Too frequently, we fondly remember our former favorite pop culture items through a warped lens of nostalgia, only to be let down when we revisit them. The devoted fan base is still active, the original comics and cartoons are still relevant, and the only distorted lens we ever see in the setting of G.I. JOE is Dr. Mindbender’s distinctive monocle.
Its objective is to defend freedom and liberty from Cobra, a ruthless criminal organization attempting to rule the world. G.I. JOE is the codename for America’s brave, highly skilled special mission unit. IDW Publishing has published a “maxi-series” of comic books titled Transformers vs. G.I. Joe.
It is the first time the two brands have crossed over since IDW acquired the licenses for both. The series is notable for its retro-styled artwork and plot, which pays homage to the Silver Age of Graphic Novels’ visual appeal.
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G.I. Joe vs. The Transformers
There are a total of 6 issues in the G.I. Joe vs. Transformers series, and they all work together to tell an intriguing tale. A ray of sunshine enters a room containing the damaged remnants of deactivated Transformers in issue #1 of the comic book series, “The assault on Chocolate City.”
Cobra forces, led by the Cobra Commander, enter the area through an entryway that has been blown into space. They have located the Ark of the Covenant and plan to take its technology. Megatron wakes for just enough time to give the Baroness and the Commander the shock of their lives while the Commander speculates about the history of the ship and its passengers.
Later, a small squad of US soldiers stands watch over peace discussions in Washington, D.C. A noisy soldier among them, nicknamed Snake-Eyes, wagers that he can keep silent for the length of the operation. While the peace discussions are going well despite minimal disturbance from a few protesters, several Cobra vehicles break their cover and begin to raid the gathering, with little regard for innocent life.
Air Force fighters come at once to defend against the onslaught, but they are swiftly engaged by alien-enhanced Cobra jets. The Cobra Commander, operating one of the planes, directs his pilots to fire at the Air Force. The revolver attached to his hip in a holster informs him that he’s releasing a force he can’t control. One of the planes changes into Thundercracker, who rips through into an Air Force fighter.
Ace, the American pilot, has just enough time to eject and flee. Meanwhile, on the battlefield, the Baroness organizes a troop of Cobra tank units against the US Army. The tanks change and unveil themselves to be massive robots at the command of Cobra Commander. Other than the tall red robot named Hiss-14, the Transformers, joined by Starscream, storm into the room where the peace meeting is being held. It won’t react to Cobra’s commands.
Snake-Eyes tries to deter the robot with conventional weapons, but a beam of power from Starscream wrecks his vehicle and his face. Following the strike, General Flagg examines video footage of the attack. Flagg declares that the remaining troops would establish a special-response task force called G.I. Joe, directed by Colonel Abernathy, to battle the danger.
In the second issue, Hawk warmly welcomes Snake-Eyes to the freshly formed G.I. Joe team. Snake-Eyes, who lost his face, voice, and his entire family in the attack on Washington, D.C., is determined to put an end to Cobra. Lady Jaye announces to General Flagg at a meeting that G.I. Joe now has a tip on Cobra’s next move. Undercover, Bumblebee, and Wheeljack scan human pictures in order to use them as holographic drivers.
Wheeljack concludes that Cobra still requires a stable technique of powering their Transformers. Cobra Commander and Megatron, his hostage, talk about Cobra’s use of Transformers as combat vehicles. HISS-14, in particular, defies Doctor Mindbender’s reconditioning. When the Transformer developed a computer link with HISS-14’s Central processing unit, the Transformer reverse hacked Cobra’s computer network, compelling Mindbender to physically terminate the link, but the damage had already been done.
Meanwhile, an NSA employee’s discussion about the beautiful piece is cut short by a digital communication so critical that he must convey it to his boss, Mainframe. Roadblock and Quick Kick engage in some light combat training. Snake-Eyes confronts both Joes and swiftly defeats them with his incredible ninja abilities. When the brawl becomes too much for the Joes, Hawk appears to introduce them to their newest addition: ex Cobra agent Mercer.
