Friday, September 8, 2017


Written by Josh Blaylock
Pencils by Mike S. Miller | Inks by Cory Hamscher & Armando Durruthy
Letters by Dreamer Design | Colors by Lynx Studio with HI FI Colour Design
Edits by Mark Powers

The Plot: A clandestine terrorist army called Cobra discovers a crashed spaceship on Earth filled with giant deactivated robots. Some time later, a group of American commandos is dispatched to guard a peace conference when Cobra attacks. Their vehicles are revealed as shapeshifting robots, and while the attack results in minimal casualties, a commando nicknamed Snake-Eyes is maimed. Cobra departs, having delivered a message to the world.

Later, one General Flagg meets with the commandos' leader, Colonel Clayton Abernathy, and with two advisors, Alison Hart-Burnett and Dashiell Faireborn. Together, the quartet makes plans to create an elite military anti-Cobra unit named G.I. Joe under Abernathy's command.

Continuity Notes: We're told that Snake-Eyes is a real chatterbox, but he gets blown up before he has a chance to speak.

G1 References: A number of Transformers from the first two years of the original toyline are glimpsed, deactivated, aboard the spaceship in the opening pages, including (but not limited to) Cosmos, Cliffjumper, Starscream, Jazz, and Megatron. The fact that all these character are aboard ship together seems to indicate that this continuity follows the established G1 backstory, at least up to this point.

Unlike most of his contemporaries (described below), Megatron's alternate mode on Earth is the same as it was in Generation One: a pistol.

G.I. References: Cobra Commander and the Baroness discuss Destro, weirdly and obliquely referring to him as "the arms trafficker" and "the Scotsman" but never using his name.

None of them have codenames yet, but the Joes we see in this chapter include Hawk (Abernathy), Stalker, Snake-Eyes, Cover Girl, Ace, Lady Jaye (Burnett), and Flint (Faireborn). Meanwhile, the Cobras seen throughout the issue are Cobra Commander, the Baroness, Wild Weasel, and Major Bludd.

Cobra Commander refers to the Transformers as "Battle Android Troopers", which was of course a term for a very different type of robot in the original JOE continuity. The Transformers have been redesigned to change into classic Cobra vehicles such as HISS tanks (Optimus Prime, Ironhide, and Ratchet), Rattler jets (Thundercracker and presumably Skywarp), and the Night Raven stealth fighter (Starscream).

My Thoughts: A year prior to Dreamwave's first TRANSFORMERS/G.I. JOE miniseries, Devil's Due turned out their take on a Joe/Transformer crossover. And where Dreamwave employed the shadowy style of Jae Lee to set the characters in the dark days of World War II, Devil's Due goes the other direction, giving us a bright and shiny meeting between the two properties. In retrospect, Dreamwave's version may well have been an answer to this one!

At the time this series hit stands, I was all in on Devil's Due's ongoing JOE series. Writer Josh Blaylock (also the company's publisher) had made clear his intention to follow from the original Marvel continuity, but to filter it through the characterizations and sensibilities of the Sunbow cartoon series. I admit that I initially wondered if snubbing longtime Joe creator Larry Hama was a good idea, but Blaylock's work won me over pretty quickly. I love Hama's JOE, but more for the story than for the characters. The cartoon versions of the Joes, at least, are the definitive versions in my mind. Cobra, on the other hand, I can go either way on depending upon my mood.

So as a result, reading this first issue -- which so far mostly only features a few Joes in speaking roles (aside from a few bits of dialogue from Megatron), I find that the "Sunbow effect" is full force. With no effort, I "hear" Ed Gilbert as Hawk, Pat Fraley as Ace, Chris Latta as Cobra Commander, etc. as I read their lines. Further, I can hear the TV series' background music under the action as well. Though this is an alternate universe, it's heavily influenced by the cartoon, and I love it for that.

That said, I do have one issue that sticks out like a sore thumb in this otherwise toon-friendly issue: As was the case in his ongoing G.I. JOE series, Blaylock has the characters referring to each other by their real names. Obviously G.I. Joe as a unit doesn't exist yet, so he's giving us "standard issue" versions of the characters, but still -- seeing Stalker referred to as "Lonzo" rather than "Stalker" is just... weird. Likewise Faireborn and Burnett. Abernathy, however, I can excuse, since Larry Hama himself tossed that name around occasionally in the original comic book run, and there's some precedent in the TV show as well for the Joes' leader to use his real name -- more than once in the first season, Duke was addressed as "Sergeant Hauser" or some similar variation.

Otherwise, not much to say about this one yet. We're off to a pretty slow start, but not so slow the issue lacks action. But we'll need to wait for the next chapter to see whether anything of substance happens.

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