G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #228
Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: SL Gallant
Inker: Brian Shearer
Colors: J. Brown
Letters: Neal Uyetake
Editor: Carlos Guzman
It’s been an ashamedly long time since I devoted pages and words on this site to a review of the latest issue of the Real American Hero comic from IDW Publishing. I’m not sure why that is, I suspect real life just got in the way, but I’m going to at least try and reconcile that this month. Fair warning, spoilers will be found below.
In the months since I’ve last reviewed one of these issues, we’ve leaped into the COBRA Nation storyline, and are currently in the third part of that series, showing COBRA Commander and Dr. Mindbender setting deeper roots into Springfield and finally bringing together some of the diverse members of COBRA’s core cast of characters. Zartan, Destro, and the Baroness are back on board. Destro has recently undergone some cybernetic enhancements to his hands, and we’ve gotten introduced to a young lady named Dawn, someone COBRA Commander seems to be taking a particular liking to.
I’m a bit disappointed that I missed the opportunity to review the first couple parts of COBRA Nation, as we’ve seen some fantastic cameos by characters like Crystal Ball, Cesspool, and the Crimson Guard Immortals, characters who I really love and would have liked to have talked about. That being said, however, there are still some great appearances in this latest issue that I’m glad to focus on.
We open the comic with Baroness and Zarana running some training protocols on COBRA’s young, energetic operative Dawn, and then see that Cover Girl has been discharged from the hospital, recovering from the injuries she suffered in the COBRA World Order series. Meeting up with Lady Jaye, Cover Girl seems to be acting (and sounding) a little strange.
As this happens, Scarlett and Jinx find themselves in another secret Arashikage installation, meeting with Obake Obaasan and a few new faces within the ninja clan. We seem to be getting introduced to many new members of the previously mysterious Arashikage, for better or worse. As a compliment to the more military side of things, I don’t mind the ninja storylines, I just hope they don’t completely take over everything.
In Olliestan, we see Bombstrike (yes, Bombstrike!) infiltrating COBRA’s old robot research lab and running across two old school familiar faces in the form of Dr. Biggles-Jones and Cassandra Knox. Both of these characters are quite clearly operating on the wrong side of the law, which is a little strange, because I seem to remember back in the Marvel days, Biggles-Jones was actually an undercover Federal agent, and not really working for COBRA. Have times changed, or is she getting even deeper than she was before?
After a brief interlude with Duke’s wife Claire Hauser we see Lady Jaye and Cover Girl with an elderly woman in a church, presenting a medal to her. As the conversation continues, we discover that they are talking about Shooter, the mysterious 14th member of the original G.I. Joe team whose story was told in the Devils’ Due series “G.I. Joe: DeClassified” back in the day. This series was written by Larry Hama, and he’s said several times in the past, that he considers it canon, but I believe this is the first real and authentic connection point between that series and the current ongoing G.I. Joe universe. An awesome touch, and a great way to bring these two stories together. I won’t lie, it’s an emotional conversation as well.
This issue was a lot of fun. It touched on many of the different storyline elements currently going throughout the IDW series and spent a decent amount of time progressing character development, too. I was extremely happy to see Bombstrike getting some air time, and the whole scene with Shooter’s memorial so to speak was pretty hard hitting.
While Biggles-Jones was an awesome addition (especially since she’s actually getting an action figure made this year) I can’t help but wonder if her role as a federal agent was forgotten, or if there’s some deeper story to be told there. Hopefully it’s the latter.
The rapport between all of the different members of COBRA is great as always, and Larry writes this entire cast of characters as if he knows them (because, well…he does). There appear to be some moving parts under the surface, though the depth of those parts is not yet known. I wouldn’t complain if things started moving just a little bit quicker, and honestly I could stand to see the Arashikage stuff dialed back just a tad. I know the ninja elements are critical pieces of the G.I. Joe mythology, but I don’t like seeing them take over.
As always, Gallant’s work is perfectly suited to this book. Just the right hints of line-by-line realism without going overboard, but best of all the action sequences feel fluid and make an impact, looking like real human bodies are moving on the page. I can’t get enough of Gallant’s artwork, and I feel so fortunate that he’s been able to spend so much time on this book. We’re all really lucky for that and if there comes a time when he moves on, I think he’s earned his place among Whigham, Trimpe, Bright and Wagner as one of the defining artists of G.I. Joe’s history.
Shearer does a great job with the inks as well here, working alongside the colorist to accent Gallant’s artwork to perfection. The shadows in the scene with Claire Hauser were especially effective, not to mention the somewhat dulled hues of the flashback sequence with shooter at the end. Great stuff.
So, even with all of these elements, there’s something I haven’t mentioned about this issue yet. Something that Hama does that’s really pretty interesting and speaks to the depth of the G.I. Joe and COBRA rosters.
This entire issue contains only female characters.
Look throughout the entire issue and see for yourself. The amazing thing is that it doesn’t feel like a “gimmick” and it doesn’t feel like any plot or story is sacrificed to make it happen, it just all works. As the father of two daughters I love that Larry did this and did it so well. Kudos, Mr. Hama, love this.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #228
Story (General Plot and Themes)
Writing (Dialogue and Specific Elements)
A great balance of plot and character interaction with the always fantastic SL Gallant doing some great artwork. A good story and I loved seeing the exclusively female cast of characters doing their thing. Great issue.