“World War III” (part 6)
Writer: Mark Powers
Artist(s): Mike Bear, Mike Shoyket
Published by: Devil’s Due Publishing
G.I. Joe is in the midst of resurgence as the 25th anniversary of the “G.I. Joe vs. Cobra” comes to a close and the 26th anniversary is upon us. The 25th anniversary figures exceeded all of Hasbro’s expectations and will go into wider and more mass production next year, the movie, while very questionable, is in the pre-production stages and Devil’s Due’s major G.I. Joe event, “World War III” reaches it’s halfway point. The future of the comic book license is unknown at the moment; Hasbro will make an announcement after the New Year, but hopefully Devil’s Due holds on to the franchise because everything they have done with it has been fantastic. There’s a very “real world” feel to the series these days, and it is definitely the most underrated series on the market. Halfway through the big event, Devil’s Due puts out a double sized issue that answers important questions and puts out a pretty large political statement.
“World War III” has been an event that has been handled and built to fantastically, all in the pages of one series. Cobra Commander has taken control of the United States and the bulk of G.I. Joe is in the Middle East fighting for their lives and trying to devise a strategy to get back into the U.S. While this series has been intense and very well done, this issue is where some expectations and the direction of this event begin to falter and come into question. Since the beginning of this event, everything that happens has in some way played a greater part of Cobra Commander’s plan. Wizard even named him ‘Villain of the Year’, a sentiment that I wholeheartedly agree with. However, while there are many questions answered in this issue, there are also many that surface, as well as the idea that this series may be setting up nothing more than a massive battle, perhaps the last, between G.I. Joe and Cobra.
While this series has thus far been quite well-done, I’m beginning to wonder about a few things. One of these things is where in the world is the rest of the U.S. military? They seem to be absolutely nowhere in sight. While this series has focused more on the core characters of G.I. Joe, there aren’t even the lowly green-shirts mounting a counter-offensive on Cobra. Not only has Cobra taken control of the White House, but they’ve infiltrated the G.I. Joe Headquarters and a Cobra special ops team known as “The Plague” assaults the main group of Joes in the Middle East. But there’s no sign of the rest of the American war machine.
One of the best things about this issue is the involvement of Storm Shadow. Mark Powers does an excellent job bringing the ninja master into the fight, not only conveying Storm Shadow’s abilities, but his current philosophy as well. Powers does a great job showing that the Storm Shadow featured here is the same as Hama’s in the Storm Shadow ongoing series. He fights with G.I. Joe and he knows that he has to stop Cobra in order to ensure his own safety. This much is clear as a Cobra trooper turns out to be a G.I. Joe spy. This does indeed raise the stakes in favor of G.I. Joe, but it also sets up possibly the biggest letdown of the series thus far.
While the action in this issue is “par for the course” and a true highlight, G.I. Joe completely overcomes the odds and this story-arc takes on a feeling that it is no different than any other G.I. Joe story where Cobra grabs the upper hand and then loses it as soon as G.I. Joe regroups. But then again, Devil’s Due has surprised me before and maybe this is what they want readers to think. While it looks like this story-arc will end with a classic G.I. Joe vs. Cobra, there are also many factors that have still come into play, such as the Red Shadows. If you don’t read G.I. Joe, don’t worry, it’s not too difficult to follow, the Red Shadows are smaller, more ruthless terrorist group. I really do hope that Mark Powers is setting up a major twist or a Joe defeat that makes this story unique because Cobra Commander has never been more powerful and has never been more dangerous.
The identity of Agent Delta is also seemingly revealed. He tells Duke his real name, and as it turns out, it’s nobody important. It could turn out to be a character whose name is classified, but Agent Delta being unrecognizable and an unknown really takes away from the effect of such a revelation. Then again maybe that’s another surprise. It’s very hard to tell and in turn difficult to pass judgment on such a thing.
The end of this issue is quite powerful, however. While Cobra is essentially taking over the world, there’s a moment where Cobra Commander sits with the President in the back of a Blackhawk helicopter. While this issue left a little bit to be desired, the ending puts the whole series right back on top. Cobra Commander dumps the President in the middle of the desert in the Middle East and tells him, “Now fend for yourself.” I thought this was an absolutely brilliant moment, not because of today’s political climate, but because of the overall theme of war. I couldn’t help but compare this moment to “All Quiet on the Western Front,” when soldiers talk of putting all the political leaders in a battlefield to do war with each other. It was a powerful political message and also a message on the inevitable yet gross mix of politics and war.
There were two artists sharing duty on this issue. Mike Bear did his usual outstanding work on most of the scenes that involvement G.I. Joe and Cobra and Mike Shoyket did most of the scenes that involved Storm Shadow. I couldn’t help but feel a bit distracted although I think the two artists did a great job. I’m a huge fan of Mike Bear and his style continues to impress, but the way the artwork switched between Shoyket and Bear didn’t mix all too well. Overall the artwork was fine, I just thought there was a lack of transition between the artists.
It’s very difficult to judge this issue because the event is only half finished. While it’s beginning to show signs of a classic and typical G.I. Joe vs. Cobra battle, there’s nothing to say that Devil’s Due won’t lead readers on and throw in a compelling twist that changes everything. Either way, I’m still enjoying the hell out of this series and I am very interested to see where it goes from here.
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