Mercer says that the robots arrived from space after he spits on the floor and presents photographic evidence of Cobra’s raid on the Ark. Naturally, the rest of the Joes are doubtful. Destro comes to Cobra Island to check how far his allies have come. Major Bludd, the Baroness, Dr. Mindbender and Cobra Commander, operating one of the Seekers, meet him. Destro is amazed by Cobra’s design of the massive machines, particularly the most recent development: Soundwave and all his cassettes.
In G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers issue 3, Destro, an international arms trader, is pleased with the S.N.A.K.E.s built by Cobra using Transformer technology, as well as Soundwave, which has been upgraded to accommodate a human pilot. Destro revealed that he will personally operate Soundwave during the planned attack on the SPS Center as a test of the equipment. Megatron, locked by Cobra Commander’s side, nods in support of Destro’s aggressiveness. Stalker tells the squad at the G.I. Joe base about the USSPS, an energy gathering satellite that Cobra aims to seize by targeting its control tower, which is present at the SPS Research Facility, according to Mercer.
Destro commands the attack from within Soundwave. Firefly and Zartan appear, but are shielded from view by stealth technology. The tapes are removed from Soundwave to initiate the takeover, but Ratbat and Frenzy are killed by gunfire from the G.I. Joes who came earlier to protect the facility.
Laserbeak flies through the gunshots, but Snake-Eyes beheads the bird inside. On the battlefield, Cobra-controlled Sideswipe and Sunstreaker attack the facility, but Wheeljack intercepts them. Bumblebee morphs to defend Flash from Rumble. A US military tank misidentifies Bumblebee as one of the enemies and shoots a missile at the Transformer. Fortunately, Bumblebee grabs the rocket, surprisingly enough, and throws it towards Rumble.
As the humans watch Wheeljack combat Soundwave, they wonder which bots are on whose side.
Zartan’s stealth allows him to effortlessly deactivate Junkyard, Quick Kick and Mutt on the inside. Firefly places numerous bombs elsewhere. When the Joes awaken, they realize Zartan’s ploy and pursue him, but they end up battling Ravage. When Firefly and Zartan are satisfied with the supplies they were able to rob, Ravage is remotely told to withdraw, therefore sparing Quick Kick and Mutt’s lives. However, the two are in much greater difficulty when the building they are in explodes. Quick Kick and Mutt are later reported to have survived, but just barely. Wheeljack and Bumblebee reach an agreement with G.I. Joe.
Under tight protection, Wheeljack examines the footage of Soundwave’s transmission to the rest of the planet, which was obtained when Optimus Prime went and reverse hacked Cobra’s digital systems. Wheeljack deciphers the text surrounding the image to locate Cobra. Wheeljack communicates with the Joes’ computers and returns a computer message to Cobra. The Constructicons, who are under Cobra’s command, are manufacturing machinery on Cobra Island until they abruptly alter their focus: Cobra’s reconditioning has been undone, liberating the imprisoned Transformers. Even worse for Cobra, the Transformers leader, Optimus Prime has been liberated from his mental constraints.
In the fourth issue of the series, Mainframe and WheelJack collaborate to provide a huge technical description, which is then explained using a simple comparison. G.I. Joe plots their next move now that Cobra’s location is no longer a mystery and the imprisoned Transformers have been liberated thanks to some hacking. The Decepticons torment their erstwhile captors on Cobra Island.
The Commander liberates Megatron to defend him from Optimus Prime. Major Bludd tries to flee the chaos by attempting to board a jet, but realizes too late that the aircraft he’s picked is Skywarp, as it transforms to robot mode and crushes him within. G.I. Joe forces rush to launch an onslaught against Cobra as the window of opportunity offered by Wheeljack’s breach is still open. General Horn and General Renegar of the United States Army halt the loading by announcing that a nuclear attack against Cobra Island, rather than armed battle, has been ordered.
Hawk employs an electromagnetic wave to disable Bumblebee and Wheeljack on command. Before he passes out, Wheeljack says that a nuclear attack on an energon (pronounce:-Ener-John)-rich island may destroy the entire globe. Meanwhile on the island, Megatron and Optimus Prime are at work. Starscream intervenes, allowing Prime the opportunity to stand with the help of the other Autobots. Away from the battle, Cobra Commander attempts to flee the island in vain. Storm Shadow protects the Commander with a S.N.A.K.E. from Gears and Brawn. Meanwhile, Zartan and Destro are saved by Baroness from Rumble.
