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The fan world was abuzz when this continuation of the Marvel universe was announced, but I know for my own part, I was getting pretty muddled in the brainwave scanner morasse, the crazed artwork was starting to wear on me, and while I appreciate the 90’s era for what it was, I think most folks were hoping for an extension of the earlier decade.  Truth be told, we haven’t had Joe stories of that type for a long while, so that was a stretch to begin with…and the first several issues certainly didn’t help.
But then came issue #161.  While the brainwashing angle was certainly still lingering, the artwork was much cleaner and crisper, the writing took a decidedly more military angle, and things were immediately looking up.  Of course, I was concerned that this was the exception, and not the rule…  what would issue #162 bring?  Check out my review after the jump to find out.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #162

Writer: Larry Hama
Art: SL Gallant
Happily, yes, issue #162 continues right where #161 left off.
I have often dismissed the importance of artwork to a successful story, even in comics.  While many folks lambasted Renegades for the design aesthetic, I think the great story and characterization has more than made up for it.  I feel much the same way about G.I. Joe: Cobra.  But, in the case of A Real American Hero, the art has made an absolute world of difference.
I have nothing really against Padilla, but Gallant’s clean and bright art style is extremely reminiscent of the good old 80’s style, with extremely accurately presented characters and vehicles.  The colors are sharp, bright, and not muddled at all, and even the weapons look realistic.  Every thing from an art perspective feels like it’s been pulled straight from the 80’s, and in this book, I absolutely love that.
Temporarily deafeated, Cobra retreats to familiar ground, Broca Beach, on the shores of New Jersey.  We quickly get awesome glimpses of terrifically retro Cobra Commander, Baroness, Destro, Zartan, and Mindbender, who all retain some of that fantastic artistic license that Whigham and Wagner gave us in the good old days.  A scene of the Maggot rolling down the highway just ahead of a Broca Brothers Circus truck is excellent, and really feels to be in the spirit of the G.I. Joe title in its better years.  A brainwashed Snake Eyes is in tow, talking to a very “Dr. Venom” like Billy.
Zartan meets up with his Dreadnoks in his own unique way and little guest appearances by toy accurate Cobra Vipers and Techno-Vipers are sprinkled throughout.
Lady Jaye and Torpedo are undercover, doing some of their own intel, with Jaye taking off after the Baroness as she’s sent off on a dubious assignment.  Her pursuit ends with a hand-to-hand battle with the Cobra agent, and the Baroness ends up in their custody.
Simply put, this issue was fantastic.  A great follow up to the already impressive issue #161, and Hama seems to really be hitting his groove.  Sure, the brainwashing of Snake Eyes is still an undercurrent, but we have a focus on some more somewhat fringe characters that flow the story well.  Almost flawlessly, in fact.  And of course, the artwork by Gallant only further serves to thrust this book firmly within its 80’s roots, and I love it for it.
I was turned off by this title as the first few issues ran on, but with only 2 more issues, I am firmly back on board.  These have been pure entertainment and finally feel like what a continuation of the Marvel Universe should be.  I’ve been waiting 16 years for it.

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