Rob Liefeld (Artist, Story) Chad Bowers (Script, Dialogue), Adelso Corona (Additional Inks), AndWorld Design (Letters), Federico Blee (Colors), Neil Uyetake (Design), John Barber (Editor), Megan Brown (Assistant Edits)
Thanks to IDW Publishing for the review copy!
This issue kicks off the planned 6 issue miniseries starring the popular
G.I. Joe character Snake Eyes. Written by Rob Liefeld with Chad Bowers doing some of the script and dialogue, with cover and interiors done by Liefeld, this issue would have been right at home in the early 90’s. Given the nostalgia for the Joes a number of the readers (myself included) will likely have for that era, it is a perfect fit. Chad Bowers has written X-Men ‘92 and Youngblood, among other comic titles, so his style seems to fit the bill and gels well with Liefeld.
The issue seemingly taking a page out of superhero comics and introduces them into the typically more “grounded” (and I use that term loosely given that the Joes have done some pretty fantastical things over the years) Joe series, the book opens with an ancient battle from 782 A.D. between a somewhat familiar Thunder God from Norse mythology and a mysterious, confident ninja character referred to as the “Grave Master.” The two lock in battle, each with their special weapons. The “living hammer” vs the “dead sword,” this single page battle sets up the mystery and the mythical high stakes that will undoubtedly unfold as the series progresses in modern time.
We then join Snake Eyes enroute to infiltrating a secret base as he displays his ninja and military skills, and the ease with which he dispatches the obstacles and adversaries put before him helps to elevate him to the near “mythical” levels he will most likely need to be at in the reader’s mind in order to get involved (and ultimately stop?) whatever has started over a century earlier. We learn that this is not the typical Cobra: The Enemy operation and that this villain may add something new to the mythos. He quickly meets up with his fellow Joes Roadblock and Tripwire, who discover and free a captive with information that drives the story along.
Little bits of humor are sprinkled throughout, such as suggesting that the alarms in the base were going off since Tripwire is true to his name. Snake Eyes learns from the captive (I’ll leave who that is as a surprise) that the deadgame is happening. Knowing what that is and the apparent urgency involved, he quickly leaves his friends behind. The story gets a little muddy as to where he goes, how much time passes, and what his friends are doing during this time.
Snake Eyes has now discovered a ritual resurrection / empowerment type ceremony where the life force seems to be pulled from some of the ninja followers to awaken the villain. Wrapped completely in bandages (reminiscent of Serpentor on the cover of Marvel’s G.I. Joe #49 except this time in red) a fight ensues between Snake Eyes and this new villain, who is identified as the Grave Master from the opening fight. He is impressed by Snake Eyes’ best shots, but ultimately gains the upper hand and seems to have Snake Eyes in some real trouble.
A timely save by Scarlett and his wolf Timber leaves Snake Eyes unharmed. the villain (now called Kirigun) uses this moment to retreat with his ninja cult followers all while promising that there will be further conflict once he has “reclaimed the Sword of the Dead,” his special weapon from the opening act. Somehow Roadblock and the captive from earlier are now present, and ready to “disobey orders” to prevent Kirigun / The Grave Master from retrieving his sword and doing whatever they know / we have yet to know about why that’s bad news for the world. A few small plot holes aside, the stage is set.
Overall this was an enjoyable start to the series if you don’t overthink it too much. Pull out the popcorn, and get ready for a cinematic G.I. Joe adventure full of ninjas, ancient weapons, and a supernatural villain. Like the best action movies from the late 80’s / early 90’s and some of the comics from the early to mid 90’s, I’m ready for the larger than life heroes, especially Snake Eyes, to save the day against impossible odds and show why they are still great after all these years. The inclusion of Tripwire gives me hope that some of the other more interesting, specialized, and colorful G.I. Joe characters show up throughout this 6 issue series. Yo Joe!
SNAKE EYES: DEADGAME #1 comes out this week.
Check back in a few weeks for my thoughts on issue #2 of this 6 part mini-series.