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If you’re anything like me, you’re absolutely itching to get invested in the G.I. Joe: Retaliation universe.  With so many questions left open from the Rise of Cobra, and such an excitement surrounding this new universe, I for one cannot wait to read more about it.

Well, IDW has come through, as they usually do, with a movie prequel mini-series!  The first issue just hit, and you can click the Read The Rest of the Story link below for the full review.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Prequel #1

Writer: John Barber
Artist: Salvador Navarro

There are a lot of unanswered questions about the transition between G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  Many questions that I was really looking forward to exploring, but unfortunately early indications are, you won’t find any answers in this series.

Granted, I’m not sure how things might change going forward, but for the first issue, anyway, the G.I. Joe: Retaliation prequel takes place “several years ago”.  It clearly seems to take place prior to the events in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, meaning it really isn’t going to extend that universe at all.  My main issue with that is, how will it build up to the film this summer, if the entire series actually takes place prior to the events of the LAST film?

As I said, though, who knows how things will transition from here.  It’s quite possible at some point the series will jump back into the current time, and I greatly hope that is the case.  For now, though, I’ll talk about the beginning of the series as it stands.

Since G.I. Joe: Retaliation as a film seems to have such strong ninja elements, they’re sticking with that course of action in the series as well.  Roadblock and Mainframe are among a team of Joe agents on a relief mission when they are assaulted by a rather large group of Red Ninjas.  Many of the Joes are taken out with extreme prejudice (although none of them are immediately recognizable).  Among the surviving Joes are Roadblock, Snake Eyes, Flash, and Charbroil, which was probably the highlight of the series for me.  Seeing Charbroil and Flash both in the Rise of Cobra universe wearing toy-accurate uniforms was pretty awesome, I must admit.  Mainframe has been captured, and they move in to rescue him.

The rest of the issue involves those four Joes battling the Red Ninjas tooth and nail, but an explosion erupts and supposedly takes out Mainframe as a G.I. Joe rescue aircraft arrives just in time to pull out the others.

As this small team of Joes travels back to The Pit Zartan and Storm Shadow are looking over the chaos below.

Back at headquarters, we get some more nice cameos, with Rise of Cobra Scarlett, Sgt. Stone, and General Hawk leading the way.  Hawk gets a little rough with Roadblock, who actually ends up striking the General, forcing Hawk to rely on some old contacts for advice.  We can only imagine that old contact is likely Joe Colton.  Roadblock is in the brig, but Snake Eyes seems to have an idea about a good way to use the loose cannon.

My overall opinions on the plot and strategy behind this issue are somewhat mixed.  I wasn’t wild about the “Several Years Ago” time frame as I said,  since it doesn’t provide (so far, anyway) a realistic lead in to the upcoming motion picture.  I understand they don’t want to give away key plot points, but I would think there might be some other way to handle that.  I am amazed, though, at how well this comic still blends with Retaliation, even though it does take place so long ago.  Because this is before Duke or Ripcord joined the team, neither of them are present, so the focus can rely purely on Roadblock and Snake Eyes.  As I said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Rise of Cobra cameos of film characters and toys, and really hope to perhaps see more of that as the series progresses.

The twist about Roadblock being a loose cannon and not fitting Hawk’s typical recruitment profile was interesting and does add a little element to the story.  The story was fine, all told.  It wasn’t captivating, it didn’t make me yearn for issue #2, but it’s setting up a foundation, and I’m eager to see where things go.

From an art perspective, Navarro did fine.  Some of the action is a little muddy and you can see some spots throughout that gave off a bit of a “phoned in” impression, but this being a movie prequel, perhaps that’s what we’ve come to expect.  I did like the way he represented the characters pretty accurately in comparison to their toy forms.  I was pretty confused by the use of what appears to be an F-22 as a VTOL transport plane, however.  The F-22 Raptor is an attack plane that has no cargo capacity, and yes, I understand that this is “future tech” but that really didn’t fit for me.  Not sure if that was an artistic choice or a writing choice.

Some panels had a very cool exaggerated style, while other panels were kind of mish-mashed and hard to follow.  The art was serviceable, but it wasn’t great.  All in all, there were some things that could have been better, but I enjoy being back in the Rise of Cobra world, and look forward to seeing what Issue #2 brings us.

For an idea of the art style and writing flow, check out the 5-Page Preview below:

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