The Constructicons and Soundwave used Dr. Mindbender inside Cobra’s stronghold to create additional energon in order for the Decepticons to replenish their batteries. Generals Horn and Renegar report back to General Frankel, who is at the Pentagon, only to discover that, despite the impending attack, G.I. Joe has opted to disregard their instructions and head to Cobra Island!
In the fifth issue, in order to rescue the planet, G.I. Joe defies instructions and leads a large number of troops to Cobra Island to stop a nuclear launch from striking the energon stores, which may destroy the globe, which is obviously not an option. As their forces land, they are passed by numerous Cobra planes that are departing the island to avoid the conflict between the released Transformers. The government officer in charge at the Pentagon issues the order to bomb the island, oblivious to the impact the nuclear detonation may have on the energon, which Megatron has discovered a method to manufacture on Earth via the SPS Satellite.
Devastator blasts Hound outside Cobra’s facility. Snake-Eyes pokes Starscream in the eye with a grenade, which is quite awesome. Storm Shadow utilizes a S.N.A.K.E. to beat off many Autobots, allowing Cobra Commander to escape the danger. Optimus dashes inside Cobra’s headquarters, ready to put an end to Megatron’s schemes. He thrusts one fist into Soundwave’s chest, but it is not fatal and wipes away all the three Reflector pieces.
Megatron retreats after he downs Ravage with a tight grasp. Bumblebee, Wheeljack, and the other members of G.I. Joe had defeated the powerful Devastator on the beach. They do not have time to celebrate their win since General Flagg radios Hawk who conveys the information to Wheeljack, who in turn announces the message to the bulk of the Autobots, and the message is that the nuclear bomb is about to be fired.
In the final issue of this series, while nuclear bombs approach Cobra Island, Duke dispatches Wheeljack towards the SPS Satellite command center on the island, where he will meet up with another party led by Sci-Fi and Mainframe in the hopes of using the satellite to eliminate the nukes. When they arrive at the base, the entire structure is vacant other than the nefarious Dr. Mindbender.
The satellite is reconfigured moments later, and Storm Shadow and a band of thugs arrive to screw things up. Fortunately, the nuclear warheads are obliterated before they can be detonated, but the satellite command was broken during the conflict, enabling the satellite to shower lethal lasers over the nearby region. The Cobra Commander is about to go when he encounters Starscream, who is still injured after his struggle with Snake-Eyes. They devise a mutually advantageous arrangement. Outside, Megatron battles G.I. Joe.
Megatron is being fought by the army with some incidental help from the satellite’s laser, which has also killed Mercer. When Prime comes to complete the task, he valiantly takes Megatron’s cannon. G.I. Joe supplies the satellite’s coordinates. Prime, powered by Energon, shoots a blast towards space, shattering the laser and saving everyone on the island. Optimus Prime praises G.I. Joe for their assistance in building a new Ark weeks later.
To survive on Earth without the assistance of the Autobots, the troops of G.I. Joe have obtained new huge robots to operate. Government scientists have retrieved the Decepticon hardware underground and have undertaken some extremely risky experiments. Meanwhile, the escaped Starscream and Cobra Commander argue in the Florida Keys.
Transformers vs. G.I. Joe at the hand of Tom Scioli is insanely fantastic. It is difficult to believe his Jack Kirby-inspired graphics would fit with the crisp lines of Cybertronian engineering and military weaponry, but they did. One truly incredible feat is that Scioli juggles a big ensemble, pulling on as many figures as he could from the mythology of both franchises, and manages to create an alchemy that is palatable to fans of both.
One thing we would recommend is reading this fantastic series in individual issues, since each part is a tale in and of itself, and it does not really function as a collection of graphic novels until all issues are gathered as an omnibus. This series will only improve as it progresses.
The narrative is wildly innovative, brilliant yet over-the-top, and basically everything you could want. However, the artwork is the main selling feature of the comic. It’s like a wild child’s notepad filled with the most brilliant, vivid vintage drawings imaginable. Everything in this book is nostalgic, yet it’s not tired. This book has so much vitality that you can get a physical buzz from it. It is most definitely not for everyone, but those who enjoy Tom Scioli’s art will most definitely enjoy this.