I wonder how many fans of the classic G.I. Joe comic book are buying Hama’s continuing series. With one of the best Joe books in decades, G.I. Joe: Cobra, going full-hiss next month with an all-out war for the throne of Cobra Commander, it’s easy to see why the Silver Agey antics of A Real American Hero may go unnoticed.
There isn’t a whole hell of a lot of media coverage of this title; you’d probably be hard-pressed to see reviews of the series on G.I. Joe fan sites. Yet, in no way does this mean Hama’s latest run on the classic take of characters has been bad. Real American tends to overcome its monthly inconsistencies with the good-natured charm of the ’90s. What may push away fans of Cobra, though, is the writer’s frenzied use of technical jargon.
Sure, it’s cool to clarify certain military argot, or have characters enunciate them during the right moments (i.e. Hawk in the Pit explicating a “Racetrack CAP”) ; but I can’t imagine two combat pilots speaking this way out loud during a severe firefight! While the book is clearly a throwback, Hama’s work on G.I. Joe: Origins displayed that he can stick to the original script yet keep up with the times. Yet, if old Joe fans aren’t buying, I’m not sure those fully indulged by the likes of Cobra will bother, either.
What Hama manages to do best is intertwine the three (or more) separate threads into the big picture. The most intriguing subplot, perhaps, and to no surprise, is the ongoing ninja quadrille between Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, and the most creative name in Joe lore, Billy — scanner darkly, for sure. The ending builds up an even shadier constituent to one of Cobra’s most mysterious, top baddies.
The art has been fairly good in A Rea American Hero and continues to be this month. Gallant’s take on the fighter jet’s movements are sloppily told, and strangely proportioned. Kudos does go to the artists’ detailed take on the uniforms, especially those of lesser-known combatants, Tripwire and Tunnel Rat.
Simply put, if you’re a fan of either or all of the toys, cartoons and the old classic run, I can’t recommend this series enough. You can’t go wrong with the pure fun of Hama’s script. If you’re looking for something a little less cartoony and more modern espionage, then Mike Costa’s got the goods with Cobra. Or, if you just like to spend excessive comic book cash –like yours truly — and want to have the best of both worlds, then here you go, you walking kamikaze bunker penetrator.