GI JOE EXTREME COMIC REVIEW OF ISSUE #2
Here is the Advertising Blurb from the Dark horse comics web site which as of 2005 was still up!
Writer: Mike W. Barr, Mike Richardson
Cover Artist: Norm Breyfogle
Penciller: Tatsuya Ishida, Jerry Bingham
Inker: Scott Reed, Jerry Bingham
Letterer: Tracey Hampton-Munsey
Colorist: David Nestelle
Nine unique individuals with amazing courage, exceptional training, and superior skills and physical abilities have come together for a dire cause. The world is buckling under the forces of S.K.A.R.TM (Soldiers of Kaos, Anarchy, and Ruin), and these soldiers of freedom may be our last hope! Ballistic, Black Dragon, Freight, Harthingy, Mayday, Metalhead, Quick Stryke, Sgt. Savage, and Lt. Stone -- they go where others fear, fight where others fall, and triumph where others fail. They protect the world from the forces of evil under a single, time-honored code-name: GI JOE. Extreme Times Call For Extreme HeroesTM.
Pub. Date: Jan 01, 1996
You can see it at http://www.darkhorse.com/profile/profile.php?sku=95-230
Comic Originally Reviewed on the Freighter website here:
http://www.geocities.com/kepulver/mushe ... /pawn.html
GI Joe:Extreme: In the Year 2009: Pawn of the Iron Klaw
Dark Horse Comics, Volume 1 Issue #2 of four
Writer: Mike W. Barr
Penciller: Tatsuya Ishida
Inker: Scott Reed
Summary: We open with Iron Klaw raving about the Joes thwarting his will as he crushes a globe between his hands ( One of my favorite all time panels of Iron Klaw, . The Duchess offers the opinion that perhaps while Iron Klaw's talents and wrath are formidable; it may be that his eyes are bigger than his stomach.
Iron Klaw disagrees, saying that his ambitions are as large as his talents and that his ambition is to return the Duchess to the throne of Mklavia and to give her the rest of the world as well. The Duchess tells Iron Klaw that world domination is not the purpose of SKAR nor is it Iron Klaw's purpose. She reminds him that he serves her and that her will prevails. Iron Klaw is the pupil and she is the teacher.
Iron Klaw accedes to her will, as a SKAR soldier comes up behind him. Iron Klaw turns, bumping into the soldier who stammers out an apology, only to be clawed across the face by a very miffy Iron Klaw. "None may touch me without my leave!" he says as he rakes the guy's face. The Duchess rises at this, asking "What is the meaning of this, Iron Klaw?"
To which, Iron Klaw rather calmly apologizes, saying that the soldier was in his way (hrmm...could this be a thinly veiled message to the Duchess there, perhaps? I'm betting so!).
Cut to: the Joes standing outside a stone building, just prior to raiding it. They've divided into three groups. Lt. Stone radios the other two groups: Alpha and Beta, informing them that he, Ballistic, Mayday and Harpoon are ready to go and asks if the others are also ready.
The teams break down like this:
Team Alpha: Black Dragon (leader), Quick Stryke, Tall Sally and Short Fuse.
Team Beta: Sgt. Savage, Freight and Metal-Head
Both teams tell Lt. Stone that they are indeed in position and ready to go. As is the norm for such situations, the teams go in on three.
On three, the Joes break into the building, literally through the wall in Freight's case and surprise a group of SKAR soldiers who, like their Cobra Viper counterparts, proceed to get the high holy hell kicked out of them by the Joes. It's also at this point that we get the title for the issue:
In the Year 2009: Pawn of the Iron Klaw
Which gives us an idea of when this is taking place. The book itself came out in 1996, back in the days when anything set after the year 2000 seemed far off and futuristic.
As is typical for comic book fight scenes, the Joes engage in witty fight banter while they mop up the SKAR soldiers, most of it centered around how they figured out where the SKAR soldiers were. Stone tells the SKAR boys that they simply followed their smell while Black Dragon says he followed the rat tracks. Metalhead, on the other hand, simply tells the SKAR soldiers to stay put since nobody leaves before he finishes his solo (Metalhead's shtick is that he's a heavy-metal surfer dude with a guitar-like weapon so, that's where the musical reference comes from).
The battle going in the Joes' favor, Stone grabs a SKAR soldier and slams him against a wall, finally telling him how the Joes *really* found them. Apparently, Interalliance has had them under surveillance for a while now, but the Joes no longer have time to waste playing games. The Joes want to know where Iron Klaw is, but the trooper swears that he doesn't know, that their orders came in by radio rather than face to face. Harpoon says that it looks like Iron Klaw is the one that got away; Ballistic says that in his opinion they should hang the SKAR troopers out to dry.
