If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That's what I like to say, and it seems that every company that's held the GI Joe license since Marvel's original comic run ended back in the nineties feels the same way. There was that short-lived Dark Horse GI Joe Extreme series back in 1996. We saw the franchise rebooted by Image Comics and Devil's Due with G.I. Joe: Reinstated back in 2001, merging the Marvel comics continuity with the 80s cartoon. Devil's Due later soft-rebooted the franchise without Image as GI Joe: America's Elite, and also launched an alternate universe version called GI Joe: Reloaded which aimed to replicate Marvel's Ultimate Universe success by modernizing the concept (read: make it grim and gritty) and failed to build an audience due to it sucking monkey balls. Then they tried the exact same thing a few years later, to the same degree of success, calling it GI Joe: Reborn. When Devil's Due found itself in financial troubles, IDW got ahold of the license in 2008 and rebooted it again while simultaneously bringing back the original Marvel continuity, sans the quasi-continuation of it from Devil's Due, with GI Joe: Real American Hero, using original writer Larry Hama and picking up with the Marvel numbering at issue #155.5. That series is still being published, but IDW again rebooted their main GI Joe book after a Cobra Civil War crossover event in 2011, and then rebooted it again 2013. All along the way, there have been various out-of-continuity crossovers with Transformers, a crossover with the Infestation event, and several one-offs and minis from Hasbro set in the Sigma Six, Spy Troopers, Valor vs. Venom, and Resolute universes.
Because all of that wasn't confusing as fuck enough, IDW is rebooting it again, this time with British military sci-fi writer Karen Traviss at the helm, with Steve Kurth on interior art. According to an IDW press release, the new take is "guaranteed to please followers of the classic property and comic readers experiencing it for the first time." But you know what would please this longtime follower of the classic property? If someone got the license, produced one single series in continuity, and didn't reboot it once a year. But that's too much to ask, it seems.
Here's the concept for this new relaunch, from the press release:
The world has changed and so must G.I. JOE—lead by Scarlett, the once-revered G.I. JOE team faces an unthinkable reality where Cobra has become an unlikely peacekeeping taskforce. Utilizing real-world dangers and politics, this is a G.I. JOE comic the likes of which has never been seen.
At least they won't be the Scooby Gang like in Hub's most recent cartoon reboot, GI Joe: Renegades. On the other hand, one positive aspect of this reboot is that Traviss appears to have similar qualities to Hama, who really made the outlandish concept of the Joe's work because of his military knowledge and experience:
“Karen understands the world of men and women in the military,” says IDW Senior Editor John Barber. “She gets what their reality is like—which is why she’s held in such high regard by veterans, as well as fans of character-driven action.
That being said, they may be taking that concept a little too far...
"When John [Barber] asked me to write the series, it was one of those spooky coincidences,” said Traviss. “I'd literally just finished writing a scene for my new novel, GOING GREY, where two of the characters – vets now serving as private military contractors – discuss whether having G.I. Joe and Action Man as boys, influenced their choice of career. G.I. Joe is still that iconic after 50 years, because it's about people, and it's never shied away from the human reality of warfare. I'm genuinely delighted to have the chance to work on the franchise."
Yes, because if there's one thing I think of when I think about "the human reality of warfare," it's soldiers in colorful, themed uniforms firing lasers back and forth with reptile-themed terrorists that never ever actually hit each other. Yeah, I know that in the comics they use real bullets, but other than that one story arc specifically designed to counter this image in the nineties where a SAW Viper gunned down Quick Kick and a bunch of other Joes, they never hit anyone with those either. Also, it's a little bit concerning that a Brit is going to write about real AMERICAN heroes. Pish posh, I say! What, will the new Joes fly around on broomsticks and fight their enemies, Cold Slytherin, with quaffles and bludgers? Will baseball-themed Joe Hardball be a soccer hooligan instead?! Will all of the Joe's codenames now end with "Spice?!" That's not the GI Joe I grew up with, god dammit!
In any case, you can check out the new GI Joe from Karen Traviss and Steve Kurth in September... but get it while you can! We'll be due for a new reboot six months later, tops.