Although things have been action-heavy in G.I Joe lately, offering a more than satisfying and explosive opening, things take a more quiet and emotional turn in G.I Joe #3. For a series more focused on guns and ninjas, is this fresh direction fitting for the the franchise?
First, the official description from IDW:
CHOOSE YOUR PATH! You become DUKE, leader of the G.I. JOE team, as he begins his journey to become a Real American Hero! You make the life or death decisions! Or—is Duke just being tortured horrifically at the hands of the Baroness, and this is way of dealing with it—a never-ending branching series of “Might Have Beens?” Or… is it both?
This issue focuses very heavily on Duke, jumping through important stages in his life. It gives an insight into the Joe’s leader, and definitely fleshes out the character into a more likeable being than a generic ‘leader’. Of course, there’s also the twist that he’s being tortured for information. Honestly, its not the most surprising outcome, but it adds plenty of weight to the issue. The whole ‘tortured through past memories’ trope is well worn in the movies, but its seldom used in G.I Joe, so its definitely a more interesting and creative choice.
A lot of this has to be down to Fred Van Lente’s writing. Its not the most original, with a tragic love story and everything else thrown in, but that doesn’t stop it from being an emotional thrill-ride through an entire man’s life. Lente gets to the heart of the character, and fleshes out a surprisingly satisfying back story. The only downside is anything outside of this interrogation. The whole dilemma between Dr. Mindbender and Baroness seems to be a far too obvious ploy of stalling for time, but its bearable if it allows for more exploration into Duke’s background.
As for the visuals and art work, Steve Kurth offers the high standard of pencils, complimented by Joana Lafuente’s colors. G.I Joe #3 is just as beautiful to look at as the rest of the series, and the wider panels and visuals allow for more depth and detail, something a more personal story like this certainly benefits from. This is an issue focused very much around Duke, and the art definitely plays its part in pulling it off.
All in all, this is an issue worth picking up. Its not full of fighting and explosive action, but its a refreshing breather, and definitely shows a more personalized and sensitive direction for the series; its important to have a sense of character, after, to differ the Joes from the Cobras.