I was hoping to get this published last week, but time was not on my side. But better late than never.
Hama and Gallant once again dive into the classic Real American Hero world, yet manage to bring some new things to the table. Are they all good? I’m not 100% convinced, but I’m willing to buckle up and take the ride.
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GIJOE ARAH 208
Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: SL Gallant
Inks: Brian Shearer
Colors: J. Brown
Letters: Neal Uyetake
Editor: Carlos Guzman
If Larry Hama has been able to do anything over the past thirty something years, it’s to walk that delicate balance between gritty military realism and outlandish science fiction with grace. Ever since the Real American Hero title came back courtesy of IDW Publishing, he’s fallen very squarely on the realism side of that tight rope, but over the past few months, things are starting to slide much more towards outlandish.
I’m not saying that is a bad thing, but it’s a line he’s got to walk very carefully.
We see a number of different storylines coming to a head in this particular issue, and there will be some spoilers here, so proceed with caution.
The G.I. Joe team in Ireland closes in on Revanche and 971, facing off against a number of new cybernetic beasties. Jinx seems intent on dishing out vengeance for Pale Peony, while Scarlett, Roadblock, and Snake Eyes want to stick more closely to the plan. They fight their way into 971’s location and using some clever deductions, manage to take her out.
Meanwhile, in The Pit, while Duke, Joe, and Jane discuss what might be going on with that mysterious eye (something that not even Larry Hama proclaims to understand quite yet) we get the massive revelation that the mysterious figure in the holding tank is, in fact, Serpentor! What could he have to do with this eye, and what are the Joes hoping to accomplish with his corpse?
Add to that the Crimson Guard initiative that rolls underneath this all, and we also get a great overdue reintroduction to timeless Cobra characters Scrap Iron, Copperhead, and Firefly. For these three, Hama and Gallant stick very true to the classic roots.
From an action stand point, this issue is excellent as always. Gallant’s motion-heavy artistic style portrays the fight scenes as exceptionally fluid and easy to follow, and Hama’s strategic placement of scenes throughout the globe remains one of his strong suits. The action is seamless and very well drawn. Elements of their classic looks mix perfectly with Gallant’s style. If I have any questions it’s that Revanche operatives seemed to be almost unbeatable in earlier storylines, and now suddenly, the Joes are able to dispatch them almost at ease.
I love the Serpentor re-introduction and will be watching to see just what the plans are with him. Sure, the whole Serpentor resurrection has been something covered in depth in other continuities, but Larry himself has never really broached that subject, so I’m curious to see how he handles it.
As for the eyeball… I still don’t quite know what to think of this storyline. Most everyone knows at this point that I don’t have any resistance to the more out of the box concepts in G.I. Joe. In fact, I embrace some of them. I don’t mind Star Brigade, the Lunartix, genetic modifications as long as Hama can make it fit within the realm of the Real American Hero universe. Can he do the same here? I’m not sure, but I’m still giving him the benefit of the doubt.
In short, this is a good issue of Real American Hero that progresses the story. There are some threads going on here that are wandering a little close to the edge of my comfort zone, but Hama has earned a chance to develop them before jumping to any conclusions. Beyond this, I’m excited about the Serpentor angle and the Crimson Guard angle, which both seem to be heading towards a collision. I’ll be watching.