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When this issue was first released, my local comic shop was sold out, so I went without…but during this week’s visit to a different store, they had one kicking around in their new release section, so I scooped it up.  When I first grabbed it, I actually didn’t plan on reviewing it because, let’s face it…do folks really want to read a review that’s 2 months out of date?
Well, then I read it…and I felt compelled to talk about it. It also helps that I wasn’t able to find issue #5 of Hearts & Minds, which was supposed to be released this week, so at least I now have some Max Brooks greatness to talk about.  Read the review after the jump.

I’ve been heaping pretty hefty praise on the Hearts & Minds series throughout its inception…  it hasn’t been easy in some cases.  While the writing and the characters are written to astounding perfection, I find myself a bit conflicted and frustrated because you  get a great feel for these characters, and by the time you feel like you really know what goes on in their head, the issue is over, and the next one starts with someone new.
Sure, IDW might very well take these characters and expand on their treatment in future issues, but let’s face it, with the huge cast of Joes and Cobras, do you really think we’ll see a heavy focus on characters like Tripwire, Blowtorch, the Interrogator, Doc, or Deep Six?  Yeah, me neither.
But that doesn’t make these stand alone issues any less great…and #3 may be one of the best ones.
First of all…  why did no one tell me Blackout was in this issue?  That was an exceedingly pleasant surprise.  Seeing “Sgt. Thomas Stall” at the hands of the Interrogator was a fascinating twist, and gives me some serious hope that perhaps the Stall Brother saga will find its way into the IDW universe.  Sure, there is a wealth of other topics this G.I. Joe reboot needs to cover, but I would love to see some Barrel Roll, Blackout, and Bombstrike action.
Like most of the Hearts & Minds issues, the first part here is mostly dialog rich as the Interrogator faces off against Sgt. Stall, trying to find the best way to “crack” him.  The descriptive writing is fantastic, the subtle twist of dialog here and there are done to perfection…  unfortunately Interrogator isn’t wearing his helmet, and really there’s no particular identifying characteristics besides the name, but we get some neat insight into how he works and what he does.  Chaykin’s art is as unique as always, and the raw emotion in Stall’s face as the pages proceed is excellent.
In part 2 we look at Deep Six, who has long since been established as somewhat of a cold fish on the Joe team.  That gets explored even further in the second part, as he drifts deeper and deeper underwater in a cool somewhat futuristic dive suit, and morbidly explores all of the different ways he could possibly perish doing his job.  He runs across some Cobra deep sea divers, exchanges some fire and drifts away… and I find myself caring more for Deep Six as a character than I think I ever have before.  The idea of this guy locked up in this form-fitting dive suit…someone so pessimistic and so introverted just being kept in this twisted isolation while he goes about his various missions.  It’s a fascinating look at this character.  Fuso’s art really takes a step in the right direction with this issue, too, portraying a great sense of silence and loneliness among the depths of the sea.
Like every other issue of Hearts & Minds, there will be complaints because nothing really happens, but just like those other issues, the character is key here.  Interrogator and Deep Six are written with a great sense of emotion and intensity, and that carries the book.  Time will tell if IDW can follow up what Brooks has started with these characters…if nothing else, this series has really given me a reason to look forward to seeing some characters that I might have otherwise not cared about.

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