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I grew up watching the afternoon G.I. Joe cartoons in the glorious 80s and imagining my Barbies pair much better with the Joe action figures (dolls!) than with Ken. I can't say I've been a dedicated fan since, but they claim a nostalgic spot in my heart.
The graphic novel here, which is a collection of #1-4, retains the macho patriotism I remember, but none of the humor or camaraderie. The good guys are still going strong, but there is a lot more psychological gamesmanship to the good-bad fight. It's a machiavellian world out there and the Joes reflect that. Greater good ho! I recently watched the latest Bond movie, Skyfall, and it struck me that Bond isn't really a hero. He's a dude doing a job and he's not there to prevent innocent lives being lost even if he can manage it. Collateral damage, here we come. The Joes aren't much different. Maybe this is because the bad guys seem to be much worse than I remember. Mostly they were stupid and/or incompetent. These villains are decidedly not. The evil end of the spectrum has expanded, so it seems the Joes have shifted over to maintain the status quo. A lot of food for thought in a comic book!
The art was a bit tough on my eyes. A lot of dark and ill-defined areas for a reader who likes details and realism. Did they fire the cleanup artist? Everyone looks the same! The art does mirror the mood and tension of the characters, though. Things are blurry and shadowy and definitely not smooth.
The plot is well-thought out and executed. Chameleon, a COBRA defector, is trying to prove her new loyalty to the Joes while remaining out of reach of her old cronies. COBRA is temporarily out of commission, but the faithful are far and wide. The Joes lay a trap for the wiliest bunch only to have it backfire and it's up to the backup crew (all women, curiously), including Chameleon, to salvage the mission. The Joes's existence depends on it.