G.I. Joe A Real American Hero Vol. 3 trade paperback review

I don’t know if there’s a bad stretch of Larry Hama‘s G.I. Joe run, but this next run of 30 issues is one of the strongest stretches of any series. It’s that ideal combination of well developed characters, creative storylines and Hama seemingly gaining more confidence in crafting elaborate and lengthy subplots.

Things kick off this book with one of the most influential comics of all time with Silent Interlude, a story told with no dialogue. It’s hard to explain how groundbreaking this book was at the time and how effectively the story was told without anyone speaking.

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This was the first that showcased Snake Eyes as a one-man Cobra destroying force while avoiding turning him into a superhero. Storm Shadow kidnaps Scarlet and brings her to Destro’s mountaintop castle. Snake Eyes pursues and faces off with Cobra’s ninjas, including one he shares a mysterious connection with.

Hama again has to juggle new additions to the roster while impressively never making it feel forced. It doesn’t hurt that this round features some of the more enduring characters in his run with Duke, Roadblock, Storm Shadow, Firefly, Zartan and the Dreadnoks.

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Following the funerals for the characters killed in the last volume, the Joes take an aggressive approach and go on a stake out to capture Cobra Commander. This chase begins in the Swiss Alps and culminates in a trek through the swampy Florida Everglades with Torpedo, Tripwire and new Joes Mutt & Junkyard, Deep Six and Cutter. Along with new Joes, Hama weaves in some of the more iconic Joe vehicles this round including the WHALE and Rattler.

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While this all plays out, Hawk, Stalker and Scarlett recount their early experiences with Snake Eyes as the Soft Master fills in further gaps in his origin and his connection with Storm Shadow. This two-part origin chapter does a great job in showing all the tragedy Snake Eyes overcame en route to becoming a Joe.

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If there’s any weak spot to this arc it’s the lack of consistency with the art. Hama pulls double duty on some issues doing the breakdowns for two of the pivotal Snake Eyes issues. Mike Vosburg ends his run early in these 10 issues and Frank Springer contributed some issues as well. Early on the series, Herb Trimpe and Vosburg handled long stretches at a time and this marked the first time the art didn’t feature a consistent style. This would soon change with the next volume.

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Vol. 3 features some of the most important issues in the entire series while Hama expands the serial nature of the comic setting up subplots that require more time to satisfyingly complete. This is a pivotal volume toward the larger picture of the run with some iconic issues as well.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Photo Credit: Marvel