Pick of the Week

March 18, 2009 – G.I. Joe: Cobra #1

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community think?

Avg Rating: 4.5
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 13.6%
Users who pulled this comic:

Size: pages
Price: 3.99

It’s a good time to be a G.I. Joe fan.

This new version of the classic property that IDW is jumping into with both feet is proving surprisingly successful so far, and that’s no mean feat considering how many times various comic book companies have tried to recapture the magic of the original Marvel series.

IDW’s strategy is to not try to stay slavishly devoted to the original continuity (like Devil’s Due tried to do) while still maintaining the original characters and basic premise (unlike Dark Horse’s attempt), and filtering it all through a more realistic lens.

Make no mistake, this new G.I. Joe world is hard edged and badass.

The main series, G.I. Joe, is telling the overall story, while the first mini-series that came out, G.I. Joe: Origins, is filling in the backstory. In this new miniseries, G.I. Joe: Cobra, we get a look at the dark underbelly of this new world as deep cover agent Chuckles attempts to infiltrate this mysterious new terrorist organization that no one seems to know anything about.

And this Chuckles is unlike any other Chuckles you’ve ever seen before. This is Chuckles as the roughest, toughest, most capable deep cover agent you’ve ever seen. This is Chuckles as Jack Bauer.

This is a G.I. Joe unlike any I’ve ever seen before.

Chuckles likes wisecracks, he likes Hawaiian shirts, and he doesn’t really like strict military protocol. Thus, Chuckles is the perfect candidate to get officially drummed out of G.I. Joe and unofficially sent by Hawk on a dangerous, years long undercover mission to become an international mercenary — a gun for hire for anyone willing to pay — and rise in the ranks with an ultimate goal of infiltrating high level terrorist organizations. Only Hawk knows that Chuckles is on this mission. Only Hawk and Chuckles’ handler/medic/love interest Jinx.

I think it’s fair to say that we won’t see this Chuckles throwing any missiles at Cobra tanks.

Ugh. That movie.

G.I. Joe: Cobra #1 opens with Chuckles on a job interview with the mysterious terrorist organization that no one really knows about, except for us the readers who know that it is Cobra. We learn about Chuckles’ history through flashbacks as he sits at a bar and has the kind of casually tense conversation that two armed men who are trained and willing to kill each other (no questions asked) tend to have in dark, dingy bars in Estonia. Of course G.I. Joe busts in on the meeting to arrest Chuckles’ contact, and a firefight ensues where Chuckles proves himself well enough in helping the Cobra agent escape to get invited to join up with (the as yet unnamed) Cobra.

This G.I. Joe is dark. It’s dirty. It’s got an edge. People get shot. People get killed. This military unit might have a silly name and everyone on it might have a goofy codename, but it functions in a quasi-realistic way. Take away the G.I. Joe brand and I might be touting this book as the next great spy series.

The multi-book structure that IDW has gone with for G.I. Joe allows for deeper storytelling, and a greater feeling of immersion. I feel like I’m surrounded by this story and that I’m not just witnessing it. What’s great about this book in particular is that you don’t necessarily have to have read any other G.I. Joe books to follow the story. Here the pertinent information is given, and you are told who all the players are and what their motivations are so that you can jump right in and enjoy the book. If you’re reading all three books then you are immersed in this grand tale of G.I. Joe vs. Cobra. If you just pick up this book and know nothing about the other books, or of G.I. Joe in general, this is just a story about an undercover agent trying to bring down a terrorist organization. It’s a series that — so far — can be enjoyed on multiple levels depending on how invested you want to be. Between the G.I. Joe, Superman, Green Lantern and Batman books, I’m really digging these multi-book stories right now.

The art by Antonia Fuso is phenomenal. It perfectly matches the tone of the story — it’s gritty and realistic and features lots of sharp edges. It’s a dirty story with a dirty look to it. The style is everything that is missing from the art in the main book, which is way too cartoony for the tone that they are trying to achieve with that book, to the point where it is coming dangerously close to undermining it.

Right now, for my money, the two miniseries — G.I. Joe: Origins and G.I. Joe: Cobra — have blown right past the main book in terms of overall quality. A lot of that has to do with the art, but there is also a darker, more realistic feel to the minis that isn’t there yet in the main book.

It’s hard to say how successful this newest incarnation of the G.I. Joe world is going to be. Right now, it’s off to a great start, but then again they all tend to start strong. I hold out a lot of hope for this go-round as the talent on the books is, for the most, part top notch and the new, gritty direction they have chosen to take is a good one.

