Oh boy, did this get better.
Not that volume 1 of the Marvel G.I. Joe series was complete crap or anything, but it suffered from the adjustment pains that a number of series can go through when they start, whether it be comic books or TV series (seriously, have you seen how many series are out there where someone tells you to “wait … it gets better in season 2”?). It had a number of the characters that I really liked and solid action, but for the most part was lacking something that made it my favorite comic of my childhood.
This collection features issues #11-20 and with the exception of issue #20, which is a stand-alone issue, this is a continuous storyline that follows up on the Springfield story from issue #10, establishes Sierra Gordo as a possible place for Cobra headquarters, and also has much higher stakes than any of the storylines that had come before. Granted, those higher stakes all have to do with ancillary characters who didn’t have action figures–Kwinn, Dr. Venom, and General Flagg–but remember, this is a kids’ toy line tie-in, not something where you’d expect people do actually die.
Kwinn and Dr. Venom are involved in a long storyline where Dr. Venom is working on a plague for Cobra and in the course of a Joe mission in Sierra Gordo, they get trapped in an underground base that is flooding with water. Then, they have to get out of the country … and we’ve got a really solid prolonged story of escaping and trying to kill one another. Moreover, Larry Hama has that story in the background of quite a bit of the issues because there’s bigger things going on, namely a character we see in the shadows that eventually gets put into the spotlight as one of the main villains–Destro.
Destro was a character introduced in the 1983 “Series 2” action figures and was, from what I can remember, his introduction was a pretty big deal because he was another leader added to the enemy. Plus, he had a cool look–a steel mask–and a sense of mystery about him. I never actually owned the figure (mainly because I started collecting G.I. Joe figures after they stopped putting him on the shelves), but that doesn’t matter because I know his history. Plus, Hama does a classic Marvel reveal–showing him in shadow for a few issues before finally revealing him in issue #14. And we also get some hints at a possible relationship between him and The Baroness.
Speaking of The Baroness, she’s badly burned from an explosion when Cobra attacks Washington, D.C., a battle that sees Hawk get shot and then a pursuit of Major Bludd up I-95 when he commandeers a bus that’s occupied by a Cobra officer named Scarface (who has scars on his face … get it?). But that’s not enough because we eventually get Cobra attacking the motor pool at Ft. Wadsworth, which transforms into the Headquarters Command Center that came out that same year. It’s a pretty huge battle and it’s where Flagg and Kwinn die (with Dr. Venom getting it as well, I believe).
The first volume took a few days to finish. I’d read an issue, put it down, and pick it up later. The second volume here? I read it inside of a day or two because the story kept going and got more and more exciting and tense. And while the art did vary at times, it was always consistent. But I feel as if the series has found its footing because Hama’s doing a great job of introducing new characters, vehicles, and weapons (including a great intro of Cover Girl) without it seeming too clunky. And we still haven’t gotten to Zartan. Not only that, volume 3 is going to start with “Silent Interlude.”
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?