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It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and review one of IDW’s G.I. Joe comics, but I wanted to try and dedicate some time this week, considering the changes coming to the titles next year.  I figured it might be a good time to get an idea of the current direction of these books and where things might go in 2013 and beyond.

Of course the first review I’m doing is for the Real American Hero book which actually isn’t being affected by the changes next year, but I gotta go with what I love, right?

Click the Read the Rest of the Story link below to check out this review.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #183

Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: SL Gallant

I have been unabashed in my love for this title ever since Gallant came on board, and my love continues unabated.  The entire Sneak Peek/Darklon storyline has been pure gold since day one, with me being one of Darklon’s biggest fans I’m thrilled Larry Hama found a way to not only bring him back to life, but to make him a credible threat.

In this issue we see Cobra moving into an abandoned gated community, preparing to take it over as one of their own installations, while Destro and the Baroness are plotting next moves.  Meanwhile, Darklon has escaped captivity and returned to his home in Darklonia to thunderous applause from his own cadre of Pythonized troopers.  I really enjoy the fact that Larry has tied back the Python Patrol concept to Darklon as it was back in the old school Marvel comics, really tying these two unrelated aspects of the G.I. Joe universe together.  I will admit it seems a bit odd to have Darklon milling about among Cobra Vipers, but if you consider the fact it’s just Darklon’s troops wearing pirated Cobra uniforms it makes perfect sense.

Keeping watch on Cobra’s operations within the gated community are old stalwarts Rock n Roll and Clutch, which is also pretty great, as they’ve always been an effective team throughout the Marvel days as well.  It’s these little touches that Larry is still able to bring back to the forefront that makes this title so vintage accurate and so fun to read.

Another familiar name pops up throughout this issue with the Emir of Benzheen and Colonel Faroud appearing to be core parts of an ongoing story thread.  It will be interesting to see how the Joes react to their return to this country considering the tragic events that occurred the last time around.  We already see Dusty, Airtight, and Tunnel Rat clearing a mine field there just in time for Darklon to appear and meet with the Emir.  All of these different pieces seem to be falling into place, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.

I think most long time Joe fans who followed the Marvel series would agree that the different countries and regions within the scope of the Marvel title often took lives of their own and became characters unto themselves, and I love that Larry is revisiting them all.  Seeing Darklonia and Benzheen as a core part of this story immediately feels like coming home again, and the book reads crisp and flawless.  Another excellent continuity continuation from the Marvel days, which continues to amaze me since it’s been so hard to recapture that magic previously.

All of this would not be possible without the fantastic artistic ability of SL Gallant who continues to amaze month after month.  Truly working within the scope of naturalistic masters like Neal Adams and Rod Whigham, he is able to perfectly translate these characters into the drawn pictures throughout and effortlessly expresses action and rest with the realistic style that this universe deserves.  I continue to find myself smiling ear-to-ear with every new issue and the Real American Hero title is far and away the highlight of my comic buying month.

Kudos to IDW for recognizing the need for this title and major kudos to Hama, Gallant, Erskine, Brown, and of course the editor Carlos Guzman for bringing this great title to the table for us fans who have felt a certain vacant space where this universe used to live and breathe.

Check out the preview pages below.

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