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EXCLUSIVE: Preview IDW’s New G.I. Joe #1 with Character Designs and More

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comic News Comment
EXCLUSIVE: Preview IDW’s New G.I. Joe #1 with Character Designs and More

IDW Publishing is set to launch a new volume of “G.I. Joe” this December, as one of several ongoing series debuting in the wake of “Revolution,” the crossover between IDW’s Hasbro action properties that starts this Wednesday.

“G.I. Joe” #1 follows October’s “G.I. Joe: Revolution” one-shot, both from the team of writer Aubrey Sitterson and artist Giannis Milonogiannis. The series is set to establish a new status quo for the Joes, one set to feature: ‘lasers, intense sci-fi action, and the return of Scarlett, Roadblock, Snake Eyes and more!”

CBR has the exclusive first look at both Ariel Olivetti‘s main cover for “G.I. Joe” #1 and the subscription variant by Aaron Conley. Plus, the first look at the solicitation text for the Decemebr-debuting issue. As if that wasn’t enough, we’ve also got the reveal of character designs for Roadblock, Rock ’n Roll, Shipwreck and Helix, plus a Q&A with Sitterson and Milonogiannis, who detail the book’s inspiration from the Sunbow cartoon series, and discuss why “G.I. Joe” is “the Crown Jewel of the Hasbro Universe.”

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G.I. JOE #1

Aubrey Sitterson (w) • Giannis Milonogiannis (a) • Ariel Olivetti (c)

G.I. JOE IS BACK! In the wake of IDW’s Revolution crossover event, G.I. JOE’s mission has become a global one–they aren’t just Real American Heroes, they’re Real Earth Heroes. Get ready for an explosive, innovative take on Joe, as writer Aubrey Sitterson (Street Fighter x G.I. Joe) and artist Giannis Milonogiannis (Prophet, Old City Blues) bring you the crown jewel of the Hasbro Universe: lasers, intense sci-fi action, and the return of Scarlett, Roadblock, Snake Eyes and more!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Bullet points:

· Spinning directly out of the events of IDW’s Revolution event!

· Writer Aubrey Sitterson brings his unique take on the G.I. JOE characters and mythos!

· Featuring stunning, updated character designs by series artist Giannis Milonogiannis!

· With an explosive cover by international superstar artist Ariel Olivetti (Venom: Space Knight)!

· Variant covers by Sara Pitre-Durocher, Sonny Liew, and Paul Pope!

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CBR News: Aubrey, how did you arrive at this main cast of Joes? Given the sheer number of characters in the franchise, it feels like it has to be a fairly complex process to find the right balance for a lineup — both for the story you’re telling, and finding also a mix of big-name characters and some surprising choices.

Aubrey Sitterson: It was a kind of… holistic approach. There were certain characters — Snake Eyes, Scarlett and Roadblock come to mind — that I knew just had to be in there. They’ve become such major parts of the G.I. Joe mythos that not including them would just be ridiculous. Why leave your best players on the bench, you know?

For others, however, I allowed the story determine who we wanted to include. “The team is taking an aquatic approach to their mission? Well, obviously Shipwreck is there.” As we move forward, you’re going to see a lot of Joes cycle in as the team has need of their special, individualized skills.

Finally, there are a few characters that I just flat-out wanted to write because I had specific ideas for where they could go or end up. In my initial pitch, every character in the series had an arc of some kind or another — with a team book, I think that’s vitally important. I have something particularly special in mind for Rock ’n Roll, especially since, among the original Joes, he remains one of the least fleshed out.

And Quick Kick? Well, I’m a massive kung fu movie fan and have seized this opportunity to inundate Giannis with visual reference of different martial arts styles.

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Giannis, Aubrey, it’s not able that the character designs seem to follow a similar pattern — combining familiar elements with some significant new touches. How much were you looking to push what’s expected from a G.I. Joe comic, visually, with these looks for the characters? And what important things do the visual aesthetic of the team say about the book as a whole?

Sitterson: As much as I love the previous runs on G.I. Joe – at IDW and elsewhere – far too often, far too many characters just look like “army men.” There’s the blond army man, the black army man, the woman army man, the bearded army man, and on and on and on…

My favorite G.I. Joe characters were always the ones that stood out – in fact, I think it’s a big part of the lasting appeal of Snake Eyes and Scarlett, and it’s 100% why I love Gung-Ho so much. I knew that for this series, we needed to do something more than just throwing a multicultural cast into fatigues. We had to let the individual costume choices speak to the characters themselves.

I sent Giannis a massive document, not of directions, but rather, of thoughts and visual touchstones for the characters, most of which aimed to retain what’s most recognizable and memorable about the characters while updating them and leaning into what makes each one distinct. I see G.I. Joe as more of a scifi action book than a military one, and with Giannis designs and artwork, that tweaked identity comes through before you even read a word.

