Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Micro-Reviews: G. I. JOE, Vol. 2, Part One

Marvel’s second G. I. JOE reprint volume. Another stunning cover from J. Scott Campbell. The series really starts to come together in this era. Every image on that cover represents a fan favorite from this run of issues.

G. I. JOE #11 (May 1983). Cover by future REN & STIMPY animator, Bob Camp. Camp and Hama are old friends; almost all of Camp’s comics credits are related to Hama in some way.

In animation circles, Camp was a target of great ire, after a fanzine did a blistering piece on him “backstabbing” REN & STIMPY’s creator John K. (People now say John K. ghost-wrote the piece.) Camp founded Spümcø with John K., and later agreed to helm the show after Nickelodeon fired him. I’m not sure if they ever reconciled. John K. also had issues with Billy West for sticking with the show, dramatized in a famous HOWARD STERN appearance. And, yeah, John K. is now involved in far more serious drama.

Anyway, back to JOE. This is one of the earliest “new line of toys = new Joes enter the action” issues.

The dark humor of referring to soldiers as “bullet-stoppers” always stuck with me.

The mythology of Snake-Eyes grows. Hama knew he was on to something.

And, dang, one page later the first cameo appearance of Destro. This book is on fire!

The amount of research Hama put into this is stunning. As a kid, I remember thinking “How does this guy know so much about oil pipelines?”

Having only vague memories of the toy/comic commercials, I always try to pick out the issues that were advertised on TV. Hama had to study the storyboards and then build the issue around what the ad agency had created.

G. I. JOE #12 (June 1983).  More memorable debuts, Sierra Gordo and Scarface are introduced.

I’m convinced the initial Sierra Gordo arc would make a great JOE movie. Merge it with the origin material from Hama’s DECLASSIFIED and that’s my ideal JOE film.

More black humor and an underground punk reference. Beat that, ROM.

Stalker looks very MIAMI VICE while in disguise, buying “video games” from Cobra. It’s an early instance of the Joes doing undercover missions. One way to expand the drama past the standard military action tropes.

Rare instance of Hama writing third-person captions, as he’s still learning how to handle Snake-Eyes.

So many amazing things this issue. Gung-Ho using rats to chew through his binds…unmasked Snake-Eyes pounding on Dr. Venom…Kwinn’s metaphysics lecture…a joking reference to “Sgt. Granite & Difficult Company” comics…Snake-Eyes sacrificing himself so the Joes can complete their mission…the Baroness “killing” him and Kwinn, Gung-Ho vowing vengeance. I love this arc.

Also, the first encounter between Dr. Venom and Kwinn.  This pairing only lasts a few issues, but it’s firmly entrenched in the lore. Hama referenced it in a fairly recent issue.

Seriously, I want this in my G. I. JOE movie!

G. I. JOE #13 (July 1983). The issue that taught us the proper method for digging zig-zag trenches. Minimum effort for max fields of fire!

Stalker chewing out Breaker has always been a favorite scene. I love how adamant he is about them eating raw crocodile.

Hama adds twist on top of twist. We learn the Joes have been played all along by Cobra and an agent with a post-hypnotic suggestion. They were *supposed* to survive all the fire last issue, just to find a planted document. And even the fixed intel is disguised, with the “open” info clearly fake, and the “real” dirt hidden as a “micro-dot.”

This is the pattern of several future stories. Cobra has schemes within schemes; sometimes the Joes do, too.

I also love this crazy layout, disguising somewhat bland scripting that’s necessary for plot purposes.

Torpedo is introduced casually, with no attention to him being new. He also breaks Hama’s rule on thought balloons early.

Story ends with the Joes believing Snake-Eyes dead, setting up his multi-issue return to America. I always enjoyed seeing casts split apart as a kid.

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