Larry Hama enjoys the thrill of a new comic book page as much as anyone else. Unlike a regular reader, though, the longtime "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" writer also revels in the process of coming up with the next page because he doesn't plan things out too far ahead.
It might come as a surprise that the new storyline kicking off in October's "G.I. Joe: ARAH" #219 will bring together a variety of story threads since Hama relaunched the series that began in the old Marvel Comics continuity at IDW Publishing in 2010. "Cobra World Order" features Cobra Commander launching a worldwide attack that will involve the entire Joe team, including the new Snake-Eyes, all drawn by series artist S.L. Gallant.
Like any good secret agent, Hama remained tight-lipped on many of the details of the storyline, but still divulged new information about how "Cobra World Order" will present itself, who will be involved and what the death of a certain legendary Joe will mean during such trying times.
Over the past year or so, Hama's book has been filled with a variety of robotic threats, sleeper Siegie agents, the return of Serpentor and even a giant eye under the base. All of this has been leading toward this huge story, but the how of it all remains to be seen. but exactly how remains to be seen.
"The 'Cobra World Order' might not be what you expect," Hama said cagily.
While Hama's characters might all be thinking several steps ahead of what we see on the page, the writer likes to come across the actions as they present themselves.
"Cobra Commander does have a master plan and he has set everything in motion for it," Hama told CBR News. "That's about all I knew myself until fairly recently. It is rather a complicated undertaking to try to assemble an arc like this if one's methodology for writing involves not knowing what happens on page ten until one gets to page nine."
But what does all this mean for the world threatened by the serpentine supervillain? Hama didn't say much aside from, "Utilization of the political system for their own benefit." He added that this threat will be so big that it requires the attention of "the whole organization" of Joes.
As readers already know, the group recently suffered the loss of one of its most beloved members: Snake-Eyes. An important symbol for the Joes, the ninja warrior's mask is currently being filled by Throwdown. Exactly how the new Snake-Eyes fits in, however, will remain a mystery for now.
"His development and integration into the mythos is a subplot," Hama said.
In addition to Cobra's direct plans coming to light over the past year, readers also saw the return of Destro and The Baroness in #217. Again playing his hand very close to the chest, Hama teased that they will play into the story "by leveraging a piece of it."
Even though Hama might experience the story as he writes it, he still keeps tabs on all of his characters spread throughout the globe.
"I make a chart and keep a list of 'who is where,'" he said. "But sometimes something slips by or gets missed. To a degree, disorganization is part of my creative process. My story engine is powered by uncertainty and my desire to surprise myself."
Hama also says that he avoids using online resources which have incredibly detailed histories of each and every G.I. Joe continuity and character out there.
"I try to avoid reading reviews or Wikipedia pages, so it's hard to tell," Hama said. "There are certainly a fair number of fans who are more familiar with the continuity than I am, since I rarely go back and reread material once it passes out of my hands. I have enough problems stumbling around in the dark trying to get to the next page."
As he gets to those pages, he's also thinking about what they will look like when they come back from artist S.L. Gallant.
"He probably dislikes me a lot more now for all sorts of reasons, most of which are my fault," Hama said of his partner on the series. "I can be frustratingly unappreciative, and my manner of interaction can easily be interpreted as insulting. I am a self-admitted pretentious twaddler and pedantic a-hole, but I do apologize, and I bear no grudges, nor is my appreciation for considerable talent diminished. What more can I say?
"The last batch of pages I saw from him were brilliant. The emotional moments between Duke and Claire brought tears to my eyes."
To get a jump on the story that brought tears to Larry Hama's eyes, check out "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" #219 when it hits stores on October 14.