Previously on Transformers GI Joe: we looked at the genesis of Scioli and Barber’s Transformers GI Joe and the sense shattering 2014 debut issue.
Now we return to the action. This was the point where I was going to start rattling off a shopping list of all my favourite moments and panels of the series.
Every issue of Transformers GI JOE is nothing less than an assault of words and picture, colour and chaos with big bombastic memorable moments coming at you like a barrage of rounds from Flash’s laser rifle.
From issue 6’s Kirby-inspired “Adventures on the Polyhex Killway” to Snake Eyes cutting loose in a Cybertronian Bar and interrogating hapless Decepticons, to a showdown at the UN General Assembly and the covert secrets of the ATLAS Protocol, the energy of each panel and page leaps out and dares you to not be overpowered by its manic vitality.
But no, no I’m not going to do that.
You’ve got Google for that.
You’ve got Tumblr for that.
And ultimately this comic is a rare treat, one to be savoured, enjoyed and experienced in as unadulterated a way as possible.
So what I will do instead is help set the table and whet your appetite for the banquet of bananas Paramilitary vs Terrorists vs Giant Robots mayhem that Barber and Scioli have served up to you in 14 exquisite courses.
The scope and scale of Transformers GI Joe is literally world shaking and world shaping. It is a universe where the stakes are impossibly high, where worlds; from Earth to Cybertron to Mars, will live and die and truly everything is more than meets the eye.
Stories play out on a Cosmic Scale like epics of master comic storytellers such as Jack Kirby or Jim Starlin and traverse oceans of time.
From theorising on the true nature of the Fall in the Garden of Eden to silver seas and metal metropolises of Cybertron to ancestral homes of the McCullen clan and their first encounter with the fallen sons of Cybertron.
From depths of the outer darkness where the unknown and unknowable cosmic horror that is Ko Buru Lah waits, lurking, with its insatiable appetite for death chaos and destruction to a Prisoner-inspired village on back of a giant Godzilla Robot which Dr Mindbender has built to re-educate captured Joes about the “true nature of the world” this adventure will take you from the darkest recesses of the mind to the farthest corners of space.
Barber and Scioli trawl the deepest darkest depths of lore and continuity of both Transformers and GI JOE bringing in the wildest and woolliest elements of the toy lines, comic books and cartoon series synthesising it all into a grand action adventure through an art of alchemy which even Hermes himself would be proud of.
The breadth of the story is matched by the equally massive and sprawling cast which mashes together all the layers of continuity of both series to bring you a mind bending cocktail on Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster Levels.
Now I will have to honest and admit up front that my knowledge of who’s who among the Greatest American Heroes and their Serpentine Foes is not as deep as some.
GI Joe wasn’t a really a thing in my native land of Australia until I was 11 or 12 and too busy worrying about more serious pursuits like collecting Jim Lee X Men Comics and Levelling up my Druid, Firewolf Treelord, in Dungeons and Dragons to worry about spending my hard earned pocket money on GI Joe figures.
(But here’s the thing, what I said isn’t exactly technically speaking 100% true. We had a VHS copy of the 1987 GI JOE animated movie which my dad brought for my youngest brother as a school holiday time killer. I also owned a handful of GI Joe Figures; if memory serves it was Shockwave, Psyche Out, Jinx and Stormshadow. I gave my Stormshadow figure to my then girlfriend to use as a Christmas Tree ornament back in 1999 and have regretted it every holiday season since. Anyway I digress, back to the main thread of things we go)
There are Iconic characters like Optimus Prime, Megatron, Duke, Scarlet, Snake Eyes and Cobra Commander that are impossible to ignore but there are also some deep cuts from the lore like the Headmasters or Cobra Commander’s son Billy, remember him?
Or how about the living Transformers cities like Metroplex, Omega Supreme or Tryptikon, or the Joe’s Soviet Counterparts the Oktober Guard or the Military Might for the New Millennium, Battleforce 2000.
And don’t worry if you can’t tell your Headmasters from your Protectobots or your Serpentor from your Golobulus, Barber and Scioli have got your backs. Each new character is introduced with a File Card telling you their name and their speciality just like bios from the back of the boxes and blister packs from back in the day.
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Tom Scioli, which his Kirby Krackle infused art sensibilities, being able to translate such a brain bending, karate kicking, rifle blasting, robot wrestling adventure to the page.
Scioli’s art style is deceptively simple and stylised using pencil, inks, crayons and even original art from the 1986 Marvel series which chronicled the Joes and the Transformers first encounter to bring this story to life.
It’s Bombastic, High Energy, World Shaking stuff from the first splash page showing Starscream pursuing Bumblee across the void of space to the triumphant finale some 14 issues and 2 years later as the world, neigh the very universe, is left forever changed by a final cataclysmic showdown in the skies above Earth.
30 years ago the GI JOE cartoon left us pondering, if knowing is half the other battle what IS the other half exactly?
Well now we know!
It’s Duke and Destro battling it out on top of Megatron’s head.
It’s Scarlet and Grimlock activating the key to Victor Sigma to reach out to Optimus Prime lost somewhere in a distant digital dimension.
It’s Starscream prophesising your destruction at the hands of Raging Storm of Infernal Fury that is Decepticobra.
It’s Barber and Scioli’s Transformers / GI Joe.