Now where did I put my Hawaiian shirt?

Conor Kilpatrick
Yo, Joe!


  1. i briefly flipped through it not really seeing anything interesting and decide not to get it, which is dumb since i’ve been buying the other two Joe books. Guess i have to go back and get this one.

  2. Dang. I’m traveling and the comic book store I found out here in Oakland didn’t have this. Gotta get back to New York soon.

    Meanwhile, I never read the older GI Joe series, but this one is really fantastic so far. If I wanted to read some of the good GI Joe series from the past, I guess I should find trades of the Marvel series? Anyone have any advice on that?

  3. Really didnt see this one coming may have to double back to LCS and pick up to celebrate end of finals.

  4. I grew up a couple of years after the Joe Generation. I knew who Snakeeyes was, but that’s about it. Is this a place I can jump on to?

  5. @Ameer-If you are still in the area, go to Comic Relief in Berkeley.  They have quite a few copies and thats where I got mine 🙂

    I loved this book.  I initially picked Invincible, but after re-reading the books, I switched it to this.  It was just such an awesome issue.  I particularly loved how Chuckles was totally playing the part during the interview.

    All hail Chuckles.

  6. Oh I can just see the jokes now for the podcast 🙂

    Good pick, although I must admit I never read GI Joe comics. Cartoons and PSA’s all the way. Great review as always conor.

    (Azrael’s Death Dark Knight #1 was my pick btw)

  7. @jamesschneider-Yes!  Perfect place to jump on!  If you want, you can check out the regular ongoing and the Origins mini that both just started.  But not necessary for enjoying this issue at all.

  8. Mind=blown.

  9. Has anyone else noticed how IDW is killing the market lately?

    I mean they do seriously some great stuff. They are mostly known still for 30 Days of Night for the mainstream audience. But they’ve done an Angel series, Doctor Who, Locke and Key, GI Joe, Transformers, Star Trek, Presidential Material, and a whole lot of other creator own stuff.

    So mostly they seem to do television adaptations, but they are mostly famous TV/cartoon property so that’s a plus. Again I admit I dont read most of IDW publishing, but if anything this review has peaked my interest to read all of what I mentioned and more so.

  10. Woah, POW surprise!  I didn’t pick this up, but I kinda wish I did.  Perhaps next wenesday.  Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

  11. @conor Thanks! You too, @drakedangerz. I’m flying again tomorrow, but I’m in the East Bay a lot, and need a good lcs to hit on Wednesdays.

  12. @Ameer I’ll be interested to see what a New Yorker thinks of Comic Relief.

  13. Waiting for the trade.


  14. @Conor: Hawaian shirt?  I got a ton of Tommy Bahama’s  Come on over.  🙂


    the Tiki 

  15. I definitely thought with the #0 issue that was released prior to the start of the series and the mini’s, that the undercover and origin stories had a lot more weight to them.  Though I wasn’t thrilled about the first issue of the Origin mini, its good to hear such high praises for the start of the undercover mini, makes me a little more excited to hit the shop for an otherwise light week.

    I’m just finishing up an audio editing/voice over class this quarter and one of our mid-term assignments was to re-write scripts for the classic PSA’s and record new voices for the characters, which I think rekindled my love for the Joe’s, so the relaunch came at the perfect time.  I just wonder when we’re going to see the first appearance of Snowjob!


  16. I’ve liked these new GI Joe issues also but I didn’t pick up this one. My pick was Spider-Man Noir for killing bad guys with guns.

  17. I wasn’t going to get the ancillary mags for GI Joe, but after reading Origins and seeing this review, I think I might have to get ’em all.  Old GI Joe was my gateway drug into comics, and while I didn’t buy the Dark Horse run, I liked Devil’s Due’s turn and I’m really liking IDW’s.

    @TNC: They’ve also entered the supes market.  J.M. DeMatteis is doing a "superhero commentary" book that just came out.  And with their movie tie-ins for this summer, they’re poised to really make a mark.  Speaking of movie tie-ins…

    @Conor: Any chance there might be a GI Joe video show in time for the movie this summer?  Maybe a look at the whole phenomenon (toys, cartoon, comics, PSA’s)? 

  18. sweeeeet


    @conner thanks for the links! didn’t know they were reprinting, deff going to have to pick these up

  19. I grew up watching that movie, so I have a hard time disliking Chuckles throwing a missile or hanging onto the top of a helicopter so he can fire a handgun.

