Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: Silent Option

Published: September 19th, 2018 – March 13th, 2019
Written by: Larry Hama, Ryan Ferrier
Art by: Netho Diaz, Kenneth Loh
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 151 Pages

Review:

This four-part miniseries is the latest G.I. Joe story from longtime G.I. Joe writer Larry Hama. It is also the first IDW G.I. Joe story that I’ve read in several months, as I was starting to get burnt out on the franchise due to how IDW has handled it since Chuck Dixon and Mike Costa left the series.

Larry Hama is still writing the regular ongoing series that started at Marvel in the early ’80s but it just doesn’t have the same magic it used to and so much has changed for the worse that I don’t much care for Hama’s ongoing continuity even though his work, decades ago, is what initially got me into buying comic books to begin with.

I wanted to check this out, though. The main reason is that I’ve been yearning for a good G.I. Joe story and this miniseries is centered around Helix, a modern character but one I came to love in the IDW rebooted continuity. I know, I know, these multiple continuities can get confusing but I believe that this is technically Helix’s first appearance in the original Hama continuity, so I wanted to see how it played out.

Overall, her story was good but this complete story arc was pretty mundane. I’m an old school fan, so the lack of Cobra in this story sucked, as did the lack of old school Joes. Sure, the story featured Firefly but the villain was generic and just had some red ninjas to do her bidding and on the Joe side we got Alpine and tiny cameos from Hawk, Cutter and Shipwreck but this was pretty much a new Joe team featuring characters that are poor recreations of iconic Joe members.

Hell, we get two new versions of Snake Eyes here but neither of them are even 5 percent as cool as the original. I don’t dig the girl Snake Eyes and it seems like a cheap attempt by IDW at trying to create their own X-23 type of character. For those that don’t know, X-23 was a female clone of Wolverine in Marvel Comics titles.

I thought the art was mostly good and this had a harder edge to it than most of Hama’s G.I. Joe stories, as it dealt with human sex trafficking, but it lacked in badass points when compared to the Dixon and Costa G.I. Joe stories from the IDW reboot continuity.

This wasn’t a complete waste of time but it didn’t do much to motivate me to give G.I. Joe a seventeenth chance.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: any of the Larry Hama G.I. Joe stuff at IDW.

Comic Review: Generic Comic Book

Published: April, 1984
Written by: Steve Skeates, Larry Hama (editor)
Art by: various

Marvel Comics, 22 Pages

Review:

Whew! This was a terrible comic. And oddly, it came to me as a recommendation.

Apparently, this was just a one-shot that served as some sort of legal scheme for Marvel to attempt to trademark the words “super-hero” and “super-villain”.

The comic is exactly what it says, “generic”. It’s actually generic as hell, boring, drab, unimaginative and a dud in every way.

This wasn’t a bad concept though, had Marvel actually done something cool with this and maybe cared about the project even a smidgen. They could have made this over the top, fun and actually invented some characters that could have gone on to exist as in-jokes within regular Marvel continuity.

But as is probably for the best, these characters never see the light of day again and this book is pretty damn forgettable.

I’m glad I own it though, as it’s just really odd and I like having oddball shit in my comic collection. At the very least, it’s a conversation piece.

Apparently, Larry Hama was the editor on this but I’ll forgive him as he was killing it on G.I. Joe at the same time.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: experimental Marvel schlock of the early ’80s.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 6

Published: December 16th, 2009 (IDW reprint version)
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: Rod Whigham, Todd McFarlane, Ron Wagner
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 236 Pages

Review:

This collection of the classic Larry Hama G.I. Joe comics is probably most unlike any of the others before it. The string of issues collected here, numbers 51 through 60, showcase a lot of new Joes and members of Cobra, as well as dealing with Serpentor taking control of Cobra while Cobra Commander spends some time connecting with his estranged son and trying out his battle armor, which was worn by his action figure after G.I. Joe: The Movie in the cartoon series and toy line.

One cool thing worth noting is that one of the issues here was drawn by Todd McFarlane before he would achieve fame with The Amazing Spider-Man and later, Spawn.

While I didn’t enjoy this as much as some of the collections before it, it is still a good string of tales. However, this is getting closer to the era of G.I. Joe that I didn’t like as much as the earlier stuff.

The franchise, at this point, has so many characters that comic book debuts happen nearly every issue and usually with multiple new faces showing up at the same time. One issue in here had the new look Cobra Commander out on his first mission with the debuting Raptor, Fred VII and a new group of Joes like Tunnel Rat and Outback. And I know I’m probably missing several others. It’s just hard for the comic to follow a tightly knit narrative like this series did at it’s peak from volumes 3 through 5.

Don’t get me wrong, if you love G.I. Joe, especially the Larry Hama side of the universe, then this should still satisfy you. It just shows that this is a franchise in constant flux and this feels more like a transition to newer things than something that builds off of what we’ve come to know thus far. But this is also planting seeds for the Cobra Civil War storyline, which was one of the high points in the comic’s entire run.

