GI JOE: The IDW Collection, Vol. 1 ReviewSeptember 21, 2013
GI JOE: The IDW Collection, Vol. 1 is a fantastic collection of stories, encompassing GI JOE Origins #0-6, #8-10, and GI JOE #0-6. This collection was first printed in January 2013, and tells the tale of how the GI JOEs first came together as a group – a team of expendable special forces soldiers who, as far as the general public knows, all died fighting for their country on the field of battle. Having been selected by top-ranking military officials to join this elite force, the JOEs are a group that technically does not exist. Their perk package includes posthumous Silver Star and Purple Heart medals given to their grieving families who will never see them again, and first-class tickets to some of the darkest hellholes in the world, all in the name of their country.
A large chunk of the issues in GI JOE: The IDW Collection, Vol. 1 are written by veteran GI JOE writer Larry Hama, in what is a complete reboot/ retelling of the JOEs’ origins after IDW acquired the license from Devil’s Due Publishing back in 2008. The rest of the issues were written by Chuck Dixon, with artwork done by a variety of artists throughout the collection. The writing throughout the book is generally strong, with solid characterization and storytelling – though there are some odd and awkward dialogue lines strewn throughout.
I wasn’t really a fan of the artwork in the first few issues presented here, but it definitely gets better after the first 30 pages or so of this 350 page hardcover – the Robert Atkins work on display here is fantastic. There also seems to be a steady increase in violence and bloodshed throughout, which didn’t bother me given the subject matter. After the first few issues the action really ramps up as well, which is great.
I’ve never followed the GI JOE books, and I’ve only caught an episode or two of the classic 80s cartoon back in the day. My only real introduction to the series before reading this collection was the 2009 movie GI JOE: The Rise Of Cobra, which probably wasn’t the best first impression. IDW’s take on these beloved characters feels darker, edgier and definitely more modern than any of the previous interpretations I’ve come across, and it works well for the story that these books are trying to tell. Scarlett, Duke, Heavy Duty and the rest of the gang feel reasonably well fleshed out, and this take on Snake Eyes’ origin is much more compelling than what was shown in the 2009 film. It’s definitely interesting, and a credit to the artists, that one of the best characters in this run is a guy who can’t even speak.
GI JOE: The IDW Collection, Vol. 1 is housed in a sturdy hardcover, featuring an awesome sketch of Snake Eyes on the front. The actual pages are printed well; I noticed no bleed and the colors are vibrant. Unfortunately there are no extras included here such as extra sketches, but this is a rather large collection of excellent GI JOE stories that any fan of the franchise will want to take a look at.