The G. I. Joe franchise from IDW begins a brand new assault on readers and wallets everywhere and it begins here. Well, actually, it began in a #0 issue. I believe I blinked, because I missed that one (a quick check reveals that it came out in late October).
This issue serves to wrap up some of the loose ends set in motion in the #0 issue, while also being a strong debut in its own right. Editorial comment boxes (remember those little strips that explained asterisks and such?) help elucidate the reader in some of the murkier areas of this issue.
This new series begins to roll out the cast, crew, and supporting characters. Chuck Dixon reports for duty writing the adventures of the Joes and has enlisted Robert Atkins to render those adventures. The story moves quick and runs through a litany of moving pieces and moving characters. We're formally introduced to a few, but left to our own devices to determine the identities of some of the other characters. Fans of previous tours of duty will undoubtedly be more familiar than newbies, but even casual G. I. Joe fans will certainly recognize Scarlett (or maybe she would prefer Multi Task) and Snake Eyes.
The story is prototypical Chuck Dixon fare -– lots going on, exposition through action. Like many Chuck Dixon-penned comics, this one reads really fast, and it left me wondering if this was a sample-size issue. Nope. Twenty-two pages. Fast-moving pages, with lots of story nuances sliding into place.
Atkins art is unrefined and uneven. There are clearly areas of the book that interested him more, as those pieces of the story are more completely rendered with a stronger sense of purpose. On the whole, however, Atkins seems to have talent, but just needs to hone it. His style is akin to Todd Nauck, and works quite well given the nature of this title.
I can honestly say that I am not emotionally invested in any of the characters in this title, but I certainly wouldn't pass this book up if it appeared in my pull bin in the coming months. While we didn't truly see Cobra in these pages, the promise of their arrival is foreshadowed with some dialog between Beachhead and Duke. It would have been nice to see Destro or Cobra Commander, but we all know they're coming up. Besides, Dixon would have been hard-pressed to add another line of dialog or any more quick scene changes into this book.
For the cost of admission, this book is a good start that really seems to want to pump some new life into a weary franchise. It seems to me that there have quite possibly been more "G.I. Joe" relaunches in the 00s than any other title in the same span. IDW is ready to jump on top of any market demand this new #1 might cause with a continuing monthly effort that features supplemental titles. In February, "G.I. Joe: Origins" joins the ranks on the new comics racks and "G.I. Joe: Cobra" follows in March.
While I cannot heartily recommend this book to the "all ages" crowd (there's some bloodshed, but far worse occurs in your typical "T" rated video game commercial), I can definitely recommend this book for the reader that has maybe grown up a little too much to be playing with his G.I. Joe action figures, even if he isn't quite ready to sell them or give them away yet. The characters here are smartly portrayed, and under Dixon's watch will certainly blossom into characters as familiar as those on the cartoon from decades ago.
If you want to sample a little of this issue before reporting for duty at your local comic shop, check out the preview.