Written by Chuck Dixon with art by Will Rosado, G.I. Joe #6 brings the Cobra Civil War to the homeland! While Team Alpha, led by Flint, races to a secret Joe installation in Maine, the Baroness awaits their arrival. Reviewers Andy Bartlett and Jimmy PS Hayes take an in-depth look at IDW's latest offering in the Cobra Civil War storyline. How does this issue fit into the G.I. Joe series thus far? Is it worth picking up? Will our reviewers' opinions get as heated as this issue's battle between G.I. Joe and Cobra?
STORY / WRITING
Andy: Having the Cobra Civil War advanced to the point that we have regular direct conflict between the Joes and Cobras brings a definite "it's about time!" feeling to the entire IDW universe; the level of action we've seen in the last month or so has been a lot of fun after Chuck Dixon and Mike Costa put so much effort into setting up the Commander contest and slowly unleashing each of the candidates. I really enjoyed the Springfield fight; I love IDW's version of BATs as Terminator-esque nigh-unstoppable killing machines far more than the "here are a hundred dozen highly-advanced androids for you to defeat with a slingshot" version from the '80s cartoon. This version of the BAT reinforces Cobra's technological superiority over G.I. Joe, which I have always felt was an important part of its character.
I like how the Tuna storyline is developing as well, because it finally gives the impression that Cobra is stalking the Joes and looking for the right time to strike, rather than just appearing out of the shadows with guns a blazin'.
However, Flint and the Joes taking Baroness to Springfield just seems stupid to me. It's one of the few places on Earth that the Joes actually know is directly related to Cobra; Snake-Eyes was nearly killed there; Cobra thought enough of that incident to cover its tracks by dropping a bomb on its own city; the last six Joes who were sent there were slaughtered (by Krake). But Flint thinks "this is the perfect place to hide?" That doesn't make any sense.
As I continue to think about it, I still do not understand the one-page interlude with Scarlett and Doc. These asides in the Civil War storyline seem only to exist as a ham-fisted way to show how events in one storyline fall in relationship to events in another storyline, but they're almost never well-done. This page accomplishes absolutely nothing -- it doesn't have any impact whatsoever on the two main storylines in this issue involving Baroness and Major Bludd, and it doesn't have any impact whatsoever on the Vargas storyline it relates to. This seems to be nothing more than a commercial for a series that IDW thinks the reader may not already be buying - "here's a storyline you know nothing about, please buy this other book to find out what's going on." But it even fails as a commercial, because there's not even a note that says "see Snake Eyes #5" or anything like that. It's just there, and it makes absolutely no sense.
And, because everything like this requires a super-nerd "OMG this is wrong!" moment, BATs are Battle Android Troopers; the Battle-Armored Android Trooper (BAAT), which is what Baroness called the machine in Springfield, was the Star Brigade BAT
Jimmy: In a word; great. Tons of action and writer Chuck Dixon does a fantastic job of never loosing the reader in the action, making it easy to follow and devoting the right amount of time to each Joe team. This issue is smack-dab in the middle of the Cobra Civil War storyline, but you might not even know it from the way the issue reads. Yes, there's mention made of it, but it fits organically into the story and is not forced at all, like most big crossovers. You can read and enjoy this issue even if you don't read the other monthly G.I. Joe comics. But, shame on you if you aren't, because they're all great!
CHARACTERS / CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
Andy: One of my major complaints about the Cobra Civil War storyline and the way the Cobra Commander contest plot was devised from the very beginning has been that it has turned the G.I. Joe team into mostly nameless and unimportant cannon fodder. For "invented for this universe" characters like Mooch and Lawhound and Brainstorm, etc., having them show up and then be immediately killed is fine. Bur for characters who had figures in the vintage line, having them show up in the book and having no idea who they are until somebody yells "Sneak Peek!" when they get stabbed in the neck doesn't feel right. Recall the opening few pages of the story in G.I. Joe #0 when the six Joes killed by Krake; each of those characters was identified with a caption and they all had a chance to talk before Krake killed them. It wasn't much, but it at least gave names and faces to Krake's victims. And Dixon did this in a third of the space he has to work with in a regular issue.
With so much emphasis on raw body count in Cobra's contest, introducing vastly more characters than a 22-page comic book dealing with multiple overlapping storylines can possibly service is a necessity. But it has made it difficult to care when Joes are killed, because the majority of them have just become cardboard targets for Cobra to knock over. This can happen easily with Cobra because they feature legions of nameless, faceless guys in helmets. The Joes are specifically supposed to have personalities, though, and here they have none -- and the lack of individual personality is negatively affecting the team's personality.
