GI Joe #1 Is An Action-Packed Near-Future Fable

by Tony Thornley

There are some people out there that may argue that GI Joe is an outdated concept in 2019- a pro-military shoot-em-up in a world so tired of war that we tend to roll our eyes at best and actively campaign against it at worst. However, there’s plenty of fresh interpretations that can be made with the concept, and IDW’s newest GI Joe #1 is determined to prove that to us.

Paul Allor, Chris Evenhuis, Brittany Peer, and Neil Uyetake take us into this new take on the Real American Heroes.

Cobra has gained a stranglehold on the United States, spreading their fascist regime across the entire country. The only thing standing in their way is GI Joe, working underground with both trained operatives and willing civilian volunteers. However, what happens when the United States government surrenders to the evil at its borders?

The Joes have always been defenders of the ideals of the American dream, not unlike Superman or Captain America, while Cobra has symbolized the threats to those ideals. In the 80’s that was much more simple- violent terrorists and gun runners- but in todays’ society, we face fascism, white supremacy, and more endangering the ideals many hold tight to. Allor reframes Cobra as an embodiment of that threat, and it’s disturbingly prescient.

His new takes on the Joes, both existing and new, capture that extremely well. Scarlett is a take-no-prisoners presence that serves as a rallying point for the team as a whole, and Duke is the powerful and heroic figurehead the Joes have always rallied around. However, the most engaging characters are the newest recruits- particularly Tiger, the queer Cambodian civilian who joins the team in this issue and serves as our POV character. Tiger is clearly sick of standing by, not knowing what to do, and when he realizes the Joes are his best chance at making a difference he springs into action to help the team (even if his actions don’t have the best results).

Evenhuis has a style that’s incredibly different from what many would expect for the franchise. His figures are very polished, but they always have a sense of motion and action. He also uses a thick line that helps the characters pop, keeping them the focus as they deal with the horror of what’s happening to the country they love. Peer’s color art uses a lot of reds, yellows and oranges, which conveys a melancholy mood that sells the feel of Allor’s script.

One the surface this is a great action story featuring GI Joe in a completely new situation. But looking deeper, it’s a disturbing look at where the world could be headed if normal people continue to stand by as onlookers. And that’s what will bring me back in months to come.

GI Joe #1 is available now from IDW Publishing.

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