By Mark Powers (script), Mike Bear, Mike Shoyket, Pat Quinn (art), and Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colors)

It’s probably a little too late to start reading G.I. Joe: America’s Elite (the series is ending next month), but as I always say, better late than never! Issue #35 is part 11 (of 12) of the “World War III” story line that’s been touted as one of the best Joe stories ever told. Since I’m only familiar with the early issues Marvel put out in the 1980s, there’s not much for me to compare it to (unless you count the TV show, which I’ve seen countless times).

One thing I’ve noticed is how mature this story is. It’s G.I. Joe all grown up, and the war they’ve been fighting with Cobra feels like there’s a lot at stake. The preface is Cobra’s been starting skirmishes around the globe to weaken all the superpowers’ armies. With global defenses spread thin, Cobra Commander unveils a maniacal plan to detonate nukes in Antarctica and the Amazon, creating an ecological catastrophe on a global scale. With Joe forces in disarray, a last ditch effort is hatched to push the remaining forces into the heart of Cobra’s facilities to shut down its communications and higher level technology, while smaller Joe teams go to disarm the nukes.

It’s a wonderful concept that carries a lot of urgency – it’s just too bad I’ll have to wait for the Omnibus to come out to read what I missed. As a stand alone issue, I think I came in at the wrong time. There’s absolutely no character building going on here – and there shouldn’t be! This is the climax of the battle, and everything comes to a head. There’s so many battles taking place concurrently that I found myself getting confused a couple of times. And I’m not sure how regular readers will feel about this, but I thought things wrapped up a little too conveniently and quickly. From what I’ve gathered, Cobra has been very smart thus far, and suddenly, it’s all fallen apart.

The art serves the issue well. I was able to make out most of the Joes by their trademarked designs, though there were a few characters I’ve never heard of before. The storytelling is excellent – the team goes to work producing 22 pages of non-stop action with little cohesion lost. The only thing that feels a bit off is the coloring, which feels a bit rough around the edges at times. But for the most part, the overcoloring and use of “blooming” gives the book a nice “anime” look to it.

I may have come on to this title a bit too late, but I had fun with what I was given. Cobra Commander’s got one more trick up his sleeve and I’m anxious to see what it is. (Grade: B-)

– J. Montes