Spoiler alert – the two guys on the cover are not in this book however Scarlett, Mainframe and Dial-Tone are. The Baroness is still on the Argo Vidale that she blackmailed her way onto, scavenging the Atlantic Ocean for Cobra’s money. Serpentor is plotting against her so he can deliver Cobra’s money to Cobra Commander. Oh and Scarlett punches a shark.
Chuck Dixon continues the rebranding of the G.I. Joe universe and his stories are exciting and usually well plotted out. There are a lot of fun bits to this issue and the entire series so far. Scarlett punching the shark is one. Another is seeing how much of a threat Baroness is while on her own. Serpentor even raises an eyebrow or two with his scheming. Seeds are sown for future stories.
The bad for this book is the slow pacing. The team has not been formed yet all the action has centered on Scarlett and Mainframe with Dial Tone adding extra pieces of dialogue when a fresh voice is needed. Rounding out the support staff are Torpedo and Deep Six as glorified taxi drivers, Ripcord as a glorified babysitter and Beachhead makes an appearance. Serpentor as a whacked out cult leader is a different role for him however who he worships is likely to make old G.I. Joe fans to drop the book right there.
Special Missions was once a title that had missions that were done in one and sometimes two issue stories. Forming the team in one issue linking stories would have been different but would have also kept the same goals. In the cover recap page it is described that this team does the missions that the public can not know about and none of those missions are here.
Look, G.I. Joe is the main PR book and Cobra is their spy book so shouldn’t Special Missions be the Black Ops book where the stakes are higher and the failures are equally devastating? Right now, unfortunately, this book is G. I. Joe light. It would be better in a more intimate setting and it would be nice to see Dixon take clues from the recent James Bond Movies and Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force. It seemed that threats always seemed to give Daniel Craig’s Bond a few gut punches and with X-Force the reader might not have agreed with why the team did what they did but you knew why they were there. That is what this book needs to be – all of these characters can be cool given the right circumstances and, except for Scarlett, the Baroness and eventually Stalker, most of these characters were either in the background or not in the books at all.
As for the art, Paul Gulacy shines and it is like he is a new talent but the guy has been around since at least the early 80′s. Gulacy has not lost a step. The artwork is as sharp is ever. All of the characters can be told apart, the reader can feel the rain as it pours, the wind as it blows and the waves as they hit. Welcome back Mr. Gulacy; it is nice to see your art again so keep doing what you are doing.
This book really is just for Joe fans or even fans of Chuck Dixon. The writing is not bad it just doesn’t need four issue story arcs. Relaunches are done because something in the last run just didn’t work and the status quo needs to be shaken up. This book should be the wild card especially with characters like Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow off the table and taking a vacation. This book needs to be the book that says we do not need him to save our bacon here is why. So stop playing it safe and be all that you can be.