly tied to “World War III” it is one of those issues that any fan of G.I. Joe past or present would truly appreciate. This week, the next installment of “World War III” hits shelves and continues to build on the coming massive battle between G.I. Joe and Cobra. While I have commented on the slow build up to what should be an all out brawl, I have come to appreciate what writer Mark Powers is doing when it comes to this storyline. The entire conflict thus far has been a chess match, both Cobra Commander and G.I. Joe C.O. Joe Colton making their moves. While this idea is the underlying theme of the event, there is plenty of action and drama to keep this story compelling.
There are four main points of “World War III” taking place in this issue. One is the continuing chess match between Colton and Cobra Commander. The second is the continuing hunt for Cobra operatives. The third is the continuing mystery surrounding Agent Delta, and, lastly, is the newly introduced family dynamic surrounding the G.I. Joes.
While I am still a bit out to lunch about Cover Girl and Shipwreck being romantically involved, their storyline works very well here and the dynamic of their relationship is explored deeper. They are somehow stranded at see when approaching a desert island in search of Skull Buster. It’s a bit odd how a Navy S.E.A.L. and vehicle specialist ended up washing out and landing on a desert island, but for the purposes of the story it works. Skull Buster, a savage Cobra operative and survivalist, takes advantage of the situation by apprehending an unconscious Cover Girl. What is really cool about this issue is that Shipwreck and Cover Girl are hunting for Skull Buster and in turn become the hunted. Like any decent villain, Skull Buster has that one thing he does for kicks, and that can also be exploited as his weakness. Skull Buster wants to toy with the two Joes, exploiting not only their camaraderie, but their romance as well. By using Cover Girl as bait, Skull Buster attempts to trap Shipwreck. The sequence that follows is fun and entertaining as Skull Buster becomes distracted by his bait and his desire to watch Shipwreck suffer. Mark Powers uses a very creative method to take Skull Buster down and in turn strengthens the relationship between Cover Girl and Shipwreck.
This issue also reveals clues to the identity of Agent Delta. It is revealed that Agent Delta is a former G.I. Joe who was sent to infiltrate Cobra until communication was lost and he was presumed dead. The only man to know the identity of Agent Delta was original G.I. Joe commander, the late General Flagg. What makes this aspect of “World War III” very compelling is the fact that Agent Delta could essentially be anyone. It could be any member of Cobra including Destro. While this does not rule out the possibility that it may be an entirely new character, I really think Devil’s Due is going to hit readers with a surprise in terms of Delta’s true identity. The other interesting thing to note about Agent Delta is the end of the issue. He receives a phone call from Cobra Commander and he’s told to do a job. The scene that follows is an assault on Duke and his family led by Cobra Interrogator. One would assume Delta could be Interrogator, except for the advertisement for the next “World War III” chapter on the inside back cover which features Agent Delta with a sniper rifle. Well played, Devil’s Due.
Speaking of Duke and his family, this was an unexpected and very well done story point. Now that Cobra Commander knows everything about the Joes including real names and family, he has the ability to strike at the heart. This also opens up excellent possibilities for Mark Powers and future writers to explore the family and personal dynamics of the Joes further. While Scarlett’s father is often featured in the series, I didn’t expect Duke’s father to be a hippie liberal. Decked out with a “Grateful Dead” t-shirt, Duke has to bail his father out of jail after being arrested at a protest. For some reason, I always pictured Duke coming from a long line of military men but this idea works so much better. The thing that I really liked about the relationship between Duke and his father is that they don’t explode into political debate, instead they respect what each other do and they respect each others views. It is also learned that Duke was quite the artist in the past and rather than having his father scold him for his career path, his father simply tries to understand why Duke chose violence over art. I thought this was a very tactful scene by Powers, which also was used extremely well to show off the new power and intelligence of Cobra Commander.
Speaking of Cobra Commander, the chess game he is engaged in with G.I. Joe is extremely important to the future of the character. Now that he is the most powerful man in the world, he can transcend the old baboon personality he is remembered for in the cartoon. Powers has significantly cut down Cobra Commander’s page time, creating a much more menacing figure than readers are accustomed to. He’s much more of a strategist than a menacing madman now and this makes him much more dangerous than ever.
Mike Bear takes a much deserved month off this issue although I really feel that he is an integral part of this story. Mike Shoyket does a decent job picking up the artwork this month and while there are some similarities in Shoyket’s style, there are many visible differences. Mike Bear is going to be one of the best artists in comics in a few years and I have really enjoyed seeing his style evolve. While I understand everyone need s a day off, I think that his work is integral to the success of “World War III.” Shoyket’s work is good, however, and he does serve as a decent fill-in artist.
“World War III” is shaping up to be the biggest and best G.I. Joe story ever. The stakes are high, the story phenomenal and the action intense as this story-arc really gets underway. Mark Powers’ run has definitely set the bar higher for G.I. Joe and it should be at the top of your pull list. Yo Joe!
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