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As I started reading the latest issue of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, I was having an internal struggle with myself over whether or not I’d be able to squirrel away the time to review the issue.  As I flipped through each page I assessed whether or not I wanted to discuss certain aspects of this story, with Hama’s usual writing skills and Gallant’s impeccable artistic slant.

Even though this issue maintained the level of excellence that I’ve come to expect, I had to judge how much free time I had and when I might get 10 minutes aside to type up a review… I really wasn’t sure.

Then I got to page 19.

Yeah, that made up my mind.  Click the Read the Rest of the Story link below to check out the review.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #185

Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: SL Gallant

Now, page 19 wasn’t ground-breaking.  It wasn’t an Earth shattering, universe altering explosive event.  In fact, it was just one little panel:

Hit & Run, baby!  I may have squealed like a little girl when I saw that image.

In all seriousness, Issue #185 continues the excellent Benzheen story with a return to more military and political intrigue, which is a nice departure considering the massive ninja-themed storyline that we were reading for several months prior.  With Dusty and Airtight captured by Benzheen security forces, Tunnel Rat ends up face to face with Zartan and the Dreadnoks, quickly ending up captive in their hands.  Destro and Darklon continue their tense negotiations, with Darklon supposedly gaining the upper hand with the Emir Benzheen, but Destro apparently has something up his sleeve.

Using the Brainwave Scanner, Mindbender has turned Clutch to the Cobra cause just as Rock n Roll moves in to rescue him, and instead of a rescue, they end up battling each other tooth and nail while the Joe team looks on.

The issue ends with Hawk dispatching a team to rescue Dusty, Airtight, and Tunnel Rat, and one look at the team just makes me smile.  It’s a vintage Hama-themed rescue team featuring Leatherneck, Falcon, Zap, and Spirit Iron-Knife, who are all gritty, very military characters that Hama loves to use, and generally uses remarkably well.  Makes me very excited to see the next issue, even though Jinx is also apparently on the scene, and we see a hint of more (groan) Blue Ninjas.

Of course the cameo by Hit & Run in a long shot of the Pit only was icing on the cake.

As I’ve mentioned in pretty much every review of a Real American Hero issue (after the first handful) Hama continues to really find his groove with this series, and is an awesome continuation of the vintage Marvel universe.  Even during the somewhat prolonged Blue Ninja storyline, the dialogue was natural and felt like G.I. Joe, and this issue is absolutely no exception.  Hama knows these characters, he knows their voices, he really knows them personally, and it comes through in the way they act throughout the pages of this book.

But I’ll be honest, when it comes to the Real American Hero book, in my opinion the art is exceptionally important.  I have such an affinity for guys like Whigham, Wagner, and Bright that I really like to see that style represented in these pages, and SL Gallant does this so perfectly.  Truly.  He’s the perfect artist for this book.  The characters look like their vintage counterparts…the mannerisms are flawless, whether they are at rest or in the midst of a vicious gun fight.  Dramatic flow of action is translated realistically, yet still with impact, and single frames show excellent range of emotion.  I love how he draws the vehicles, too.  The Phantom X19’s appearance brought almost as big a smile to my face as Hit & Run did.

Another excellent issue.  Number 186 can’t come soon enough.  Maybe next time Hit & Run will get into the action!

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