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G.I.Joe vs The Transformers III: Art of War #4
Reviewed by Inflatable Dalek


Since the nuking of Cobra Island in volume 1, the organisation has set up base in the Terrordrome in Siberia. It's confirmed that the Baroness also escaped capture by GI Joe at the end of volume 2 — meaning poor old Mindbender was the only definite capture they got that time.

The cliffhanger to the second volume is given an off-hand mention by Cobra Commander — he thinks SerpentO.R. means he won't need Mindbender's "Lobster wearing friends". Which is somewhat ironic as, in GI Joe: The Movie, SerpentO.R. is the creation of Cobra-La.

Hot Rod seems to be in a much higher position of authority here than in other continuities — he's in charge of Prime's rescue mission and seems to outrank such big players as Ultra Magnus, Prowl and Jetfire.

Snake Eyes has mystical Ninja training that allows him to exert an influence over any sentient mind — even alien ones as drastically different as the Transformers [see Goofs]. This presumably doesn't last very long as Breakdown is promptly put to sleep when a cannon fodder zombie could well have come in handy. It also seems to take a prolonged period of staring, as Snake Eyes doesn't simply "Ninja" the next Decepticons he comes across (or indeed any of the ones he's met previously.)

Two (fairly strong) humans can just about carry an average-sized Transformer gun.

Another Dreamwave survivor joins the art team this issue, former Energon drawer Alex Milne joining Raiz and Ng. Based on style he did at least the page of Hot Rod's briefing, but other than that the three artists mostly mesh well (Hun-Grrr and Motormaster are more stylised than in previous issues is about the only other difference I spotted) and it's hard to tell them apart. Three different colourists working with them do lead to some wacky inconsistencies though [see Goofs again].

SerpentO.R's memories from human generals are detailed enough to include their feelings on being captured and held prisoner at different points in their lives, but he has little understanding of or empathy with emotions. His desire for a "soul" seems to have been brought about by his first experience of real emotion when killing Bumblebee (or rather what he experienced when he saw the Bug's spark leave his shell) — this effectively changed his plans for the Matrix from a grandiose need for a object of ultimate power to a much more personal desire for something more in his life.

The Starg... er, Warpgate can only be extended to a certain size — seemingly about that of three tanks in a row.


Let's get the big bugbear out of the way: I'm not familiar enough with GI: Joe to comment on how atypical Snake Eyes Ninja powers are in this issue — but I do know that, as far as this continuity goes, there's been absolutely no setup or indication that the guy with a big sword can hypnotise anybody, a breaking of Checkov's Law that shows what an important part of storytelling it is. For those who don't know, Checkov's law roughly states: "If your character fires a gun in the third act it must be seen hanging on the wall in the first act" — or, in other words, if our heroes use any device or ability to save the day, you need to establish they have that device/ability beforehand so it doesn't seem contrived. Aliens has a great example, five minutes near the start being given over to show that Ripley can not only use the Power Loaders but can use them well, setting up her kicking of the Alien Queen's arse at the end of the movie.) Even mentioning Snakey can hypnotise people would have helped. And the idea it would work on Transformers is pushing suspension of disbelief to its limits. How can you make someone look you in the eye when their eye is bigger than your whole head?

Speaking of poor storytelling — the end of the last issue set up a huge "Omega Supreme versus combiners" fight that is cut down to one panel of Omega falling over here.

Astrotrain is now in his "albino" colour scheme rather than the "Vimto" scheme he was in last issue.

Sixshot's definition of a coward is a man who carries out a single-handed attack on a heavily armed foe and wins. What's his definition of a ballsy hero, I wonder?

Why is Optimus Prime making a "Digital Log" in the middle of a pitched life-and-death struggle? No doubt he was inspired by Captain Kirk's amazing ability to make his Captain's Log in all sorts of frenzied situations without moving his lips. Also, both the logs we've seen Prime make so far in this mini have involved some very Rodimus-like moaning about how the responsibilities of leadership weigh heavy upon him and his longing for his pre-Matrix life, all of which seems a tad out of character. I'll let his seeming stupidity in surrendering to SerpentO.R. go for now as it seems it may well be part of a cunning plan.

Why, out of all the Autobot army does Hot Rod include Cliffjumper and Warpath on his team? They won't be much use against Predaking or Menasor, now will they?

Last issue the Decepticons had to drill air holes in ammo boxes because they didn't have human sized cells for GI Joe — yet here they suddenly do (probably a result of whoever drew the pages of the Joe's in jail here not knowing what their cell was supposed to look like...)

How long would it take the Joes to carry that gun across even one Transformer scale room? A few hours? I suppose it's possible that much time elapses, but it does make SerpentO.R's security look rubbish.

Why is Optimus tied up in chains rather than Energon bonds as Perceptor and co. were last issue? Again, I'll leave the issue of his easy escape until next issue has a chance to explain it.

Issue Review

Fun — very flawed fun, but fun anyway. SerpentO.R is shaping up to be a great baddy, not particularly original (he evokes memories of the Fallen and Sunstorm from Dreamwave's era) but very well-executed. His conversations with Hawk and Prime are fantastic and almost make you believe you're reading a quality comic for a second — it's hard not to have sympathy for a guy whose only experience of joy is killing Bumblebee.

Elsewhere things aren't so solid — bad art and plot madness (hello, Ninja'd Breakdown) have you hitting your head against the wall ૼ but apart from the Snake Eyes thing it mostly just about stays on the right side of kitsch. And as long as the next issue doesn't try to cram too much in (I'm hoping the Cobra Commander plot is a setup for a fourth cross over rather than something that'll be dealt with next time) we should be heading towards an enjoyably camp finale.

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