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G.I. Joe: America’s Elite #34

Posted: Friday, April 4, 2008
By: Kevin Powers

Mark Powers
Pat Quinn, Mike Shoyket & Mike Bear
Devil’s Due Publishing
“World War III” (part 10)

So now would be as pristine an opportunity as any to express my feelings over a beloved franchise that I both adore today and grew up on. Flipping through the latest Previews a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a small “postcard ad” fall out of the middle of the book. I picked it up and saw it was advertising the conclusion of G.I. Joe: America’s Elite. The final issue will come in at #36, the conclusion of the “World War III” story arc. However, what bothered me wasn’t the end of the series and knowing the franchise would be leaving Devil’s Due. No, what bothered me was the fact that, “Over 230 issues of continuity will come to an end.”

Wait, what?

Yes, apparently Hasbro, in its infinite wisdom (sarcasm) and greedy appetite for another cash cow, has ordered the end of the continuity that started in 1982 and has endured for 25 years. I’m shocked. G.I. Joe’s continuity is rich, it’s untouchable, so untouchable that Devil’s Due essentially extended the Marvel run and when they tried to launch a new continuity, it failed miserably. Why do this you ask? The answer is simple…that atrocity of a movie being made right now. I won’t go into a rant about the movie, no, instead I will talk about G.I. Joe: America’s Elite and enjoy what I have left of the classic franchise.

When “World War III” was originally announced, Joe fans thought it was going to be Devil’s Due’s way of freshening the franchise. Cobra may actually take over the United States and the series could run for a long time with G.I. Joe retaking the country. However, as “World War III” moved forward, the truth became painfully obvious. This was going to be the final battle between G.I. Joe and Cobra. Everything built on over 25 years was going to come to a head and Devil’s Due would be the publisher to deal the cards. Let me ask then, if this storyline does indeed end the battle between G.I. Joe and Cobra, then what us there left to tell? Trying to reboot these characters and this franchise will fail miserably. I feel bad for whatever publisher gets the license, is told to reboot continuity and has to shamelessly tie it into the film. Hasbro, a toy company I love and hold stock in, has left me very disillusioned about their greatest franchise.

With this issue, the final two installments of this storyline essentially become a “race against time.” Cobra Commander’s character came full circle last issue and one could really get the sense that at the very end of this series, Cobra Commander will finally find his inner peace in death. At this point, given the circumstances of this story and this issue in particular, it has to end. There can be no “Cobra Commander is captured, the new series will be about his re-emergence,” that’s been done a few times. As much as it pains me to see it happen, this continuity has to end or else it becomes rather trite.

Here I am rambling about the franchise and not talking about the actual issue. Well, in that case let me say that this is the strongest issue of this story-arc that has been seen in a while. Everything is most certainly coming to a head and I really think this story-arc should have been extended to another issue or two. Destro and the Baroness have basically joined G.I. Joe. The two haven’t always seen eye to eye with Cobra Commander, and now Cobra Commander is using everything he stole from Destro to wage war on the world. Destro strangely becomes one of the most moral and honorable men in this franchise by teaming with his former enemies. He was a weapons dealer, but now as a father and married man, he only wants to bring peace to his child’s life. He represents change and what kind of change happiness can bring to an otherwise violent man.

This issue also shows just how ruthless Cobra Commander is willing to be. He will destroy the world if he cannot rule it. He really becomes a case of a man who once had a vision, but who has degraded into madness and delusion. I’m also very interested to see what Major Bludd’s final role will be in this story as he has witnessed first hand Cobra Commander’s change. Not only is it chilling to know what Bludd sees at the opening of this issue, but it’s quite obvious that even Bludd has his doubts about what Cobra Commander is doing.

I like G.I. Joe’s strategy for stopping Cobra, I just wish it could be drawn out a few more issues. They are splitting into 3 groups to launch three offenses. Threes issues should be devoted to each group and then in a fourth issue they come together for the final battle. I can’t help but feel that this is going to be rushed over the next two issues. I’m hoping it won’t be and that G.I. Joe gets the send-off it deserves, because like I’ve said, this feels like the end of the franchise as we know it.

The artwork here is also strong. Mike Bear, Mike Shoyket and Pat Quinn deliver their best collaboration yet. The artwork remains fairly consistent yet you can see the subtle differences in styles and how, overall, they mesh quite nicely. I’m still a huge fan of Mike Bear. I hope he’s got something big and good lined up after G.I. Joe because I still wouldn’t mind seeing Devil’s Due lease him out to pencil an issue of Daredevil or Punisher.

Overall, I like this issue better than the last few. It’s solid. It’s pretty strong and I hope Devil’s Due sends the franchise off with a bang. Hasbro deserves a few middle fingers and if writer Mark Powers and Devil’s Due can end this continuity in a way that will make it difficult to reboot, then there will be a lot of satisfied G.I. Joe fans who will always believe in the “Real American Hero” rather than some cash cow.



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