GI JOE A REAL AMERICAN HERO #156
What did the
Artist: Agustin Padilla
Cover: Agustin Padilla, Rod Whigham
First I need to admit my bias: G.I. Joe is the first comic I collected full time, so I'm always a sucker for anything involving the Joes. Having said that, I was a little hesitant about picking up this book. IDW has really carved out its own piece of Joe history, so I wasn't sure that they needed to return to this storyline and this universe. Would it be insane madness like "X-Men Forever"? Would it be someone in the latter part of their career looking for a way to stay relevant but ultimately coming off as a sad shadow of yesteryear? Or would it be a nice chance to reminisce about the old days? With these questions in mind I picked up G.I. Joe #156.
First, let me get the art out of the way. Augustin Padilla does great work making the book look distinct, yet still keeping with the overall look of IDW's Joe line. While it doesn't quite harken back to the Marvel book, the use of the old school COBRA grunt uniforms brings the reader back.
Now for the story. I like it, but it's only fair to say that you have to like a certain style of storytelling to like this book. This is Hama geeking out in all his military-jargon glory. He explicates everything that everyone does, detailing why they are doing what they are doing or why they shouldn't be doing what they are doing. Everything the COBRA's do is patently stupid, and he'll tell you so in no uncertain terms. Firing an automatic rifle from a moving car? Stupid. Not shooting the big man with the meat cleaver from across the room? Stupid. Walking in front of a microwave emitter? Stupid. Not having blinders on your binocular lenses to keep sunlight from glinting off them? Stupid. Word balloons, even entire panels, devoted to telling you, the reader, how dumb all these things are. Likewise, everything the Joes do is intricately laid out so you can see how smart they are. All the while, people are saying things like "Romeo Papa" and calling people by spelling their names in radio alphabet. This was the kind of thing that I liked in small chunks back in the day, but it gets overwhelming here. However, Snake-Eyes fights ninjas. No matter what these guys bring to the fight (including rocket launchers and sniper rifles apparently), Snake-Eyes always beats the Red Ninjas. What more do you need?
Plotwise, this is a mash-up of the post-Cobra Civil War and the Millville stories. COBRA is in control of U.S. national security, supplying soldiers through various front operations (there's even a C.O.B.R.A. "citizen's group," turing the name into an acronym). The Joes are on the run and being hunted down - by said idiotic COBRA grunts - and are preparing to gather at some pre-determined place. Of course, Hama hits the reader over the head twice with the message of how quickly people trade rights for security, just as he used to do.
If you've read any of the Marvel G.I. Joe recently and didn't think it sounded dated, then you will likely appreciate this book. Just be aware that, for better or for worse, it hasn't changed much in 16 years.
Art: 4 - Very Good