Select Page

I’ve heard word that many comic shops didn’t get these issues in this week, so if that’s the case, you may want to turn away, lest have some spoilers heaped upon you.  Larry Hama has been exploring this somewhat strange “Blue Ninja” storyline for a while now, and yes, it continues here…but something strange happened.  It’s kind of grown on me.

Kind of.

To check out the full review click the Read the Rest of the Story link below.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #176

Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: SL Gallant

I have been lavishing praise upon this great vintage-themed series for a while now, ever since they finally migrated from the “hard edged and gritty” beginning and started getting their old school flavor back.  However, over the past several issues, we’ve been dealing with a somewhat strange “Blue Cyber-Ninja” storyline which has injected these super human Terminator-like cyborgs into the G.I. Joe universe that my mind just has trouble resolving.  There has always been an element of realism to the Joe comics, even as we dealt with cloned Cobra Emperors, chameleon-blooded disguise artists, and nearly superhuman Ninjas.  But when we dealt with the whole robotics concept, the BAT’s were at least extremely vulnerable.  They were basically autonomous but stupid machines that were certainly dangerous, but not all that crafty or mobile.

Well, these cyber ninjas almost take the concept too far.  Not only are they super powerful robots, but they have extreme agility, strength, and they also have human minds, making them nearly indestructible.  Almost too indestructible.   Not only that, but they seem to sort of be pushing aside the Joe vs. Cobra conflict and creating this whole new artificial threat, and I’m not a big fan.

But, for some strange reason, even being in the throes of this strange new concept, I found myself really enjoying issue #176.

This issue finds Cobra Commander ordering a crew of Vipers to hunt down these blue ninjas to exact a measure of revenge for the death of his son Billy, but coming up mostly empty.  Meanwhile, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow attempt to track down a leading research scientist who seems to have ties to the cybernetic enemies, but discover that she is even more directly related than originally thought.

While I still am really not a fan of this new invented enemy, I really enjoyed the Joe and Cobra dynamic in this particular issue.  Seeing fully equipped Cobra Vipers rapeling from the familiar transport copters, and seeing Cobra Commander’s intense emotion over the death of his son were both very cool elements of a fast-paced action oriented story.  Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow rush to confront this scientist, but it has drastic consequences.  But perhaps the most shocking events of the issue were the fact that the Blue Ninjas not only are fully cybernetic, but are also being designed with the “skins” of Cobra Crimson Guardsmen, and have already infiltrated Cobra.  The results of this infiltration are surprisingly tragic and intense, even though the victims have ties to an evil terrorist organization.  This issue was an immediate reminder that even among an issue of over-the-top action and unrealistic themes, you can have deeply emotional events with some serious consequences.  I’ve read comics off and on for many, many years, and Hama seems to have a great capacity to balance these emotions.  Humor on one panel, and innocent death the next.  I remained impressed, even as I grow to dislike these super ninjas even more.

Unfortunately solicitations have revealed that this story will continue for at least a few more issues.  I find myself looking forward to the end, even as there are elements of each issue that I enjoy.

As far as the art goes, I’ve been lavishing praise upon SL Gallant for many issues, and that doesn’t stop here.  He continues to mix current generation action sequences and techniques with a bright and colorful vintage way that perfectly suits the concept behind G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.  Crisp and clear line drawing, very familiar uniforms and equipment, and action sequences that are both powerful and easy to follow.  He truly is the perfect follow up to many of the artists we benefited from in the 80’s.  Of course it occurs to me that I don’t spend nearly enough time talking about the other artists involved in this book.  The inks are sharp and terrifically rendered by Gary Erskine, who takes Gallant’s pencils and adds a great depth and perspective to them.  It seems I’m consistently praising the bright and color-rich nature of this title, yet I rarely mention the colorist, Andrew Crossley, who has been knocking it out of the park as well.  Gallant provides a terrific foundation, but the inks and colors only serve to further tie this issue back to the 80’s, and I know I’m not alone as a long term fine who truly appreciates it.

Another step in a questionable overall story arc, yet the individual events have been enjoyable.  A real conflict, truth be told.  Check out the 5-Page preview below.

no images were found