Outside of the ones who Rob Liefeld helped create and bring to fame during his time at Marvel and DC Comics in the late 1980s and early 1990s, no character seems more fitting into the Liefeld mold than the coolest G.I. Joe solider of them all: Snake Eyes.
An obvious influence on the gun-toting, sword-wielding Deadpool and the militarized Cable, Snake Eyes is an integral component of the G.I. Joe franchise that Liefeld has loved since he was just a kid. Given that long-standing interest, it only feels right that the creator is now behind Snake Eyes: Deadgame, the latest G.I. Joe comic from IDW. Blending the nostalgia that comes withe penciling technique that brought him into the limelight with an enjoyable, if formulaic, story, Liefeld leaves readers with a debut issue that appeals directly to hardcore G.I. Joe fans, but not necessarily newcomers.
Liefeld’s artwork has been debated among comic book fans for as long as he’s been in the medium. In the aftermath of the Hulked-out ’90s era of superheroes, the visual takes Liefeld and his fellow Image co-founders pioneered fell by the wayside for more understated artwork in mainstream comics. Liefeld blends the trademark elements of his penciling with a more modern perspective here: Snake Eyes doesn’t look like he has the anatomy of a roided-out cartoon wrestler, as Liefeld depicts him in a more lean and practical manner, which is exactly how someone who masquerades as a ninja should look.
Given Liefeld’s star turn as a penciler on New Mutants and then X-Force before leaving Marvel to help launch Image Comics, it’s no surprise that one of the famous comic illustrators of the last several decades puts an emphasis on the “art” in “sequential art.” So often, both on his podcast Robservations with Rob Liefeld podcast and on his Twitter account, Liefeld sings the praises of artists, a part of the comic book process that can be overlooked in comparison to “name” writers, in what is clearly a visual medium. There’s certainly merit to that, and Liefeld puts the philosophy into practice in this debut. Even with him being credited for both the story and art here, Liefeld relies less on narration in this issue with minimal dialogue and uses his striking, hefty action-heavy style to guide Snake Eyes’ story. For a character as mum as Snake Eyes, Liefeld executes his vision quite well.
A high-octane action issue plays to Liefeld’s strengths here. Not many people are mistaking G.I. Joe for an Academy Award-winning war film, but that’s okay. We are a culture that loves watching people attack each other with pistols and katanas on the screen or on page. This debut issue accomplishes exactly what Liefeld set out to do: craft a straightforward action thriller that comes equipped with dynamic, old-school art.
Snake Eyes: Deadgame #1 is a reminder to those who fell for the G.I Joe series during their childhood why they loved these characters to begin with. The stakes just aren’t there for casual or new fans, however. The debut may not capture the attention of people only vaguely familiar with the last two lackluster big-screen adaptations of the franchise we’ve seen, but it’s still a debut issue die-hard fans should scoop up at their local comic book shop.