Monday, September 29, 2014

The Pull List: G.I. Joe (2014)

Even when the G.I. Joe cartoon was airing back during my childhood, I wasn't a big fan of the series. I didn't hate the show, but it really wasn't on my single-digit-aged mind. When I got a bit older, I tried watching some of the cartoons, but I found them a little silly. And yes, this does come from an adult woman who loves My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and The Muppet Babies. I suppose I had a much more sophisticated palette then (hahaha who am I kidding? I watched plenty of pretty awful kids' shows).

Fast forward to last week, as I was preparing the books for New Comic Wednesday, and I managed to not once, but twice, overlook the new G.I. Joe title. I mean, I see Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (among several others) every other week, so what's a new one to me? Absolutely nothing. Or, at least, it did until I realized that Karen Traviss was writing this particular title.
Variant Cover via Hisstank
Now, before I get into the comic, it's important that you know who Karen Traviss is, seeing as this is the main reason that this book piqued my curiosity. A few years ago, I discovered her when I read the Gears of War novels, Aspho Fields and Jacinto's Remnant, and, as I am wont to do, simply had to find out everything there was to know about this woman who had me enjoy military science fiction*. First off, she was a journalist and a defense correspondent (she spells it defence, because she's British), both of which I wanted to be when I was in college, and she served in the UK's Army Reserve and the Royal Navy Auxiliary Service, although she is quick to point out on her website that she does not wish to referred to as a "GI Jane."
"Don't include me with the fine men and women who do a truly dangerous job in our armed forces, both as regulars and reservists, because I have the privilege of knowing many of them, and they're the real deal, and I am not."
Once she decided to become an author, however, it makes sense that she would write about the military: she lived that life and maintains ties to those who remain in it. From what I am to gather - as I have never served in the armed forces, in the US or in the UK - she is very accurate in her portrayal of military behaviors. Not only that, but she makes me care about some fairly brutish characters (hi, Marcus Fenix!) in the meantime.

She has also written several books for the Halo and Star Wars universes, my favorites being her Republic Commando series that focuses on the clone troopers from the Clone Wars as they attempt to figure out their place in this new galactic empire and learn their genetic history as Mandalorians. Traviss was the center of some controversy with Star Wars fans, who felt that she was disregarding canon, and a meme came out of it: a Talifan, which are described as, "a fan who insists upon there being only one canonical approach to the object of his fandom and directly opposes anything that contradicts that canonical approach." Yeah, I think we know plenty of people like that. She departed from the Star Wars behemoth a few years ago and hasn't looked back, writing her own novels, only one of which I have read at this point. Her next book, Going Grey, is coming out soon, and I am definitely going to buy it.

But anyway, Traviss knows her shit, and by God, the first issue of G.I. Joe is pretty damn awesome. The art by Steve Kurth is flawless, fitting the more realistic tone Traviss is going for, and Kito Young's color choices are gorgeous: subdued and earthy. The story centers around a frustrated Scarlett, who was trying to convince a committee that the special unit, the Joes, was still necessary, despite the fact that Cobra has seemingly denounced violence and has focused on simple diplomatic negotiations. On the antagonists' side, we see that Scarlett's hunch about Cobra regrouping is factual; Baroness admits as such to another political lackey.

There's so much going on here: Siren's son has gone AWOL from Cobra to join a separatist group, that same group is going to be dealt with by the Joes, there's another organization that wants to recruit the Joes, Cobra is using backhanded politics (against Baroness' wishes, but she's pretty much a "go for the jugular" type) to defeat the Joes slowly, etc. It seems like a lot when I type it out, but really, it's so expertly crafted that you don't feel overwhelmed with information. But what I like the most is that the women of G.I. Joe are taking center stage. In fact, Scarlett is supposedly the main character of this series, and this could lead to an incredibly fresh take on what is a very male-dominated story. Traviss has stated in multiple interviews that she does not write for franchises that she is super familiar with because she feels trapped by the mythos; it's what got her in trouble with the above-mentioned Star Wars fans, but I think it is what will keep me coming back. If IDW proves that they can successfully publish this title, letting Karen Traviss impress us with her mad skills, then I won't be as nervous about their take on Orphan Black, which is due out sometime next year. If they fuck that up? Oh, Imma be pissed.

* This truly is a feat. I love military sci-fi movies, but a lot of times, the same genre in book form bores me to tears.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...