Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"...Is the voice thing permanent? It's hot." G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #228 review

The line of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero action figures were primarily geared towards boys and - because of some market research about boys' buying habits - figures of female characters were seldom produced. However, the place where G.I. Joe was truly fleshed out was the comic books written by Larry Hama and he began expanding the cast of female characters from his very first issue, with the Cobra villain Baroness (who would later migrate into the cartoons and action figures) and Dr. Adele Burkhart, who would become a recurring character in his stories for many years (dying in a recent story).

In G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #228, Hama (and regular artist S.L. Gallant) embarked on an unusual plot by utilizing an all-female cast, with appearances by virtually every living female character he's used (with the exception of Grunt's wife) and introducing a number of new female characters. There are literally no male characters in this issue.

Part of the story continues a subplot about the Cobra forces as Baroness and Zarana (the two female Cobras with action figures) train the recently-recruited Dawn Moreno. There's also a continuation of an ongoing subplot about Duke's wife, Claire Hauser, who was recently reunited with Duke after being believed dead for years - but it seems Claire may be one of the many people Cobra has brainwashed and she ambushes the Joes' ally Jane. In another subplot, the recently-introduced Joe Bombstrike (a character who had appeared in other comics but only just began appearing in Hama's stories) goes after a Cobra lab being run by Dr. Sidney Biggles-Jones and Dr. Cassandra Knox. In yet another plot, the Joes Scarlett & Jinx visit Storm Shadow's aunt Obake Obaasan and we're introduced to a female Red Ninja named Akane, who has some kind of a grudge against Jinx.

Finally - and most compellingly - Cover Girl returns to duty after a recent throat injury, giving her a rough voice. Although Cover Girl was the 2nd female Joe to receive a figure, she's never amounted to much in Hama's stories - perhaps her voice can be her "thing?" Anyway, Cover Girl and Lady Jaye go to see the mother of a deceased Joe named Shooter and present the medals Shooter had earned to the mother. Shooter was a character who existed very deep inside G.I. Joe lore, primarily as an in-joke about Marvel Comics editor Jim Shooter. In G.I. Joe: Declassified, Hama established Shooter as a female sniper who was a "secret" member of the Joes in their earliest assignments but died early on without the Joes even realizing her involvement in their work. I loved Hama's story about Shooter (Declassfied is a forgotten masterpiece) and having the cast finally get to acknowledge her sacrifice and help Shooter's mother cope with her death was a great idea. The scenes about Shooter justify the entire concept of an all-female issue of G.I. Joe. Well done Hama!

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