    Best Joe ever.

  20. I’m not finished my stack yet, but this has blown everything else out of the water.

    I like to think of this series as Ultimate GI Joe. It’s super new reader friendly, while being chalk full of nods to long time fans.  It’s just fantastic and I loves it.

  21. @BC1: You mean like this one?

  22. @conor: You could do another Joe episode….maybe do Cobra Commander voices for the entire time 🙂

    Why do I have a feeling though that the comics are going to be awesome….and then everyone’s hopes are dashed (including mine) when the film comes out? Could we have a violent reaction from everyone ala Ron with X-3?

  23. @TNC-I was listening to another podcast that had a Cobra Commander "interivew" for about 10 minutes…it’s really only funny to hear that voice for about a minute straight before it gets annoying.

    I’m surprised at the POTW percentage for this issue.  Perhaps I underestimated the iFanbase’s love for Joe, or Conor’s amazing powers of persuasion;)

  24. @drake: Oh I could hear that voice for hours, what are you talking about? 🙂

    It also wouldnt be the first time Conor’s persuasion helped POTW status. Remember ‘Rage of the Red Lanterns’ percentage after conor (jokingly) stated it was going to be his POTW in advance?

  25. @ Conor: Ah, didn’t know that.  I will download it today.  How about a Transformers show?  Maybe?  Nahh, didn’t think so.

  26. You make a really great case for this book, Conor.  I might look for the trade.

    Everything I read this week was a 4 or a 5.  ‘Wolverine’ was both exponentially awesomer and more insane than the last installment (and that’s saying a lot); Jeff Parker’s ‘Mysterius’ is continuing to rock; and this issue of X-Factor really blew me away.  People who dropped the book may want to look for this trade when it comes out, because it really is back to greatness, and I’m getting more excited with each issue.

  27. Not fan, sorry!

  28. I disagree with Connor about the main book. I love the art. I understand that it doesn’t seem to fit the grittiness that G.I. Joe is going for but it looks great, it feels like the characters are bold, bright and larger than life. I think the technical aspects in the main book, like the pit, the vehicles and the guns all look amazing, and like Atkin’s version of the character’s.

  29. I tried the new GI Joe series, but I couldn’t care about what was happening by the third issue.

  30. @conor – great pick. 

    "When I was a kid I had two Chuckles figures so I burned one with a lightbulb (those toys burned really fast!) to make "Killed in Action Chuckles". – Conor

  31. I really dug this book, Chuckles always kept it interesting.

    Good start for a good book.

  32. Great review I’m almost sold, but I will have wait to and see if the series lasts enough for a trade and get it at San Diego Con…This Economic crisis has made me gunshy, before a use to buy 6-9 books a week which is not that much but know I can only afford to buy maybe 3 a month and Umbrella Acadamy is unmovable. I guees I’ts the aftermath of trying to buy all the Crisis and Invation books, but with San Diego Coming at me fast I have to settle to listening to the podcast to get me trough each week.

  33. Oh, one more thing, Isn’t this week a Ron pick? I guess you are gonna talk about it on sunday, did somebody finally forget?

  34. Aaall right, I’ll buy it tomorrow.

  35. Don’t do it Jimski.  You haven’t seen Teenage Caveman.  You don’t know!


  36. Sometimes we have to juggle the schedule.  It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again.

  37. Besides…Conor is the G.I. Joe fan in the group. It was a political move.

  38. Just a quick comment here. Being a long time Joe fan, I’m so glad everything is clicking with this reboot. They are starting from scratch and really jumping in guns blazing with all these series. I had to pick up the Joe proper series for Chuck Dixon for I am a huge fan, and Origins got me for Hama and that awesome artist. I almost passed this one by, because Chuckles was on the cover (though I am a big fan of Hawaiian shirts). But, I picked it up because the others haven’t disappointed yet.

    I hope this iteration of Joe lasts long past the release of the movie this summer. With IDW looking to take great care of the property I think it will.

    And, how could you not love the GI Joe animated movie??? "I was onccccce a maaaan!" And, tiny fact here, Joe uses BET to destroy Golobulus and Cobra’s nefarious plans. BET FTW!

  39. @hawaiianpunch: "Oncccccce a man" – Worst moment in movie history. The JOE movie is not in my JOE continuity,

  40. I picked up the last copy of this at my LCS because it was the POW. LOVED IT!! Thanks Conor!!

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