Published: May 6th, 2009 (IDW reprint version)
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: Larry Hama, Steve Leialoha, Mike Vosburg, Jon D’Agostino, Russ Heath
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro
Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 233 Pages
This edition of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero classic collection starts off with one of the most iconic issues of all-time, issue 21. This is the one that introduces Storm Shadow, the Arashikage ninja clan and gives you the first clues to Snake Eyes’ backstory.
But it doesn’t stop there. You also get the introduction of Duke and Roadblock, then the iconic issue where the Baroness gets facial reconstructive surgery and Cobra Commander is captured, then you get the debut of Zartan and the Dreadnoks (my favorite subgroup in Cobra), as well as Firefly, and by this point, you’re not even halfway into this collection of issues.
This also has the long story arc that is Snake Eyes actual origin and the Everglades showdown between Cobra’s elite, the Dreadnoks and core members of the G.I. Joe team.
While the second collection of stories got into multi-issue story arcs, this is where the G.I. Joe comics series truly becomes a larger ongoing saga. Each story leads into the next and there is a consistent ongoing thread now, where the earliest issues felt more episode and were mostly one issue plots that were resolved pretty quickly.
This is also the string of issues that made me fall in love with this series as a kid. This is also midway between the beginning and where Serpentor and a new generation of characters start to pour in. This is the high point of the first phase of G.I. Joe in comic book form. Granted, I haven’t read anything after issue 30 in several years so there is still a chance I’ll like the next volume even more.
It’s just hard to top the ninja heavy action, the debut of the Dreadnoks and the Everglades battle that takes place here.
There isn’t a dull moment in this volume.
Additionally, Storm Shadow’s backstory in the comic books is much better and you actually understand what his motivations are and why he is a member of Cobra.
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.