The Hasbro universe expands in IDW’s latest GI Joe series. In the aftermath of the Joe’s first interaction with the Autobots, a new robotic rivalry begins.
G.I. Joe #1 Review (IDW Publishing)
In its newest series following the Real American Hero, IDW faces the herculean task of creating a world where the GI Joes and Transformers coexist without making literally everything be about the enormous space robots having laser fights all over the place. Somehow costumed weirdos planning to take over the world via an Evil Telethon seems like small potatoes when a metal dragon the size of an aircraft carrier is destroying Beijing. It is, then, to the eternal credit of writer Aubrey Sitterson that they nearly pull it off.
Following the conventions of books about the Joes, this issue sets up a number of plotlines for our heroes. On one hand we’ve got Roadblock leading a squad consisting of Rock N’ Roll and the All New All Different version of Doc taking on a group of cyborg ninjas; on another you’ve got the newly crippled Grand Slam researching the Dire Wraiths aliens from the Rom the Spaceknight comics, and on yet another we have emerging mystery of what the Dreadnoks are doing in China.
Each of these stories presents a few interesting opportunities for different kinds of stories, which is how you want to start a first issue of a legacy title. The dialogue is not without its charm, either – though it’s certainly not perfect. Characters like Scarlett and the aforementioned Grand Slam have nuance and depth behind their (admittedly most expositional) scenes, yet most other characters just read like characters in the original Resident Evil – par for the course but slightly robotic.
There are also some liberties taken with several characters casual readers may remember, Roadblock, for example, has turned away from the southern chef you may remember from the cartoons and more toward the milquetoast version played by the Rock in the movie. Doc is now a young woman, as is Dial Tone – though that shift happened a while ago and to a less popular character. None of this is to say these changes are bad, they just may provide a quick head scratch from the casual reader.
The real fault in the story comes in the artwork. The drawing style of Giannis Milonogiannis is an acquired taste that I haven’t acquired. That being said, his work is at its best when it’s just pen on the page. Colorist Lovern Kindzierski fills in much of those endearing shading marks that let his work retain some definition, leaving much of the book feel underdeveloped and childish. Watch as characters even halfway in the background lose their faces – particularly Doc, who gets only the faintest hint of facial features over the course of the book.
Still, G.I. Joe books are rarely geared at the casual fan, and those who’ve followed the most recent series of IDW’s “Crown Jewel of the Hasbro Universe” should be able to get in to this. Hopefully the following issues remain character-centric and don’t get mired in the lore of a universe shared with the likes of The Transformers and He-Man.