Tuesday, May 15, 2018

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

G. I. JOE #14 (August 1983). A more stylized Trimpe cover. Dan Green-style inks look nice over Trimpe.

The original TV commercial!

Also, I just realized the TALES reprint of this from 1988 cost $1.50 -- over double the original cover price! (It did have Baxter paper, though.)

This isn’t paid off until nearly issue #100, and even now some of this backstory remains a mystery, I think.

Also the first hint at the more delicate side of Baroness, implied in her dossier. Destro, of all people, is the only one who can draw it out.

Could kids follow this? Cobra thinks they’ve led the Joes to a false location, not knowing it’s actually the Joes’ secret base, that double-crosses within double-crosses meant the Joes received a clue pointing to an actual Cobra location, one named Springfield -- with ISN’T the other Springfield Cobra’s used in the past. Yeesh.

Also, I can see Vosburg’s gripes about the inking here. The human figures do have an odd quality to them. 

Kwinn’s answer to the Serenity Prayer.

Now Kwinn is believed dead, Destro and Venom’s plotting against the Commander is revealed, and Snake Eyes is no closer to home. Feels like forty different things happened this issue.

G. I. JOE #15 (September 1983).  Last issue reprinted as TALES OF G. I. JOE in 1989. SPECIAL MISSIONS was also cancelled around that time, indicating interest was dropping off. The main book still had another five years in it, though.

I was probably at the peak of my JOE fandom at this period. Remember buying both final issues off the stands.

Venom and the troops had a totally different conversation last issue. He was bragging about killing Kwinn, for one. Always wondered how this got through.

Curious to know how to lift a WWII vintage British Avro Lancaster bomber off a short runway when only 3 of the 4 engines will rev? Hama spends four pages showing kids how!

Both of these pages are amazing. Possibly Kwinn’s best line in Panel 1, and check out the layout on the second page. Vosburg seems bored rendering this, but the design is fantastic.

Another classic Kwinn line and the debut of Major Bludd. No bad poems, though.

We never learned WHY Baroness thinks she owes this debt to the Commander, did we? 

One of my favorite JOE moments. The honesty, wistfulness, and black humor in just this brief scene amazes me.

I consider #15 as one of the series’ best issues. Noble Kwinn paired with scummy Dr. Venom, with poor Snake-Eyes dragged along as they travel to America in a decrepit bomber. Brilliant. The technical detail is staggering, but doesn’t distract from the human drama. And I had to wait 14 years to read the resolution of this story -- TALES was probably in the 100,000 range when Marvel cancelled it!

G. I. JOE #16 (October 1983). My “This Was Probably A Commercial” Sense is tingling.


Cover Girl, the Wolverine tank, and Tripwire debut on the same page. Jim Shooter says packaging female toys with vehicles was his suggestion to Hasbro.

Cover Girl has an odd place in the canon. Two inconsistent models in the cartoon, a fast death as Hawk’s aide in the (lame) 2009 movie, and introduced here as a catty rival to Scarlett. Hama drops that last bit quickly, but does little else with her. Her past as a high fashion model might’ve been inspired by a Marvel letterer (Diana Albers?) who worked in comics and the runways simultaneously.

An entire page of Cobra perfidy. And Hama breaking his rule on thought balloons.

It begins here -- the needlessly elaborate explanation for why the Baroness toy didn’t exactly resemble the Baroness of the comics.

Destro, believing her dead, is nearly catatonic for a few pages. Meanwhile, the Commander has to decide if he wants to kill Hawk or Destro. He settles on plugging Hawk in the back.

It’s all cramped in a way Hama’s stories normally aren’t. But none of the ongoing plots are impaired.

G. I. JOE #17 (November 1983). Vosburg’s characters certainly have distinctive noses.

First instance of the Joes encountering obnoxious civilians in daylight. These confrontations usually involve cars.

Cobra Commander teaches us about love.

Another reason why people love Kwinn. More depth in those three panels than in most comics published today, probably.

Ruminating on the nature of vengeance is a recurring theme in Hama’s writing. He seems opposed to ever presenting revenge as a noble motivation. He tends to treat it as the downfall of his characters, not their heroic drive.

Snake-Eyes won the hat for low-rent gamblers, by the way. We’re told he took ‘em for everything.

I think this entire comic is worth buying just for Hawk’s dialogue. Also, I always loved the random covert Cobra agents hiding in society.

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