Thursday, January 14, 2010

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes #4 (IDW)

I should preface this review by saying that I am a moderate fan of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and of several of its tie-in comics. I mention this because it is a very divisive issue within G.I. Joe fandom, and I want anyone reading this to understand I am not merely dismissing the comic because it is tied to the Rise of Cobra universe.

G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes #4 is, quite simply, not a good G.I. Joe comic, and not a good comic period.

The art is bad. The writing is bad. The plotting is bad. It's bad. It's practically an exemplar of badness. To borrow from P. Opus, "Maybe it wasn't that bad, but Lord, it wasn't good."

And really, it isn't. A Snake-Eyes comic should, probably, prominently feature action, particularly of the ninja variety. This does, only the actual action moments are drawn with the focus so closely on faces, hands, or feet (or the meeting between faces, hands, or feet) that it is very difficult to get a sense of how the fight actually flows. There's no grace in the martial arts here. There also is not much continuity in what happens from panel to panel; one moment, an opponent is wearing an orange robe and is unarmed. The next time Snake-Eyes sees him, a few panels later, with certainly no more than a few seconds passing, he's wearing a black outfit identical to Snake-Eyes', and carrying a sword. That was a quick change. It is even worth mentioning that, in the interim, Snake-Eyes has more or less randomly sprayed bullets around in the area the opponent disappeared to? Is that something a highly trained ninja-commando does?

Later, Snake-Eyes unveils a hand-held EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) device, something which, if he has access to, would be awfully handy against enemy equipment of pretty much any kind. Going to be quite a poser when he and the rest of the Joe team do not just pop those out the next time they are staring down an attack from all that fancy, high-tech Cobra gear, no? It's not that I'm not accepting the sci-fi elements here; they've always been a part of G.I. Joe. I am not accepting that the best use of it is against a single, non-military opponent.

The writing is, as I mentioned, expository, and simplistic. In one panel, the narrative voice actually says that Snake-Eyes' "identity [is] virtually unknown...even to some members of his own team."

That's fan-fiction style. It's not professional. And neither is this comic.

IDW is doing fantastic work with the rest of its Joe titles. G.I. Joe, G.I. Joe: Origins and, especially G.I. Joe Cobra, are great. They are a breath of reviving, original, and sometimes surprisingly gritty air into an old, proud, and occasionally musty franchise that is my oldest favorite. Save your money for the next issue of any of those, or for the trade collections; don't spend it on this.

Written by Ray Park & Kevin VanHook
Drawn by Lee Ferguson

Dan Ford
Staff Reviewer

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