Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

GI JOE #1 by Chuck Dixon and Robert Atkins

GI Joe comics are back and IDW publisher has ‘em! Not only that, but they have action writer supreme Chuck Dixon doing the scripts and Robert Atkins on pencils.

The GI Joe franchise began as an action figure (although we called them dolls back when I was a kid because we had invented the term action figure to preserve our maleness at the time) in 1964. At that time the Vietnam War was raging. Fathers and brothers were off to the war, which was publicized heavily in newspapers and on television. The GI Joe doll was supposed to be Barbie for young boys, but I think it gave boys a better sense of what their fathers and brothers were off doing. It took the horror of war out of the daily life of these kids and turned it more into a sense of adventure. Dad and brother were off adventuring. I don’t know if that psychology is correct, but I know my friends and I talked about it in that regard.

Later on, GI Joe remained popular and went through several iterations and rethinking, adding more characters and more villains. Marvel Comics began publishing GI Joe comics in 1982. For a while, the series became the top selling book at Marvel and ended after 155 issues.

Since that time, GI Joe has almost always been in print at one comic book company or another. Dark Horse Comics and Devil’s Due Productions had relatively successful runs as well.

One of the best remembered cartoon series of the 1980s was the GI Joe launch in 1985. It catered to an ensemble of characters with special abilities and training, and featured a lot of high tech weapons that – of course – became toys.

Chuck Dixon has long been a favorite comics author of mine. I read all his action adventure and superhero stuff. No one knows how to economically introduce character and plot and create a sense of impending doom during a breakneck chase than Dixon does. I loved his long runs on Nightwing and Robin as well as his creation of Birds of Prey. Several later writers have come close to the standard set by Dixon on those titles, but I still miss him on them.

He’s on GI Joe now though, and I can tell by this first issue that he’s not taking any prisoners. The issue begins with a bang, actually several bangs and a few booms tossed in as well, in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship’s crew intends to plunder some of the cargo and end up opening a box that kills them all and sinks the ship. At the end of the sequence, Dixon leaves us hanging as to what the boxes. Cool stuff. I’m intrigued already.

Then he flip-flops to the hidden GI Joe base in Nevada. In a quick succession of pages, Dixon reintroduces all the old characters GI Joe fans have come to love. And I have to admit, Robert Atkins’s artwork is simply astounding. It looks realistic and over the top all at the same time. The two page spread of the base is eye popping and extremely detailed. There’s hardware and armament galore. Not only that, but as Dixon moves the action from scene to scene, Atkins’s art brings those new areas to life with unique looks. The way Dixon writes and Atkins draws, you see the movie come to life on the page. All a director would have to do is shoot what they have on these pages to have a hit action movie.

Dixon immediately spins in other plot threads as well. Beach has evidently lost his memory and is trying to recover from that. Duke has a thing for Scarlet – and who wouldn’t?

Then we get a sequence with Snake Eyes that has to be seen to be believed. Evidently he’s going to meet his match in the next couple of the issues, and I can’t wait because that’s going to be all out war.

At the end of the comic, Shipwreck has recovered the mysterious box from the bottom of the Gulf. And we’re left waiting for to open inside GI Joe headquarters.

This first issue is a brilliant showcase of what is to come. I’m convinced that Chuck Dixon can write any kind of action comic there is and instill these two dimensional heroes with life. I’m also now convinced that Robert Atkins is phenomenal. I can’t wait till the next issue to find out what’s going on, and anxious as I may be, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Go Joe!


2 Responses to “GI JOE #1 by Chuck Dixon and Robert Atkins”

  1. I’m looking forward to the movie and this new series has a lot of potential too

  2. The movie’s going to be an interesting thing. I don’t know if they’re going to be able to capture the comic book feel of the heroes and the action. But I reserve judgment until I see the first trailer.

    The comics are going to be a blast. Chuck Dixon just doesn’t write a bad action story.

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