After the successful previous issues set in Benzheen, G.I Joe: A Real American Hero #188 continues to demonstrate an adept and intuitive method of describing and depicting frantic action without confusing the reader. A Real American Hero #188 is a fluid read from start to finish, showing the various aspects and sides throughout a single conflict.
The official description from IDW:
The threat in Benzheen has been averted! G.I. JOE has made it out of their most dangerous mission yet. But it’s out of the fire and into the frying pan for America’s elite unit, as Jinx returns from her secret mission with some shocking information. G.I. JOE has to act fast or face the consequences in A Real American Hero #188!
Whilst jumping straight into another action scene might not please some, since it opens up with little in the way of exposition, it provides a different change of surroundings than Benzheen. The Joes are assaulting a boat held captive by pirates. Its a simple premise, but the detail is in its execution. Like Benzheen, the action here seems well choreographed. Whilst most of the focus is on the Joes, the various alternative views fit well. There’s no jumping around to hectically or getting lost spatially.
In terms of writing, this issue also explores a few more political themes, especially some that tie into recent events in modern history. The pirates are ex-fishermen from Africa, which will undoubtedly draw parallels with certain developments in recent years. none the less, the dialogue doesn’t show them as generic “evil villains”. The exchanges between the pirate captain and the Cobra official highlight a number of differences between the two. For what its worth, the pirate captain comes off as a well rounded character morally; perhaps A Real American Hero #188 is making sure not to make the wrong statement.
As for the artwork itself, the sea and storm setting give it a much darker and broody color scheme. This contrasts well with the oranges of gun fire, muzzle flare and explosions (so long as you like blue and orange, that is). It gives it a different feel from previous issues, and helps set the tone and atmosphere for the issue.
Of course, this isn’t a one-off or self-contained issue. As the fighting escalates, so does the suspense for the next issue. I’m not sure if this ‘cliffhanger’ is the best G.I Joe can offer, since its not that surprising, but it none the less makes the next issue a tempting read.