So, G.I. Joe seems to be on my mind a lot lately, with the pending movie and my discovery of all the cool G.I. Joe fansites out there, so I broke out my entire run of the Devil’s Due G.I. Joe series the other day to give it a read. I loved this series. Whenever a new issue came out, it always made it to the top of the reading stack (do you put your comics in the order you plan to read them after buying them? I do.).
That’s why it’s so heartbreaking that the G.I. Joe comic series from IDW is so heartbreaking to me. I don’t dislike the series, but at the end of each issue, I keep saying “I’ll give it one more issue to see if it gets better.” It just reads like a Joe tale I’ve read more than once before, and the rebooted continuity just doesn’t flow to me.
Read more of my thoughts after the jump.
So, I’m not surprised IDW decided to reboot the storyline. I mean, though the G.I. Joe franchise has been rebooted multiple times in cartoons and the toyline, the comics have, save for a couple of short lived TV series, remained in (generally) the same continuity since 1982. The Marvel comic series ended at the end 1994 with the team being disbanded. In 2001, seven long years of the absence of my beloved Joes later, a relative unknown in the comic industry, Devil’s Due, picked up the rights, inciting what became a BIG trend in comics for the next couple of years: revitalizing 80’s franchises. Thundercats from DC Comics, Masters of the Universe from MV Creations, Battle of the Planets from Top Cow, Voltron and Micronauts from Devil’s Due…it was a good time to be a child of the 80’s.
Still, the one that started the boom, and arguably the best of the bunch, is also the series that lasted the longest – G.I. Joe. And with good reason – they didn’t do a reboot, first of all. Despite the fact that, at least artwise, very few of the characters looked any older, the series continued the “Larry Hama Joeverse,” taking place in real time seven years after the disbanding of the Joes at the end of the Marvel series. Since then, many things had changed, but the feeling was the same. The series felt right.
One of my favorite aspects of the series is that the characters changed and grew much more than you’d expect in a property that, for all intents and purposes, had to have almost everything approved by toy company Hasbro before it went to print. Lady Jaye died. Hawk became crippled. Flint turned into a badass after the death of his wife. The storylines of course had some of the campy cheesiness that we’d come to expect from G.I. Joe, but it was all told in a very adult way. There wasn’t a lot that insulted the reader’s intelligence and, most importantly to me, it didn’t get lost in that techno army jargon that requires a little caption in every panel explaining what the characters are talking about. This series was great and, despite petering out at the end with what I felt was the overly long WWIII storyline, set a high bar for what comics can do with licensed properties, given the right team.
I was really sad when I heard Devil’s Due was going to lose the license. Looking at Aron’s Evil Bastard Blog from back in January 2008, I figured that Devil’s Due would lose the license. Aron figured Marvel would get it, and I’m not quite sure how that would have ended up, if it were even a possibility. Still, IDW, who picked up the Transformers license after Dreamwave Productions lost it, seemed like the natural choice, and it ended up with them. Though, I’ll have to be honest, I haven’t read a single Transformers book since they picked up the license, I hear that it’s pretty good. I think Transformers, as much as I loved it as a kid, has been pretty hard for me to get into as a comic property just because there are so many damn characters and simultaneous continuities that it’s hard for me to follow. Anyway, that’s another story.
G.I. Joe #0 was IDW’s first foray into the world of the Joes and I was pretty disappointed. I was okay with the reboot, but it still seemed to rely on existing knowledge of the characters for readers to enjoy. And it had that techno jargon I mentioned earlier. When the series itself started with #1, the first storyline, which is still going as of issue #4 from last week, involves Destro using a bunch of robots to locate The Pit, the Joe HQ. The Joe’s have to stop the robots from reaching the surface and revealing its location via satellite. Yes…this storyline has gone on for FOUR issues. In the previous G.I. Joe series, something like this would probably be a filler issue to allow the regular team to get caught up. In this, it’s the opening salvo and, while not BAD, per se, it’s fairly lackluster. Plus, it seems to assume that readers know the characters already, despite being a reboot. The one character who actually seems to be getting a full fledged introduction is Destro, but even then, when his name is revealed at the end of issue one, I find it to be a pretty uninteresting cliffhanger for those who don’t know the conotations of the name.
Also G.I. Joe: Cobra #1 recently came out, telling the tale of an undercover Chuckles infiltrating Cobra, which is just a little too close, in my tastes to the same storyline that was in G.I. Joe: Frontline #11-14 back in 2002.
I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t like what IDW is doing, because that’s not the case. It just seems like, since taking over the property, nothing new and original has been done with it. I understand the reboot, but the storylines seem like storylines I’ve seen before, and the characters seem pretty much interchangeable because not much has been done to make me think otherwise. There is a third book. G.I. Joe Origins, that supposedly “reinvents Joe for a new generation,” that sounds just like the G.I. Joe: Reloaded series that Devil’s Due put out.
I’m not going to cry over rebooting continuity, but it seems like an important property like this really needs something new after all this time. Or maybe not…I’m sure sales have been decent from die-hard Joe fans like myself. Still…don’t we want to bring in a new audience too? Your thoughts?