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G.I. Joe: Special Missions from its earliest onset sounded sort of like a continuation of the main G.I. Joe title from IDW.  Chuck Dixon writing, a very military themed book with Scarlett and Mainframe leading a small team…it sounded like pretty much what the main G.I. Joe book has been, especially over the past year.

Now getting my hands on the first issue, I find that assumption to be mostly correct.  In fact, the storyline in Special Missions is a direct continuation of the final Target: Snake Eyes story from the last run at IDW.  To check out my full review, click the read the rest of the story link below:

G.I. Joe: Special Missions #1

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciler: Paul Gulacy
Colorist: Aburtov & Grafikslava
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Consulting Editor: John Barber
Editor: Carlos Guzman

This issue starts out with a bang, with The Baroness taking things down and dirty, trying to get her hands on a vehicle she can use to recover the $40 Billion she lost during the Target: Snake Eyes crossover event.  She’s on Cobra’s “Naughty List” and must take things into her own hands…

…but wait.  What?  How is that possible?  In the main G.I. Joe title, The Baroness is leading an entire Cobra force into a small Ohio town and taking it over by force.  She is clearly working in Cobra’s good graces there.  So why this apparent lack of continuity between the two titles?  Nothing to fear…  I reached out to G.I. Joe writer Fred VanLente, who informed me that the event in G.I. Joe: Special Missions take place a short time before the events in the main G.I. Joe title.  The Baroness worked as a character within the confines of both titles, so they elected to stagger the story times a bit as a compromise.

So keep that in mind as the story continues, because it was a big hang up for me, until Mr. VanLente cleared it up, and I thank him immensely for that.

Continuing on, the G.I. Joe team is currently operating in Libya with Scarlett, Beachhead, Tripwire, Iceberg, and a few other recruits.  The action throughout the Libyan escape is actually pretty breathtaking.  The dialog is crisp, clean, and tight, the art is very good, and I was able to follow a very fast paced military operation quite closely.  That is until the sequence where they’re picked up by Wild Bill and Ace… it seems like there should have been a few more panels there, though I did understand the gist of how that pick up worked.  From here on, the action bounces back and forth from the G.I. Joe squad in the middle east to Baroness, travelling through London, continuing to try and get access to a vehicle to grab Cobra’s lost $40 Billion.

As the issue closes up, Scarlett and the Joes have appropriated a submersible vehicle as The  Baroness as charmed (and threatened) a multi-billionaire into letting her use his ship to attempt to recover the funds.

This was, actually a very exciting first issue of the Special Missions title, and a great introduction to this new branch of G.I. Joe.  We get some thinly-veiled reference (and resentment) to the “public” G.I. Joe organization, which seems to get the lion’s share of the funding, while Scarlett’s more covert group is scraping the bottom of the barrel.  It makes for a very interesting dynamic.  As I already said, the military action throughout Libya was pretty thrilling and the action choreography was fantastic.  My only real complaint about this issue, and it’s the same complaint I’ve had throughout much of Dixon’s run, it’s that the characters are woefully under-developed and pretty much cookie cutter characters.  The only reason I even know that Beachhead, Tripwire, and Iceberg were part of the squad was because Scarlett called them by name.  They dress the same, they act the same, and I’m finding it somewhat difficult to isolate some real “G.I. Joe” elements to them.  This was a fantastic high-paced special operations military book, but it lacked the key character dynamic and personalities that make these timeless characters who they are.

I’m not entirely sure why Dixon continues to use Iceberg throughout these issues, either.  This was a desert operation, and a perfect chance to introduce Dusty, Sandstorm, or even Repeater.  Instead we got an Arctic Operative who doesn’t feel like he belongs with the team, and he’s wounded throughout the entire issue, so it didn’t appear as if there was a character-based reason to include him either.  Dixon just seems to have latched onto that particular character and is determined to use him, even though nothing really separates him from anyone else.

Gulacy’s artwork throughout the book was by and large great.  The flow of action throughout the Baroness’ introduction worked really nicely, and I found the combat throughout Libya to be perfectly designed from character placement, panel placement, and overall execution.  His faces could use a little tightening up, but good grief that’s a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things.

It’s a bit frustrating because there are many elements of this issue that were, frankly, stellar.  Dixon and Gulacy’s grasp of military action is excellent, and if the writer could just find it in himself to even use some more recognizable uniforms, or tweak the dialog and actions just a bit to reflect the characters he’s using, it could go a very long way to making this book excellent.  I hope they can find a way to make that happen, though judging by the fact that Dixon has been writing it this way for so long, I’m not real confident that the title will make that final leap.  Even just as a military team book this was a really good start, and I look forward to more, I just hope I can look at some of these characters and recognize them without constantly having to be told.

All in all, a good start, part of me just wishes I didn’t continue to have the same complaints after so many years of the same problems.

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