G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #210
Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: SL Gallant
Inks: Brian Shearer
Colors: J. Brown
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Editor: Carlos Guzman
It's interesting to think back through the various times in G.I. Joe history and to see the resurrection of Serpentor as almost a cliche. They did it in Devils Due (a few different times) and it is something that fans have explored numerous times over the years through customs as well.
However, Larry Hama himself has never explored this before in the traditional Real American Hero continuity, which makes the events leading up to this issue so interesting.
I've been a bit conflicted with recent issues, just because I'm growing a bit weary of the Revanche storyline, and the numerous robotic foes that the Joes have been facing are becoming a bit monotonous. That being said, Larry still has a way of writing the stories where you care about all of the characters appearing within, even the ones made of metal instead of flesh.
Issue #210 keeps Revanche on the fringes and focuses most of its energy on the more human characters, something I'm quite pleased about. In issue #209 we saw Wade Collins' son Sean take the mantel of Throwdown, a rookie G.I. Joe operative, and in this issue, he ends up on his first field mission.
The crux of what happens in this issue, though, is definitely what's going on at the new PITT where Joe and Jane are still working towards resurrecting Serpentor, something that the Joes are not fans of, especially Roadblock, who is told that he has been chosen as a mental "conduit" of sorts for the former Cobra Emperor. This fact only makes him more uneasy as Serpentor lashes out, half-conscious and breaks from captivity, just barely being restrained by tranq darts and an especially aggressive headlock from Roadblock himself.
While the Joes at the PIT go through some anxious reflection there is a team in the desert tracking the last known location of a Revanche facility, unaware that they themselves are being watched by Cobra.
In Japan, a Revanche drone makes a move against the Arashikage, and all of these elements slowly start coming together.
Yes, there was some focus on Revanche in this issue, but Hama spent enough time exploring other elements to keep me quite interested. I especially enjoyed the dispatch team heading to the desert with Throwdown, Outback, Bazooka, Cover Girl, and who appeared to be Freefall in the transport. If there's anything I wish Larry would do more of, it's explore the more obscure characters. He's become so familiar with so many of the mainstream operatives that he tends to go back to that well quite often, and will occasionally lose touch with some G.I. Joe members. His continued involvement in this continuity is a perfect opportunity for some of those lesser explored characters to get the full on "Hama treatment" and I'm always a bit discouraged when that doesn't happen.
With that being said, I loved what he did here, and I really enjoyed the Serpentor sequence, too, setting up the resurrected Cobra Emperor as a significant threat, even without full mental capacities. We touch a bit on the alien life form underneath the PITT, and I really enjoyed how conflicted the G.I. Joe team was about what was going on with Serpentor. It seems to make absolutely no sense to voluntarily resurrect one of Cobra's most dangerous members, so the fact that they don't just blindly accept this fact is a good touch.
How many times can I say how great Gallant's artwork is? It truly suits the style of this book perfectly. The motion and action sequences are terrific, and his mixture of vintage and new designs for the G.I. Joe characters really works. You can recognize everyone and every vehicle almost immediately and follow the progression from one panel to another.
From beginning to end, this book remains the best monthly comic for my money, and I continue to really enjoy what Larry is doing month to month. The fact that he can so effortlessly express the style and feel of G.I. Joe while so many others struggle with it only goes to show he was born to tell this story, and does it so well.