G.I. Joe #2 - IDW Publishing

NOTE - I erroniously stated that G.I. Joe was a "Limited Series" in this review due to a misunderstanding on my part. I apologize. I have increased my initial 3-star rating to a 3.5 star rating due to the fact that we don't have to worry as much about pressing the action along in an unlimited series. I apologize for any confusion.

I thought issue #1 of the new IDW series hit on a pretty high note, and had equally high hopes for issue #2. This first installment of the new G.I. Joe is coming in a limited series, so I was expecting each issue to hit on all cylinders and push me right through the first six issues. It didn't really turn out that way so far, though. This second issue appears to be very much a "set up", giving us a bit more background into the technology behind this new G.I. Joe universe, while at the same time giving us a little glimpse into some new (and some very familiar) characters.

However, even as a set up issue a chunk of this second installment seems to focus a little too much on the technology. I understand that G.I. Joe and COBRA have always done battle with scientifically advanced weaponry, but do we really need an entire 5-pages devoted to testing a new device that may or may not ever be used? Well, let's face it, this is probably forshadowing, so we can figure to see the "B.E.T." at a later time (yes, they managed to work in a throwback to the device used in G.I. Joe: The Movie way back when). Still, even with the forshadowing, I'm not sure this issue really needed to read like an episode of Fringe.

But let's move on...

Basic Plot

We start off the issue with the 5-Page preview that was posted at JoeReloaded, which involves a team of support staff testing a new power source, affectionately called the "B.E.T.". Any Sunbow watchers will immediately recognize the name, and it's an interesting homage to the old series, and it just so happens this issue is filled with them. We get introduced to a bunch of new characters, guys who aren't really "Joes" per se, though they do seem to have their fair share of nifty code names. I'm not sure how I feel seeing this massive support staff for what is supposed to be a small, highly trained mission force. Obviously my reaction to "The Pit" in issue #1 was kind of mixed, and I continue to be a bit mixed here. Granted, it is nice to see the overused cliche of "small, ragtag group of mobile operatives on the run" and their huge staff of tech wizards makes sense if you look at the state of the art equipment they use, but a cast of hundreds is going to take some getting used to. It almost wouldn't surprise me to see this cast and the scale of The Pit pulled way down at some point...perhaps due to events in this series? We'll see, I guess.

The issue shifts to the Philippines where we see a small team with Stalker, Leatherneck, and Recondo trailing Nico Mandirobilis, who we last saw desperately trying to escape from the teleporting assassin in issue #1. However, their pursuit comes to an untimely end when a mysterious stranger with a sword appears to sabotage their efforts.


I'm really happy to see Leatherneck and Recondo here, and teaming them with Stalker is a great idea. Chuck Dixon seems to be able to juggle the almost other-worldly aspects of the Joe technology, while also able to write a decent down and dirty "real world" operation. Sure, not much happens with this short pursuit, but it was still a decent sequence with nicely flowing dialog and a good choice of electic, yet popular characters.

We then move back to The Pit where Duke is complaining to Scarlett about Stalker's team getting the "go order" on the last mission rather than his own. There is obviously some pent-up frustrations here, but it's pretty cool seeing Scarlett in a more leadership role and not afraid to put Duke in his place. There is also a reference to some mysterious connection between Scarlett and Snake Eyes, and Duke mentions that the famous Joe ninja has gone "AWOL". It would appear that our introduction to Snake Eyes last issue had him there of his own volition. Scarlett leaves Duke and speaks with another support staff member named "Lab Rat", who gives her a technical run down of the burnt up weapon and tissue sample that Snake Eyes retrieved at the scene last issue. So even if Snake Eyes is AWOL, he still appears to be working with the Joes, or at least Scarlett herself.

In another part of the lab inside The Pit, another small team (including one of the guys who was testing the B.E.T. earlier) is examining the technical marvel that the Joes recovered from the ship in Instanbul in Issue #1. They are specifically checking out the scope and receptor, unaware that someone is actually watching them.


