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G.I. Joe: Origins #16
Chuck Dixon (w) • Alex Cal (a) • Tom Feister, Cal (c)
The Origin of Zartan, Part 1: Who is Zartan? You may think you know the murderous master of disguise but you don’t know the whole story! A hired killer under the command of the Baroness is dangerously compromised. He’s offered the protection of COBRA and sent on a risky mission that ends with a scene that will have Joe fans talking for years. This one is 100% guaranteed to shock!
*2 regular covers will be shipped in a 1-to-1 ratio.
FC • 32 pages • $3.99
To avoid revealing too many spoilers, I’ve posted the review after the jump.  Click the “Read the rest of this entry” link below to check out the review, and be warned, there ARE spoilers within!

Last week I reviewed G.I. Joe: Hearts and Minds and was reminded how rich and intricate the G.I. Joe universe can be when written by the right person.  In some cases that narrative effect really makes the characters shine and really  drives a good story.
But sometimes you just need twenty pages of kick ass action, and that is absolutely what G.I. Joe: Origins #16 delivers.
Featuring the origin of Zartan, a character who runs deep within the G.I. Joe mythology, G.I. Joe: Origins #16 is the first part of a two-part story, and if the second part is as briskly paced and action packed as the first, we could have a very intense two-part origin story…something worthy of the Zartan character.
The comic starts off with a great cameo by what looks like Wild Weasel, as a mysterious Cobra operative infiltrates an airliner and effortlessly kills his way to a national leader within, convincing him to rethink some policy changes to benefit Cobra.  From there on, things go a little sideways, much to the Baroness’ chagrin, and she volunteers Zartan for duty as one of MARS Industries guinea pigs.
When I read that, I immediately assumed that he would be getting his shape-changing abilities here, but I was instead treated to an awesome swerve as Chuck Dixon flashes back to Issue #1 of the G.I. Joe series, and it’s revealed that the initial Cobra agent disintegrated by the MASS device, was in fact Zartan himself.  Which of course, begs the question…is this the shortest origin in history, or is there more here than meets the eye?
Unfortunately, we need to wait until Issue #17 next month to know the full story.
Far removed from Dixon’s slow, plodding, blindingly methodical pace that labored the main title through it’s initial 12 or 13 issues, G.I. Joe: Origins #16 moved as a great pace, with some awesome semi-futuristic action, and a series of great examples of how the IDW Cobra organization is situated in the global climate.
Dixon’s crisp script is only assisted by Alex Cal’s terrific art.  Cal uses clean lines, a very realistic style, and has a flair for action oriented art work, drawing gun fights and combat, as well as sitting at a craps table all with equal ease.  Some artists have trouble telling a story through sequential panels, but Cal does great here, and it was easy to follow the action from panel to panel and page to page.
Granted, we didn’t learn a whole lot yet about Zartan’s sordid past, but the next installment looks to fill in some gaps and flesh out the character a bit more in the IDW universe.
Zartan is one of my all time favorite G.I. Joe characters, and so far, this updated origin does the character justice, and I find myself really looking forward to Issue #17 next month.  Quite the nice change from how I viewed the IDW universe only a handful of months ago.

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