Paul Allor’s G.I. Joe comics are, in many ways, a grim reboot of the franchise. Not literally, to be clear – the art by Chris Evenhuis is done with this lovely washed-out coloring by Brittany Peer that lends the book this charming light-hearted quality that is deeply at odds with the actual story in a way that only emphasizes the grim nature of the actual plot. But thematically, it’s incredibly dark – it not only opens with the violent death of Duke, the protagonist of the mainline G.I. Joe run, but in general it’s a run thematically about what do you do after defeat.
G.I. Joe: Castle Fall is the end of ‘season one,’ so to speak, of Allor’s run – the first set of plot lines that Allor raised, such as Duke’s death at the hands of Major Bludd, Lady Jaye’s infiltration of Cobra, Tiger and Scarlett’s training together, and so on and so forth.
And ultimately, the plot of Castle Fall is simple. G.I. Joe acts on Jaye’s intelligence to go after Doctor Mindbender, and instead falls into Bludd’s trap. Bludd offers to turn traitor for Joe, which Scarlett – honestly, probably correctly – does not believe, and shoots him. Afterwards, Mindbender decides to activate one of Bludd’s old plans, which turned out to be a traitorous attack on Cobra. Joe uses that to their advantage, the Commander barely escapes, and Chicago is heroically liberated from Cobra’s tyrannical control.
The plot is not groundbreaking, I’ll admit. But it is good – it executes all its moving parts well, it has a solid set of recurring thematical elements and story structures, and the interactions between the characters are both good and has a sense of verisimilitude. And moreover, G.I. Joe: Castle Fall has that sense of almost perverse joy when your childhood toys are in something ‘mature’ – the same sort of thrill you get out of modern Transformers comics, or those gritty Power Rangers fanfilms that show up on YouTube sometimes.
And part of that quality is the previously mentioned contrast between the art and coloring by Evenhuis and Peer, and Allor’s plot. It’s Peer’s coloring that really draws my eye. I look at, for instance, the washed-out blue backgrounds in Tiger and Scarlett’s fight, or the washed-out reds in Tiger and the Baroness’ fight. There’s these bright greens and yellows-turning-into-reds in the skylines and smoke plumes – make no mistake, while Allor and Evenhuis are very good at their jobs, it’s Peer’s coloring that is the star of G.I. Joe Castle Fall.
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