“World War III” (part 5)
Writer: Mark Powers
Artist: Mike Bear
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing
This week’s Wizard magazine featured their annual “Best of (insert year)” feature. Granted, I think it came a little earlier than it usually does, I would have to agree with many of their decisions. Ed Brubaker for “Best Writer,” Ivan Reis for “Best Artist,” the reveal of the Sinestro Corps for “Best Moment”. However, there was one category that where the character chosen was unexpected, especially for Wizard. In fact, their choice for best villain restored some of my long lost faith in the publication, their choice for “Best Villain” was perfect and conveniently enough, the latest comic featuring that villain was also released. That character is none other than the most dangerous and powerful man in the world, Cobra Commander. Once the bumbling, raspy voiced moron that graced Saturday morning cartoons, Cobra Commander is now the menacing and dangerous man he was always meant to be. In the past two years of G.I. Joe: America’s Elite, he has infiltrated the White House and learned every intimate secret of the United States, he has kidnapped the child of his two former allies, Destro and Baroness, used said child as leverage, and gained control of Destro’s weapons empire, M.A.R.S. Not only has Cobra Commander consolidated the market in terrorism and black market weaponry, he has also completely rebuilt his army. There is no Cobra-La, no islands shaped like snakes, only a modern war genius hell bent on bringing down the country that has done him wrong for so long, the United States, as well as destroying their greatest military asset, G.I. Joe.
“World War III” has been an action-packed and thrilling event thus far, a true testament to the 25 year battle between G.I. Joe and Cobra. This week, things begin to heat up even more as G.I. Joe is distracted allowing Cobra Commander to make his move. Almost halfway through the event, this issue is where the war really kicks off. That’s not to say this issue is perfect, but it’s definitely picking up the pace and with the events that transpire, any fan of G.I. Joe past or present is sure to love this issue.
Following a missile strike on Boston launched from a Cobra-sabotaged Russian submarine, G.I. Joe is ready to up the ante and make their move. They’ve learned of an assassination attempt on Israel’s prime minister and believe if they stop it, they can turn the tide in their favor, strike at Cobra Commander and end the war before it gets worse. But writer Mark Powers, and no doubt Editor Mike O’ Sullivan, throw readers for a complete loop. Not only has the mysterious Agent Delta seemingly defected to G.I. Joe, but while G.I. Joe plans their move, Cobra Commander and Destro’s son, Alexander, plan their invasion.
It is Cobra Commander’s move that elevates his status not only as ultimate villain, but justifies Wizard’s naming him “Best Villain of 2007.” G.I. Joe is busy protecting the Israeli prime minister, the Oktober Guard is battling Cobra insurgents in Chechnya and the U.S. Joint Chiefs are debating with General Colton over whether the attack on Boston was Cobra or Russia. Everyone is occupied and no one, not even the reader, sees what is coming next. The first half of this issue starts out rather slow, but in the grand scope of this event it is actually moving quite fast. Not only are readers treated to G.I. Joe, the Oktober Guard and the U.S. Government’s realization that Cobra is waging a worldwide war, but readers also get to see Cobra Commander’s army at full strength and, of course, one of the most shocking moments of 2007: Cobra takes Washington D.C. It’s a simple splash page and it is all that is needed to really highlight the madness of G.I. Joe vs. Cobra for the 21st Century. Staying under the radar, Cobra has invaded Washington. Not only is this one of the most memorable pages of the year and of the entire G.I. Joe mythos, but Mike Bear shines, establishing that he is without doubt, the next big thing in comic art.
This moment is only followed by the reveal of Cobra Operatives in every part of the world. It’s amazing to see the true power of Cobra Commander as one of the President’s Secret Service agents, a bodyguard to the Israeli prime minister and random people on the street in Jerusalem are all Cobra agents. G.I. Joe and the United States are blindsided as this issue concludes with the President restrained and surrounded by Cobra inside the Oval Office. While there was speculation amongst Joe fans as to how “World War III” would play out, it appears for now that G.I. Joe must infiltrate their own country to fight Cobra.
Cobra Commander’s “shock and awe” aside, I will admit I was a bit thrown off by Agent Delta’s sudden defection to G.I. Joe. Although it raises a number of questions about his loyalties and keeps his character interesting, he’s seemingly become an informant out of nowhere as he is the man Cobra Commander hired to assassinate the Israeli Prime Minister. It’s a bit strange to see given that he’s been acting as though he is manipulating both sides of the war. However, with the events that transpire in this issue, one has to wonder if Agent Delta is indeed resuming his allegiance with G.I. Joe or is keeping them occupied so that Cobra Commander can make his move. Either way, it raises a few eyebrows, especially since his true identity has yet to be revealed.
One of the few flaws of this issue is a bit odd to talk about. Overall, I’ve felt the pacing of this event to be a bit slow and methodical, as if the entire “World War III” should have been separate from the previous four issues and served more as a build-up arc. However, the pacing in this issue is almost too fast. There’s a lot going on and overall it’s handled very well, but I couldn’t help but feel like this issue was rushed, as if there was another issue that should have come before. Interestingly enough, this issue does serve perfectly as both the final piece of the build-up arc, as well as the beginning of the actual “World War III”. This issue was also missing the personal level of character which was given last issue using Duke. If there was an event that could use character centric tie-ins, I really believe this is it. Although I really loved this issue, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing.
A category missing from this year’s Wizard’s “Best of” is “Best New Artist”. Without a doubt, that honor would go to Mike Bear. Over the past year, in roughly 8 issues, Mike Bear’s artwork has evolved and improved exponentially. His style is unique, his artwork near perfect and he’s just out of college. The kid is phenomenal; he’s going to make Gotham City and Marvel’s New York look fantastic one day, but I really hope he stays with G.I. Joe for a long time. Mike Bear and Devil’s Due, if you are reading, you are no doubt the best new artist in my book.
Overall, “World War III” continues to steamroll ahead. There’s plenty of great artwork, suspense and sheer shock that takes place in this issue. Of course, there are a number of unanswered questions but next to “Sinestro Corps” this is shaping up to be one of the best “big events” in the past decade.
What did you think of this book?
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