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I was pretty vocal last year about the first go-round with Infestation…I really wasn’t sure how IDW would make it work.  Sure, infusing Zombies from an alternate universe into their more supernatural tales could potentially work, but how would you do that with G.I. Joe?

Turns out they did it pretty darn well, and I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed the issue.  Now, by this point, Zombies are practically an embraced part of G.I. Joe lore, with the Zombie-Vipers being one of the more popular figures in recent 30th Anniversary assortments, so it would seem they could even tie in more easily than they did previously.  IDW continues to branch out in their Infestation stories, though, and this time around seems to go even further over the deep end, jumping head first into Lovecraft and Cthulu territory.

Now, they managed to integrate Zombies pretty well last year…but demons?  Supernatural entities out of fantasy movies and nightmares?  How is that even possible in the G.I. Joe world?

Click the Read the Rest of this Entry link below…you just might be surprised.

G.I. Joe: Infestation 2 #1

Writer: Mike Raicht
Artist: Valentine De Landro

The first thing IDW does right is bringing in the same writer that tackled Infestation the first time around.  Mike Raicht seems to have a great mind when it comes to blending supernatural elements into a more real world setting, and found some very interesting ways to do this with the original Infestation series.  It becomes evident early on that Raicht considers this a pretty direct sequel to the original, immediately drawing focus on the same characters, The Baroness and Interrogator.

We meet those two this time around, buried underneath a Cobra facility in a sprawling underground insane asylum, very cleverly referred to as “Cobra La”.  We immediately get introduced to some of the more out of the realm Cobra characters like Gristle, Raptor, and Cesspool, which is amusing on one hand, refreshing on the other hand, yet especially in Cesspool’s case, somewhat discouraging.  I really enjoy it when people take these lesser known characters and expand on them or add depth…I’m not wild about taking them and just tossing them in an insane asylum as a nod to the fans, never to be seen again.

Granted, that’s not for sure what Raicht is doing here, but the fact that an established executive mind like Cesspool is thrown in here instead of being drawn out as a credible high-ranking member of the Cobra cabal just seems like a wasted opportunity.

The Baroness and Interrogator are also meeting with a Cobra scientist, who seems to have made a fascinating discovery in the Arctic, even being willing to execute a fellow Cobra team member to properly excavate it.  We discover that Cobra Commander has an affection for supernatural artifacts, something that The Baroness doesn’t share his enthusiasm for…even Crystal Ball seems unconvinced at this mysterious item that has been discovered.

Long story short, the Cobra scientist goes through a mysterious ritual with the device, and suddenly Cobra La is consumed by a strange mystical energy as Cobra Vipers everywhere appear to be transformed into strange beasts.  Crystal Ball and Storm Shadow save the Interrogator and don’t seem all that surprised by the events transpiring around them, as they hack through slime-covered demons and try to make their escape.  Meanwhile, the Joes are monitoring this situation, and decide to send a team to investigate.

Now as far as my opinion on this particular issue…  I have to separate myself a little bit.  This round of Infestation seems to be a lot more supernaturally based within the G.I. Joe realm that the initial one was.  From what we see, actual mystical energy is flooding through the Cobra facility and transforming Cobra Troopers into evil beasts.  The question is, do you have an open mind about this stuff, and can you accept events like this within the confines of your G.I. Joe universe?  If the answer is yes, then I think this is an issue that you could enjoy.  If the answer is no, then this is probably not the series for you.  I can accept many strange things, and I will admit, this Cthulu twist is stretching it a bit.

However, if I’m willing to look past the boundaries of reality, and just read the comic as a comic, there is a lot to like.  The writing flows nicely, the plot isn’t overly complicated, but reads well.  Dialogue is effective and realistic, and I really like the underlying dynamic between The Baroness and Cobra Commander.  Interrogator is being established as a “player” in the Cobra hierarchy, which is cool, and I really like the fact that Mike Raicht is trying so hard to directly connect this series with the last.  We see victims of Infestation 1 here in this issue, we face many of the same characters and this really feels like a continuation of the last story.  Storm Shadow gets a nice focus here as well, which is something we have not seen a lot of yet.  I already mentioned the cool cameos sprinkled throughout.

De Landro’s art seems an appropriate choice for this as well, with a ton of detail lines, some generous (and atmospheric) shading, but also with the capacity for nicely flowing action.  His rendition of Storm Shadow is simplified, but cool, and he is able to emulate the “Cobra” styling for Crystal Ball magnificently.  This book is moody, strange, and imposing, and I think his art style is a great way to amplify those underlying emotions.

He is able to establish new characters nicely and distinctly, yet also translate well known characters well, and his work throughout the book is very nice.

All told, this may end up being a tough sell for the more hard core Joe fans who prefer a straight-lined realistic military tale, but I think for folks who can embrace some supernatural, and indeed those who prefer the supernatural, I think this could be an enjoyable one for you.  I didn’t see an overabundance of established Cthulu lore throughout this issue, but I most likely wouldn’t know it when I saw it, anyway.

For someone who has zero connections to Lovecraft or the universe he weaved, I still found this issue fairly captivating and interesting.  I would imagine for those even more immersed it in than I, the results would be even better.  Check out the writing and art style in the 5-Page preview below:

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