Writer(s): Andrew Dabb & Mike O’Sullivan
Artist(s): Vincente Cifuentes, Andrew Dalhouse, Mike Getty & Bob Pedroza
Published by: Devil’s Due Publishing
The Devil’s Due incarnations of G.I. Joe Special Missions are some of the finest one-shots money can buy. Whether you follow the main series or not, Special Missions is a great way to capture the spirit of the memorable franchise that has endured for 25 years. They don’t necessarily follow any specific storyline and they often feature more obscure characters that are easily recognizable from their toy incarnations. This latest issue asks a simple question: “Have you ever wondered what type of person joins the ranks of Hydra or A.I.M.?” What about the type of person that joins “a terrorist organization determined to take over the world?” With the onslaught of G.I. Joe’s 25th Anniversary and the World War III event, Devil’s Due Publishing takes a unique look inside the ranks of both Cobra and G.I. Joe and explores the motivations surrounding someone looking to join those ranks. G.I. Joe Special Missions: The Enemy is an excellent look into the incentives such a career could offer and the dangers faced on each side.
This is a worthy tale, one that features original G.I. Joe member Grunt and his journey to the ranks of G.I. Joe, and one that features an unnamed man who becomes a Cobra operative. The story is simple; Grunt comes from a good home and an honorable background while the other comes from a shady past. Writer Andrew Dabb does an excellent job with this comparison on the opening page. Grunt gives his father’s eulogy, standing tall and honoring him, while the other man is drunk and talking about the scumbag his father was.
This first story is a classic tale of the choices one makes in life, and the ways one goes about life changing decisions. Grunt is looking for a way to pay for college and to support his now widowed mother. After first trying his hand at construction he joins the army and is assigned to General Abernathy’s brand new G.I. Joe unit. The other man who is left with no inheritance from his father, tries to rob his father’s house and ends up getting arrested. While in prison, the man learns about Cobra and decides to join up when he is freed. This story covers the major differences between G.I. Joe and Cobra. Two men on opposite sides of the spectrum join opposing forces and because of their personalities, their role in each is shaped.
Editor extraordinaire Mike O’Sullivan does an excellent job in helping Andrew Dabb follow the timeline of G.I. Joe vs. Cobra. Everything is here, the first mission, the last mission, the reinstatement and now the two men acting as recruiters. Grunt as the army man who young men turn to and the other man recruiting fellow prisoners to Cobra’s cause. This story is easy to follow and is well done. The plot may seem a little cliché, but the moment when Grunt and the man come face to face in battle is actually quite amazing. I think I would have liked to have seen this story the other way around, where a drunkard joins G.I. Joe and a respected man joins Cobra, but for the purposes of this story, what is presented works effectively.
I also like the “Source Guide” featured at the end of the first story. It references every battle featured and every character featured as well. Reading over it, it makes you realize how important G.I. Joe is to Mike O’Sullivan and I have a great deal of respect for him based on the way he has stayed true to the original Marvel G.I. Joe series.
The second story isn’t as easy to follow as the first. The idea is mostly because it has to do with the “Sins of the Mother” story-arc where Cobra Commander kidnapped Destro and the Baroness’ baby. It still does give a decent insight into the way that a Cobra covert strike team operates and Mike O’Sullivan takes the opportunity to introduce a few new characters. He also takes the opportunity to show just how ruthless and unforgiving Cobra Commander can be. Not only is his strike team infiltrating a hospital to steal a baby, but the Commander has two operative executed after they question the mission. The story is well-done but is overshadowed by the first, longer and much more touching story presented in this issue.
Overall, this is another hit for G.I. Joe: Special Missions. This issue provides an interesting insight into the life of a regular Cobra soldier and into one of the original members of G.I. Joe. Even if you aren’t reading G.I. Joe or have had nothing to do with the franchise since the cartoon, I’d recommend this issue. It’s a great look into the inner workings of both G.I. Joe and Cobra.
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