The USA's Free Comics

G.I. JOE: AMERICAN'S ELITE! #0, Devil's Due Publishing, June 2005
I don't know if there should be a statute of limitations on tragedies that screw up an entire date and emergency phone system, but 4 years probably ain't it. In other words, I think it's ok for a comic to cash in on the success of action figures with military accessories and an elastic through their midriff. I just don't think it's ok to cash in on both nostalgia for those action figures AND 9/11.

Granted, Cobra is a terrorist organization, which makes G.I. Joe a counter-terrorist unit. Starting a new G.I. Joe series with 9/11-scale destruction in Chicago with innumerable shots of firemen pulling injured kids out of burning buildings following the crash of a satellite purposely aimed at a major center under the header "The Newest War" is, shall we say, a touch tasteless.*
I'm no prude. This subject matter isn't off-limits per se. Played as an outrageous black comedy, or a realistic and harsh procedural, or if the details had been changed just a little more, in better hands, it might have been something. As an all-ages, toy-inspired, 25¢ freebie (stores simply give those away, generously giving up their 8¢ profit margin), it just doesn't cut it. Especially since it's a little on the crap side.

It seems to have beautifully painted artwork, but unfortunately, artist Stefano Caselli can only draw one expression:
As you can see, it comes in white, black and Cobra, but it's basically the same "Something smells like shit in here" expression. Considering that the immediate villain seems to be a wheelchair-bound, tube-fed incontinent old man, that may just be par for the course. So, yes, sorry folks, but there isn't much Cobra Commander in this thing (just a one-panel flashback), and even Storm Shadow up there is now siding with G.I. Joe. Writer Joe Casey just made sure I would never buy #1.

Thanks to the 25¢ scheme, I knew that America's Elite would suck. And knowing is half the battle.**
*I don't think I want to see any of the movies that have already come out about the event either. The extra year or two makes no difference.

**After NOT making that lame joke the last time I reviewed a G.I. Joe comic, I was pretty proud of myself. Now that I have, I will hit the Colt 45 as soon as I'm done uploading this review.


De said...

I had no idea this was how the America's Elite series started. It makes me a little sick to my stomach actually.

After 9/11, I've had a really hard time taking the idea of Cobra as a terrorist organization seriously. They were essentially the equivalent of Hydra complete with a fanatical commander, Machiavellian supporting cast, and questionable plots to take over the planet.

Now it's about al-Qaeda tactics and funding the hideous regime in Darfur? Please.

Siskoid said...

Well that's it. I don't think GI Joe is a good vehicle for "relevance" because it IS sucha ridiculous high concept.

Austin Gorton said...

Agreed; I love GI Joe, but it has to remain slightly askew of reality and relevance to really work. Like many super-hero properties (and really, in a lot of ways, despite the military element, GI Joe is a super-hero comic) once it's thrust into too "real" a setting, the inherent absurdities (which are normally part of the fun) become all too obvious and discomforting.

De said...

I don't have a problem with G.I. Joe taking a dive into realism as long as it's done with a degree of thoughtfulness.

Case in point, the subplots in Marvel's series dealing with the still painful subject of Vietnam and the treatment of that war's veterans. It helped that Larry Hama had actually served in the Army as opposed to a kid who grew up watching the G.I. Joe cartoon series. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that, but I would imagine the perspectives to be very very different.

Siskoid said...

Possibly the same difference as between The Unit and The A-Team.

Unknown said...

Joe Casey wrote that? Good Lord. Wash the taste out of your mouth with some Godland.

As far as the 9/11 'allusions' go, I'm no prude either and I think you are spot-on with your feelings on this. It has no place in a toy-based comic book, and it has no place anywhere if it's going to be treated so ham-handedly.

I haven't seen any 9/11 flicks either.


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