G.I. Joe: World on Fire Graphic Novel Review

(A copy of this comic was provided for review.)

From Paul Allor (Author), Chris Evenhuis (Illustrator), Emma Vieceli (Illustrator), Niko Walter (Illustrator), Ryan Kelly (Illustrator) and published by IDW. 

Most of us children of the 80’s have been Joe fans all of our lives. We have a certain image of what G.I. Joe is and always will be. Thanks to works like this though, the concept is expanding for the benefit of the entire Joe franchise. 

Picture a world in which Cobra plays the long game and strategically places people and weapons in the right corners of the globe. When the time is right, they strike and become leaders of the Earth relatively quickly. Overnight regular citizens around the world need to fall in line to their new masters. Many shut up and go along with it, for fear of consequences. But a few average citizens along with members of the military who won’t give up band together as a guerilla unit to chip away at Cobra little by little. All with the hope that one day they chip away enough to unset the evil empire. That rag tag group is the G.I. Joe team of this book. 

Over the course of 11 issues, World on Fire builds this new reality in which Cobra rules. There are iconic favorites – Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock, along with iconic Cobra members like Dr Mindbender, Major Bludd, the Baroness and many more on both sides. All of which are familiar to all of us who played with 3 ¾ inch figures outside but also updated a bit. These are new takes on these characters but the surprising thing is finding out that the Joe team can be icons that cross decades and generations. What is the essence of Flint or Lady Jaye or Rock and Roll? What do these toys boil down to and now how does that version of themselves work in a modern day society in which Cobra is king? 

It’s freaking fantastic is what it is. This is the most fun I’ve had with the Joe franchise since the Resolute cartoon. A similar tearing down and rebuilding of what makes G.I. Joe work. As should always be the case with this band of misfits and the best of the best, a new character (“Tiger”) gets wrapped up in this world of warfare and espionage. Along the way we learn so much about the heroes and villains they pull a Lee and Kirby! These are Joes with problems. These are Cobra mercenaries with good qualities. These are characters who aren’t strictly black and white, but with many shades. Those shades could be rage, envy, deceit, loss, or more. And that’s from both sides in the red lasers vs blue lasers half of the battle. 

What will really enrapture fellow adults who remember running home after school to catch new episodes Monday thru Friday is the new takes on some characters we thought we had figured out. I couldn’t stop telling friends about Major Bludd. He absolutely steals the show as the series progresses. Also, wait until a Dreadnok shows up. One of the most brilliant takes on a bad guy that was so cool we cheered them. 

The comic moves like a perfect one season show. Jump in the middle, explain how we all got here, and an ending that satisfies the need for closure but also gives room to expand if needed. Along the way there are issues that race the heart and others that let the reader breathe. All 11 issues combine into a MASS device of reading pleasure that I would suggest to anyone who grew up in the 80’s.

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