Rating: 8/10
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. 5

Published: September 9th, 2009 (IDW reprint version)
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: Rod Whigham
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

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

Review:

This was such a fun read and I powered through it pretty damn quickly for a trade paperback of its size.

This volume is also a transitional period for the G.I. Joe franchise. This is the bridge between the first generation of toys to the second. This starts with the characters and vehicles you know from the first season of the TV show but it slowly introduces characters and vehicles from the second season. This also ends with the story that sees the creation of Serpentor, the short lived Cobra leader that wrestled power away from Cobra Commander.

Other first appearances here, just to name a few from memory, are Scrap Iron, Dr. Mindbender, Airtight, Alpine, Quick Kick, Beachhead, Bazooka and Zarana.

The stories here are all pretty good. This continues to go the route of being a bigger interconnected saga than just having episodic tales, which is how I prefer the G.I. Joe comic series.

There are two big highlights to this volume, one is the aforementioned creation of Serpentor, the other is the first real team-up of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. They finally discover who killed their master and go to Cobra Island to seek revenge.

Volume 5 also has a lot of Dreadnok stuff and as I’ve said in earlier reviews, they are my favorite group in the G.I. Joe universe. And since Zarana shows up, at the end, we also get our first new member of the group since their debut some time before this. That only means that Monkey Wrench and Thrasher aren’t too far behind.

There was also a lot of good stuff regarding the “Fred” character in this. He becomes even more important later on. We also got to see more of Billy training with Storm Shadow.

This was a solid volume of classic G.I. Joe tales. Larry Hama was on his A game with these stories and Rod Whigham was killing it on the art side.

Rating: 9.5/10
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. 4

Published: July 1st, 2009 (IDW reprint version)
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: Mark Bright, Bob Camp, Larry Hama, Frank Springer, Rod Whigham
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

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

Review:

The collection before this one, as well as the back half of the one before that, got more into longer epic stories that carried over from issue to issue. This collection gets back to being more episodic like the earliest volumes. I prefer my G.I. Joe stories to be larger and having multiple issue arcs but this string of issues is a good balance between the two, as some plot threads continue to be sewn into the larger tapestry.

This collection also introduces us to Lady Jaye, Flint and the Cobra twins: Tomax and Xamot. It also starts the Billy storyline, which I don’t want to spoil but he’s a little kid with ties to Cobra Commander and is initially used by Cobra agents to try and assassinate the Commander.

Most importantly, we get the debut of my favorite member of G.I. Joe, Hector “Shipwreck” Delgado. Now he was my favorite character in the TV series. I just need to see how he stacks up in the classic comics, as I haven’t read these stories since the ’80s and I never got to read the complete saga. It’s also worth noting that Barbecue first appears in the same issue as Shipwreck.

While this does have a more episodic format, the last few issues collected here sort of string together and get back towards giving us a more long-term story.

I felt that Larry Hama and this series really hits its peak with the issues in the collection before this one. However, this continues to build off of those really well. The comic book G.I. Joe universe keeps getting larger, the stakes keep getting higher and this doesn’t feel safe unlike the cartoon.

This is just another solid string of issues, the momentum is still going strong and I’m looking forward to volume 5, which is where Serpentor eventually shows up.

Rating: 9/10
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. 3

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

Review:

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.

Rating: 9.5/10
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. 2

Published: March 4th, 2009 (IDW reprint version)
Written by: Larry Hama, Steven Grant
Art by: Geof Isherwood, Mike Vosburg
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

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

Review:

While I liked the first volume of these collected editions, this is where the style of Larry Hama’s classic era G.I. Joe legacy really kicks things into high gear.

The main takeaway from this is that it starts to get away from episodic feeling single issues and becomes a more fluid larger story arc. This is where the saga really begins to grow and how it evolves into something more solid than the awesome Sunbow/Marvel cartoon series.

This is also where Destro and Major Bludd come into the franchise. Both characters are great in this and have more depth than their cartoon counterparts. Bludd was just sort of a loud, crass, on field commander that was quick to retreat in the cartoons. Here, he is a bit of a badass and his distaste for Destro is very apparent.

Also, we get our first glimpse into the passionate relationship between Destro and the Baroness and how it creates problems for the Baroness and her relationship with Cobra Commander and her place in his organization.

We also get two characters I loved from the comics: Dr. Venom and Scar-face. Neither of them had toys or appeared in the cartoon but they were cool, dynamic characters in the comic series with more character development than most characters got in the television show.

There is also a significant amount of time for Snake Eyes to shine here. He appears in the first collected edition but was mostly just there to look cool. Here, we really get to know him and see how he is probably the most vital single member of the G.I. Joe team.

Another thing about this series of issues, is that you witness death for the first time in the G.I. Joe franchise. Unlike the cartoon, many characters don’t survive in the comics. It goes to show that no one is actually safe and that this take on the franchise has more gravitas and the weight of these characters’ actions can have mortal consequences.

All in all, this is a really good installment in the classic G.I. Joe comics run. This is where the series found its footing and started taking real risks.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.