G.I. JOE: FIRST STRIKE #1 is actually somewhere in the middle of a massive crossover story arc staring Hasbro’s classic toylines. To understand the story thus far, you’ll have to read G.I JOE #9, M.A.S.K. #10, MICRONAUTS #5, ROM #14, and OPTIMUS PRIME #10, in that order. If you don’t have that kind of time, just understand this: Autobots and Decepticons alike have joined forces with G.I. Joe against Cobra and Venom (the bad guys from M.A.S.K.). This issue follows a small group of Joes and a former Decepticon trying to stop these terrorists from stealing some ancient artifacts. Oh, and the Baroness is Cobra Commander now.

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

Action, Humor, and a Guy With a Parrot

If I’m picking up a comic with “#1” in the title, I expect there to be at least a “Previously on G.I. Joe” panel to help get me up to speed. Instead, writer Aubrey Sitterson traded loads of exposition for surprisingly funny dialogue. The leader of the Joes, Shipwreck, is a newly promoted and somewhat incompetent leader, and he knows it. He’s constantly wiping the sweat off his brow, scrambling to come up with a plan. You can almost hear the frantic energy in his voice. The other characters, in true G.I. Joe fashion, are essentially just stock cartoon characters. There’s the lovable tough guy (Gung-Ho), the smug and confident ninja-type (Quick Kick), and the distant but powerful loner (Rock n’ Roll). These archetypes exist because they work, and that is no exception in FIRST STRIKE.

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

The plot of G.I. JOE: FIRST STRIKE #1 is pretty simple. Bad guys are trying to steal a thing, good guys have to stop them. However, Sitterson attempts to bring some drama into the story with a character named Grand Slam. He’s furious that he can’t go on the mission because of his paralysis, which was accidentally caused by Rock n’ Roll. As someone with no prior history with the character, Grand Slam’s introduction and outburst didn’t do anything for me. However, any fans of Grand Slam might be interested to see how his disability is affecting him emotionally.

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Feels Like Saturday Morning

The art is slightly above average, but nothing spectacular. The designs for G.I. Joe characters have always been deliberately simple, and artist Ilias Kyriazis and colorist Mark Roberts didn’t try to do anything fancy with Hasbro’s classic IPs. The exaggerated facial expressions and the action scenes are easily the best part of this issue’s artwork. As I mentioned earlier, this is an important part of this comic’s humor. Seeing Shipwreck go from panicky, to confident, to furious is easily my favorite thing about this comic. Movement, laser fire and explosions all have this “oomph” that evokes the feeling of an action-packed Saturday morning cartoon.

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

Unfortunately, there are a few parts that feel pretty lazy. There are some panels where backgrounds are sorely missing detail. Even the faces of the characters that I love so much almost disappear when they’re further from view. I can forgive this because, frankly, I didn’t have the highest expectations for a G.I. Joe comic. The expressive characters and the fun action far exceeded my exceptions, so I can let a couple of mediocre museum walls and background characters slide.

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I recognize that a lot of my complaints come from my unfamiliarity with the series, which is my own fault. Still, imagine you’re a kid in a comic shop, and you see G.I. JOE #1: FIRST STRIKE on the shelf. Imagine how bummed you would be to discover that you have to read at least five other issues to fully grasp what’s going on. However, if you’re a follower of IDW and Hasbro’s ongoing series, then this comic is absolutely for you. It’s got tons of humor and excitement that will leave you wanting more.

G.I. JOE: FIRST STRIKE #1 is out now. So go pick up your own copy today!

G.I. JOE: FIRST STRIKE #1 by Aubrey Sitterson and Ilias Kyriazis
Certainly a fun read, but the art leaves a lot to be desired. Perfect for younger readers and life-long fans of the series.
70 %
Surprisingly funny and action packed
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