Writer: Larry Hama
Artists: Pat Quinn, Valentine De Landro with Joe Dodd (p), Rob Ruffolo (colors)
Publisher: Devil's Due Publishing
Plot: The story of an early G.I. Joe mission continues as the histories of the individual members are told. The fate of the Joe codenamed Shooter is also revealed.
Commentary: I realize now why they placed the back stories of the bulk of the original Joe line-up into this three issue mini-series. It's kind of simple really and kills two birds with one stone.
The first bird is telling an early "Year One" type of story for G.I. Joe, and as I stated in my review for the first issue, no one was better equipped to handle this task than Larry Hama. He knows the characters, having created the personalities for just about all of them. So if anyone was going to write about the Joe's formative years, it should be him.
What unfolded was an interesting story that tied the creations of both Cobra and G.I. Joe together while also telling the story of the "unknown" Joe from the first issue of the Marvel book. It's kind of amusing to see Hama take what was an in-joke (Jim Shooter was the Editor-In-Chief of Marvel at the time of the first issue of that Joe series) and turn it into a tale of tragedy. Not much was revealed about her but enough was given that I felt something for her passing, especially at the end with Flagg's two very different eulogies. Hama did a fantastic job of paying tribute to the character and at the same time paying tribute to the real men and women who have died in the line of duty. A huge, wordy eulogy for the troops wouldn't have worked. Everyone there knew the job and they knew the stakes. Flagg's words were enough for the soldiers, even if they didn't really know why they were there. This was a stark contrast to what he said to Shooter's mother. The fact that they played over Shooter's death gave the scene the dramatic weight it needed. The dialogue put together with Shooter's final moments showed that everything Flagg was saying was the truth. I liked that and felt that it was the strongest part of this mini-series.
The second bird is that not every member of the original Joe line-up needed a special or mini-series. While I would personally like to see a Hawk Declassified or a Stalker Declassified because I like those characters I really don't see the need or desire for a Breaker Declassified or a Zap Declassified. What was given to us here was enough for me, and I think those flashbacks showed why these men were part of the Joe unit, though apparently one of the easiest ways into the group was roughing up a prisoner. Maybe that's just me though.
On the marketing side, I rather liked the linking of the three covers to make one big image. Then again I've always like this sort of thing. More than that, I really dug the variant covers that were designed to look like the blister cards from the original toy line. I remain unconvinced that they are worth nine dollars, but the file card and the little nub that broke out to allow the figure to hang on a hook were nice touches and an interesting option for those of us who either collected or still collect the actual figures.
In The End: This was a fine edition to the Declassified series of mini-series and specials. Hama came back to the fold and told a tight little story that gave some insight into the original Joe team. The untold tale of Shooter was an interesting touch and showed that at any moment, any of these characters could die in the line of duty. Sure, it didn't really happen all that much in the first hundred issues or so of the Marvel series, but Hama's hands were tied there due to licensing issues. Devil's Due seems to have more freedom in this regard, and Hama made good use of it.
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