Giannis Milonogiannis For me personally, it was about doing my ideal G.I. Joe, visually — what I would be immediately drawn to pick up if I saw on a shelf in a store. It was really a joy to read Aubrey’s notes and work off those to come up with these new Joes. Like we keep saying, we wanted to keep the team recognizable, but still looking totally fresh and like they’ve never looked before. I hope you’ll dig them!

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Most of these characters in the main cast are old-school Joes who have been around since the ’80s, but the Helix dates back only to 2009. What prompted her inclusion? To that end, are you looking to potentially introduce some new characters to the team?

Sitterson: Helix made the cut for three excellent reasons…

First up, I’m keenly aware that my idea of what G.I. Joe is and should be isn’t the same as everyone else’s. With long-running franchises like this, it’s important to avoid falling into the nostalgia trap and solely writing about the characters that you grew up with. It’s why in Street Fighter x G.I. Joe, I made sure to include several characters from Street Fighter IV. Similarly, I’m excited to include Helix, one of the most recent additions to the Joe roster.

Next, as folks are hopefully already aware, this is NOT a reboot of G.I. Joe. Everything that’s ever happened in the mainline IDW G.I. Joe continuity (separate from Larry Hama’s awesome Real American Hero series) still happened. None of that is getting retconned or washed away. Given what an important role Helix played in the previous runs, it would seem strange to just cut her loose now.

Most importantly, however, Helix plays a major role in the upcoming series because of this: She’s a great character, one that provides a flavor that is distinct from the rest of the team, while also providing an in for new readers to wrap their brains around the concept. I see her a little bit like our Jubilee.

As for introducing brand new characters…I’ve got no immediate plans to. Reason being is that the G.I. Joe roster is already so exceptionally deep and robust. One of the most fun things about writing Joe is that whenever I say “I wonder if there’s a character who does ________” the answer is almost certainly “OF COURSE THERE IS.” Rather than introduce a slew of new characters, ones that might end up being somewhat redundant, I’d much prefer to dust off the preexisting ones, “rehabilitating” them when necessary.

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The messaging behind the comic has made it clear this is another very different take on a GI Joe comic book series, which we’ve seen from IDW over the years as each new volume has felt like a different type of statement on the property. I guess there’s a recurring theme in these questions — how do you approach it so that you’re doing something genuinely new with the property, but also providing enough of the recognizable G.I. Joe-ness that fans will be looking for?

Sitterson: I’m glad you brought this up. I’ve been banging the drum really hard on social media that this is a totally new, totally different approach to G.I. Joe. But here’s the thing: I’m fully aware that people say that not just about every new G.I. Joe series, but ever new thing ever. “This ain’t your mother’s peanut butter!” or whatever.

Outside of the confines of social media posts though, I can get a little bit deeper about what makes this new series so different. And honestly, I think most of it comes down to the what is the biggest single inspiration for myself and Giannis on G.I. Joe: The Sunbow cartoon series. To my knowledge, Giannis and myself are the first G.I. Joe creative team to be more influenced by the G.I. Joe cartoon than the work of Larry Hama.

Larry Hama did and continues to do amazing work on G.I. Joe. In a very real way, the franchise wouldn’t be what it is today without him, and for that, myself and everyone who has worked on Joe since Larry owes him a humongous debt of gratitude. That said, it’s important to recognize that I’m not Larry Hama, I’m not capable of doing what he did and I’m not willing to simply ape it. The man is a Vietnam veteran – he writes real world military action with a degree of realism that I simply cannot match.

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So, instead of following the trend toward hard, military drama, instead of wading into contemporary geopolitical issues, instead of trying to make the series feel “real” by increasing all the grim and gritty stuff… we’re veering off in a different direction.

Like the Sunbow cartoon series, we want this book to be fun, funny, action-packed and, most importantly, aspirational. That word was a massive part of my initial pitch for the project, and it’s why we’re doing things like amping up the science fiction elements, equipping everyone with laser guns and even putting a Transformer on the team.

This approach comes through in the writing, of course, but I think you only need to look at the art to see what we’re talking about. Giannis and Lovern Kindzierski are creating not just the best-looking G.I. Joe book ever, but, in my completely biased opinion, the best looking book in the industry, period. Giannis hybridized style, seamlessly blending European comics and manga influences, along with Lovern’s well-considered, deliberate palette – one that highlights his abilities not just as a colorist, but as a storyteller – they all blend together into an approach that proudly announces itself as something far different from the G.I. Joe book of the past.

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I’ve seen what the rest of the teams working on post-Revolution books are doing and, quite frankly, it’s amazing. All of them are. But once G.I. Joe hits, once people actually see and read how we’re approaching this material, they’re going to be blown away, they’re going to have to put the pieces of their shattered minds back together so that they can read the book again and again and again. It’s the book that people are going to be talking about, raving about, shouting from the rooftops about. It’s the Crown Jewel of the Hasbro Universe.

“G.I. Joe” #1 is scheduled for release in December. The “G.I. Joe: Revolution” one-shot is scheduled for release on Oct. 19.

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