G.I Joe #1

Kicking off the latest comic book volume featuring the beloved brand, "G.I. Joe" #1 opens with a trio of Joes -- Roadblock, Tunnel Rat, and Quick Kick -- in a firefight with W.O.R.M.S. (Weapons Ordnance Rugged Machine Specialists). Through the magic of comic books, we get the backstory on how the fight came to be as well as the events that led to this point. This comic book serves as an entry point for new readers and longtime G.I. Joe enthusiasts looking for a fresh entry into the adventures of familiar characters.

The Joint Services Special Counterterrorism Group is embarking on a publicity stunt and marketing promotion, as a "good warrior turns any circumstance to his advantage." That involves the original G.I. Joe, General Joseph Colton, taking the reins of the organization and providing pomp and circumstance to the Joes' missions. Essentially, the JSSCG blends reality TV into the Joes' missions to raise awareness and help turn the tides of battle. Colton swears, "We will only ever tell you their codenames," but the mission's embedded blogger, Hashtag, calls all of the Joes by their name and rank in her first meeting with each and every one of her squad. Maybe that's supposed to be a sign that she's a dedicated and informed journalist, but it comes across as a distraction, which seems to be the trademark of "G.I. Joe" #1. The dialog on page three of this issue positions Ohio and New York as sharing a border. I'm not so sure how folks in Erie, Pennsylvania would feel about that one.

Steve Kurth and artistic collaborators Allen Martinez and Joana Lafuente provide a few additional distractions in the art for this issue. The American flag shown on page two is way off. It's too long and looks more like a sash than the flag and the bottom stripe is colored white. That stripe should be red. That pair of visual mistakes really shouldn't be present in a book representing the fighting spirit of the United States of America. The rest of the art is cartoony and sketchy, feeling more like portfolio samples than published work, but that edginess occasionally adds to the heightened uneasiness of the battle the Joes are fighting. Kurth's storytelling is strong, but the details of the story, like wrists and consistent facial structure, need a little more polish and attention. Other than the flag misappropriation, Lafuente's colors are well done and provide quite a bit of energy to "G.I. Joe" #1.

The letters page claims this title deals with "the public face" of G I. Joe, while "G.I. Joe: Special Missions" will deal with the "deadly missions." I found that to be interesting as at least one Joe is apparently killed in this issue with two more in critical condition and the possibility of a third casualty on the horizon, thanks to the splash-page cliffhanger debut of one of the Joes' most recognizable foes. The spirit is of the G.I. Joe brand is well-represented in "G.I. Joe" #1, but the execution is sloppy. I'm certain many of the bobbled details can be corrected or used as educational opportunities and I would like to see the book congeal more into a solid piece of storytelling. For now, however, Van Lente and his team have their work cut out for them after a weak debut.

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