Writer: Larry Hama
Art: Rod Whigham, Andy Mushynsky, George Roussos, and Joe Rosen
Release Date: April 14, 2021
IDW gives G.I. Joe fans quite a treat in the form of a one-shot reprinting G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Vol 1 issues 49 and 50 from 1986. These issues focus mainly on the origin of one of Cobra’s biggest baddies, Serpentor! Let’s head to Springfield and see what legendary G.I. Joe scribe Larry Hama had up in sleeve!!
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I grew up in the ’80s, so yeah, I’m old(ish). G.I. Joe was a HUGE part of my life. The comics, cartoons, and toys. All of it! It was a great time to be a kid. I collected much of the original Marvel G.I. Joe run as it came out and a huge draw to me initially were the outstanding covers by Mike Zeck, as seen above.
By issues 49 and 50 the series had really hit its groove. Amidst a huge cast of characters several had become fan favorites, and for good reason. Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, and Destro were amongst them. While Destro takes center stage in these issues, it’s the creation of a new so-called “alpha” villain that has many characters up in arms for several reasons. That’s just one plot point in a multi-layered story that also includes the Joes finding the location of Cobra’s base, an attack on it, and Cobra’s evacuation attempt of said base. Larry Hama shows why he’s a legend in the business in his writing skill. Juggling multiple stories with a huge cast with ease. Without a roster page at all, characters are addressed and editor’s notes are used to make the reader feel at home and that they know who’s who!
We begin the issue with Destro assisting Dr. Mindbender in a far-fetched scheme to steal the remains of the 10 greatest warriors of all time and using comic book science to create the ultimate soldier of sorts using the genetic material of the stolen warriors.
While the preparations are being made Rod Whigham cleverly pencils insert a sneak peek of Serpentor’s future headpiece in a page.
Baroness is also prominent in these issues. She provides some Game of Thrones-type backroom politics and speaks in half-truths in who her allegiances lie with, amongst other things.
Storm Shadow had been killed in a previous issue, but being comics is reborn. He’s thrown into the mix. Somewhat literally. That story also plays out further in this one-shot.
Once our main story of Serpentor’s creation is set in motion, we get into the action part of the story. That being how the Cobra base is found and resulting attack of it. Hama’s writing is just so easy to read. It flows, and while being a somewhat complex story, is extremely easy to follow. Eventually, Serpentor does show what a master strategist and warrior he is as he outwits the Joes with an assist from Destro and Baroness. Serpentor’s success also puts Cobra Commander in a state of mass paranoia. Will there be a power struggle for the top stop in the Cobra hierarchy? Is Serpentor gunning for Cobra Commander?
This issue brought me back to my childhood immediately. I felt like I was 14 again. While I haven’t read G.I. Joe since the mid-eighties I remembered every character immediately. Larry Hama is a master in creating a fun, action-packed issue that leaves the reader wanting more! I loved every second I spent with this issue.