With Devil's Due leaving Image Comics this January, preeminent in their 2004 plans will be a gritty reboot of everybody's favorite Real American Hero, G.I. Joe. Devil's Due wunderkind Josh Blaylock hosted a Q+A at Wizard World Texas this weekend to detail the much-anticipated "G.I. Joe Reloaded" books, as well as numerous other projects.
Blaylock described the "Reloaded" books as "our version of how we'd make a big-budget 'G.I. Joe' movie." The series will launch in January with "Cobra Reborn," written by Paul Jenkins ("Origin") and penciled by Eddy Barrows ("G.I. Joe: Frontline"). "G.I. Joe Reborn" will follow in February, written by John Reiber ("The Books of Magic") with pencils by Joe Bennett ("Spider-Man Unlimited"). When the ongoing launches in March, Reiber will script with Barrows penciling.
"['Cobra Reborn'] delves into Cobra Commander, into what makes this guy tick. Paul has really nailed the bare essence of all the main characters. We really want somebody who's never read G.I. Joe before to be able to pick up this book. We don't want people to think of this book as just based on nostalgia - we want it to stand on its own."
Both the Joes and Cobra will begin with much smaller line-ups than in the original books. The Joes will start out with Hawk, Duke, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Stalker, and Road Block. Blaylock said that one of their goals was to firmly establish the personality differences between Hawk and Duke: "Hawk has a lot of concern and weight on his shoulders. He's a more solemn and quiet guy, whereas Duke has that superman attitude that gets things done and goes by the rules, but he doesn't have to necessarily be involved in all the decision making."
Coming out of the gate, Cobra will include Cobra Commander, Destro ("We're really playing up his business aspect, and his pride in his family heritage."), Tomax and Xamot, the Baroness, Major Bludd, Zartan, Firefly, and Storm Shadow. Blaylock said not to expect Storm Shadow to be in costume all the time. When not "in the field," he will still dress all in white, with a Yakuza enforcer look to him. "He's just a badass who follows Cobra Commander around wherever he goes."
The series will be promoted with a six-page preview in Toyfare, which will deal with "Snake Eyes and Stalker in a POW situation."
Devil's Due will not be abandoning the original continuity altogether, however. "G.I. Joe" will continue as an ongoing series, although Blaylock will leave the title after issue 25. "Issue 26 is a really good jumping on point for anybody who left the series or has never read it. It deals with a conspiracy theorist who theorizes that the G.I. Joe headquarters is somewhere near his house, and he's right. So, he ends up finding out more than he should and getting in some trouble." In the meantime, "G.I. Joe Frontline" will be going on hiatus, returning "hopefully around the middle of 2004. When we bring this back, we plan to have some really major talent on it."
Not all of Devil's Due's 2004 plans revolve around an elite antiterrorist fighting force, however. Blaylock also summarized what's going on in other titles:
- "Voltron" - Ongoing series begins in January. Dan Jolley will be writing, with pencils by E.J. Su "[Su] draws some of the coolest robotic mech stuff that I've seen, and he knows how to draw these lions, these big mechanical things, but make them look and move like real cats." For more "Voltron" plans, read CBR's interview with Dan Jolley from November 19th.
- "Warstone" - A "postmodern fantasy" set in the same universe as "Kore." Blaylock described it as "'Independence Day' via 'Lord of the Rings'. You've got the typical alien invasion story, but instead of flying saucers running around, you've got dragons and goblins and ogres attacking modern-day Los Angeles and Manhattan."
- "Dragonlance" - A six-issue miniseries adapting the best-selling "Legend of Huma." If it does well, they would like to move on to "Legends" and "Chronicles" afterwards.
- "Misplaced" - Issue 3 will be resolicited in February, and Blaylock will finish off the story.
- "Micronauts" - Returning as an ongoing in March, written by Dan Jolley.
- "Street Fighter" - Devil's Due will be taking over this series with issue seven in April. In March, they will release a trade paperback collecting the first six issues.