“World War III” (part 4)
Writer: Mark Powers
Artist: Mike Bear
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing
There are two excellent comic book storylines running through the “Big Two” publishing houses. One of them is Marvel’s “Death of a Dream” featured in Captain America and the other is DC’s “The Sinestro Corps War” featured in Green Lantern. But there is another storyline that captures perfect comic book storytelling and methodical pacing featuring an ensemble of established characters and a classic universe. This storyline has been built upon for years, arguably since the inception of the very franchise. The storyline I am referring to is Devil’s Due Publising’s “World War III” event taking place in G.I. Joe: America’s Elite. Cobra has become the most powerful military force in the world, G.I. Joe is hunting down Cobra operatives before they are brought back together, and a mysterious man with a link to both G.I. Joe and Cobra, known simply as Agent Delta, seems to be pulling all of the strings.
I still think Devil’s Due should have split this event into two parts, one focused on build-up and the other on the war itself, because it is still in the build-up phase. However, Mark Powers’ writing is superb, Mike Bear’s artwork is phenomenal and this story is shaping up to be one of the most definitive G.I. Joe stories ever. Powers has an extraordinary ability to maintain and transition plot points and keep a story from being confusing. The transitions are so smooth that they actually make this story much easier to follow. This issue opens up first with a covert attack on a submarine, and second, a G.I. Joe operation in Chechnya. The operation in Chechnya is short but rather important. Not only does it feature the first America’s Elite appearance of fan favorite Falcon, but it also features the return of G.I. Joe’s Russian counterparts, the Oktober Guard. This is very important in establishing who G.I. Joe’s allies are all over the world during the conflict.
The primary focus on this issue however, remains on Duke. Last issue, he and his father were kidnapped by Cobra and now they are being interrogated. Not only does Mark Powers further explore Duke’s past, specifically his relationship with his mother and how he got the name “Duke”, but Powers writes one of the best interrogation scenes I’ve ever read. The torture is purely psychological and unexpected. Being that we are dealing with Cobra, I half expected to see the Cobra Interrogator using “unethical” means to get information out of Duke. Instead, Interrogator goes right at Duke’s heart and makes him watch a “therapy session” involving Duke’s father. What I love about this scene is that Cobra has made the area look like an official military base so that Duke’s father feels a bit more comfortable talking with the Interrogator who is disguised as a U.S. Major. The entire scene involving the interrogation is great. The dialogue is fantastic and the suspense is superb.
I really can’t express how well done the whole interrogation sequence is. Powers gives it a very cinematic quality by having Duke fades into a flashback after being injected with what I think is a “truth serum.” The flashback offers further insight into Duke’s character as the reaction of Duke’s liberal father to his joining the army is explored.
Aside from the interrogation scene there is a lot of wild stuff happening in this issue. In true G.I. Joe fashion, Roadblock infiltrates the building and comes to the rescue of Duke and his father. The covert attack on the submarine turns out to be Cobra operative Blackout launching a missile attack on the U.S., thus seemingly starting this war. Cobra Commander also furthers his brainwashing of Destro’s son. Cobra Commander is being handled perfectly in the early stages of this saga because he is barely seen in each issue. This moves him away from the babbling idiot he is remembered as, and continues to create a much more menacing aura about him.
Longtime G.I. Joe fans will also be happy to see that General Colton and General Hawk are finally splitting command duties of the unit. They both realize that something bigger is at play and realizing that they are spreading their operatives out too much to launch any kind of counter attack should something happen. These two have always been a bit tense with each other but they are finally looking to each other to figure out how to combat the latest threat.
Finally, the mystery behind Agent Delta deepens. The man who called him at the end of the last issue is none other than Tomax, one of the evil twins, to assassinate the Prime Minister of Israel. This plays directly into the interrogation of Duke as Cobra Interrogator was trying to learn more about G.I. Joe’s Middle East operations. Trying to figure out the identity of Agent Delta is difficult enough, but trying to figure out his angle is even more pressing. He’s been employed by Tomax, a Cobra operative, to carry out a hit, but after Tomax leaves he calls G.I. Joe. All I can say to this is that Mark Powers is definitely crafting one of the best stories available.
Mike Bear’s artwork is amazing. The young man has become an overnight sensation and has definitely proved his talents in less than 10 issues of this series. There is no doubt that Bear will one day be one of the top artists in the industry. I love his work on G.I. Joe and I hope he doesn’t leave for a long time. However, his style is also perfect for a writer like Ed Brubaker.
This is as intense and well-written as comic book stories get. G.I. Joe is definitely one of the top titles on the shelves and “World War III” is shaping up to be one of the best stories ever. I really can’t help but put this series and storyline on the same level as “The Sinestro Corps War” and “Death of the Dream.” Anyone who thinks that the rumored G.I. Joe movie, which drops the “Real America Hero” aspect of the franchise, is a good idea really needs to take a look at this story and realize what G.I. Joe is at its core. This is my Pick of the Week.
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