Quick Stryke steps between Harpoon and Ballistic, saying that they don't have to treat the enemy like dogs, just because they are the enemy. Ballistic asks Quick Stryke what his problem is. Quick Stryke reminds the other two Joes that he and his brother used to work for Iron Klaw as members of SKAR. Only Quick Stryke made it out, something that he still has nightmares about.
Iron Klaw watches Quick Stryke angst as he notes that the hidden cameras planted in the SKAR base came in handy. He muses that it's sad to hear that poor Quick Stryke is having trouble sleeping and resolves that perhaps there's something he can do to help him get a little rest.
Next, Lt. Stone is talking to a man named Mr. Clancy, telling him that while they've cleaned out this nest of vipers, there was no sign of Iron Klaw. Mr. Clancy says that Iron Klaw is after Professor Reyland's Ferti-Gel, a super plant growth formula that can turn deserts into orchards. Iron Klaw would use Ferti-Gel to blackmail the world, Clancy says. He will not stop until he gets it.
Stone says that's fine by the Joes, since they won't stop until they catch Iron Klaw. He tells the others to return to base for a hot shower and a hot meal and that they'll regroup at 1900 hours to plan their strategy.
Back at the Joe base, Tall Sally is in her quarters, finishing up a letter to her mother. As she's finishing, Mayday shows up and asks if she's ready to head out. Sally says she is, just to let her tuck the letter into the envelope. Mayday teases her about using snail mail (since this is the futuristic time of 2009, where we can assume that email would be commonplace, something it was just beginning to become in 1996).
Sally tells Mayday that she sounds "Just like Matt" but that paper letters are more personal. She notes that her father's handwriting is big and blunt, like he is, and that her mother's letters smell like her.
Mayday smirks a bit about the "Matt" comment, saying that it sounds like Sally and Metalhead are becoming quite the item. Sally denies that she and Metalhead are an item; he's just "nice" she says. Mayday scoffs, saying that kittens are nice and she wouldn't use that tone of voice for any cat. (So, yeah, it's a thing.)
Mayday and Tall Sally run into Quick Stryke on his way to the briefing. Mayday asks after him, saying that he looks like he's just lost his best friend. Quick Stryke replies that what's bothering him happened a while ago and the person in question was a lot closer than just a friend. As he says this, we get a panel where a photograph of Quick Stryke and someone who is clearly his long lost brother. The two are standing with their arms around each other; clearly this was taken during better days.
Cut to: Mr. Clancy is briefing the Joes on their upcoming mission. He tells them that the first demonstration of Professor Reyland's Ferti-Gel is scheduled for "tomorrow afternoon." Lt. Stone says they can bet their dog tags that Iron Klaw is going to show up and try to nab the Ferti-Gel.
Freight asks why they don't postpone the test, in that matter (which seems like a bright idea to me). Professor Reyland says that postponing the test is out of the question since a delay would make the gathered world leaders doubt Ferti-Gel's ability to alleviate world hunger. (Which seems rather specious reasoning to me, since one would assume the leaders of the world would understand about security risks on the level of Iron Klaw, but then again, chances are Reyland is a civilian scientist and therefore knows nothing about security risks and such.)
Stone says that the test has to happen "tomorrow" and that Iron Klaw won't be the only uninvited guest (apparently he means the Joes, though why a security team like them would be uninvited is rather beyond me).
Meanwhile, at the Hotel Kalistan, a Mr. Barbican is throwing a hissy fit because his room isn't ready for him. The poor desk clerk tells him that the unprepared room was because of a temporary computer error and hands Mr. Barbican the keys to the best suite in the hotel. Barbican, like most obnoxious customers, settles down as soon as he's given this treat (can you tell I work a customer service job?). He hands the clerk a letter addressed to "Count Von Rani". The clerk says that the Count is not currently in the hotel but that he will make sure the letter is delivered as soon as the Count returns.
Cut to: Barbican scaling the outer wall of the hotel. Apparently the letter was a blind, a way to see if the Count was in the building or not. Barbican is betting that, as a member of Interalliance, Rani knows where the Ferti-Gel is being stored. Barbican is hoping to steal the Ferti-Gel and turn it onto a formidable weapon.
Barbican breaks into Rani's room, only to find Iron Klaw standing there. He then goes into a snit, demanding to know who Iron Klaw is and why he's there. His eyes go red and his skin turns green as he roars that Von Rani's secrets are his and that no one else can have them!
