Issue #1 - If you can get past the ridiculous art and the phony pulp effect printed on every glossy-paper page, and the woefully forced pseudo-Kirby aspect, there is something oddly compelling about this book -- it may be the effect of watching a train wreck in slow motion, but it may also be that this book has story on every page and every panel is trying to get at something. That said, the book is chocked full of references, it cannot help but look backwards in every conceivable manner and that does get distracting at times.
The story picks up some time after issue 0, with General Flagg trying to recruit Snake Eyes who is living masked in the woods with Timber. Cut to a battle to capture the remnants of Cobra in the little town of Springfield while a secret element of Cobra led by Destro and a shadowy figure plots to outfox the Joes. Meanwhile, Duke and Scarlett return from downtime after the events of ish 0 and are heading back to Joe hq (something that Scioli botches, but reading the commentary it's clear the guy still is further out of his element than he'd like to admit, he was into the Joe cartoon and the toys and that was basically it) while news of a rogue planet (Cybertron) entering the solar system hits the public with little effect. The Joes plan to meet with the first emissaries of this planet, and it turns out to be Starscream, Soundwave, and Shockwave as vehicles of Rumble (blue
), Laserbeak, and Ravage speaking for the Decepticons. The Joes offer peace, Ravage accepts but thinks they are surrendering, when he says as much it starts a fracas that escalates setting off a plan to strike at these Decepticon emissaries with a space-based mega-laser. Snake Eyes slinks in to take revenge on Starscream while some captured Joes (Hawk, Flash, and Lady Jaye) escape from the clutches of Soundwave. Afterwards, the final reveal of the issue is that we see this is only part of the plan, the other part is a significant Joe invasion force in the Defiant space vehicle preparing to land on Cybertron; meanwhile the secret Cobra element turns out to be "Serpentress" (a bandaged woman in Serpentor's outfit that is likely going to be Baroness) and rescues the wounded Decepticons cassettes.
The art is the same insane stylized throwback, there's a lot of color and a lot of ideas just coming out of the woodwork, but this art does feel a tiny bit clearer as a storytelling medium than it did in ish 0. The storytelling doesn't decompress much, it goes balls to the wall and feels like something a kid would do, throwing pacing to the wind -- in some ways, it feels like a fresh-air approach to recent comics, while in other ways it's just a mishmash.
Grade: C+, it's sort of fascinating, almost readable yet almost terrible.