Turning Japanese: O'Sullivan & Rodi talk "G.I. Joe Special Missions: Tokyo"

When one of their own goes missing in Tokyo, the G.I. Joe team doesn't have the time or the patience for things that may get lost in translation; they hit the streets of the bustling metropolis for a search-and-rescue mission. This is the premise of one of the stories in "G.I. Joe Special Missions: Tokyo" from Devil's Due Publishing by writers Robert Rodi and Mike O'Sullivan and featuring art by Tim Seeley and Mike Bear. CBR News spoke with O'Sullivan and Rodi about the one-shot, which hits stores this Wednesday.

When Devil's Due saw they had a hit on their hands with "G.I. Joe Special Missions: Manhattan," the first "Special Missions" one-shot, they responded to fan demand by green lighting "Special Missions: Tokyo." "'Special Missions Manhattan' was really well received, so it was natural that we'd continue with the theme," O'Sullivan told CBR News. "When we saw how much the fans seemed to love it, we knew we had to do another issue like 'Manhattan.' Besides, it's a great place to spotlight some of the many, many characters that don't get much spotlight time in the main title, and to do fun, self-contained stories. It also offered us a place to tell some stories that tie up dangling threads. I've really wanted to do that."

Just like the first one-shot, "Special Missions Tokyo" will contain more than one story. "The first story is by Rob Rodi (a genius in my book), Tim Seeley, Rob Q. Atkins and JF Beaulieu," O'Sullivan said. "I will go so far as to say that I think this is exactly how I think a G.I. Joe story should be, all the pieces really clicked for this story, and all the parts came together beautifully.

"The second story is by some clown named Mike O'Sullivan, drawn by newcomer Mike Bear, with John Lowe and Rob Ruffolo. I'm sure I'm biased, but I think this story turned out well, also. It ties up a thread fans have been asking for, and it spotlights the amazing pencils of Mike Bear. He's brilliant."

Rodi's story in "Special Missions" was inspired by a topic that captured his imagination. "I've always been intrigued by the fact that Japan has such a hawkish, militaristic past, yet since the second World War they've had no standing army," Rodi explained. "When that recently changed, and the country started to re-arm, I sort of wondered what effect that might have on the national psyche. The 'Special Missions' assignment gave me a chance to play around with that."

The plot of Rodi's story has a reserve G.I. Joe team member investigating a rogue cabal with intentions of taking Japan back to its imperialistic past. "There's a conspiracy to overthrow the democratically elected Japanese government and replace it with a military autocracy," Rodi said. "Budo has stumbled into it; but hasn't managed to stumble out. Jinx and her team investigate and find some deadly surprises along the way."

When Budo disappears, Jinx calls for back up to help find him and old school fans will be happy to see the G.I. Joe reservists that answer her call. Assisting Jinx will be the team of Gung-Ho, Wild Bill, Clutch, and Rock 'N Roll. "I picked the team with the help of Mike O'Sullivan, whose knowledge of Joes past and present is exhaustive if not encyclopedic," Rodi said. "What I wanted was a team who would provide a little cultural tension – a brash, western counterpoint to the delicately calibrated balance in Tokyo's corridors of power. Our team provided that; but of course, things aren't always what they seem."

The Joes' investigation leads them into the steel and concrete canyons where Tokyo's financial elite do business and dwell. "It's a one-shot, so we don't have room for a grand tour of the city," Rodi said. "Most of the story takes place in the business district, Shinjuku. Which doesn't mean you don't get some serious widescreen action."

Rodi couldn't go into much detail about the enemies the Joes will run afoul of as they hunt for Budo in the Shinjuku District. "Well, the Joes' job is to find out what and who are behind the threat," he stated. "So you'll just have to find out along with them (But don't be surprised if you see a familiar nasty face or two.)."

Readers of Rodi's tale in "Special Missions" should expect plenty of thrills and a healthy bit of chuckles. "It functions on two levels; there's some high melodrama with Jinx and Budo, and some low comedy with the four 'yahoo' Joes," Rodi explained.

"Something for everybody, I like to think."

The second story in "Special Missions: Tokyo" is by Mike O'Sullivan and focuses on an evil act by of one of Cobra's most notorious operatives. "I've said around various places that the second story is dealing with the claim Major Bludd made to have murdered a reserve member of the team, so I guess it's safe to say that Bludd is the major baddie in that story," O'Sullivan stated. "Funny thing is that, technically, he doesn't even appear – technically."

The plot of O'Sullivan's story will reveal if Sebastian Bludd's boast is true or not. "When Major Bludd claimed to have killed a reserve G.I. Joe member, attempts were made to contact every Joe, past or present," O'Sullivan said. "A number of them never responded. This story reveals who and why--and one of them won't be coming home."

O'Sullivan had to keep the setting of his story a secret. "It's a very familiar place to anyone of G.I. Joe knowledge," he explained. "To say too much would make the revelation of the story too obvious, so I'm gonna stay tight lipped on this one."

In "Special Missions: Manhattan," O'Sullivan penned a tale of the Stall brothers, Dwight (AKA Barrel Roll) who is a G.I. Joe reservist and Thomas (AKA Blackout) who works for Cobra. The Stall brothers don't appear in "Special Missions: Tokyo," but fans of the rival brothers should check out current issues of the ongoing "G.I. Joe: America's Elite." "Blackout turned up in 'Elite' #13 recently, and will be around through #18 in bits," O'Sullivan stated. "I hope to revisit the storyline someday. I think it's got some interesting possibilities; two brothers, one in G.I. Joe, one in Cobra. Stories like this have been done before, but not to the extent I think we could do it with the Stalls. I hope we get to see more of them someday."

It's not necessary to be a regular reader of "America's Elite" to enjoy "Special Missions: Tokyo" but fans of "AE" might get a little something more out of both stories in the one-shot. "The first story is self-contained, but eagle-eyed readers will notice a tie-in of sorts in 'Elite' #14, firmly establishing 'Tokyo' in continuity. But, it also ties in because it shows that those not on the active roster are still around, still serving, still being Joes. It's a companion book that stands alone," O'Sullivan said. "The second story directly ties in, though. It's a continuation from 'Elite' #9-11, and the efforts Colton was making to contact the entire team. This is the wrap-up of those efforts. It's not what readers – or Colton – are expecting."

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