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G.I.Joe: Deviations

Written by Paul Allor
Art by Corey Lewis
IDW Publishing

IDW is a fun group of books, especially the ones that deal with licensed properties. When they do crossovers, it’s less about one character teaming up with another and advancing a plot and more about one cataclysm affecting everyone. Like, one time, Mars Attacks aliens took a month and caused trouble in an issue of Ghostbusters, or that time Lovecraftian tentacle monsters popped up in Ninja Turtles. This month, Deviations sees a What If? twist for Ghostbusters, X-Files, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, and this week’s G.I.Joe. The twist for the Joe book is that Cobra finally wins one and takes over the world.

I vaguely remember watching the cartoon when I was six and knowing even then that I hated the bland rah-rah good-guy-bad-guy of it all. But the little sketches about safety were fun – this show taught me how to tread water. Anyway, I approached this book with a pit in my stomach, expecting overwrought angst about beloved heroes forced into Walking Dead survival mode.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. The writer on this book clearly loves the source material, but this issue is a comedy that has no problem pointing out how dumb many of the G.I.Joe tropes are. To introduce the book, he writes, “Cobra always loses. Like, every time. Seriously, over and over. You could set your watch by it.” The Cobra victory is done with self-aware bombast, and the meat of the book is about how bored Cobra Commander is with the world he’s made. See, Cobra is really, really good at running the world. There’s a global currency, trains run on time, and everybody fluorishes in the competence of their rulers. Most of the villains turn out to relish their new roles as beaurocrats, and they love having a big staff meeting to go over making enough room in the budget to replace the chairs in the next fiscal year. It’s adorable and got me to laugh out loud at my own office. And Cobra Commander freaking HATES IT. So we readers get to tag along while he tries to undo everything he’s won.

This book was amazing. This was the kind of smart humor we saw in so many of the Secret Wars one-shots, the books that had creative freedom to laugh at the decades of continuity of their characters. You don’t have to be a Joe fan to love this – I am a prime example of this. Trust me, this is the funniest book you’ll read this month. Way to go, IDW. You guys know how to have a good time.

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-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics