Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Infestation 2

Published: March 14th, 2012
Written by: Mike Raicht
Art by: Valentino De Landro, John Rauch
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 53 Pages

Review:

I read the first G.I. Joe: Infestation story not too long ago and reviewed it. It was okay but a bit weird and didn’t seem to have much of a point. The original one was a mega crossover event with other properties that saw them all fighting zombies. This version is pretty much the same thing but instead of zombies, we get a Lovecraftian horror twist.

But like the original, this one was kind of fun but also seemed pretty pointless.

Maybe I need to read the entire Infestation runs but I’m just not interested in most of the other franchises in these crossovers other than TransformersGhostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I don’t care so much for IDW’s own original franchises and how they’re tied in. There are also tie ins to 30 Days of Night and Dungeons & Dragons but I don’t care about either of those. Well, unless the D&D book followed the characters from the ’80s cartoon but it doesn’t, it’s just generic D&D stuff.

Like the first Infestation, this one spends some time with the Baroness. But we also get some action from Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes, which immediately makes this a bit cooler than its predecessor.

The problem with the Infestation series of books, is that they’re just too short. Maybe it all works better from a narrative standpoint if you read them all but I’d rather just have a more fleshed out G.I. Joe take on H.P. Lovecraft.

This isn’t a waste of time but it also isn’t a must read. It also isn’t necessary if you are trying to read through IDW’s core G.I. Joe stuff, as I recently did. It’s a stand alone story that isn’t specifically tied into anything in the IDW G.I. Joe canon.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: Other releases in IDW’s multi-franchise Infestation and Infestation 2 crossovers.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes, Agent of Cobra

Published: August 25th, 2015
Written by: Mike Costa
Art by: Paolo Villanelli
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 120 Pages

Review:

I can’t stress enough how much I didn’t like the fourth phase of the IDW G.I. Joe run titled The Fall of G.I. Joe. This story takes place alongside it and focuses on a different group of players in the G.I. Joe and Cobra organizations, so I was hoping that it would be better. Also, it was written by Mike Costa, who penned some really good G.I. Joe stories for IDW. At the very least, I anticipated this being better than The Fall of G.I. Joe. So was it?

Well, it starts with a jailbreak that sees G.I. Joe agent Snake Eyes rescuing Cobra’s weapons dealer Destro. It’s a strange twist, especially since Snake Eyes hasn’t been seen for quite some time leading up to this. In any event, it was great having him back and getting a ninja-centric storyline, which the G.I. Joe books had been lacking since Target: Snake Eyes, which came out more than two years before this. Also, I love Destro.

The story also serves to carry on the plot threads from The Cobra Files series. It picks up with the characters from those books: Chameleon, Ronin and Billy, the original Cobra Commander’s son. Also, it allows Storm Shadow to catch up with Snake Eyes to work out their personal differences following the events of Target: Snake Eyes.

Costa did a good job with this book and I’m pretty sure it was his farewell, as G.I. Joe went into a drastic new direction after this where it was crossed over with a bunch of other Hasbro properties and almost got a sort of anime visual style.

Snake Eyes, Agent of Cobra isn’t Costa’s best work on G.I. Joe but it was a satisfying chapter in Costa’s long history working on the property.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: The story runs alongside The Fall of G.I. Joe but that story arc was terrible. This picks up after the events of Target: Snake Eyes.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe (IDW, Vol. 4): The Fall of G.I. Joe

Published: March 10th, 2015
Written by: Karen Traviss
Art by: Steve Kurth
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 208 Pages

Review:

Well, I finally got there. I’ve gotten to the point where IDW’s G.I. Joe run has gone off of the rails. Sadly, it was at the hands of Karen Traviss, whose work I really enjoyed when she was penning Star Wars books before Disney bought the franchise and ignored the Expanded Universe that Traviss greatly contributed to.

Maybe Traviss got this G.I. Joe gig because of her name. And maybe she wasn’t an avid G.I. Joe fan like she seemed to be a Star Wars fan. Whatever the reasoning, this is just a bad, bad story. Well, it’s a bad G.I. Joe story. It could have been an okay story if you just want your action adventure military tales to be nothing but a bunch of talking. Seriously, that’s all this is… talking.

There is no action, whatsoever. Okay, a few people get shot but not in a big battle or anything, as there are no big battles. This entire story arc made up the fourth phase of IDW’s G.I. Joe run. So this entire phase of a franchise that is known as one of the most action packed of all-time, had absolutely no action. I can’t stress the importance of action in a G.I. Joe story enough. G.I. Joe has always had energy, this had zero.

The art was a big departure from what I’ve been used to with IDW’s other G.I. Joe stuff. It wasn’t bad art, it was just very different. Also, the cover designs are terrible. I’m not sure who approved the art style for the covers of these issues but this is a friggin’ G.I. Joe comic book, not some construction paper art hanging from the hallways of an elementary school. Also, the women were made a lot less attractive, which is becoming the norm in comic books these days but certainly isn’t going to make this book appeal to any thirteen year-old boys. But comic book creators don’t seem like they’re comic book fans anymore or that they even have the vaguest understanding of the medium.

The Fall of G.I. Joe is the worst G.I. Joe story I have read by IDW Publishing up to this point. I will read the follow up Snake Eyes: Agent of Cobra but after that, IDW started crossing over G.I. Joe and other franchises; I don’t have any interest in that really.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: Nothing. But I guess I’ll mention what comes before it, which is G.I. Joe (IDW, Vol. 3), Vol. 3: Siren’s Song. And also the story that follows it, Snake Eyes: Agent of Cobra.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe, Vol. 3: Siren’s Song

Published: July 15th, 2014
Written by: Paul Allor
Art by: Alex Cal, S.L. Gallant, Atilio Rojo, Robert Atkins, Steve Kurth, various
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 104 Pages

Review:

Well, I knew that I would have to eventually get to that point where IDW’s G.I. Joe universe would fall off in quality and this is it. This was the first IDW G.I. Joe book that I didn’t enjoy and found to be a real bore and mostly pretty pointless.

After reading this, it became apparent that IDW didn’t have a solid direction to movie towards with the G.I. Joe property. The earliest titles that were set before and around the M.A.S.S. Device storyline and then everything building towards the Cobra Civil War mega event and its aftermath was all really great. Things started to go south in the third wave of titles, however, and this being the end of that wave, only solidified my fears, that IDW had lost that magic touch.

The story follows a woman with the code name Siren, who goes to work for Cobra because they promise to help her get her son back. The Joes get a signal from her and set off on a mission to rescue her, her son and to take out the Cobra base they are at. They soon discover that the signal was sent months earlier and that Siren’s son has been indoctrinated and brainwashed by Cobra to be an agent. The base is a sort of training center where kids are molded into ideal Cobra soldiers. The camp is ran by Big Boa who is oddly female now and who already appeared in IDW’s G.I. Joe comics as a man before the Cobra Civil War event.

I haven’t minded gender swapped Joe characters before. I love the female Dial Tone and I like that Doc’s daughter took over as a new version of Doc. However, this almost feels more like a political sort of move, as the newly female version of Big Boa isn’t explained or given a background story. The male version died, if I remember correctly, as he hadn’t appeared for awhile before this. Maybe they’ll flesh out the female Big Boa after this but since this is the last release in the third phase of IDW’s G.I. Joe run, it seems doubtful.

There doesn’t seem to be much point to this story, other than to serve as a way to try to popularize IDW’s original character Hashtag, who is a girl blogger that acts like a holier than thou Millennial do-gooder that shouldn’t even be in an elite military group. But I don’t like how the third phase of titles turned G.I. Joe into celebrities and gave them a blogger to follow them around. The whole concept seems silly and forced and this story arc is the culmination of that weird and bad idea.

While I love Krake, the second Cobra Commander that rose to borrow during Cobra Civil War, the G.I. Joe stories have slowly been going off of the rails since he made Cobra public.

IDW Publishing served G.I. Joe incredibly well up to this point. I’m not sure what happened, other than maybe Chuck Dixon and Mike Costa wanting to move on to other projects but I don’t foresee things improving beyond this book.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: Other G.I. Joe comics from IDW’s third and fourth phase titles.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe, Vol. 2: Threat Matrix

Published: February 25th, 2014
Written by: Fred Van Lente
Art by: Steve Kurth, Jamal Igle
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 152 Pages

Review:

Threat Matrix is the second volume of IDW’s third G.I. Joe run. It picks up from the story in Homefront and happens alongside the events in G.I. Joe: Special Missions and The Cobra Files.

The story is mostly focused on a big terror attack by Cobra in New York City. Cobra is led by the Mad Monk, who had an important story arc way back in the G.I. Joe: Origins series. Here, he is hellbent on ruining the life of Duke. We also see Destro and the Baroness unite in an effort to undermine Monk, as neither have faith in him or his mission and think that he can be the undoing of the Cobra organization. Also, Cover Girl suspects that Duke is a Cobra spy and all the signs she’s looking for seem to support the unfortunate theory.

