Ever gotten your grubby little paws on a G.I. Joe action figure? Then you’ve also asked yourself what it would it be like if the bad guys, Cobra, finally won.
In G.I. Joe: Deviations #1 we get an answer. But is it anything like we thought?
G.I. Joe: Deviations #1 (IDW Publishing)
Oh crap. Little Herman was just about to tell us which fictitious M.O.S. (military occupational specialty) his father wanted to pursue in the G.I. Joe ranks when all of a sudden… he starts choking on his hot dog. It’s a good thing everyone’s favorite Heavy Machine Gunner, Roadblock is there to give him a trusty backslap. (Note to kids: Dr. Heimlich wouldn’t approve.)
What looks to be a run of the mill G.I. Joe PSA announcement quickly turns sour, though — in the form of a Cobra airstrike:
One that ultimately sees a very familiar face getting turned to cinder:
Spoiler alert: Duke won’t be recovering from this coma.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that Corey Lewis’ art makes for a vastly different look than Joe fans might be accustomed to — think more Samurai Jack and less the ‘80s G.I. Joe cartoon — but it’s an approach that works due to the abundance of frenzied, stylized energy he packs into every panel. There simply isn’t a boring panel to be found — even when the Cobra heads are just sitting around and talking about “stabilizing the economy” or building a “strong telecommunications infrastructure.”
… Because, you know — that’s pretty much the crux of their conversations now that they’re in charge of the world, much to the lament of Cobra Commander:
Lewis and writer Paul Allor also bring us fun little touches like the schematics to the inside of the volcano-saddled villainous lair on Cobra Island:
Anyone else feeling nostalgic enough to dust off ye ol’ toy chest?
Which brings us to Allor’s writing. In an interview with Comics Alliance, Allor said “this book is basically a love letter to the GI Joe franchise as a whole,” and that’s made very obvious throughout. Allor’s character selection is perfect — from Storm Shadow to Croc Master to Scarlett to everyone’s hulking, winged favorite from the animated G.I. Joe: The Movie, there’s a personality for everyone here — and the characterization for each and every one is masterfully executed: Roadblock’s enduring hunger (it’s hard out here for the few remaining Joes to get some good grub in the middle of a rebellion); Destro cooking meatloaf in the kitchen because he’s a dad now; Cobra Commander’s frustrations with everyday banality. All in all, Allor explores various facets of the Cobra-controlled world with enough humor, depth, self-awareness and realism to make George R.R. Martin bristle his beard with respect.
I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of Cobra’s assault on the Joes in the issue’s beginning or more locales than just Cobra HQ and the ragtag Joe’s stomping grounds, but admittedly, these darker elements and shifts in tone could have easily defeated the purpose of the message in Allor’s tight-knit, well-paced narrative: the villains won by being the dirty, no good reprobates that they are — but can they apply these unsavory character traits to governing the world?
Is It Good?
Arguably the best issue to come out of the Deviations line, G.I. Joe: Deviations is a funny, self-aware and realistic look at a Cobra-ruled world that lives up to its billing as a love letter to the G.I. Joe franchise. A must buy for any Joe fan.
And yes, Mr. Allor — ninjas are awesome.