GI JOE #272, available now from IDW Publishing, finds the Joes — and a few COBRA Agents — coming together to rescue Snake Eyes from Cobra Commander and Dr. Mindbender. Larry Hama’s Avengers: Endgame-esque story calls on nearly every Joe imaginable, against the orders of their superiors, to save one of their own in a setup for the epic showdown.
Brian Atkins’ cover looks right at home from the Hasbro action-figure toy packaging when the cartoon was relaunched in 1983. Snake Eyes is charging into action in a momentum-filled pose. The colors are appropriately bright and patriotic with the right amount of fiery background texture.
Larry Hama’s story is not so much a complete story, but rather an action-filled prelude to something bigger. It’s a collection of smaller vignettes where you learn the Joes have gone rogue to rescue Snake Eyes on their own time. Several COBRA enemies, including Destro and Zartan, have joined the Joes in opposition to Cobra Commander’s plan. Meanwhile, Snake Eyes uses every ninja trick at his disposal to escape before brainwashing can begin.
You get the distinct impression Hama is pulling out every character and settling every score to set up an all out war in Springfield. I referenced Avengers: Endgame in the introduction, and that’s exactly the vibe Hama creates by the end of the issue. The only thing missing was Duke standing in front of the eclectic army, ready for battle, and shouting “Yo, Joe!”
Thiago Gomes and Brian Atkins admirably succeed in the artwork for one reason above all others: there are so many characters! Not just a few key characters with crowds in the background. We’re talking about nearly every human Joe created since 1983 plus one dog and one eagle. Each character had to be drawn with their own unique costume. Ever panel had a different character saying at least one line that reflected their personality. It’s really quite astounding.
In addition to the sheer volume of diverse art Gomes and Atkins completed, the quality of the fight scenes, mostly involving Snake Eyes, didn’t suffer in any way. Snake Eyes’ action is stealthy when possible, brutal when necessary. Every Snake eyes panel puts him in a pose that’s as graceful as it is powerful. By the end of the issue, you’ll be wondering if Snake Eyes will actually need rescuing.
J. Brown’s colors stand out for pure boldness. When drawing so many characters, a drab pallet would wash out the distinction between each Joe. To keep the characters separate and popping off the page, when they’re so crowded into each panel, the colors make all the difference.
This issue is almost non-stop movement. The Joes are gathering. They’re meeting at rendezvous points, traveling incognito to make ready, and they’re getting into some hi-jinks with civilians along the way. Neil Uyetake’s lettering works well to keep the reader’s eye moving from panel to panel at break neck speed while still absorbing the dialog to understand what’s going on. The word balloons never crowd out the art; which is a tall order since every square inch of panel is used to render the literal army of characters.
GI JOE #272 is a massive buildup that promises an epic showdown with COBRA. The art team pulled off a minor miracle with the sheer volume of character work, and Hama’s story sets up a cinematic battle in the next issue. Perfect reading for every Joe fan.