Written by Chuck Dixon; art by Robert Atkins; alternate cover by Dave Johnson
Have you ever read a book you love so much, it just seems like it never comes out? Like, X-Force… man, the weeks between issues seem like eons! Not so with IDW’s central Joe title. This book seems like it’s on the shelf every week, likely due to the presence of its in-continuity counterparts Cobra and Origins. Unfortunately, unlike it’s partner books, GI Joe just doesn’t seem to have any clear direction or voice. We’re four issues in, and the Joes are still in the middle of a fight to protect the secret of the PITT from Destro’s invading mechanical spies. Destro has just defeated in single combat the Baroness, agent of Cobra, who was sent to eviscerate him for having thus far failed to produce whatever the hell he’s supposed to have produced (presumably the MASS device, as it’s been referenced). Oh, and, Duke and Scarlett are/were a couple. Seriously. That’s the story so far.
Let’s take step back and examine each element of this. The invasion of the PITT would’ve been interesting if a) we’d been introduced to these characters first and b) we felt a genuine concern over the PITT having been compromised. This is the first arc; how likely do you think it is that the location of the Joes’ base is going to be revealed to the enemy this early on?
Then there’s the Destro situation. I kind of like the idea of Destro dragging his heels and/or just not having his shit together. In the cartoon and previous comic series, Destro was always the guy who had the plan. For an arms dealer, he was both ridiculously on top of things and very moralistic. This Destro seems more of an underdog. He’s scrambling. I like that angle. I also like the idea of Cobra sending an agent to deal with his failure, and it’s interesting to see that it’s the Baroness. But my GOD! The Scottish dialect here is just too much. I never had a problem muddling through Rahne Sinclair or Moira MacTaggert’s dialogue, but here it’s been laid on with a trowel to the point it makes understanding interpersonal exchanges practically impossible.
Finally, there’s the Duke/Scarlett relationship, which presumably, we’re coming in on the final notes of to build tension between Duke and Snake Eyes/Scarlett when those two inevitably become an item. It’s really all a bit One Tree Hill for me, and seems patently unnecessary given the wealth of drama already inherent in the perfectly tragic romance between miss O’Hara and her silent suitor. Then again, it has already given rise to a fantastic scene with some of the other Joes busting Duke’s balls, so… maybe this isn’t so bad after all.
For being the weakest link in the current Joe pantheon yet still managing to be better than a lot of books currently seeing publication, this issue gets 3 out of 5 rebuilt AWE Striker engines. If the creative team can focus the book a bit more and start showing us some signs of the ultimate direction in which it’s headed, I’d be a bit happier, but for now… Yo Joe!