“G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #183″ was my first experience with the property since watching the beloved children’s cartoon of my youth, as well as the infamous online memes that have become synonymous with the property. To my great surprise, there was a lot more depth to G.I. Joe than yelling “pork chop sandwiches” again and again, and the issue makes for an enjoyable read.
Coming into G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero for the first time with issue #183, I was worried about how easily accessible the book would be and if I’d have any clue what was happening. Thankfully, the recap page provided goes a long way towards catching the reader up to speed, and then it’s pretty self-explanatory from thereon in. Larry Hama, the original Marvel G.I. Joe writer who came back the series when IDW relaunched it in 2010, has a clear understanding of the property. The story is enhanced by a believable dialog throughout with each character receiving their own unique voice, which is no simple task when juggling such a wide arsenal of characters. The back-and-forth between Zarana, Road Pig and Pale Peony in particular stands as clear evidence of Hama’s ability to get inside the heads of several different characters at a time and give each personality a chance to shine. Hama also alternates between big-action and comedy with ease, as he depicts Darklon returning to the border of Darklonia. Watching Darklon exit his jet with such bravado proves highly comedic since the reader knows G.I. Joe allowed him to escape from captivity. Hama provides a globe-spanning plot with a multitude of pieces on the figurative chessboard, a fact that the sinister Destro literally points out as he sits with the Baroness and strategizes for the future, pieces in hand.
Looking at S L Gallant’s artwork is akin to watching a cartoon show play out, a perfect fit for a comic book so widely associated with one. Adult readers would benefit from depictions of vehicles that are more grounded in reality, however, without the clear agenda of trying to sell toys. Despite this setback, Gallant focuses equal amounts of attention to background and foreground in almost every panel, giving the eye plenty to look at as Hama’s story unfurls.
Gary Erskine use of heavy inks during the late-night scenes set in Northern California, as well as J. Brown’s cold color pallet, provide an ever present sense of danger when showcasing the schemes of the menacing Cobra Commander and Dr. Mindbender. These scenes serve as a stark contrast to the more thinly inked, warmer colored scenes, such as the one with Darklon’s return to Darklonia, which were much lighter in tone.
All in all, if you like the globetrotting, high stakes action concept behind G.I. Joe, or have ever liked it before, this book will suit you well. After my first experience with the title, I can confidently say I’ll be checking out G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero again.