G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #206
Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: SL Gallant
Inks: Brian Shearer
Colors: J. Brown
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Editor: Carlos Guzman
Right off the bat, I have to admit I feel pretty crappy that I didn’t get a chance to review the last issue of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, especially considering the dramatic events that were contained within. For folks who haven’t read it yet, I won’t get into too many spoilers here, but the death of a long standing character within the Real American Hero universe was handled gracefully and emotionally, and left the impact that I think it deserved.
This past storyline with Torpedo, Long Range, Alpine, and Muskrat was a great example of Larry Hama taking some random characters and really tying them together nicely. Using Long Range, who served primarily as the Thunderclap driver, and at least somewhat integrating the specialty of the Sigma 6 Long Range, who was a sniper, created a very nice balance. I will admit in some cases seeing a cover operations sniper running around with that huge goggled helmet was a bit jarring, but Hama still made it work and gave the character some more depth and use outside of his behemoth of a vehicle.
This issue provides a change of pace as we see Scarlett and Snake Eyes grocery shopping (for lack of a better term) while also uncovering a potential Crimson Guard front and meeting up with the Marvel Comics iteration of Sean Collins, Wade Collins’ son. As most of us probably know, in the Devils’ Due story, Sean Collins “grew up” to become Kamakura, and we can see some nuggets of that happening here as well, as he’s encouraged to try out for the G.I. Joe team by various members.
As the Joes continue spying on Cobra Commander and Mindbender, Jinx and Pale Peony run into a new adversary with Revanche calling herself ‘921’. She is all decked out in Samurai armor and refers to herself as a genetically altered human being, which certainly adds to Revanche’s arsenal, which previously contained mostly robotic blue ninjas.
Far and away the strangest event within the 206th issue, however, was Joe Colton giving Duke a tour of a secret underground level of the new Pit, which not only contains many strangely shrouded vehicles, but also a gigantic… eyeball?! Yeah, that took me by surprise, and I honestly have no idea where Mr. Hama is going with this one. Part of me is a bit worried that things might start getting a little metaphysical, and generally I don’t have an issue with that, but there’s been such a great balance between realism and fantasy in the Real American Hero continuation so far, I’m not sure I want to see the scales tip too far towards the bizarre.
Beyond a few panels of hand-to-hand combat between Jinx, Pale Peony, and 921 there isn’t much all out action in this issue, but that seems okay. Larry Hama excels at telling stories without resorting to gunfire and ninja kicks, and this issue is a great example of that. The one-on-one conversations between Scarlett and Snake Eyes, as well as the talks with Sean Collins, and the banter between the G.I. Joe operatives just comes off as being so natural and so real. That’s something that’s often overlooked in these books. I’ve seen other writers go so totally overboard on the stiff, cardboard, military over-jargonization that it loses something. Larry finds that perfect balance, and even though there weren’t any dramatic battles to speak of, the low key conversations, and the small touch like leaving a medal on the grave of the fallen character added some real personality to the story.
As always, Gallant’s art compliments Hama’s story telling intricacies perfectly. Whether it’s 921 slashing with her sword, or three Joes solemnly leaving a graveyard, the artistic style works well. He continues to translate these plastic characters to two dimensional drawings quite nicely, and I’m thrilled that he’s become the longest lasting artist in Real American Hero history. He deserves that acclaim and he’s doing the title proud.
At this point the only thing that’s giving me some pause is that weird gigantic eyeball. I hold out hope that it’s some sort of red herring that doesn’t lead to a weird cosmic influence in the relatively realistic universe Hama has created. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but I can’t help but think back to a book like Nth Man, which started off as truly straight-edged military and quickly dove headlong into metaphysical cosmic strangeness.
Beyond that small pause, though, this was another excellent issue and one that you should pick up as it prepares to lead into the next G.I. Joe and Cobra adventure.