When I was a kid I had a friend who owned an absolutely mind-blowing collection of G.I. JOE action figures and Generation 1 TRANSFORMERS. We would spend hours making up stories for them, deciding which Joe would best be teamed with which Autobot and sending them into battle against the allied forces of the Decepticons and the global terrorist organization known as Cobra. Unlike our previous toy match-ups where we had Evil Kenevil riding around with the Lone Ranger, or his sister’s Ken doll going sleuthing with Batman to rescue a kidnapped Han Solo, G.I. Joe and Transformers actually didn’t seem like an out-of-place team-up. I remember we were both pretty thrilled when we first saw the two lines crossed in Marvel comics. Since then, the two iconic action figure lines have shared the pages of many comic book issues. Not only within the Marvel universe, but in releases from Image and IDW, respectively.
As part of the REVOLUTION storyline from IDW, volume 1 of G.I. JOE collects the one-off G.I. JOE: REVOLUTION and G.I. JOE issues 1-4 in what is just part of a much larger story connecting several previously unconnected toy-based titles (such as M.A.S.K. and ROM, SPACE KNIGHT) into what is now a shared universe. This portion of the arc is set in the aftermath of confrontations between the Earth Defense Command and the Cybertronians. Scarlett, now in command after the death of Joe Colton, assembles a team (made up of Roadblock, Quick Kick, Rock ‘n Roll, Wild Bill and Shipwreck) to extract “valuable assets”. This group, though consisting of long-standing familiar characters, is not necessarily a team built on trust as there is the possibility of infiltration by shape-shifting Dire Wraiths. The Joes are going to have to work through any doubts they may have if they are going to complete the mission, because the “asset” is large. VERY large. And largely DECEPtive. Ya’ see what I did there?
The script is pretty well written and not overly chatty. There is just enough action to keep the pace moving along without crossing the line into becoming needless. There is a particular scene between Rock ‘n Roll and Grand Slam that actually surprised me in a “They actually did that?” kind of way. However, as familiar as all of the characters are, I wasn’t really finding any of them to be as bold or interesting as previous incarnations. The personalities that define each Joe just didn’t come across for me.
The art has a rough and slightly sketchy feel to it that really works nicely, although there are points I felt the figures were a bit stiff. Many of the action panels feature minimal background imagery and an abundance of a single primary color, which was probably meant to convey shifts in emotion but came across as representative of a fight in a 70’s discotheque. By the time I finished reading, I literally had “Stayin’ Alive” stuck in my head.
Though it was, overall, an enjoyable enough read, I can’t say there was anything that really “popped” for me. I wasn’t drawn into the story enough the make me want to go back to other connected titles to discover what came before or really care what was coming next.
On a five-star rating scale:
Story: 3 stars
G.I. JOE Volume 1
Written by Aubrey Sitterson
Art by Giannis Milonogiannis
Colors by Lovern Kindzierski
Letters by Chris Mowery and Shawn Lee
*Collects issues #1-4 and the G.I. JOE: Revolution one-shot