In the battle to escape Cobra, a Joe is permanently injured, and help comes from an unexpected mind.
G.I. Joe 259 Cover by Joseph, Shearer, and Brown (Published by IDW courtesy of Hasbro)
The past month has been hectic for IDW, the comics company that publishes G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. In the time it’s taken to read and review part four of “The Cobra’s Venom,” IDW’s corporate board has seen multiple upheavals and according to Bleeding Cool News and other sources their investors are now trying to sell the company, using its roster of original creations—IPs (Intellectual Property) as they’re called in entertainment business speak—as bait. Such is the world of comic publishing in 2019. This could throw the future of writer Larry Hama’s series into uncertainty. As a licensed IP owned by Hasbro, it wouldn’t be included in any sale, and that could mean it would disappear from comic shop shelves once again. Let’s set that worry aside though and enjoy each issue as it comes and for what it provides: an escape from the humdrum, into a high-stakes soap opera where larger than life figures wield impossible tools to remake the world in their image.
At the end of the last issue, I wondered where this arc had left to go: The consciousness of Dr. Venom had been destroyed, and the Joes stranded in Springfield were rescued by their teammates. Everything seemed wrapped up in a neat little package. Everything that is except for the fate of Sightline, the Joe who was injured during the battle to take down Robo-Venom. This issue splits time between dénouement and seeding for stories to come.
Issue 259 opens with the pacifist GI Joe medic Lifeline applying emergency first aid to Sightline’s mangled leg, as the rest of the team look on and murmur with worry. If his leg can’t be saved, he’ll have to be retired and sent back to civilian life—a fate worse than death for a dedicated soldier. Ron Joseph’s pencils are once again inked by Brian Shearer, who did issue 257 as well. As I mentioned before the finished product isn’t as strong as when Joseph is inking himself, but there are still some standout pages, like the fighting between Destro/Baroness and their new corporate rivals, Revanche.
G.I. Joe 259 Art by Joseph, Shearer, and Brown (Published by IDW courtesy of Hasbro)
As those two stories unfold, we catch up with Covergirl, Dusty, Muskrat, and Leatherneck, who are gearing up for a non-Cobra related rescue mission, searching for a trio of United Nation relief workers trapped in the desert country Shazidar.
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Paired with Ron Joseph’s artwork, Larry Hama does his best to create an emotional reaction in readers over the fate of Sightline and the unknown missing UN interventionists. The beats are well enough, but in juggling three plots, it is hard to let the action rest long enough for the drama to properly build. Still, there’s a fun twist at the end, payoff to the return of the long-dead Dr. Mindbender, that brought a smile to my face.
It’s worth briefly comparing “The Cobra’s Venom” to G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte, by Michel Fiffe and released on the same day as G.I Joe No. 259. Like Tom Scioli’s recent comics with Transformers and Go-Bots, Sierra Muerte is a self-contained project for IDW that isn’t a part of the Hama Joe series–even though it is in debt to that lore.
Unlike Scioli’s IDW work, Fiffe’s Sierra Muerte doesn’t seem like it’ll be as radical a departure from its source material. The story set up in this first issue, a terminally ill Cobra Commander searching for a cure, feels like it could be one of those rare fill-in issues from the classic A Real American Hero run, from when Hama needed a break.
G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte art by Michel Fiffe (Published by IDW courtesy of Hasbro)
Fiffe’s artwork is looser and more primordial than a typical mainstream comic. You can’t mistake him for Ron Joseph, let alone classic Joe artists such as Herb Trimpe or Mike Vosburg, but there is definitely a strong 1970s-80s influence to his page composition and ability to capture an iconic pose. I can feel the speed at Fiffe is drawing at, how fast his ideas go from mind to page.
Michel Fiffe became an indie comics sensation a few years back when he started self-publishing his own monthly book, COPRA, which is itself a sort of fan fiction version of DC’s Suicide Squad. COPRA is about to be re-released through Image comics, where it is sure to gain him a wider audience. I hope that leads the new fans to pick up this three-issue series too. Sierra Muerte looks like it’s going to be a great companion to the regular monthly adventures of America’s daring, highly trained special mission force. Here’s hoping IDW will stand strong and win their own battle, so we keep getting these fun comics.