Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 15

Published: August 1st, 2012
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: various
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 232 Pages

Review:

I have finally reached the end of the classic Marvel Comics G.I. Joe run, which was almost entirely written by Larry Hama.

Most of it was great but the last four or five volumes are pretty shitty, this one being no different, which is sort of sad, considering how great this franchise was in its prime, back when Larry Hama still cared about it and when Hasbro was making great toys and not corny ones that pushed fans away.

To be fair, most of the loyal G.I. Joe fans were also more into girls by the early ’90s.

Anyway, this final collection of issues is a wee bit better than the previous lot but the series still went out with a whimper.

This is also plagued by awful art that is well below Marvel’s quality standards in the ’90s.

Most of the half dozen or so artists here were trying really hard to be the next Rob Liefeld and I don’t say that complimentary. They sort of adopted the worst parts of Liefeld’s style and gave us stories littered with bad physics, weird anatomy and messed up looking faces.

All in all, I still love this series. But everything went to shit after about 100 issues and never recovered.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe comics.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 14

Published: March 21st, 2012
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: various
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 256 Pages

Review:

At this point, the classic Marvel G.I. Joe comic had gotten so bad that I’m pretty sure the publisher knew it. And I really hate besmirching the great Larry Hama but I really don’t think he was giving a shit about these characters anymore.

So I guess going ninja heavy wasn’t enough to keep kids interested, so this volume went ahead and threw the Transformers franchise into the mix, as well.

Now it’s been pretty well-known since the beginning, really, that both of these franchises exist in the same universe. However, how they come together and fit has always been a bit wonky and inconsistent.

In this one, Cobra helps a disheveled but vengeance seeking Megatron get his mojo back. As part of this sinister partnership, Cobra is given Cybertronian tech to give them the edge in their quest for world domination. The story featuring some of the Transformers characters is fairly short, though.

This collection of issues, the penultimate collection in the original series, features multiple story arcs. None of them are all that interesting, sadly. Even seeing Megatron and Cobra Commander working together just didn’t do enough to peak my interest and redeem the series.

I’d say that this was a bit better than the previous volume but it was still mostly bad.

Well, only one more to go. I hope Hama at least goes out with something good. Probably not, though.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 13

Published: November 2nd, 2011
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: Rurik Tyler, Andrew Wildeman
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 235 Pages

Review:

Well, we’ve reached the first collected edition of the original G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic series that I’ve had to give an unfavorable score to.

This series, at this point, keeps getting worse. Other than the few original characters I care about, this is littered with shitty new ones and the old ones who are there are mostly wearing really awful new costumes.

Frankly, this was hard on the eyes, the story was out of gas and this went the route of “Just throw ninjas in there! A lot of ninjas! The kids love the ninjas!”

Well, when the ninjas look more sci-fi and fluorescent than traditional and dark, a ten year-old boy isn’t going to give a shit. The ninjas are no longer cool, they look like they were designed by the same toy development team that would go on to invent Bratz dolls.

This was damn hard to get through and I say that as someone that adores G.I. Joe. Hell, it’s my favorite franchise of all-time!

Luckily, I only have two more volumes to read in the original classic run. Hopefully, this finds a way to recover and go out with a bang. I fear it’s going to go out like a wet dog fart, however.

Rating: 4.25/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 12

Published: July 20th, 2011
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: John Stateman, Herb Trimpe, Rod Whigham, Andrew Wildeman
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 280 Pages

Review:

The last volume was probably where I would have jumped off the series when I was a kid, if I hadn’t jumped off of it before that due to getting older and getting strange feelings around girls.

Sadly, this collection of issues didn’t pick things back up and it just continued down a crappy path.

At this point, it’s like all the good stories have been told and the series just feels like it is running aimlessly on fumes without a clear direction. Maybe Larry Hama stopped caring and Hasbro was just making him wedge in all their new, weird toys, which, in my opinion, wrecked the franchise and killed it due to terrible redesigns and stupid, unrealistic vehicles.

With this stretch of issues, the art quality also fell off fairly significantly. While this features multiple artists, the overall quality is poor and littered with issues from bad perspective to weird faces and bizarre anatomy.

This is also longer than the previous eleven volumes by a couple of issues, which made pushing through it even harder.

But at least there were a lot of ninjas!… even if most of the new ones look really stupid.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 11

Published: April 20th, 2011
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: Mark Bright, Ron Garney, John Stateman, Lee Weeks
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 252 Pages

Review:

This may be where the series lost me. Granted, I think I started to feel that way a few volumes back but the series rebounded in a good way.

By this point in the long-running G.I. Joe series, though, it feels like Larry Hama is just running through the motions. Also, I feel less connected to it and less nostalgic for it, as I’ve gotten to the point in the franchise where I stopped paying attention to it when I was a kid.

That had a lot to do with getting older and with the design of the later G.I. Joe toys getting bizarre and ugly. I hated most of the new vehicles of this era, as well as the new characters and old character redesigns. Some things were good from this time but 90 percent of it was garish and impractical. I liked this when it at least felt grounded in some sort of reality.

None of that is specifically Hama’s fault. He didn’t design the toys and new character looks, so he had to make the best out of what was given to him to adapt into the larger story. Besides, this comic’s original purpose was to sell toys.

