The Joes have failed and the United States has formally surrendered to the forces of Cobra. The world is closer to total destruction than ever before. New recruit Tiger feels entirely useless and unprepared. Where do the Joes go from here?
The first thing that really strikes me upon reading this issue is its depiction of defeat. I mean the idea of utter defeat, and how people react to it in different ways. Some get angrier and more determined than ever before, spitting in the face of opposition and (quite literally) soldiering on. Others find themselves paralyzed in fear and unable to even get out of bed. This issue shows how easily both can happen, leading to a very realistic depiction of the weight that these characters carry.
More importantly, writer Paul Allor draws an important line between the philosophies of the heroes and the villains. The Joes are taught to kill, but also to understand the weight that such an action will carry. This is because they truly stand as opposites against Cobra. The Joes are not killing machines; they have a code. They want to fix the world, not punch it into submission.
It’s a very important distinction that even hearkens back to the days of a parachute appearing every time the Joes shot down an enemy plane in the cartoon. It’s a touch that sets this apart from many action/war books of its type, even including previous iterations of these characters.
Speaking of characters, we do get a bit more depth to the villains. Some of it may only be perceptible to fans of the franchise, but it was particularly interesting to see a more pragmatic take on Dr. Mindbender than usual. Likewise, there’s a seemingly benevolent twist on a classic character that should surprise readers. It’s most likely part of a long game, but it had me pretty pumped for what’s to come.
If there’s one thing that this issue seems to be lacking when compared to issue #1, it’s how distinguishable the heroic characters were from one another. While it’s true that the team as a whole gets more of a focus in this issue, a few of the members just feel like they’re there to spread rumors and generally just fill space.
Even Tiger felt unfortunately whiny and ineffectual, leaving me feeling like he was mostly right about his own abilities. This will likely be rectified in future issues, but I missed the laser focus of the first issue.
Still, the artwork by Chris Evenhuis is beautiful throughout, giving us some fun montage-style fight sequences that perfectly communicate Tiger’s desperation. Also, the last chunk of this issue complicate the dynamics between our heroes and introduce a new twist to usual Joe/Cobra power plays. Longtime fans will be hyped when they see the final page.