Monday, November 27, 2023

G.I. Joe - Tales from the Cobra Wars

Hasbro began production of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toys in 1982 and licensed the line to Marvel Comics for an ongoing series. In 1983, the popular animated series began it's four-year television run, producing 95 total episodes. The franchise has spun into animated and live-action films, additional comic series titles, and an assortment of collectible toys that have lasted over 40 years. 

As a casual fan of the franchise (I grew up watching the animated series), I was surprised to find an anthology of short-stories set in the G.I. Joe universe. The book is called Tales from the Cobra Wars and it was published in 2011 by IDW and edited by World War Z novelist Max Brooks. The collection includes seven total stories authored by the likes of Jonathan Maberry, Chuck Dixon, John Skipp, Cody Goodfellow, and even Brooks himself. The book also features an introduction by Brooks and artwork by Michael Montenat.

I have always enjoyed the G.I. Joe ninja character Snake Eyes, including the 2021 Paramount Pictures film Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins. I also really like Chuck Dixon's writing style, especially his amazing run on the Marvel Comics title The Punisher. So, the story I decided to review from this collection is simply called “Snake Eyes”, penned by Dixon. 

When the story begins, a mathematician named Hanover is lecturing at a conference in Geneva about an algorithm he has perfected over the course of ten years that can predict growth in the economy of a developing nation. After the performance, Hanover is interviewed briefly by a woman calling herself Anastasia deCobray, but fans of the franchise will quickly realize from Dixon's description that this woman is the heinous Baroness, a lieutenant to Cobra Commander. Hanover is then knocked unconscious and taken into a Cobra hideout in the French mountains. 

When Hanover awakens, he learns that he has been taken captive by Cobra in an effort to reverse his complex algorithm, ultimately creating a new formula that would quickly, and efficiently, decrease the growth of a developing nation. Cobra hopes to use Hanover's intelligence to cripple a nation. In an effort to force Hanover into working with Cobra they show the mathematician a camera feed from inside his daughter's apartment in Paris. Comply and she lives. Fail and she dies. 

This was a fun 28 page story that thrusts readers into a search and rescue mission as the good guys' ninja works remotely in Moscow to gain intel on Hanover's whereabouts. By communicating with Scarlet and Mainframe, two of his Joe teammates, Snake Eyes is deployed to this monastery in the high peaks for a rescue mission. There's plenty of gunfire, and a few sword swipes, to satisfy G.I. Joe fans. Additionally, unlike the tame television show, Snake Eyes kills his enemies, which added some much-needed realism to the heroics.

“Snake Eyes” was a fun short with plenty of action-packed excitement. But, it did force me to wonder why we aren't getting any full-length G.I. Joe novels. A twenty-pager is fine, but it would seem there are a ton of stories to write about a variety of universe characters outside of the graphic novel and comic medium. Based on the box-office failure of the most recent G.I. Joe film, I assume Hasbro is content selling toys and comic licensing. 

Purchase a copy of this book HERE.

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