Like every generation, there’s always a cartoon or movie that has a profound place in everyone’s childhood. For me, and a lot of people of my generation, it’s all about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, The X-Men Cartoon from the 90s, and the Bruce Timm Batman Cartoon. For a generation before me, the one which is a large chunk of the creators of comics now, it’s all about G.I. Joe and Transformers. IDW’s Transformers vs. G.I. Joe is clearly a love letter to those cartoons and those action figures, which riddled the households of all families in the 1980’s. Looking at it from the perspective of someone who missed that era, this book is a fascinating piece of fiction, and a mind bending adventure.
This book is very difficult to delineate between the words and the images. Each page is almost a story in itself, where you can spend long stretches of time just looking at the little cameos and scenes that Scioli inserts. It’s almost indescribable, other than it’s the natural next step from the cartoons of the two properties, as well as an homage to all the characters that people will most assuredly feel extremely nostalgic over. Even though the story is a basic Autobot v. Decepticon story with the G.I. Joe universe sides (Joes and COBRAAAA!) thrown in, it’s not fair to look at it that simplistically.
A lot of these pages seem like a comment on the absurd nature of these cartoons, where every page turn is totally out there and unfettered creative. In many ways, it’s those scenes people would play out with their friends or siblings using their action figures, i.e. what if these characters meet? How would they respond to each others presence, and how many crazy twists can we get in there without being too over the top. In that sense, Barber and Scioli are producing an excellent piece. This book is incredibly endearing to the source material, and, even without the background that many have, I find myself getting excited with these pages and stories. It’s truly like nothing else on the stands.
In my opinion, this could be considered a modern Kirby book. The art is very clearly Kirby inspired, and so full of energy and creativity, it’s almost impossible to not fall in love with it. The characters and scenarios are larger than life, and they are rendered as such. Even the Joe’s, who are a little stereotype-ish and human, are the way a kid would imagine them, but displayed on the page. The story itself holds nothing back, and the page breakdown in the back by Scioli and Barber shows that everything is incredibly researched, but also new.
That being said, as someone who isn’t over the moon with nostalgia, the story can sometimes become difficult page to page. While I can let it go more often than not, sometimes I find myself trying to remember what happened before, or where a scene is happening in terms of the story. The art, however, always draws me back in. I could read this book without text, which I do when I initially read the pages, but I always get a fun piece of banter in the dialogue.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this issue, as I have with the previous. While the story could be a little all over the place, this is definitely worth the price for the book. If you grew up on these cartoons, this is a must buy.
4 Megatron Chains out of 5