Ladies, and gentlmen, James McCullen Destro revealed for the first time in the IDW series. He's obviously young, and they play up the Scottish angle pretty heavily, but so far so good. I like his technology, I like his support staff operatives, and he's based out of a Scottish castle, so what's to complain about yet?

Speaking of the castle, as he departs to the "M.A.S.S. Lab" (yes another nice tribute to the Sunbow series, especially considering there was an teleporting assassin in issue #1) there is a familiar looking woman approaching the castle underwater.

The wet suit clad Baroness has her own share of homages to the past, with that familiar looking Heavy Water collector from the MASS device mini-series clutched in her hand. I do like the design of her suit, and the webbed fingers are an interesting touch as well. She quickly sheds her suit and sneaks into the castle.

Back in The Pit, the tech wizards really cannot figure out the piece of technology that they uncovered, other than to realize that it's powered on, yet in "standby" mode. They decide to bust it open the next day, but Destro's small team of agents have their own plans. Taking control of the device from their Scotland hideaway, the two operatives activate the machine. It quickly strikes, killing a support staff member by the name of "Bankshot" Hmmm...is that what we can expect? Creating new characters simply to act as cannon fodder? Hopefully not, but time will tell.

After the very short exchange, we're back at Destro's castle, where The Baroness finally reveals herself. Curious that she doesn't appear to know, or have any history with, the Destro of IDW's universe...



The first issue of the series made a very strong impression, however the second issue left me wanting a little bit more. There seemed to be a lot of "set up" and not a whole lot of delivery, although I understand that's probably still to come in the series. I get a bit concerned that there won't be enough page time to cover everything, considering we're two issues into this, and COBRA has only been hinted at, but considering this is an ongoing series (not a limited series as I initially thought) this does provide some decent build-up and story development and gives IDW plenty of time to push things forward.

Of course if this is anything like the Transformers series, then I should have no concern, because that started out as a limited series as well, and has continued on over the past few years. Whatever the plan is, these two issues have given me a certain amount of faith in Chuck Dixon and IDW in general, which is faith I don't think I really had with Devils' Due except when written by Brandon Jerwa. Dixon seems able to juggle the technology and juggle the real world aspects very capably, and most importantly, the dialog and flow of the story are seamless. This feels like an adventure that is actually happening, without the over-the-top "Hollywood" dialog that often permeated the Devils' Due stuff. This is obviously a story where the military and technology are very closely and obviously linked, more so than in Joe stories past, and I kind of welcome the fact that Chuck Dixon is embracing that part of it. Jetpacks, automated soldiers, holographic shape-shifting, and cloned Emperors have always kind of been pushed aside or just accepted with no explanation, and it's interesting to see the opposite approach being taken. I just hope the exposition gives 'way to a bit more action in the new few issues. Judging by Destro's robotic infiltrator, though, that isn't something I have to worry about.

Dixon is also doing a decent job at character selection as well. We've got the favorites like Duke, Scarlett, and Snake Eyes, but we've also already been introduced to Stalker, Beachhead, Leatherneck, and Recondo, who are all favorite characters of mine, and sometimes don't get enough screen time.

From an art perspective, Robert Atkins continues to shine with a nice, clean style that isn't overly bogged down by detail lines and over-indulgent pen strokes. The characters strongly resemble their classic counterparts and are pretty easily identifiable. His page layout is strong, his sense of perspective works well, and I'm quite happy with his style on this book. So far so good in that department.


It would have been tough to live up to the first issue, and the second really doesn't all told. There were a few pitfalls and it was a bit slow on the plot development, but we got some nice character introductions, the art is still solid, and I can see the story taking shape. Worth a read if you're a Joe fan, and even if it doesn't keep up the pace of Issue #1, it's a decent next step towards the birth of this G.I. Joe and COBRA universe.

GRADE: out of 5