Comics: G.I. Joe: Retaliation Movie Prequel #2
The countdown to Retaliation continues with this second part to the movie prequel. Roadblock continues his quest to find his missing teammate, Mainframe. Meanwhile, Snake Eyes and Hawk have other plans for Roadblock.
John Barber continues to focus this prequel on Roadblock. This time, we are given fairly lengthy flashback scenes regarding Roadblock's childhood in Washington D.C., and how he's learned to fight (and more importantly, how he learned never to give up.) The importance of Mainframe in Roadblock's past makes Roadblock's insubordination towards Hawk (and Roadblock's desperation in finding his friend) last issue a lot more understandable.
The main theme of this book seems to be the path Roadblock takes towards training in the Arashikage ninja arts. Hawk and Snake Eyes seem to set up an unnecessarily complicated way to have Roadblock meet with a new ninja sensei, including facilitating Roadblock's theft of a government vehicle. Reportedly, Roadblock's training as an Arashikage is a significant part of the upcoming movie. I had assumed that training would take place during the movie, but it appears the movie will start with him already having completed that training.
As in the last issue, Roadblock is the main focus of this book. This time, we do get some background on Mainframe's character, although only as he relates to Roadblock. Barber does flesh out Mainframe to be an extremely likable character. It is he who first reaches out to Roadblock as a friend, and it is he who trains Roadblock how to fight. In my opinion, Barber got Mainframe exactly right here: a thinking-man's soldier, but a soldier (and a fighter) first. I admit that I was almost as upset as Roadblock was near the end of this issue; it is a shame that a great character like this won't be appearing in the future.
The art credit is shared between Salvador Navarro and Atilio Rojo. I'm not familiar enough with either of the pencilers' styles to confidently distinguish between the two, but it does make the issue's art look a little disjointed. The "present day" scenes were a little sloppy, especially notably for characters faces. One the other hand, all the flashback scenes were beautifully drawn (and colored). Comparing the styles of this issue to the last one, I am assuming it was Rojo who drew the flashback scenes, and if that's the case, he will be a name I will keep a close eye out for in the future.
Roadblock makes mention of his cousin being in a "unit. Not Army, but..." It seems like perhaps Barber is taking a page out of the Renegades playbook and making Roadblock and Heavy Duty cousins.
Laying the groundwork for a ninja-centric story makes me apprehensive, but as the Retaliation movie seems to have already embraced this, I should forgive the prequel. Still, it is an interesting origin story for Roadblock and Mainframe within the movie universe. Recommended.