Iron Klaw backhands Barbican and quickly cows him into submission. I mean, really, Barbican folds like one of those fast-folding boards you see on infomercials. Iron Klaw then tells Barbican that he does what he wishes and that he has a use for a man as angry as Barbican. He sends the other man off with his tail between his legs, telling him that he will summon him when it suits him.
After Barbican leaves, Iron Klaw muses that he can use Barbican and manipulate him as he uses the Joes for his ends and as he uses the face and name of Count Van Rani to serve his will.
Back at the Joe base, Lt. Stone runs past Quick Stryke's room, telling him to get a move on, the Joes are going to be babysitting the Ferti-Gel all night for the next day's demonstration. Quick Stryke starts to follow Stone but stops when his computer beeps, notifying him of an unauthorized transmission. He pauses to look, crying out as he reads the message.
When Stone looks back into Quick Stryke's room, Quick Stryke's window is open and he is gone.
The next day, Mr. Clancy and Professor Reyland are preparing to board a plane for the Ferti-Gel test. Clancy checks that the Joes know their orders. Sgt. Savage (I think) says that they do.
Ballistic muses to Short Fuse that it's not like Quick Stryke to go AWOL and that he wishes he knew what was up. Short Fuse says that he and Quick Stryke are pretty close, whatever came up must have been pretty bad if he couldn't tell Short Fuse about it.
At the test site, the gathered leaders are welcomed by a uniformed woman, who asks them to take their seats as the test should be getting underway shortly as the plane carrying Clancy and Reyland flies overhead in the distance.
Onboard the plane, Reyland is anxious for the test to be over. A voice balloon from off-panel says that the professor is in luck.
The next panel shows us that Iron Klaw has somehow managed to sneak onboard the plane and remain hidden from the Professor and Clancy while standing more or less in plain sight. Presumably, he stepped out of some sort of hiding, but it's hard to say since we're not shown that in the panels given.
Regardless, Iron Klaw tells the Professor and Clancy that the plane is under his control now so they will surrender or die.
The Professor pulls off a latex mask, revealing that he is not the Professor but is instead Lt. Stone. Stone pulls a gun and heads for Iron Klaw while Clancy grabs one of the SKAR soldiers and tells Stone to take out Iron Klaw. Iron Klaw and Stone fight. As they fight, the Joes show up via planes and try to keep a lid on the SKAR forces. Mayday wants to try and take out the Transport, but one of the other Joes (Savage, maybe) says that she's going too far, Stone's on that ship!
Mayday says that the Joes have their orders and asks Ballistic if he can target the weapons systems and leave the personnel intact. Ballistic says he can. The Joes fire on the plane carrying the Ferti-Gel as well as Stone and Clancy, knocking it off-kilter enough that Stone falls out. He manages to grab the edge of the plane and Clancy tries to pull him back in but Iron Klaw takes advantage of the momentary distraction to kick both men out of the plane.
Cut to: Quick Stryke has arrived at the location where Iron Klaw instructed him to show up. As he walks in, he wonders if this is a set-up (DUH!). Spotting a man tied to a wall, he moves over to it, calling out his brother's name.
Before he can reach the figure, however, Barbican steps out, dressed in his new power armor, face already green, eyes already red and tells Quick Stryke that he's going to have to go through him if he wants to get to his brother.
The last panel of this issue shows Clancy and Stone falling to almost certain doom as Stone says "This is why I hate flying coach!"
Commentary: I'm having a pretty easy time following the action of the story, which is a plus. I had some trouble identifying some of the major players, since this issue didn't bother to introduce them the way the first issue of a series tends to do but there's enough identification in this issue and the next two that I was able to puzzle out who is who.
On the whole, I can't really figure out what was supposed to be so bad about this comic. Sure, some of the dialogue is cheesy and plot points are being telegraphed but...well, the Marvel comic had cheesy dialogue and blatantly obvious plot points (not to mention Snake-eyes being the root of all evil). No, Extreme isn't the same series as Marvel fandom is really about the only place where different automatically equals bad.
One thing I rather like is the romance between Tall Sally and Metalhead. It's mentioned but not crammed down our throats. The two women, Mayday and Tall Sally are also refreshingly realistic looking.
Then again, just about everyone in the comic, with the possible exception of Freight, looks like a real person. Unlike the hypermuscular toys, the Joes in the comic look like normal, if buff, people . Some of the villains, especially in the later comics, look pretty freakish, but most of them appear to have been augmented in some way, shape or form that can help account for that freakishness.
Overall, so far I'm liking this comic. Let's move on to Issue 3, shall we?
Extreme Times call for Extreme Heroes!
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