G.I. Joe - Origins #1 - IDW Publishing

I can easily remember the outrage that went along with IDW's decision to reboot the G.I. Joe continuity as they moved forward with the license. They understandably had no desire to shoehorn their history into twenty-five years of muddled existing time, and with a movie coming already set to reboot the franchise, why not? I totally understand why they did it, and I fully stand behind that decision, but it seemed I was in the minority.

However, something happened, I believe, which pulled some fans back in. Larry Hama essentially gave his green stamp of approval, and signed off to write this G.I. Joe: Origins mini-series, outlining this new mythos and this new history. So even though the base continuity is new, it is still based on the strong imagination and clever writing of Mr. Hama, and that writing shows through here, though I do think this starts off a bit weaker than the regular monthly title did.

Basic Plot

The issue starts with the preview from JoeReloaded, essentially a training session involving Duke and Scarlett who are escorted from a transport plane by Stalker and Hawk, who are apparently already established members of this team (though Stalker ends up parachuting as well and is told by Hawk that he still needs some training as well).

As Scarlett and Duke make their way through the desert with the assistance of a female former Army operative, a SWAT team and federal ATF agents are facing off against a former military special ops operative themselves. They reveal that he stole some government secrets and potentially some other sensitive items and that he also killed his family before taking refuge in his multi-billion dollar mansion. This operative announces his intentions by sniping one of the agents, cutting him down where he stands.

The SWAT Team then decides to make their move, but the results aren't pretty.


As the ATF and federal agents desperately try to infiltrate this mansion, the person inside (the mysterious Chimera) holds them at bay while Scarlett and Duke slowly make it across the desert while skirmishing back and forth with their own benefactor. Their driver recognizes them as Special Forces Operators, while Chimera is more than holding his own against the attackers.

One of the feds reveal a bit about his backstory, and the fact that literally no one even knows his face or his background.


This newly self-proclaimed "Chimera" strolls through the resistence, then defiantly blows his entire mansion with C4. There's only one agent left, and he gets summarily wiped out as this former Green Beret makes his exit.

Back in the desert Scarlett and Duke have deciphered their cryptic orders as part of their training, and have ended up in the Las Vegas Center for Reconstructive Surgery, in the Burn Unit, Bed K. The bed-ridden patient is apparently the enigmatic Snake Eyes, making his first appearence with the Joes.


As Duke and Scarlett are escorting Snake Eyes from the burn unit, the mysterious Chimera makes an appearence, and sets off more explosives, killing the female Army operative that assisted the two Joes on their trek across the desert. Duke fights off the Chimera briefly, but the soon-to-be Joes need to make a hasty exit.


Ths issue ends with Snake Eyes joining hands with Duke and Scarlett, willingly joining this small unit of Special Forces operators. Meanwhile, Stalker makes an appearence at the burn unit to claim the body of the Army ranger. The question remains if she is indeed dead in the explosion or perhaps a soon to be G.I. Joe team member written off in the real world?


I think this issue was a solid, but not stellar, first issue and introduction to this modern G.I. Joe team. I think the cast, while familiar, is a bit over-exposed, however the story flows fairly well and ties together nicely. I do have to say that Larry Hama still writes a good story, however the military lingo goes a tad overboard in places, and often times there almost seemed to be dialog just for the sake of dialog. I find it somewhat ironic that the man who made Joe famous by writing a fantastic story with no dialog now seems to have a tendancy to over-emphasize the level of spoken word throughout the book.

It was a trend I noticed in his Storm Shadow work, and it seems to continue through the Origins story. On one hand it's nice because he obviously doesn't write down to the reader, but on the other hand, some of the exposition and dialog goes a bit beyond the level of realistic speech. Minor quibbles overall, for what was a pretty nicely interwoven story designed to introduce (while at the same time re-introducing) some very familiar characters to the reader. I like the fact that Stalker is a more established team member than either Duke or Scarlett, but all of the introductory characters make sense.

As for the art...well, I'm still trying to figure that out. The artists on board are Tom Feister and Mike Hawthorne who split duties on the book. Through some online research I have figured out (well, if going to Mike Hawthorne's blog is considered "figuring it out") that Tom Feister is the artist who does most of the preview and is much more "animated" style artist, drawing very fluid action, not a whole lot of detail lines, and almost a cartoony look to the art style. I think Feister's cover is fantastic, but the interior art leaves me a bit mixed. I'm not sure how well the thin, detail-less art really fits the Joe universe. That may just be my own personal opinion, but I'm just not a big fan of that look unless they're going for a cartoon adaptation. Thankfully Mike Hawthorne takes over in the second half of the issue, and is apparently the artist throughout the rest of the 5-issue mini-series, which is great in my mind as the art work picks up a dozen notches in my mind once he takes over. He's able to work some detail into the line art, yet still put through a sense of fluidity and motion that fits the action. The art was a lot better with Hawthorne behind the pencil, and I'm glad he's the guy for the next 4 issues.


The writing goes a bit overboard and the art jumps all over the place, but overall it's a decent introductory issue that tells a good story and gives us a jumping off point for this new G.I. Joe universe. I do find myself captivated with exactly who "The Chimera" is and how he's involved in the G.I. Joe mythos. Is he a brand new character? Will he end up being a familiar face like Zartan or even COBRA Commander himself? It's an interesting start, and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the mini-series come together.

Not a flawless issue, but a decent one. Hopefully the rest of the series can take this, build on it, and end up a satisfying origin tale for this new take on G.I. Joe.

GRADE: out of 5