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I’m dying to be immersed into the G.I. Joe: Retaliation universe, so I’m psyched that IDW is releasing these issues every couple of weeks.  The first issue left me a bit…I don’t know.  Cold?  It was fine, but I wasn’t wild about the whole “several years ago” angle, and the red ninja attack seemed frenetic and unfocused.

Well, my opinion has changed a bit with this second issue, and things are starting to come together quite nicely.  The continued cameos by Rise of Cobra era characters and equipment ties both film universes together nicely and is a great Easter egg to us fans.  A pretty solid second installment which has made me look forward to seeing more.  To read the full review click the “Read the Rest of this Entry” link below.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Movie Prequel #2

Writer: John Barber
Artist:  Salvador Navarro and Atilio Rojo

This issue covers two fronts, where we see some snippets from Roadblock’s past life as well as what’s going on in the Retaliation universe.  Yes, this prequel issue still takes place “several years ago” and seems to follow events of Issue #1 pretty directly.  Roadblock is in the brig for striking General Hawk, but still very determined to move in and rescue his comrade Mainframe.

Thanks to various flashbacks scattered throughout the issue, we find out that Mainframe (AKA Blaine Parker) is an old friend of Roadblock, and ended up helping him through some rough spots in his childhood.  Thanks to Parker’s influence, Roadblock starts working out and gets a new direction in life.

Meanwhile, General Hawk and Snake Eyes form a little alliance, arranging for Roadblock to escape his prison and head out to attempt a rescue of Mainframe.  He ends up meeting up with Snake Eyes in a bad situation, and we see the start of a potentially long relationship…

I didn’t want to reveal too much straight plot, just because I feel like the issue is mostly successful because of the story.  I loved seeing some Roadblock and Mainframe backstory, and certainly wouldn’t have tied those two characters together before now.  It’s very interesting to me that Mainframe, the computer nerd, inspired Roadblock to become the physical powerhouse he is.  A pretty interesting dynamic.

Again, we see some great Rise of Cobra cameos, with Scarlett, Sgt. Stone, General Hawk, and we even get to see Roadblock escape the Pitt using an awesome Sky Sweeper plane.  The issue’s pacing and plot move along pretty well, nicely interspersed between current day and past lives, and I was surprised the issue was so effective, even when so much of it was told in flashback form.

The issue wraps with some great interaction between Roadblock, Snake Eyes, and the Blind Master, and we start to get an idea of why Roadblock has the Arashikage logo on his uniform…

From an artistic perspective, Navarro and Rojo do a fine job.  I’m not sure they were well suited for the heavy ninja action from issue #1, as some of the action was hard to follow and didn’t translate exceptionally well into comic pages.  In this issue, being a bit more of a story and dialogue heavy, I think the art style works better.  When there were action set pieces, it was portrayed pretty well and flowed nicely with the story.

I had my share of minor issues with the first installment, but this second issue has made me a lot more comfortable in this Retaliation universe.  I especially enjoy how it’s tying into the Rise of Cobra concepts and bringing some of these things together.  For an example of the writing style and art, check out the preview below.

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