G.I.Joe European Missions (#3) – Various

4 out of 5

Mmkay, pardon if I don’t get this right, but European Missions was, I believe, American reprints of the UK Action Force titles, which blended a pre-existing Action Force line with G.I. Joe. The title was a mix of reprinted US stuff and original shorts, and so we have an anthology book, definitely reminiscent of many of the UK anthology mags, and with recognizable talent from that pool in tow.

I am not, in any way, a G.I.Joe follower, but this book impressed.

The first strip is from Grant Morrison and Mark Farmer, telling a story of Storm Shadow taking revenge for a past misdeed. While the premise is a tried-and-true one, the way it’s structured is very effective, and surprisingly powerful; we see roots of how / why Morrison was able to establish himself beyond his big ol’ ideas with some undeniable narrative chops – the way the background is filled in; the way it indirectly approaches its action and resolution. Farmer’s art is a bit stiff, but his layouts have power, and Nick Abadzis’ color looks good.

Ian Rimmer / Jerry Paris’ “Snake Eyes is badass” tale ‘The Cold Zone’ is the lesser of the book’s stories. Paris’ art looks good from afar – great detailing, pretty awesome action, and again good color work – this time from Stuart Place – but his sense of geography is a mess. You just cannot track character placement in this thing. And Rimmer’s script needs that, as it moves a battle through a tight locale, and then apparently extends it over a couple of hours as it moves out into the wildnerness, with the art (and script direction, probably) not indicating that in any way. “Looks good” carries it well enough for a short story, and Gordon Robson’s exciting lettering adds a lot of attitude to the mix.

Part of a Transformers tale – ‘Ancient Relics’ – closes things out, and this is a perfect example of how a simple story and fairly basic art can still make for a great read. It’s basically just a ‘bot showdown, with some humans in the background, but that summary works because Furman makes the setup, tempo, stakes, and action crystal clear with minimal words, and Geoff Senior makes the most out of his basic style – not many details, a foreground character over a simple background – by knowing what to highlight, and how to lay out his panels for maximum impact. It’s a fun, fast-moving strip.

Also includes a two-page poster of the cover.