On the flip side of this, I love how Chuck Dixon wrote the Baroness in this issue. She's so good that her interactions with the Joes provide some of the very rare personality from them, as well. She's the Michael Jordan of this civil war story arc so far -- she makes everyone around her automatically more interesting. With Khallikhan out of the contest, she's one of the most compelling characters left; we know nothing of Oda Satori (to the point it's not even clear that he actually exists), Vargas got a couple of pages to monologue and develop his character a bit but we still know little about him, Major Bludd is pretty one-dimensional and boring so far, and Krake's just a guy in a mask who has killed as many Vipers as he has Joes. Only Tomax, who seems almost certifiably insane in a super-fun way, has been well-developed so far, and he has the advantage of having been one of the focal points of an entire series of "season one" books leading into the contest.
Jimmy: In my opinion, this is the one weak point of this issue. In a book that features an almost countless cast of Joes and Cobras, you can devote very little time to character development. The characterization is consistent, but there's very little actual development. Lets's face it, this is an action/war comic. If you want talking heads, pick up something else.
Andy: I didn't love the art in this book, overall, but I have to admit I'm glad to have a break from Javier Saltares. It's nice to see a G.I. Joe book where the weapons being carried by the characters are more than just amorphous blobs. Rosado put a lot of effort into drawing Baroness - she's presented quite well in every panel she has in the book, and I particularly liked her evil glare at the bottom of page 14 and the floating panel she got over the cliffhanger on page 22. There are some subtle little things in the art that I appreciated, as well, like the motion lines around Flint's fist as he's leading the Joes into the Springfield Savings building on page 10; it was a subtle thing Rosado didn't have to do, but it added a lot to the panel. Otherwise, I thought the characters felt stiff and the facial expressions weren't very diverse. Rosado gets the art again in next month's issue 7 as well; I'll be curious to see if there's a noticeable difference.
Jimmy: To be honest, this issue seemed a little bit rushed by artist Will Rosado. Not messy or unfinished, but I did get the feeling that he was in a hurry on some pages. To his credit, the man knows how to lay out a page and he always avoids one of my pet peeves, which is not drawing backgrounds. There is one panel in this whole book that doesn't have a detailed background and, truthfully, it's not a panel that needs one
Andy: This issue was for me was somewhat of a mixed bag; aside from the ridiculous decision to go to Springfield, I like where the Baroness story is going, and I'm really curious to see if this is Chuck Dixon's way to get us into a Flint/Baroness relationship that we've seen in other iterations of the G.I. Joe universe. Major Bludd's stalking of the Tuna just feels sinister, which I like a lot. It's fun to see the candidates in the Cobra Civil War move their plots toward completion, but this has yet to remotely approach a "civil war," unless you count Krake shooting up a half-dozen Vipers -- which would be silly. As much as it's enjoyable to watch Cobra kick G.I. Joe's butt all over the planet, I keep waiting for this civil war to start. Jimmy's right about the cliffhanger, though; it's a great teaser for what's to come, and it made me immediately dive for my "Infestation" mini-series -- which, if you haven't read it already, is fantastic, and something you should grab too
Jimmy: This is an issue that GI.. Joe fans will love! For the first time in a long time, you feel that Cobra is a legitimate threat and that somebody-besides the "green shirts" might not make it back home. The issue moves along at a great pace without being a 5-minute-read, advances the story line and includes a last page shocker that will have you really looking forward to next month's issue.
Andy: G.I. Joe #6 continues IDW's stellar characterization of the Baroness, and has several other key players in the Cobra Civil War move their plots forward. There are some storytelling decisions that seemed a bit off, but this is a solid issue in what has been a good crossover event for IDW so far. Recommended.
Jimmy: I recommend buying this issue based solely on its storytelling alone. That, combined with some great surprises, make this a must read chapter in the Cobra Civil War story!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Andy Bartlett Andy is the director of communications and marketing for a small four-year state university in northern Minnesota. He is a regular contributor at theterrordrome.com, where he has been reviewing G.I. Joe comics since June of 2010. You can also find more of Andy musings at his personal Web site andybartlett.com. His first G.I. Joe toy was a VAMP.
Jimmy PS HayesJimmy PS Hayes is aRealAmericanHero.com's resident comic know-it-all. Jimmy has spent the last 15 years becoming the most electrifying man in comics retail. He's worked with both Devil's Due and IDW on countless G.I. Joe comic exclusives and is a regular contributor to geeksofdoom.com. Most days, you can find him wasting time on twitter as @jimmypshayes. His first G.I. Joe toy was Tripwire.