Rob Liefeld, the man behind Deadpool -- a sword-wielding mercenary whose face is entirely covered -- will be tackling Snake Eyes, a G.I. Joe character who could at least in theory be described similarly...if you ignore the fact that Deadpool's relentless banter and ultraviolence are his calling cards, while Snake Eyes is silent and fundamentally a pretty calm character when he's not in the heat of battle. Liefeld, though, has put his stamp on some of the biggest characters in comics, as well as creating a number of popular characters for Marvel and DC Comics. It's rare to hear him geek out quite the way he does when he's talking about his upcoming G.I. Joe miniseries, Snake Eyes: Deadgame, though.
Liefeld told ComicBook.com that throughout his childhood, the G.I. Joe line was one of his first favorite toys, and that he was the right age to follow them from the era of the eagle eye and kung-fu grip and into the smaller "Real American Hero" era, where the property first came to comics with artists like Herb Trimpe and Bob McLeod attached.
"After the Real American Hero line, I kind of grew out of it, just like every kind of teenager goes through some period where they leave their toys behind," Liefeld told ComicBook.com. "But it was my entry level to toys....And so, I have this just innate love of all things G.I. Joe."
So it was a no-brainer when IDW reached out to him a few years back, asking him whether he would be interested in working on the franchise in its revitalized comics form. He did some covers for the property, but it was only a matter of time before he was moving on to writing and drawing a story of his own.
"Chris Ryall had been asking me to do a G.I. Joe project for the last couple years," Liefeld explained. "So last year, as Major X was coming out, I was locking up my deal to do this. I proposed a storyline to IDW and Hasbro. Snake Eyes was the focus, and I'm going to tell you, man, this series has some crazy mythological, mystical -- some really big concepts. And they let me. Like, 'approve, approve, approve.' So it's been very exciting putting the characters through their paces. I'm approaching Snake Eyes as kind of a giant Mission: Impossible scenario. By the middle of the issue, he realizes he is in way over his head, and that's where any character is always at his best -- when he realizes the scale of what he's up against."
Liefeld noted that shortly after the Snake Eyes comic was announced last year, Hasbro announced a feature film based on the character as well. He said that while movies are where the general public tends to stand up and take notice, comics are often where creators are venturing out into unknown territory and getting really creative. He also noted that there's something special about getting to draw some of these larger-than-life characters, comparing Snake-Eyes to Captain America.
"When I was drawing Captain America #1 and Avengers #1 in 1996, I was talking with Dan Jurgens of Superman fame. He had been a decade on that book, and he had just done the Marvel Versus DC miniseries. And he said, 'Hey, Rob, how are you enjoying Captain America?' And I said, 'I'm having a blast.' He says, 'Isn't he just an amazing icon? When you draw him on the page, don't you just feel it?'...It's a weird artist thing; we get it. And Snake Eyes, drawing him, you go, 'This is badass. This is the legend. This is Snake Eyes.'"
Among the things that Liefeld was a bit surprised he could get away with? A more realistic depiction of violence than fans might expect from the classic G.I. Joe he loved so much as a kid, and some big ideas that add to the property's canon.
"There is red blood on pages," Liefeld explained. "I mean, he's a ninja with swords, and they're not asking me to censor anything. IDW and Hasbro have been fantastic. And again, if I'm not clear, this is bucket list 1-0-1 for me. when you hit 50, and you realize that most of your life is probably behind you, as an artist, you go, 'I just want to kind of pick and choose my catalog of what I do next. I want to make sure it's stuff that I really have fun with, I adore.'"
He also likes the challenge that comes with doing properties like G.I. Joe -- not just because the fans know what they want, but because taking beloved properties that aren't at the height of their popularity carries its own unique variables, and adding new elements to the existing mythology will take audiences out of their comfort zone -- hopefully in an exciting way.
"When you do a licensed product, you obviously have to bend to the will of the licensor, and they have let me do everything I want so far, like I said," Liefeld told ComicBook.com. "The story is pretty crazy. I think by #2, you will see exactly what I mean in terms of like working with some crazy stuff here. G.I. Joe vs. Cobra? been there, done that. That's not my story. My story has brand new villains and obstacles for Snake Eyes and the Joes to overcome, and Snake Eyes is put in some crazy missions, has to make some crazy decisions. It's really fun."
G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes - Deadgame by the creative team of Rob Liefeld(story/art), Adelso Corona (inking), Chad Bowers (scripting), and Federico Bee (coloring) will be available in comic shops this June.