Like the other volumes I’ve reviewed, this one collects multiple story arcs. Some are fairly interesting but most of them just felt really redundant.

I did like the art, which was changing with the times but this does still generally look like an ’80s era G.I. Joe comic.

Overall, I’d say that this was my least favorite stretch of the original comic series that I’ve read so far. There are still four volumes left but I’ll probably finish the series, being that I’m this far into it.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.

Film Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

Also known as: G.I. Joe 2 (working title)
Release Date: March 11th, 2013 (Seoul premiere)
Directed by: John M. Chu
Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro
Music by: Henry Jackman
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, D. J. Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Arnold Vosloo, Walton Goggins, Elodie Yung, Rza, Matt Gerald, James Lew, James Carville (cameo)

Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Skydance Media, 110 Minutes, 123 Minutes (Extended Cut)

Review:

“I came here when I was fourteen, with a life expectancy of thirteen. I was bounced around from home to home until this… became my home. Guys would line up outside that door to fight me. They whooped my skinny ass so much I started to enjoy it. Until one winter, I grew eight inches, gained sixty pounds, punched a guy so hard he couldn’t move his arm to tap out. Then when the Joes came recruiting to the hood, I’d already beaten down half of it. I became a Joe to serve. In the field. So if we’re fighting uphill, we take the hill.” – Roadblock

I really wish this movie would have done much better at the box office because it course corrected in a great way and fixed the mess that was G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

On one hand, this is a sequel but on the other hand, it is also a soft reboot. It doesn’t necessarily ignore that the terrible first film exists, it just buries it and moves on. But as awesome as this turned out, for the most part, the damage from the first picture was so severe that this Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis action extravaganza couldn’t save the G.I. Joe franchise on the big screen.

That being said, it still isn’t a perfect G.I. Joe film but it felt like a good bridge between the shit this crawled out of and the great movie that could have followed, based off of what this picture set up for a future story.

To start, Dwayne Johnson was genius casting and this should have been the perfect franchise for him to lead. While he isn’t exactly who I would’ve envisioned for Roadblock, he definitely filled the shoes of leadership after Duke presumably died and General Hawk also presumably died or went on vacation somewhere.

Other than Duke and Snake Eyes, there aren’t any other G.I. Joe members from the first movie present. I’d like to think that maybe some of them would’ve been back in a third film, as none of the actors were necessarily bad, it was just the first movie that was a massive pile of shit.

The film does bring back Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow and Zartan on the Cobra side of the equation and we do get a brief glimpse of Destro but he’s essentially left out of the main plot, in what I would presume means that he would’ve been back in a third film with his Iron Grenadiers in an effort to start a Cobra Civil War, which was a great event in two different G.I. Joe comic book series.

While I could speculate on what the future of this franchise could have been for quite awhile, this is a review of this film and not a wish list for a movie that will never happen.

So getting back to the film, it flows nicely and I like that it was kept pretty grounded and didn’t try to overdo things like its predecessor that tried to be more like Iron Man and Transformers than G.I. Joe.

My only real complaints about the film are the same that I have with most modern big budget blockbusters of recent years. The musical scores are dull and not memorable or iconic, the fight scenes are hard to follow due to super fast edits and shaky cams, and the film’s visual look is boring, sterile and generic. These are all things that could’ve been easily tweaked and would have made this a much better picture.

Now I mostly like the story, other than I’m tired of killer satellites as weapons of mass destruction. This is a trope that has been done to death more times than a beaver has built a dam. Although, I will give the writers props on coming up with a fairly original version of a killer satellite.

Unlike the first movie, I loved the look of the characters, especially Cobra Commander. I don’t know what the fuck he was supposed to be in the first film but he looked like Doctor Satan from House of 1000 Corpses trying to cosplay as Glacier from World Championship Wrestling in the ’90s. Now Cobra Commander looks right. In fact, by the end of the film, he looked fucking perfect.

They also refined the look of Snake Eyes and got rid of his weird rubber lips while making Storm Shadow look more badass. Plus, the introduction of Firefly was great, he looked great and he was played by Ray Stevenson, who is pretty damn great in everything. I was kind of pissed that he got killed but this is a comic book movie and they could easily bring him back if they made a third picture.

For an old school G.I. Joe fan, this is a movie that just felt right. Especially, after the first one was a massive misfire that insulted the fans and confused the normies. It gave me hope because it showed that Hasbro and the studio listened to the fans’ criticisms of the first movie. Less than ten years later, studios just blame fans as being “toxic” while dismissing their criticisms because apparently fans are idiots and studios are run by geniuses that think that failure somehow means success.

In the end, I wish that this would’ve done better and that it would’ve kept the G.I. Joe franchise on the big screen for years to come. Granted, this could’ve easily just gone the route of Transformers and gone right back to being an embarrassing piece of shit.

I guess we’ll never know.

But I also guess we’ll see how Hasbro and the studio handles the material once it is rebooted. Rumor has it that G.I. Joe will be part of a larger connected universe with Transformers, M.A.S.K. and other toy franchises but fuck all that. I just want them to make a good, consistent G.I. Joe movie series before they try to go too big and ruin the whole thing for another generation.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: the early days of the original Marvel Comics run, as well as the first two seasons of the ’80s G.I. Joe cartoon.