G.I. Joe may be America's Elite but the small covert fighting unit can't be everywhere. So when a potential crisis breaks out in New York City it's up to the members of the G.I. Joe reserves to mobilize and save the day. This is the premise of the main story in the one-shot "G.I. Joe: Special Missions: Manhattan" from Devil's Due Publishing, which hits stores in February. CBR News spoke with B. Clay Moore and Mike O'Sullivan the writers of "Special Missions" for some inside Intel on the project.
"Special Missions: Manhattan" is 48-page one-shot, which features three stories, in addition to character profile pages. The project was born when Devil's Due discovered a hole in their publishing schedule. "It all came into place after that," Mike O'Sullivan told CBR News. "We knew that we wanted to do stories using some of the lesser known/seen G.I. Joe characters. We also knew that we wanted to tell an unusual story or two... Then, as a long time G.I. Joe fan, I always wanted to see the 'Special Missions' title come back into play...It all just came into place!"
It was O'Sullivan, who also serves as Senior Editor at Devil's Due, whom enlisted B. Clay Moore as a writer for "Special Missions: Manhattan." "I've known several of the guys at Devil's Due for some time now, and I've long thought the G.I. Joe toy box is one of the most fun in comics, with all kinds of potential for entertaining stories," Moore said. "When Mike O'Sullivan suggested Jeremy Haun and I team up for a one-shot, we were both all over it."
Moore was a fan of "GI Joe" in his youth, but it was the Larry Hama written Marvel Comics series that captured his imagination, not the action figure line. "Like everyone else, I thought Snake Eyes was pretty cool, but I've always liked huge casts in comics, so I got a kick out of the goofier characters that didn't always share the spotlight."
For his twenty two page story in "Special Missions," Moore chose three protagonists who are not currently spotlighted in the main GI Joe title "America's Elite." "Tunnel Rat, Beach Head and Cover Girl join a few other surprise guests in the story," Moore stated. "Tunnel Rat's a cool character, and since he's from New York, he fit in perfectly. There's a culture of building explorers in NYC that my friend Seth Peck was telling me about, and that's how I imagine Tunnel Rat; Spending his free time investigating old buildings for hidden passageways and closed off elevator shafts."
"Beach Head is the no nonsense take charge mission leader, but I tried to tone down his personality a bit," Moore continued. "Cover Girl I like to see as a really sharp gal who uses her beauty as a tool to disguise just how sharp she really is. I mean...she's a model who decided to fight injustice with big noisy guns and whacked out dudes with crazy code names. That's got to be a fun girl to hang with."
The reserve trio's assignment in "Special Missions" will involve a big noisy gun battle in an enclosed place. "Basically, the Elite Team is too tied up to deal
With reports of an old Cobra lab in a Manhattan skyscraper being occupied by a new terrorist cell," Moore explained. "So the backups, those who are in the area, are called into action once again. Naturally, an old Cobra villain is skulking around, not real happy someone else has taken over his old lab."
The old "GI Joe Special Missions" comic from Marvel often had the Joe team tackling threats that weren't related to Cobra. The opening of Moore's story pits the Joe reserves against a new terrorist menace, with a Cobra agent getting involved later and escalating the skyscraper battle into a three way fire fight. "We threw a Cobra villain into the mix that, to my knowledge, hasn't appeared in a Joe book before," Moore explained. "So what starts out as a non-Cobra threat sort of evolves into a new old Cobra threat."
O'Sullivan liked the way Moore portrayed the Cobra agent's first comic appearance. "Neurotoxin has never appeared in the comics before, so he's a blank slate," O'Sullivan explained. "I really enjoy what B. Clay Moore came up with for him... he's a nut job! But, he's a nut job that knows how to be dangerous!"
Moore described the tone of his story as straight up and slightly quirky action with what he hoped were some scenes of entertaining banter between the three Joe reservists. "There's not a lot of room to examine the relationships between the Joes, but I had fun with the exchanges I did get to write," Moore said.
Both Moore and his artistic collaborator Jeremy Haun had a blast playing with the four-color GI Joes. "It was a ton of fun and Mike was really easy to work with. I'd like to come back and do it again. And I can guarantee you Jeremy, being a diehard, hardcore Joe fanatic, would jump at the chance to draw more Joes."
Readers looking for more action adventure stories from Moore and Haun will soon have a lot of choices. "Jeremy and I have now jumped into our upcoming full color Oni Press book, 'The Leading Man,'" Moore stated. I think the book will debut in June. And that the trade paperback collecting our last Image book, 'Battle Hymn', will hit shops in early February!"
In addition to Moore and Haun's twenty-two page story, "Special Missions: Manhattan" features two tales written by Mike O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan was cryptic with his description of his first story. "I don't want to give away a whole lot, but one story continues a storyline that many fans have said they wanted to see more of since last year," he said. It's one of the better received ideas from the previous series... We'll check in on that thread."
O'Sullivan's other story is a tale that no GI Joe fan ever expected to see, namely the debut of a new unit within GI Joe, "America's Elite Pets." "This story came about as part of the usual daily happenings in the Devil's Due office... Sam Wells and Sean Dove were really the catalyst, and I jumped in and joined in the idea," O'Sullivan explained. "As for more details of the story, I'm gonna have to ask you to wait and see... it's definitely one of the most unusual G.I. Joe stories that's come down the pike... All I know is that Hasbro (the owners of G.I. Joe) said that they want to see a sequel... that's pretty cool!"
O'Sullivan remained mum on what threat the Pets would be sent into action against. "Ah, now THAT would be telling," he said. "It's a threat that no one expected to be faced ever again. Joe fans are either going to love seeing this threat or hate us intensely for it. . ."
Readers don't have to be hardcore GI Joe fans to enjoy and understand "Special Missions: Manhattan." "You definitely don't need to follow 'America's Elite' to enjoy 'Manhattan'. It's pretty self-contained. However, there will be some threads that we will see followed up on later on. The most important aspect is the idea of what happens when the Elite team is unavailable. Showing how the reserves are utilized really enhances the Elite experience. It also establishes that the Joes are a team, even when you aren't active, you're still a Joe."
O'Sullivan hopes fans pick up "Special Missions: Manhattan" and would love to tell more tales featuring inactive Joe team members. "We have a cast of nearly 250+ G.I. Joe team members, all with great stories to tell," he said. "And that doesn't even count the rogues gallery! There are so many tales to be told... I hope that fans decide to pick this up and give us a chance to see the stories that we don't have room for in 'Elite!'"