Monday, June 22, 2009

Is Anyone Else Reading G.I. Joe?

So... I've been reading not 1, not 2, but 3 G.I. Joe titles now for several months. Part of it was that I just needed a break from the big two super-hero gig for a while. Another part of it is that G.I. Joe is a really awesome concept that was way ahead of its time. These comics are not unlike most super-hero comics of our day, in that they delicately toe that line between being true to their original concepts, simplistic and outlandish as they may be, but they inject that edge that makes it readable for the 20 and 30 somethings who have become the backbone of comic readership.

For example, in the same issue of G.I. Joe: Cobra, you have dudes all uniformed up in those cheesy psuedu sci-fi viper costumes from the 80s cartoon, but you also have Jinx pretending to be a stripper to pass info to Chuckles, the deep-cover infiltrating Cobra. See where I'm going with this?

It's not like I'm advocating for hyper-realism in G.I. Joe. Last thing any of us need is to see Flint waterboarding Destro or a picture of Scarlett next to a hooded Crimson Twins in a naked man pile. Ok, that second one would be worth it just for the novelty... but I digress. I suppose the point is that you have to be a comic or cartoon geek to get anything out of these comics. Because who else would appreciate Chuck Dixon's precise use of all sorts of military procedural jargon in the same frame with guys screaming 'Yo Joe!' while defending their underground city of a base from robotic spiders? These comics aren't really for kids... at least not young ones. The sexual subtext, particularly in G.I. Joe: Cobra is a little too much. Besides, the old G.I. Joe effect of lots of gunfire and no fatalities is definitely not part of the most recent reboot. But they're not really for adults either... Destro's minions controlling evil robotic spiders via remote control smacks way too much of the old cartoon series. These comics are made for us... the geeks... the kind of people who want adult themes in kid content...

I guess what I'm saying is that now that I've tried something new, I shouldn't have been so hard on DC and Marvel. Because the truth is, I like these G.I. Joe comics, and they struggle with the same issues I've been hard on the big two for. Maybe the publishers aren't the problem...

5 comments:

Devon Sanders said...

The thing that I have always loved about the Joe comics was the hands-off approach its parent toy company, Hasbro has with the comics.

They make the toys someone else makes the comics and if Cobra member Jinx becomes a stripper in order to become a double agent then hey...

That's just what happens in the comics.

Jeff said...

I have to say that I really love Cobra. One of my favorite books, but it seems more like a Rucka title than a Joe title.

Graig Kent said...

G.I. Joe/Cobra is one of my favourite books of the year, and I'm incredibly sad it's only a 4-issue mini. It's a top-notch espionage book playing with childhood toys, and succeeding in doing so. I think what is easily overlooked is that it's a "mature readers" title, and it earns its disclaimer. It's heady, intense and captivating.

I'm not much of a Joe fan (that's my wife), but this is what G.I. Joe should be, loaned some relevance for today's audience, a bit more sophisticated, not the BS cartoon power armor seen in film trailers and not even Dixon's surprisingly campy reboot. Cobra should be scary, a massive, global, private army of soldiers, military minds, scientists, engineers, etc answerable to no government is a frightening thing.

I suppose I just think a dead serious Joe book should co-exist with a silly, fun Joe series.

Siskoid said...

Cobra is indeed great. Origins has some fun stuff. And the main series is more ordinary, but still manages to entertain.

The movie prequel is the weak link.

Siskoid said...

One more thought: The old Marvel series had its share of fatalities as well. A lot harsher than the cartoon. Make of that what you will.