Comics: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #172

January 10, 2012

Written by Larry Hama and art by S. L. Gallant, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #172 follows Flint's team escape from Darklonia with two critically wounded (and their Tomahawk not doing much better). Meanwhile, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and Billy confront the Blue Ninjas, a mysterious splinter faction of the Arashikage Clan

STORY/WRITING
Hama achieves a nice balance of suspense (Flint’s team returning to the USS Flagg) and action (the Blue Ninja’s attack on a dojo in Brooklyn). We were left with two cliffhangers at the end of the last issue, and we really weren’t given a rest from the consequences of those plot points until the end of this issue.
One Joe character's life is in danger, which creates some powerful moments (on the other hand, the reason why this life is in danger (not enough medical aid to treat two people) seems a little unlikely and forced). So it is all the more shocking when another character unexpectedly dies at the end of this issue.

CHARACTERS
The quick pacing of the book didn’t allow much room for character development, with the notable exception of the surprising death of a beloved character. Lifeline and Barbeque make brief cameos in the book in scenes that, rather than feeling forced, made a lot of sense.

The Blue Ninjas made their debut briefly in the last pages of #171, but it is this issue we learn a little about who they are and how they fight. Still, we are left with more questions than answers. Their design is interesting, reminiscent of the recently released blue Night Creepers (v12). With both ninja's urban expertise and dependence on technology, one wonders if there’s a connection between the two.

ART
S. K. Gallant continues to hit it out of the park with the art on this issue.There was a lot of action in this issue, especially the ninja battle in Brooklyn. Gallant does a beautiful job depicting both the action, and the emotion behind the men performing the action

INTANGIBLES
I am a die-hard Storm Shadow fan, 99 percent of that due directly because of his rich and tragic history and his ultimate redemption in the Marvel run. But even I am a little apprehensive about the introduction of yet another ninja faction and yet another recon'ed history of the Arashikage Clan. The series is the best it has been since its relaunch (heck, it's the best it's been since the double digits!). The last thing we need is the return to ninja-centric, mystic storylines. But Hama has re-earned my respect and trust in his storytelling, so I am strapping myself in for the long run

VERDICT
The Hama/Gallant team is still hitting home runs. Highly Recommended.

2 comments:

Joseph Tages said...

Ninjas have been an issue for me since the Marvel days. They just don't work well within the overall theme of a military unit fighting crackpot terrorists. I always wished that Larry could have spun off the Arashikages into their own book and leave the Joes alone. Same deal with Cobra and the Dreadnoks. Cobra is not about being led by the Road Warriors.

John said...

Thanks for the comment, Joseph. It's tough to argue against you. Ninjas worked best in the Marvel run when there was only two of them and they weren't the center of every other plotline. With the emphasis on multiple ninjas on the second half of the Marvel run, the book declined in quality, mostly because Hama was losing focus on what he had excelled in: (relatively) realistic military stories with a diverse and ensemble cast.

As for the Dreadnoks, I kind of like them! But usually only in small doses. I've always like DDP's portrayal of the Dreadnoks as a international gang with chapters in different cities. I think that actually fits well alongside a terrorist organization.

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