This is a complex and layered G.I. Joe story and I loved it. There are lots of suprises, there is a ton of action and the art does a great job of conveying the energy of the story.

The big reveal of what Duke’s secret is, however, was really convenient and pretty stupid. I’ll just leave it at that, as I don’t want to spoil the actual story itself.

The last chapter in this is a bit slower and the overall arc concludes in the second to last issue in this collection. The final chapter is mostly just a flashback to Roadblock becoming a member of G.I. Joe. It doesn’t necessarily serve the greater narrative but maybe it leads into something important in the next volume after this.

Threat Matrix was a good read and better than I thought it would be, as the IDW G.I. Joe universe seemed to be losing some steam in this third phase of titles. I just hope that the finale to this phase goes out with a much needed bang and doesn’t just come and go with a soft wimper.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: The other G.I. Joe stories that happen at the same time: G.I. Joe: Special Missions (IDW) and G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Special Missions, Vol. 3

Published: July 8th, 2014
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Paul Gulacy, Will Rosado
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 124 Pages

Review:

This is the final book in IDW’s version of G.I. Joe: Special Missions. It is also the end of Chuck Dixon’s run on G.I. Joe, which is pretty sad as he was the best writer the franchise has ever had that isn’t Larry Hama, the old school, original G.I. Joe writer.

Dixon’s stories have been pretty damn solid and he’s created some iconic moments and events that I will always remember in the highest regard. I also own all of his G.I. Joe stuff, so I can go back and enjoy it whenever I feel like it for the rest of my life.

This series came to a close, as the third phase of IDW’s G.I. Joe run was also coming to a close. While the first and second phases were my favorite era in the IDW canon, the third phase was also great and very different due to massive things changing after the big Cobra Civil War event that took up most of phase two.

The story here picks up with Scarlett’s team, who we haven’t really seen since G.I. Joe: Special Missions, Vol. 1 where they were trying to stop the Baroness from recovering a fortune that she lost at sea. This story also serves to bring some closure to the phase one plot that saw Destro kill Copperback’s father. Something that Copperback has wanted revenge for since the M.A.S.S. Device story arc that took up the entirety of phase one.

Overall, this is a really good story with a lot of action and some good plot twists. I feel like Destro has been severely underutilized by IDW but he really gets some time to shine here.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: The other comics that happen alongside this one: G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files, Vol. 2G.I. Joe, Vol. 2: Threat Matrix.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files, Vol. 2

Published: March 5th, 2014
Written by: Mike Costa
Art by: Werther Dell’edera, Antonio Fuso
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 104 Pages

Review:

I really liked everything about the stories surrounding Flint’s group of Joes after the events of Cobra Civil War and Cobra Command. This is sadly, the last of those stories, as this is where the group disbands due to Flint feeling like they have evolved in a way that doesn’t make them different than the enemy.

There are some big twists in the story, which keeps it really engaging. Some swerves you see coming but are still a hard pill to swallow when you’ve been following these characters for what is the equivalent of roughly twenty single issues between this series and its predecessor, G.I. Joe: Cobra.

Initially, this started out a bit slow but once things got moving, they really got friggin’ moving!

I loved this story arc and it was a great sendoff to one of my favorite splinter groups within IDW’s G.I. Joe run. It was also a great sendoff for Mike Costa, who would leave the G.I. Joe franchise at the end of this third IDW phase of titles.

Everything that Costa had written in regards to the character of Chameleon really comes full circle here. I wasn’t a big fan of the character in the beginning but she becomes something great in this story.

This also features the Night Creepers, once again, and brings Firefly back into the plot, as he has been working with Tomax all along despite Tomax’s sort of imprisonment within the Vegas G.I. Joe HQ.

Hands down, this turned into one of my favorite G.I. Joe stories. It sucks that some beloved characters met their demise but this is why IDW was really damn good at producing adult G.I. Joe stories. Granted, IDW goes off the rails not too long after this third phase of titles.

Mike Costa, I tip my proverbial hat to you, as you created new Joe stories for me to love and cherish till the end of time. Costa, along with the excellent work of Chuck Dixon, was able to keep G.I. Joe fun and exciting but in a way that shows respect to the fans that grew up with these characters, who are now adults that can’t seem to put these stories down.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: The two stories that happen alongside this one: G.I. Joe: Special Missions, Vol. 2 and G.I. Joe, Vol. 2: Threat Matrix.