Roadblock takes a team of Joes into Chinese territory to see what the Dreadnoks are up to – but is it a trap? (Spoiler: It’s G.I. Joe, of course it’s a trap) Elsewhere, Scarlet interrogates the Baroness, Doc is probably an alien and the rest of the Joes pretend that the incognito Gung Ho looks more like a hipster from the village than a member of the Village People.
G.I. Joe (2016) #2 (IDW Publishing)
As we rejoin the Joes in this, the second issue of their latest ongoing series for IDW, Scarlet is in command and dealing with threats from all sides. The Dreadnoks, Cobra’s post-apocalyptic biker gang, have taken over a small town in northern China; Doc and Grandslam are trying to get to the bottom of an intergalactic threat from an old foe of Rom the Spaceknight; and an anarchist collective in Greece may bring about the return of the Cobra organization.
While that may seem like a lot, writer Aubrey Sitterson manages to plot this issue so that each story gets a little time to develop, even as one takes the spotlight. The A-story for this issue, the Roadblock-V-Dreadnoks dustup, gets some room to breathe, while the B-story of the new Cobra cell forming in Greece has nuance in sequences featuring both the Baroness and the undercover antics of Lady Jaye and Gung Ho.
To say the pacing of the book is its greatest strength is sort of a backhanded compliment, but it is the best thing I can say about the issue. The story is a little thin and the characters themselves are very underdeveloped, which makes the book feel a bit like a Scholastic Books version of what they may have originally thought of.
Not helping that feeling is the artwork of Giannis Milonogiannis, which looks like it belongs in a coloring book. His sketchy character designs all look the same, with characters mostly being distinguished by their hair color, outfit and general body type. Seriously, tell me that you could tell the difference between Lady Jaye and Scarlet’s faces – or Gung Ho and that one Dreadnok that looks exactly like him (Gnawgahyde maybe? I don’t know, few of them are actually named).
The action in the book is similarly poorly rendered. Quick Kick, the martial arts master who is supposedly more skilled than Snake Eyes, fights the aforementioned bald/mustachioed Dreadnok entirely off camera. Buzzer, meanwhile, lunges at Rock N Roll and Doc unfettered in one panel, yet never gets close or even interacts with the two. There’s a mysterious “choom” sound – but if that’s meant to be Rock N Roll’s weapon hitting something, it’s really unclear.
Also, I’d be remiss not to comment on the ridiculous mansion that the Dreadnoks are holed up in. Not only are there what appear to be two GIANT (like the size of a duplex home) statues of bull demons in the front yard (the Dreadnoks have never been the most subtle terrorist biker gang), there are a number of motorcycles strewn around the landscape that are WAY out of scale for any human to ride. There are literally people in the picture to compare these bikes against, and each is about 5 human lengths. Assuming that Roadblock is supposed to be the Rock, that’s a 30-foot long bike. Was anyone looking at Milonogiannis’ pencils before this book went to print?
There are a number of questionable writing choices throughout the book a well, notably the two guides for Roadblock’s team being named Ying and Yong. Admittedly these characters turn out to be Zarana and Zandar in disguise, but you’d think someone in 2017 would have the sense to say “Let’s go with an even slightly less stereotypical name for these two.”
Overall this book has its strengths but just feels lazy. Sitterson shows promise but is hobbled by the artwork, some poor choices and what is likely corporate mandate. Hopefully the series can gain some steam as it explores new storylines.