Winter is almost upon us, which means freezing temperatures and snow. Combating the forces of Cobra is tough enough, but when the terrorist army launches a plot in a land where there's snow fall and sub-zero temperatures year round, the G.I. Joe team is going to need some help. This is the premise behind "G.I. Joe Special Missions: Antarctica," a one-shot special by writers Andrew Dabb and Mike O'Sullivan (who is also the editor on the book) and featuring art by Tim Seeley and Mike Bear. CBR News spoke with Dabb and O'Sullivan about the book from Devil's Due Publishing which hits stores this month.
When it comes to planning the "Special Missions" one-shots, Devil's Due does not subscribe to a set formula. "It's pretty organic – sometimes, someone has an idea based on a place or situation and the team is selected based on that," O'Sullivan told CBR News. "Other times, the team is in mind, and a location/situation flows out of that. It's all pretty fluid, depending on the synergy between the writer, myself and the artist."
"Special Missions: Antarctica" is the third installment in the series of one-shots and when it came time to plan it, Devil's Due knew they wanted to do something different. "A few months ago, Mike contacted me about possibly doing a 'Special Missions' story, and suggested that rather than focus on a city (as 'Manhattan' and 'Tokyo' had), we look at using one of the Joe specialist groups that hasn't gotten a lot of play lately," Dabb explained to CBR News. "Because I grew up in Utah, where we get our fair share of snow, the snow Joes had always appealed to me. I floated the idea of using them, Mike liked it and we went from there."
Dabb's story features three G.I. Joes who are most at home when they're fighting gun battles in raging snow storms – reserve team members Snow Job, Iceberg and Frostbite. "As to what they've been doing, the answer is that we don't know, really," Dabb said. "When we meet them they've already arrived at McMurdo Station in Antarctica and are waiting for the active roster to arrive. My feeling is, just to pass the time; they've been helping out where they can and maybe doing some environmental protection work, but not much in the way of actual military operations. So when they get their shot to play with the big boys, you can bet they don't want to mess it up."
"In my mind, each of the reservists are still really active, whether it's for secret G.I. Joe stuff, other military work or private sector stuff," O'Sullivan added. "No one is just sitting around waiting, but they are always ready to jump to when needed. Whatever these three in particular are doing these days, they were close enough that they were able to respond to the summons to help. Also, part of the fun of the Data Desk Handbook character profiles are that we get more insight into each of the reservist's lives and what they are up to. This issue is no different!"
"Special Missions: Antarctica" also differs from the previous one-shots because the protagonists of the main story are not composed entirely of G.I. Joe reservists. The Artic specialist G.I. Joes will be joined by active team members Duke, Stalker, Snake-Eyes and Scarlett. "It's so there will be someone in the comic casual fans will recognize," Dabb explained. "The snow Joes are great characters, but my guess is that casual Joe fans wouldn't be able to pick Snow Job or Frostbite out of a line-up. That's just the way it goes. But more than that, it helps our story by adding a fish-out-of-water element.
None of the America's Elite Joes have much expertise with cold weather operations, so sending them to Antarctica creates problems they're not really prepared to deal with. That's where the snow Joes come in."
"There were story and marketing reasons that made a lot of sense to include some of the active roster," O'Sullivan said. "While 'Special Missions' is meant to feature some of the lesser known characters, it never was meant to feature only lesser known characters. This way, we get to have characters that will please both casual fans and fans of the obscure."
The active and reservist Joes head to the Arctic Tundra to foil a plot that could cripple the United States. "The short version is that G.I. Joe discovers Cobra has found a huge reserve of oil in Antarctica (ANWR times a thousand) and started drilling," Dabb stated "And if you think Iran or Saudi Arabia controlling the world's petroleum market is bad, imagine if Cobra suddenly became the planet's third leading oil supplier. They'd wield huge amounts of geopolitical power, and no one wants that. So a special team is dispatched to shut down their operation."
The enemies that the Joes encounter in "Special Missions: Antarctica" include some familiar faces. "The story features the return of a Cobra operative who hasn't been seen in the flesh for a long while," Dabb explained. "One I think fans will be happy to see."
"There are also three other villains that I think fans will be happy about, too," O'Sullivan added. "Some familiar colors that will provoke the nostalgia bug in anyone familiar with G.I. Joe. Man, this story was a blast to work on!"
Dabb's story in "Special Missions: Antarctica" maybe be set in a desolate and austere place like the Arctic Tundra, but the tone of the story is far from bleak. "I think that Andrew really captured the essence of both the cartoon series and some Hama [Larry Hama] stories," O'Sullivan said. "I think he truly channeled the spirit of the past into a really fun story with lots of action, some comedy and great character interactions. I couldn't be more pleased with Andrew's story!"
Like the two previous "Special Missions" books, Antarctica includes a second story written by O'Suillivan, which takes place in a much warmer locale than the book's main story. "It's set in Hawaii!" O'Sullivan stated. "Land of fun and sun and Cobra enclaves!"
In O'Sullivan's tale, two Joe Reservists head to the Aloha state. "Something fishy is afoot, and both the police and Homeland Security realize they need the experts to help out – in come the Navy S.E.A.L.s!" O'Sullivan explained. "And when they stumble upon Cobra, they call in the S.E.A.L.s that have Cobra experience: Torpedo and Wet-Suit! What they find surprises them, and hopefully will be a little surprise moment for readers, too."
O'Sullivan had to keep the identity of one of his story's protagonists a surprise. "It's a character that I've been chomping at the bit to write – a totally messed up in the head character that I think needs to be around more," O'Sullivan said. "In fact, this one is here in the second story and also in 'America's Elite' #21, where something horrible happens. I can't wait to have people read these stories!"
The second stories in previous "Special Mission" books have included many shocking revelations and readers can expect a few bombshells to be dropped in the second story of "Antarctica." "This time around, we get an answer to a question that has been floating around since issue #41 of our first series," O'Sullivan explained. "There's also a little bit that explains what's been going on with a number of characters we haven't seen since the Marvel days – one of which may start some heated discussion amongst fans."
O'Sullivan's story in the last "Special Missions" chronicled how Major Bludd came to incorrectly believe that he murdered the G.I. Joe Reservist codenamed Recondo. "We're going to see Major Bludd soon over in 'Elite', but so far, Recondo is still underground – when he does appear, I'm sure no one will expect it," O'Sullivan said. "Especially the Joes – they think he's dead!"
Readers can expect future "G.I. Joe Special Missions" books as often as scheduling and sales allow. "Working on 'Special Missions' is a real joy for me – the little snippets of character and continuity that I love as a long-time Joe fan, and the self-contained issues that I love producing as an editor," O'Sullivan explained. "Coupled with what we're doing over in 'Elite' and 'Declassified' these days, I think the future looks bright for the Joe line of books. I really think it's a great time to be a G.I. Joe reader these days. If anyone has ever liked the Joes, come back for a visit, and see what we're doing – I think people will be happy with what they see."