In March, the criminal organization that has battered and bedeviled G.I. Joe for years will enlist the aid of dark forces from another epoch -- but the Great Old Ones of Lovecraftian myth may be more than Cobra bargained for. "Infestation 2: G.I. Joe," a two-issue biweekly miniseries tying in with IDW Publishing's second multi-license crossover event "Infestation 2," brings an element of horror once again to the military adventure world of the Real American Heroes, courtesy of "Stuff of Legend" scribe Mike Raicht and artist Valentine De Landro. Comic Book Resources spoke with Raicht about the series, the heroes and villains at play, and the nature of terror H.P. Lovecraft pioneered.
As in the first "Infestation" event, Cobra, once again, is at the heart of the story in "Infestation 2: G.I. Joe," and it is through this terrorist organization's machinations that the Elder Gods are brought into the world. "Dr. Llund, an archaeologist and Lovecraft devotee, has been contracted by Cobra to search for missing artifacts that could possibly grant powers to those who possess them. She is looking for one of many supposed doorways to the Old Ones," Raicht said of the miniseries' setup. "I like to think that, similar to the Nazis, some in the Cobra organization would be looking for ways to increase their power base by any means necessary. When Llund finds one of these artifacts, she delivers it to Baroness and promises she can use this 'doorway' to influence masses of people to do Cobra's bidding. Baroness doesn't buy it completely but can't help but be intrigued by the possibilities.
"This would sound like an insane idea to most people, but at the local Cobra installation, they call it Tuesday."
As Cobra toys about with forces beyond even its control, the heroes of G.I. Joe are of course drawn into the mix, with Snake Eyes playing a crucial role. "Snake Eyes and G.I. Joe are brought into this situation accidentally," Raicht told CBR. "I think Snake Eyes is perfect to throw against the Elder Gods, but not for the obvious reasons. He is clearly a master of combat, but he is also in complete control of his mind. He is someone who could possibly withstand constant mental attacks by the Old Ones. He is of sound body and mind. That could be important."
Raicht, who also wrote the "G.I. Joe" portion of IDW's first "Infestation" event, knows these characters well and enjoys them deeply. "I'm just having a blast working on a property I've enjoyed since I was a kid -- I love working in the 'G.I. Joe' world, especially on the Cobra side, because the characters are so much fun to write," Raicht said. "Characters like Baroness and Interrogator are cerebral and so devious at the same time. They are always working angles and using their intellect to get one step ahead of their competitors, who just happen to be their colleagues. In Cobra, everything is life and death, including the way their organization forces them to fight and claw to get to the top, which makes the stakes incredibly high at all times. It also lends itself to these characters constantly taking chances. So writing these character again is the biggest draw for me. Now, on top of revisiting characters from the first 'Infestation,' I've been able to add Stormshadow, Snake Eyes, Crystal Ball and some serious Lovecraftian craziness into the mix, so I'm a pretty happy camper."
Joining Raicht on "Infestation 2: G.I. Joe" is artist Valentine De Landro, who has illustrated "G.I. Joe" projects for previous licensor Devil's Due. More recently, he was responsible for an extended run on Marvel's "X-Factor" with writer Peter David. "Val is a total pro and an amazingly realistic artist. He's bringing a heightened sense of realism to the craziness that is Lovecraft, which makes everything just that much more creepy," Raicht said. "His Baroness is sexy. His Crystal Ball is out there. His character design and art direction are spot on. He is delivering on all fronts and is bringing some inspired horror movie shots into the story that really work well. I love everything he is doing with it. And on top of all that, his Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are pretty amazing. I hope we get to work together again in the future."
The original "Infestation" pit Cobra agents against zombies, and of course this time around, they'll confront Lovecraftian monsters. Given that "G.I. Joe" takes place in a world that is generally similar to our own, CBR News asked Raicht if it was difficult to fit these horror elements into the story in a way that makes sense for the characters. "I think figuring out how this new element fits is what makes a project like this so much fun," the writer said. "With the zombies, we really tried to make sure they made sense alongside the science of the 'G.I. Joe' world. The editors at IDW have worked really hard to make the world believable, so we didn't want to ruin that. We played up the computer virus aspect of the the 'Zombies Vs. Robots' universe and applied it to the 'G.I. Joe' world. The BATS were something we could play off of, and I think it worked pretty well.
"Luckily for us, the original 'G.I. Joe' movie actually had some Lovecraft mixed into it with Cobra La, so there is a history of that type of horror element in the 'G.I. Joe' mythos. We were given a little more leeway with Lovecraft because of that," Raicht continued. "Our story deals a bit with the idea of mind control and voices from beyond. I can completely believe the Baroness would explore different ways to control people's minds to get an edge. I am, at heart, a horror writer, so I love to take horror elements and mix them with other genres so this is a lot of fun with me. I'm really thankful to the editors at IDW (Andy Schmidt on the first project and Bobby Curnow and John Barber on 'Infestation 2') for giving me a shot on these."
Like many writers -- especially those who would identify as horror writers -- Raicht is no stranger to the Lovecraft lore. "I really enjoy Lovecraft and especially how different people have been inspired by his work. A lot of his stories are still being recycled today. I am a huge fan of Carpenter's 'The Thing,' which was at least partly inspired by 'At the Mountains of Madness,' and wanted to add that aspect to this story," he said. "Mostly, I just love the feeling of dread that his stories invoke. The idea of a more powerful entity out there that we can't even fathom controlling us or manipulating things is extremely frightening."