2019 has seen lots of new beginnings. In New Comic Book Day this week, we take a look at two issue #1’s whose titles recently got rebooted, G. I. Joe published by IDW, and the X-Men published by Marvel.
G.I. Joe (2019)
Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Chris Evenhuis
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Issues: 1, 2 (Ongoing)
Cobra has won. There are still warzones, and pockets of resistance, but when the United States government officially surrenders to Cobra, it’s over. But not for G.I. Joe. Seeing their battle for freedom, to oppose tyranny, and defend the rights of the people of their country, they only see their battle as becoming more desperate than ever. But the constant war with Cobra has claimed so many of their numbers already, and now, operating without the aid or assistance of the US military, they can’t count on the resources and recruits which they used to. Now G.I. Joe are the resistance, the rebellion, forced to use guerrilla tactics, espionage, and even assassination, while they represent the last stand of the American people against the end of freedom and the American way. And the only manner in which they can possibly succeed at this already impossible seeming task, is to recruit civilians to bolster their ranks. It’s a new era for G.I. Joe. A new and bloody dawn.
This is definitely a new G.I. Joe. With the new recruits, there are obviously a few new faces, new characters thrown into the mix. There also seems to be some reworking going on, with a few of the classic Joes now appearing as new civilian recruits, while a some of the “old hands” are still there leading missions and providing training. And many of the old main characters there are no sign of, so they may make an appearance as the series progresses, or maybe they have already fallen in the fight. Besides the new characters (and possibly reimagining of some older characters), the series sees a very different role for the Joe team. In the past, the Joes were always America’s heroes in the war on terrorism. They acted in plain sight, with the full backing and support (and budget) of the United States government. Turning them into a clandestine operation which is forced to act from the shadows, hunted and on the run, and essentially having to employ terrorist tactics themselves against Cobra, is in many ways a role reversal, similar to the way which, in Star Wars, the Republic succumbed to the Galactic Empire, and many of the heroes of that Republic then became the leaders of the Rebellion.
But probably the most blatant change to G.I. Joe 2019 as opposed to its earlier comics and TV series is the level of violence, and that it is fully intended. In those classic TV cartoons which had such great stories and exciting episodes, but, as it was in those days, no-one ever actually died in all the battles, gunfire and explosions. But since then, the comics did step up the violence, and the mortality aspect of things. But still, these were characters that were loved by many, that whole generations grew up with, so while the combat was certainly more real, and yes there were casualties, it wasn’t on this level. Issue #1 of this reboot sees one of the most prominent of the classic Joe members being shot in the head at point blank range by Major Bludd. It also sees a Joe who abhors killing, fatally shoot a Cobra soldier. This obvious element of increased brutality, deliberately at odds with the classic and fundamental doctrine of G.I. Joe, being peacemakers, defenders, and generally acting in a somewhat toned-down world, together with the implication that no character is safe just because they are a legacy character, certainly gives this new series of G.I. Joe an appealing factor. It is a very different comic to its predecessors, but I think it shows a lot of potential in the first two issues. I’m eager to see how they tackle this new angle, and how it’s received by fans of the more traditional G.I. Joe storylines.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Issues: #1 (Ongoing)
Marvel is rebooting the X-Men franchise once again this year, and to revitalise the franchise they’re getting highly acclaimed writer Jonathan Hickman to take the wheel.
While this is essentially another reboot (sigh, yes another reboot), X-Men #1 actually is a fully packed issue. There’s a lot going on in this new series, and for an issue which is giving you so much new plot hooks and story directions, it doesn’t at all drop the ball on still being an exciting first issue. What’s also really nice about the first issue of the 2019 X-Men series is that it is really a very “Hickman” style comic. From the crisp design elements and detailed information provided, to the almost movie style narrative, which expands the scope of what this series aims to encompass, while not giving the impression that it will be a linear journey to get there. Like most of Hickman’s work this series looks to be more complex than it may seem as first glance, and as any familiar with his previous series know, this in unlikely to be a boring or predictable reboot for the X-Men.
This issue finds the X-Men in their most familiar position, defending the world’s mutant population, who are mostly just frightened and innocent individuals, against the majority of humanity who fear and hate their kind. Mutant kind has now retreated to the island paradise Krakoa, the living island, where they can live as their own autonomous society, in security and peace. But, of course, humanity are never happy to just let them live out their lives in peace, even isolated from the rest of the world as they are, and the X-Men must still fight to defend mutant kind. Cyclops heads a new task force dedicated to this purpose, and upholding all that they believe. But there are things developing that remain unknown to the mutants, matters which will undoubtedly affect them in grave ways.
This issue also sees the X-Men in a new place in their lives, a fresh starting point. While there are many similarities that are constants in the X-Men universe, like the struggle against the extremists of humanity who will never let them live in peace, as their very existence is seen as a threat; there are also some new factors involved. The living island of Krakoa, now a safe haven and home to the world’s mutant population, has some startling new abilities which can both aid in the struggle of the X-Men, but also help to alleviate their burden. The team itself, comprised of various members, some older, some less so, and some, like Magneto, with more sketchy pasts; seems to be more serious about getting things done, with less held punches, with more aggression. Magneto, never one to hold back in a fight, unleashes devastation in the name of the X-Men, and Cyclops, almost proudly, looks on. There are strong bonds between these X-Men, there always are, but there are also some things that are different, subtly sometimes, and more obvious in other times. And these familiar but somehow changed X-Men are going to face a danger of which they completely unaware, and quite possibly just as unprepared for.
This is an issue that is packed full from cover to cover. It’s even a bit of an oversized issue, and it needs to be, there is so much content going on in there, you’re going to want to take your time, and probably reread it all anyway. But there’s no harm in that, it’s a really good issue #1, then only thing you really need to worry about is information (and excitement) overload!
Boardgame and graphic novel enthusiast. Marvel or DC? Image. Old-school gamer. Avid role-player. Kermit for president. I believe that werewolves will rule the world one day.
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