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G.I. Joe: America's Elite #33

Posted: Friday, March 14, 2008
By: Kevin Powers

Mark Powers
Pat Quinn, Mike Shoyket & Mike Bear
“World War III” (part 9)

The fact that Devil’s Due Publishing’s (DDP) hold over the G.I. Joe comic license is coming to an end has made Joe fans both happy and sad. On the one hand, some fans felt that DDP’s run on the franchise alienated some longtime fans. Others feel like DDP brought a greater level of realism to the franchise, especially in the America’s Elite series, by killing major characters and also by directly linking the series to the original Marvel run. So here we are, coming into the final stretch of the “World War III” storyline. Admittedly, the storyline started of extremely strong, it looked to be the quintessential G.I. Joe vs. Cobra battle. However, over the past three or four issues, it has become nothing more than a simple and basic G.I. Joe vs. Cobra battle. Cobra gets the upper-hand then G.I. Joe overcomes the odds and wins, is the way this series seems to be going.

Honestly, not much happens in this issue that we haven’t already seen. Duke and Agent Delta, aka Rourke, are on the run from Cobra’s super operative team, the Plague. G.I. Joe is still in the process of re-grouping and Cobra Commander philosophizes. One problem I am starting to have with this storyline is the actual time that has past since it began. This issue suggests a few months, but for some reason it just doesn’t seem right. For example, only now U.S. citizens decide to fight Cobra? While the Plague chases down Duke and Rourke, New Yorkers get involved, hurling rocks and such at the Plague. Would Americans really let an organization like Cobra take over that quickly? Wouldn’t we see uprisings and resistance much sooner, especially from law enforcement? Either way that’s kind of a mute point, what really bothers me about this issue is the fact that Wild Bill, Spirit and Gung-Ho pop up with the civilians. Last I remember, they were pinned down in the Middle East facing certain death. Now they are in New York. The problem is that there hasn’t been a real span of time between this issue and the last issue because Storm Shadow confronts Dela Eden at the end of last issue and he battles her in this issue while trying to find the Baroness and Destro. I’m also out to lunch about how I feel about a scene featuring Sgt. Stalker and his family as he disapproves of their acceptance of “at-risk” youth.

Storm Shadow’s involvement in this issue is actually pretty well done. He finds the location of the Baroness and Destro and then recruits them to help take down Cobra. He becomes the moral compass of the entire war, getting Destro to agree to turn himself in to protect his family. Another highlight of this issue is the involvement of Cobra Commander’s son, Billy. It’s kind of a weird situation at first, but when Billy refuses to join Cobra, the true ruthlessness of Cobra Commander comes full circle. Billy actually attempts to kill his father, but his father tricks Billy and in turn, kills him. It’s a raw and powerful scene that truly justifies the fact that Cobra Commander was voted Wizard's villain of the year for 2007. Now that Cobra Commander has taken over the United States and killed his son, his son being the last link to his past self, he has finally, after all these years, become Cobra Commander. The ending of this issue is absolutely fantastic and it’s one of the greatest pieces of a villain’s evolution I think I have ever seen.

I must say though, with Storm Shadow telling Destro he has to turn himself in, Cobra Commander finally killing his past and G.I. Joe turning the tide on Cobra, it really feels as though G.I. Joe as we know it is coming to an end. I won’t even get into how thinking of the movie makes me a bit sick to the stomach, but I can’t help but feel that this is the end of the G.I. Joe that started at Marvel. All the signs are pointing towards a reboot for whoever gets the franchise license. The problem with this, as evidenced with DDP’s G.I. Joe Reloaded, is that rebooting G.I. Joe doesn’t work. The fan base is far too loyal, and the history is far too vast.

The addition of two artists to help out Mike Bear with regular duties definitely shows. Mike Bear’s artwork is extremely unique and it’s damn good. I’m not sure why there are two additional artists, perhaps to fend off delays, but the inconsistency really hinders Bear’s phenomenal work. Seriously, I’ve said it a ton of times before, Mike Bear’s style is so unique that he’s surely going to be dancing with the big two at some point, but the differences in art styles from Pat Quinn and Mike Shoyket definitely shows and doesn’t really help this title along.

Overall, this is probably the weakest issue of “World War III” thus far. There’s just a whole lot that feels confusing and as if it’s just “going through the motions.” The same heart that Mark Powers put into this series early on is definitely not there anymore except in the scene with Cobra Commander. My biggest concern is what happens when this ends and DDP drops G.I. Joe.



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