With the plethora of ‘80s reboots out there, it seems inevitable that one of these lines would discover that nostalgia can only get you so far. G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero Volume 12 suffers from never being that good in the first place.
Like lots of comic books from the ‘80s, the G.I. JOE comics were glorified toy adverts. Back in the day, the sequential art version of G.I. JOE was written by Larry Hama for Marvel comics. IDW now control the license, and they have brought Hama back to inject some of the old magic into the series. Regrettably, all this proves is that the Joe’s have had their day.
Hama treats G.I. JOE in exactly the same way he did in the ‘80s. The result is a bright and garish military force which believes that ninjas are the ultimate fighting machines and that an elite squad doesn’t have to worry about minor details like securing assets or even putting passwords on their computers. Though this sort of child-like military-inspired fun seemed rather charming over 30 years ago, these days it just seems hopelessly quaint and daft.
The silliness of G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero Volume 12 might have been fine if the book didn’t take itself so damned seriously. Despite being a story about giant mind-controlled robots, ninja spies and genetically-engineered snake kings, Hama seems to insist on injecting pathos to storyline. War is hell, even for action figures, apparently. This is not a grim reboot by any stretch of the imagination; it just takes itself too seriously. IDW have produced G.I. JOE books that were a mix of spy-fi and military fantasy in the past, but this isn’t anything of the sort. Instead it’s simply an advert for toys no one buys anymore. That said, the art is pretty enough and certainly each character looks like the models they represent.
The real shame here is that Hama has introduced fan favourite The Red Shadows into the mix. This additional faction to the G.I. JOE universe was originally part of the Action Force range of toys, essentially repainted and rebranded to suit a European audience. They appeared in the Battle Action Force comics and worked well as post-war baddies. Alas, the author has recast them as buffoonish villains indistinguishable from his other antagonists.
G.I. JOE fans will probably eat this up. Those looking for a nostalgia fix may want to seek out old copies of Battle Action Force instead.
G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO VOLUME 12 / WRITER: LARRY HAMA / ARTIST: S.L. GALLANT / PUBLISHER: IDW / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 24TH