Andy Hartnell Leaps Into "Danger Girl/G.I. Joe"

Announced last weekend at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), this July IDW Publishing will bring together two action-packed paramilitary adventure series in "Danger Girl/G.I. Joe." "Danger Girl," co-created by writer Andy Hartnell and J. Scott Campbell, first debuted at Wildstorm (then an Image Comics imprint) in 1998 and rocketed to popularity on the strength of its James Bond-style espionage adventures -- but with the Bond girls in the lead -- and Campbell's sexy, hyperkinetic artwork; Hasbro's "G.I. Joe" line of action figures dates back to the mid-1960s, but most fans will be more familiar with the toys, comics and cartoons of the '80s, or with the modern films and comics. Hartnell himself will be writing the teams' first meeting in a four-issue miniseries illustrated by John Royle, with covers by Campbell. Comic Book Resources spoke with Hartnell about the project's origins, what the Joes and Danger Girls have to offer each other and what he's hoping will come next.

"I was hooked on the original Marvel series when I was a kid," Hartnell said of his early exposure to "G.I. Joe." "It started with that great Snake Eyes/Kwinn story -- the one where they were trapped in that underwater bunker. Then the silent issue came out. And then they hit me with those Snake Eyes origin issues. Larry Hama was just on fire with all that stuff. He had me hooked back then and I'll always be a fan."

Though "Danger Girl" and "G.I. Joe" have some natural affinities -- both titular groups are secret military organizations involved in explosive, breakneck adventures -- Hartnell said that the thought of crossing over the two books arose only recently, and well after both properties had landed at IDW. "In all the time we've been doing 'Danger Girl,' the idea of doing a crossover with 'G.I. Joe' never came up. I think it was just one of those weird things; like when there's two people who are obviously perfect for each other, and all their friends are wondering why they aren't a couple already, and then one day it just finally dawns on them," Hartnell told CBR. "And then it just finally happens and it's awesome.

"That moment happened while driving over to IDW one day -- the idea just pops into my head right then and there for some reason. So I get to IDW to hook up with [editor] Scott Dunbier, so we can go over some other projects we had going on, and I walk in, see Scott, and the very first thing he says is 'I have an idea!' And I say, 'Yeah, so do I,'" Hartnell continued. "I just knew right there that we had the very same idea at the very same time. So I say, 'You go first.' And he says, 'Danger Joe!' The whole thing just made us start laughing."

As it turns out, Hartnell and Dunbier were not the only folks to find this crossover concept brilliantly obvious. "A few minutes later, Andy Schmidt strolls on over. Andy was the editor on 'Joe' at the time, now he works over at Hasbro," Hartnell recalled. "So Andy walks over and we tell him 'Danger Joe' and he's all like, 'Well, of course we have to do that! Is Stalker in it?' Campbell pretty much had the same reaction.

"So yeah, it's like they were meant to be together all along but the proposal just never came along until that afternoon. And now it's like 'Wow -- even the logos look good together!'"

Despite their similarities, it's the unique aspects of "Danger Girl" and "G.I. Joe" that will highlight the appeal of each property and drive the action of the crossover miniseries. "G.I. Joe is this huge, really well organized military force that has tons of resources. Danger Girl is a really sleek and efficient spy organization. So it's like a fish out of water on both sides," Hartnell said. "How do certain Joes operate without all the muscle behind them? How do the Danger Girls operate when they suddenly have all that firepower on their side?"

"Danger Girl/G.I. Joe" will be illustrated by John Royle, a regular artist for some of Marvel's UK and German Spider-Man magazines who was also prolific on Ultraverse comics like "Prime" and "The Phoenix Resurrection" throughout the 1990s. "It was tough finding the right artist," Hartnell said. "We were hoping someone could carry the look of the original 'Danger Girl' series into the world of 'G.I. Joe.' That someone needed to do great action sequences, attractive women and also bring loads of authenticity to all the vehicles and gear. John has all of that down from page one. Tons of energy. Great imagination. Fantastic panel layouts. And he's just a really positive and friendly guy. He loves doing comic books and I know that both 'Danger Girl' and 'G.I. Joe' fans are really gonna be pleased with his work."

IDW currently publishes several different versions of "G.I. Joe," with three ongoing titles in a modern continuity, movie tie-ins and adaptations, and "Real American Hero," the Larry Hama-penned series that picks up where the original 1980s Marvel Comics story left off. Though the cover image reveals some clues as to which version of "Joe" will be joining the Danger Girls, CBR News asked Hartnell to confirm which cast he'll be using. "There's a slight update to the 'Real American Hero' Joes, specifically some of the 1983-85 characters. By slight updates I mean bringing some of the vehicles and gear up to date," he said. "Without naming names, some of the female Joe characters will play a pretty active role in the story."

As to the adventure the Joes and Danger Girls would be engaged in, Hartnell wants the series to speak for itself. "I can't tell you much at all about the story -- I think it's always fun to have that mystery about everything right up until you get home with the book and flip it open," the writer said. "For bringing the teams together -- all the usual ways of bringing the characters together were available, and a lot of them would have worked just fine, but I think we chose a way that's pretty unique to this book.

"The threat in the story is Cobra, obviously. I mean, there was no way we were doing this crossover without Cobra."

And though a crossover between his and J. Scott Campbell's "Danger Girl" and the classic heroes of "G.I. Joe" is an exciting opportunity in itself, Hartnell felt he'd be remiss if he didn't at least suggest that he would like to take his relationship with the licensor a bit further: "Dear Hasbro: I would very much like to see an Abbey Chase 3 ¾" action figure with swivel arm battle grip!"

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