G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #212
Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: SL Gallant
Inks: Brian Shearer
Colors: J. Brown
Letters: Tom B. Long
Editor: Carlos Guzman
Well, we're finally here. Months after the promotion started, we've
finally reached the "Death of Snake Eyes" story arc. I'm hoping this
isn't considered a spoiler at this point, because it's plastered all
over the book, so it's no longer a mystery that it happens, at this
point the story is going to involve how.
Pro Tip - It doesn't happen this issue.
I was a bit surprised that we jump right into the action here...last
issue we saw a few of the Joes disguising themselves as Cobra
operatives (and Red Shadows) and attempting to infiltrate a Cobra
base in Olliestan. As this issue opens, they have started attacking
the base from the inside already, leaving Black Major scrambling as
the Joes drag Red Laser deeper into the base. Outback, Dusty, and
Throwdown are getting short on ammo and long on trouble as Cobra
troopers continue pouring down on them. One of those Cobra Troopers
is actually a SAW Viper with the colors of a Toxo Viper. I'm no
sure if that was intentional or not, but it's an interesting look.
The three Joes narrowly escape the Cobra base by disguising
themselves as other Cobra Troopers and sliding out in a Shadowtrack,
but as they are getting themselves pulled out of the fire by Bazooka
and Cover Girl, the Cobra/Red Shadows super robot begins lifting out
of the desert floor.
Back in Utah, where Snake Eyes, Stalker, and Scarlett have arrived to
keep watch on Serpentor, Joe and Jane Colton decide to launch their
own super robot to combat this Cobra weapon. It blasts from its
launch bay and is quickly airborne.
As Throwdown reveals himself to be more than a green-shirt G.I. Joe
recruit (actually sporting an Arashikage tattoo), the G.I. Joe
armored weapon arrives and takes the fight to the large Cobra robot,
with Serpentor awakening to take the driver's seat remotely. But the
robot isn't the only thing Serpentor controls, as he appears to be
literally integrated with all of the technology within The Pit,
shaking it to its core and sending the Joes scrambling. As the issue
ends, Snake Eyes goes charging to take on Serpentor, as he stands
triumphant, his cowl back in place, and looking proud.
While Larry didn't touch on the whole giant eyeball in this issue,
there was a hint of science fiction elements, most specifically with
the battle robots, but happily, the core of the story was still
mostly grounded. Yes, Throwdown revealed some ninja heritage by
hacking through Revanche blue ninjas (does anyone remember when even
just one of those things was near-unstoppable? Now Throwdown is
dispatching 10 of them without breaking a sweat) but most of the
desert base combat was machine gun to shoulder, and I enjoy that.
It's the small things like SL Gallant's natural flow of art, showing
Dusty in the Red Shadow's uniform, machine gun propped and ready to
toss gunfire with enemy Cobra soldiers.
However, this issue was filled with big things, too, and both Gallant and Hama handle the transitions with ease.
The action, as always, flows exceptionally smoothly with dramatic sweeping action, portraying a feeling of threat and motion, and Gallant balances between realism and animation to perfection.
The coloring continues to tell a story as well, from the red shades of the Red Shadows to the vibrant blue and green of the Toxo Viper color schemes, and even the soft glow of florescent lights. It's these understated pieces of the comic process that go unappreciated sometimes, but J. Brown does them quite well.
All in all, this feels like the beginning of something big. We have two story robots trading three-ton punches, the Red Shadows, a mysterious Arashikage logo on Throwdown's arm, and Serpentor almost single-handedly taking over The Pit.
I can't help but notice the color scheme for the G.I. Joe giant robot as well and wonder... with the G.I. Joe Collectors' Club FSS going, could this be a SerpentOR tie in? I know Hama says he doesn't think that far ahead, and the armored robot from last issue didn't bear any resemblance with the action figure, but you can certainly draw some parallels between what's going on here and what went on with DDP and what's going on with that particular figure.
As usual, the issue felt satisfied, but still left me wanting more. I'm looking forward to 213.
As an aside, the variant covers for this issue are pretty amazing. Adam Riches blows me away with his Cobra themed cover, cramming in countless Cobra operatives and troopers and doing so with amazing accuracy. He pulls from all these different continuities and does so in excellent fashion.
Also we have a JoeCon 2015 exclusive Jem/Cold Slither cover which looks like a lot of fun as well. I'll be on the look out for these in Springfield next week, and it'll be great to hear Adam's take on crafting this cover.