gi joe

Issue #22 marks the end of volume 2 of IDW’s GI Joe: Ongoing (not to be confused with IDW’s GI Joe: Real American Heroes).  Sadly, also issue #22 marks the end of Chuck Dixon’s work on the series.  On the plus side this was a solid standalone issue and lead in to February’s relaunch under the direction of Fred Van Lente.  As a child of the 80’s and longtime Joe fan, I’m cautiously optimistic for what Fred Van Lente has in store, but that’s fodder for another article.

How does issue #22 stack up on it’s own?  Like the series itself, it provides great action, spot on characterization and leads the charge for IDW’s Joe revamp nicely.

The issue focuses on Cobra’s attempt to kidnap ousted Joe commander General Hawk.  For those of you new to the series, Hawk was ousted from his command of the classified anti-terror force, GI Joe, after a failed effort to stop Cobra’s invasion of the South Asian nation of Nanzhao.  The current and far more brutal incarnation of Cobra Commander, recognizing the now retired Hawk as valuable intelligence asset, deployed a squad of cobra soldiers to bring him in.  And thus our story begins.

The hallmark of this series, and what I’ve enjoyed most, are the ways Chuck Dixon has managed to integrate the spirit of the Joe franchise into a more quasi-realistic setting – taking even some of the more admittedly ridiculous Joe concepts and giving them a plausible edge of realism without going too far into the grim and gritty excess that all too often punctuates these types of revamps.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the issue is the presentation of Hawk as more than simply a behind scenes commander with an eye for talent.  It becomes blatantly clear  in this issue that Hawk is, himself, a highly capable operator who can more than hold his own when needed.  The obvious intent of this issue is to bring Hawk back into the fold of the soon to be public Joe team.  After seeing Hawk in action in this issue, I’m looking forward to his return.

Yo Joe!

 

8/10

 

The Midwest region enjoyed back to back comic conventions last weekend!

The first annual Akron Comicon, held at Akron University in the city of the same name, preceded the Pittsburgh Comic & Collectible Show in Century III Mall by one day.

We live in the midst of a golden age of comic conventions, where national shows like San Diego, C2E2, and NYCC have grown so much that they’ve divided their focus between comics and other subjects such as Hollywood movies and video games to attract more attendees.  The stage has been set for regional promoters to step up to the plate and offer fans an opportunity to gather and meet their heroes locally.

Akron enjoyed notable guests such as Norm Breyfogle, who recently drew parallel storylines where Archie married longtime sweethearts Veronica and Betty; Darryl Banks, creator of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner; Tony Isabella, creator of Black lightning; Gerry Conway, creator of the Punisher; and Mike Barr, creator of Damian Wayne (in a roundabout way).

The Hero Initiative’s Fantastic Four #600 Project trade paperback collection of sketch covers debuted at this show.  Hero, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping comic creators in need, raised nearly $2000 selling it and other items such as prints.  The Hero Initiative is a great presence to have a convention and they’re always worth checking out.

Marc Sumerak, Marvel writer and editor, gave a fun presentation on the process of creating a comic book.  Audience members delighted in listening to his thoughts on the modern full script writing style versus the classic method of conveying stories to an artist by plots only.  He then showed the audience the full script method in action as he took them step by step through the creation of a selected page from an issue of his Wolverine/ Power Pack mini-series, script to pencils, to inks, to colors, and to lettering.

Sunday’s Pittsburgh Comic and Collectible Show in Century III Mall was sponsored by longtime mall anchor store New Dimension Comics.  It was in an open area directly across from the store’s new location in the mall.

Ron Frenz was on hand sketching and signing for those brave enough to reminisce with him about when Superman used to wear his trunks on the outside.  Mr. Frenz’ current work includes a run on GI Joe: A Real American Hero interiors and covers with Larry Hama at IDW.  Frenz is also doing layouts for a slew of new 52 titles including Team 7 with fellow Pennsylvanian Justin Jordan writing and Brazilian Jesus Merino on finished art duties.

Tom Scioli, promoting the recent hardcover release of his creator-owned American Barbarian, used this appearance to make the convention debut of a new ballpoint pen drawing style that he’s been experimenting with recently for effects in the upcoming Godland #37, the final issue.  When asked about the reason he chose to work with the new tool, Scioli said he loves the way that the initial line work, often drawn in pencil and erased when inks are applied, can be used as part of the final piece and is in full color, as he uses a tool with the versatility to switch colors.  Tom’s new webcomic is called Final Frontier and can be found at www.ambarb.com.  This reporter’s personal favorite part of this show was seeing industry veteran Ron Frenz give accolades to indie hero Tom Scioli about the new American Barbarian hardcover and personally purchase a copy.  Congrats Mr. Scioli!

Both the Akron Comicon and the Pittsburgh Comic & Collectibles Show shared a fan friendly atmosphere that created a place where shoppers and art collectors spent time alongside Hero Clix gamers and Cosplayers without crowding each other out.  Don’t miss the next one, these shows were great!