Comics: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #181

August 30, 2012

Deceits and deceptions are the names of the game as Darklon escapes from his prison in The Pit. And another figure from Arashikage past enters into the mix. Larry Hama and S. L. Gallant bring us the next chapter in the classic Joe universe in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #181

Hama gets credit for the bait-and-switch story here. I dismissed that krytron as a McGuffin device merely to as a way to segue into a new plot. Tying it into the Darklon plot was unexpected and cool, and raised my esteem for the otherwise passable background character.

On the other hand, the plot these last few issues have been meandering a bit too much. I understand that Hama starts writing each issue not knowing how it will end, and in the past, that's left us with some great "out of nowhere" plot twists. But his writing has never felt as unfocused as it has these past several issues. The SDCC, which was the focus of the last issue, was summarized as a YouTube exposition in this issue. The Joes are focused on this krytron and cracking its secrets, while Cobra Commander walks free in Broca Beach without interference?

On top of the meandering storyline, I don't think I can deal with yet another new character with a tie to the Arashikage clan, no matter how peripheral. I did find it difficult to excuse both the character and the writer when Snake Eyes let an arms-dealer escape because she recognized Arashikage techniques. And I found it difficult to believe that Duke would accept that explanation as to why one of his best soldiers didn't do his job. I initially gave Hama the benefit of the doubt with the Blue Ninja because they seemed like a credible threat, and their presence proved to be a game-changer with the death of Billy. It is much too early to play the Arashikage card again. Hama seems to be forgetting characterization and development in his stories lately.

I was never interested in the character in the past, but Hama does have me curious about Darklon and his potential with this issue. I am a big fan of Cobra characters, but this book could benefit from new, non-Arashikage/non-ninja antagonists. Since Destro seems content staying in the sidelines, elevating Darklon to the level of his cousin and making him an independent threat to both the Joes and Cobra could give this book a much needed breath of fresh air.

Once again, S. L. Gallant doesn't fail, although I have been noticing that many of his women in this issue look like Scarlett…

So why do the Joes give Darklon manacles that give his arms 2 feet of movement?

A meandering plot going to places I'm afraid I may not care for, although Hama's making Darklon somewhat interesting. Still, Hama's done better work in the past, and this issue's real strength is the potential of where it may take us. Pass.

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