By: Fred Van Lente (writer), Steve Kurth (pencils), Allen Martinez (inks), Joana Lafuente (colors) and Shawn Lee (letters)
The Story: Destro, Duke and Mad Monk see their plans coming together.
Review (with SPOILERS): This is a very confounding issue. I love the story, but I loathe the art.
Fred Van Lente’s story is great. He has spent a number of issues creating layers of intrigue and it’s all starting to pay off. Not only are GI Joe and Cobra locked in a battle, but each side has internal divisions. Let’s start with Duke and whether he may or may not be a traitor. I mean, how brave of a story choice is THAT? Duke is basically the prototype for GI Joe: nice, no profanity, buzzcut, hard-working, honest, capable, leader-of-men, blah, blah….. Just the thought that he might be a traitor is a brave step. Even if he’s just allowing himself to be manipulated by Cobra because they kidnapped his wife pops some holes the the Duke mythos. The Duke we think we know is duty-first, but the man in this story might be willing to compromise his duty and place comrades in danger to save his wife. It’s understandable from a human point of view – many of us would do the same thing – but Duke is supposedly “better” than the rest of us. Stay tuned to see how this works out.
Even more delicious than Duke’s possible betrayal is all the back-stabbing within Cobra. This is already a time of turmoil for Cobra with Krake having only become the new Cobra Commander within the last year or so. Baroness is on the outs for failing too many times, so she’s hanging out with Destro and Destro is always fun because of his questionable loyalties. He seems to prefer Cobra’s ways, but that’s just because they buy his weapons… and he’s not above doing things to undermine Cobra if it means he’ll get to sell more weapons. And then you have Mad Monk and Destro taking turns selling each other out……plus an appearance by Cobra Commander (who hasn’t been seen in many months)……and it’s all super-cool.
So, why isn’t a comic with all this plotting excellence the runaway “pick of the week”? Well…..the art kinda stinks. The art is bad enough that I’m considering dropping the title despite the cleverness of the story.
One problem with the art is that it is way, way too cartoony. When I say “cartoony” I mean that the art plays too fast and loose with human anatomy and uses various artistic tricks to accentuate certain actions. For example, a character who is doing something physical may be draw with arms and legs too long and a lean to their body that gravity would never allow. And I actually like cartoony art, but I just don’t like it in GI Joe. I think a story needs some element of comedy for cartoony art to work. Spider-Man can be cartoony. The Fantastic Four can be cartoony. Batman? Punisher? Probably not.
So, I’m not objecting to the cartoony art because of a personal preference. It’s simply that this art style is inappropriate for the subject matter. This is GI Joe and there is nothing cartoony about terrorists and radiological bombs.
The other problem with the art is that it just isn’t very good from a sequential standpoint. There are a number of action sequences in the comic where it just isn’t clear what happened. Was Tunnel Rat throwing himself to the ground and letting the train pass over him OR was he diving to catch the back of the moving train? Did Quick Kick throw both ends of his nun-chucks at the Dreadnoks? These are quick-reading action sequences, not slower parts of the comic where you should be slowing down to see what happens. There’s really no point in writing action sequences into a comic if the artists can’t do better; if the action has to look this poor, we might as well just have an extra serving of the political themes in the comic.
I really wish that IDW would get better with the art on the two “main” GI Joe books. The Cobra-themed comic from Mike Costa and Antonio Fuso is fine, but the two GI Joe comics have been troublesome artistically for several years…..and this is at a time when the storytelling has been top-notch. All the other IDW licensed comics from TMNT to Transformers to My Little Pony to Judge Dredd seem to have good art……I just wonder what GI Joe fans did to piss off some editor that we get this treatment. It really baffles me. I almost wonder if someone in the IDW-Hasbro licensing relationship is unhappy with the current state of the licensing contract and is burdening the comic series with poor art to force a renegotiation.
Conclusion: Story is great. Art is not. It would make a better audiobook than comic book.
- Dean Stell
Filed under: IDW | Tagged: Allen Martinez, Dean Stell, Fred Van Lente, G.I. Joe, IDW, Joana Lafuente, review, Shawn Lee, Steve Kurth | Leave a Comment »