Published: June 17th, 2014
Written by: Larry Hama, Chuck Dixon, various
Art by: Alex Cal, various
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro
IDW Publishing, 296 Pages
Who tells better G.I. Joe stories than Larry Hama? The answer is “no one.” Chuck Dixon is a very close second but Hama’s stories just exist on a different level due to his military experience and simply for the fact that he’s been writing these characters for decades and invented their backstories in the early 1980s while working for Marvel.
The G.I. Joe: Origins series was Larry Hama’s debut in the IDW G.I. Joe universe. It jumps backwards in time, before the first IDW G.I. Joe stories to show how the team formed and what it was like when these characters first met and worked together. Hama wrote the majority of the material here but not all of it. Still, the bits penned by others still maintain the classic Hama spirit.
The first five chapters of the twelve in this collection deal with G.I. Joe’s very first mission, which pits them against a psychotic terrorist named Chimera. There are similarities between the Chimera character and the Hama version of Cobra Commander that he wrote in the ’80s at Marvel. Reading this story feels as if Hama intended Chimera to be IDW’s Cobra Commander but once we do get to meet and know Cobra Commander, some time after this story, we find out that he had been running the Cobra organization for over thirty years.
I loved the Chimera story, however. It’s a shame that the character was never brought back into IDW’s G.I. Joe universe, as his exit here sees him fall down an elevator shaft. Since this is a comic book, I’d assume he’s alive unless they recovered a body and even then, no one stays dead in comics.
The rest of the stories build off of the Chimera setup and expand the roster of G.I. Joe and serves to build the team’s camaraderie. Ultimately, this series shows how these people gel and work as not just a secret military unit but as a family.
The last two chapters were also spectacular. One dealt with the origin of Beachhead while the other was the origin of the Baroness. Both of these were damn good and made me love the characters even more. As the Baroness is a huge part of the IDW G.I. Joe universe, knowing her on a more intimate level was necessary and her backstory is even more screwed up than I had ever imagined.
I loved this collection and it is, hands down, some of the best G.I. Joe stuff put out by IDW. Frankly, I’m stoked to jump into the second volume.
Pairs well with: G.I. Joe: Origins – Omnibus Two, as well as other early IDW G.I. Joe stories before the Cobra Civil War mega event.