'G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte' #1 Review: A Dream Come True for Longtime Fans for Better or Worse

g i joe sierra muerte michel fiffe
(Photo: IDW Publishing)

For decades, the G.I. Joe brand has brought to life a number of testosterone-fueled fantasies to life, whether it be boys playing with the earliest actions figures, the various animated series, or the live-action feature films. With G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte, writer and artist Michel Fiffe taps into the spirit of childhood doodles in the notebooks of burgeoning Joe fans to deliver readers all the action-packed goodness you can imagine to an overwhelming degree.

In true G.I. Joe fashion, Cobra Commander is up to his old tricks of, well, global domination. Understandably, the Joes disagree with his plan and spring into action to take him down once and for all, with even Cobra itself turning on the Commander to prevent him from pulling off his dangerous mission. From one panel to the next, all of the brand's beloved characters get their time to shine, with the series potentially seeing Cobra Commander being shut down for good.

Thanks in large part to the animated series and accompanying action figures in the '80s, G.I. Joe has earned a reputation as delivering big personalities, big weapons, and big action. While the original figures of the '60s were meant to represent the various branches of the armed forces, that concept evolved over the years, concocting all-new definitions of what it meant to be a "Real American Hero." As evidenced by the wide cast of characters and explosive artwork, it's clear you'll find few bigger fans of the brand than Fiffe, even if the book itself is drastically different from what many fans would expect from such a series.

From the first panels of the new book, fans will notice that the art style isn't the bombastic and glossy depictions of the characters that we're used to, which are typically full of colorful explosions and armaments so big they feel as though they are breaking free from the pages they're drawn on. Fiffe debuts in the G.I. Joe brand after establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in a number of independent comics, with Sierra Muerte embracing the art style that built him his fanbase. Many fans likely assume that opening up any G.I. Joe book will result in an explosion of Mountain Dew while fighter jets fly overhead blasting Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane," with Fiffe's lo-fi aesthetic being a far cry from those expectations.

g i joe sierra muerte michel fiffe interior
(Photo: IDW Publishing)

Despite the unexpected art style of the book, it absolutely falls in line with what you'd expect from a G.I. Joe fanatic. The art feels as though it was lifted from a notebook a teacher discovered in one of their students' desk who spent the entire class drawing epic battles between the Joes instead of listening to the lecture. You can almost see the light blue lines of the composition paper, as one panel after the next delivers bouts between iconic characters. Luckily, Fiffe makes sure to label all of the characters we meet, as we're overwhelmed by both the memorable and obscure characters who make appearances, if only for a single brief scene.

This isn't to say that Fiffe's art is amateurish, as it is still quite good, merely that it is stylized in a way that many readers likely wouldn't have anticipated. Were the book devoid of story, flipping through the pages to see the artwork would be just as compelling as it is with the storyline.

That being said, the storyline leaves much to be desired. It is a delight to see so many beloved characters make appearances, yet the volume of these characters makes it difficult to craft a cohesive storyline while also giving each character a signature moment. We can deduce the overall "Cobra Commander is doing bad stuff" concept, though this seems like it could describe countless other G.I. Joe titles.

Sweetening the deal for fans of the property, however, is the fact that the issue features the backup appendix "You Can't Get There From Here: A Guide to the Fictional Geography of G.I. Joe" by Chad Bowers. The writer dives deep into Joe lore to explore iconic locations to establish what makes them so fascinating and how they represent the culture at the time of their debut. If the preceding story was the fever dream of a student falling asleep while fantasizing about the characters, this backup information is the only type of lecture that could snap them out of their slumber.

With this being the inaugural issue of the title, it's possible that future installments will deliver a more engaging narrative, leaving this debut chapter serving as little more than a greatest hits of fantasy bouts between iconic characters, which is sure to delight longtime fans.

Published by IDW Publishing

On February 6, 2019

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Written by Michel Fiffe

Art by Michel Fiffe