On January 18, 2005, rumors surrounding the comic book started, hinting at cancellations, reboots, and relaunches. Josh Blaylock, President and founder of Devil's Due Publishing, took the time to answer the following questions for us regarding the rumors and DDP's plans for G.I.Joe.
Q: When will the relaunch be happening?
The all new Joe series will hit stores this summer, immediately
following the last issue of the current series, issue #43, which closes
off the Red Shadows story.
Q: How long has the creative team signed on for?
Right now we're staging the first story arc, but I hope both remain on
for a solid year at the least. Tim had one of the longest run on
G.I.Joe ever, and quite a long run for ANY series by todays standards.
If they hit a fraction of that we're doing great. Stefano brings an
amazing energy to the series. He's going to go all out with the gear,
weaponry, and tech detail. If you saw him on Master and Apprentice or
Afermath's DEFEX, you ain't seen nothing yet!
Q: What will be the title of the relaunched series?
That's going to be decided very very soon. Something simple, but
something that still makes it clear to retailers, this is THE G.I.Joe
Q: Will this be an ongoing series or a series of mini series?
Ongoing!! I really hope people can rest assured, the G.I.Joe comic
book is only getting a renumbering. The series, and the history that
goes with it, is going to live on.
Q: Why Joe Casey? He has stated in the past that "Now, can someone help
me out here...? Transformers... G.I. Joe... Battle of the Planets...
Thundercats... He-Man... exactly what @#%$ decade is this industry living
in?! Last I checked, it was the Twenty-First Century... and these are
the cutting edge books tearing up the sales charts...? I don't mind seeing the massive X-machine starting to recede a little bit into the
background, sliding down the charts to make way for a crop of new
champs, but if they're just making way for 80's cartoon nostalgia, I
may have to rethink my concept of "lesser evils." Have his views
changed? Does he no longer consider G.I.Joe to be a "nostalgia
First I've heard of those comments, but I think that was just some
venting about the glut of books out at the time. Many were quality,
but many were not. I'm still gonna have to give him some crap about
that, though ;) There's just something about the kind of stories I've
seen him do that really makes him a perfect fit for the comic - really
getting into the heads of the characters. It was a large part due to
the first five scripts he's turned in for INFANTRY, the book he's
writing for our Aftermath line.
I think many people who overlook G.I.Joe don't realize just how complex
and downright cool the characters are. G.I.Joe is the essence of great
soap opera, with plenty of action to boot. Part of our new direction
is to make the book more accessible to writers who can't know
everything that happened in issue #6 of the Marvel run, but who can
tell great stories nonetheless.
A perfect example of this is Cobra Reborn, by Paul Jenkins. Hailed by
many as one of the best, if not THE best Cobra Commander story written
to date. The story that REALLY nailed him. Before that gig, Paul knew
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about G.I.Joe. Everything was based on simple notes
I provided him about the essence of the character, and he crafted an
amazing story from it. With the right direction, we can get some
amazing tales out of a wide variety of talent in the future.
Q: What is the main premise behind the relaunched title?
At the end of the series, Cobra and G.I.Joe are both going back to
square one, and thus the new era begins. That's right, COBRA isn't
going anywhere! Do you think we're crazy? But they're not going to be
the same Cobra they have been lately. The backstabbing and division of
the group's inner circle is held together by a shoestring as it is, and
many members are going to say enough's enough. G.I.Joe is going to
have a tighter, smaller roster, and a different agenda. Their
existence will once again be denied by the government. They're going
to be a much more PROACTIVE 'Joe rather than reactive, and Cobra isn't
going to be the only threat out there. G.I.Joe is going to have more
of a "rogues gallery" and they're going to have to hunt down the
members of Cobra wherever they are, making sure they never have a
chance to regain their former power. You think it's hard to find the
REAL bad guys out there these days... just imagine if you don't even
know what half of them LOOK like under their masks.
The U.S. government has also made some allegiences that G.I.Joe is not
too happy with.
Q: Why should readers (current, new, or those that dropped the title previously) pick up the relaunched title?
Because, this is both a brand new start for G.I.JOE, and yet a
continuation of the Joe that came before. It's the best jumping on
point we've ever had - even better, I'd say, than issue #1 of the
current series. The team is going to focus more on the 'superstar'
members that most people know, but will still feature a wide variety of
specialists and character cameos.
Q: Will the ninjas be a major focus in the new series?
No more than they've been in the past. I really like giving the ninjas
their own side series when we really want to focus on them, like in the
upcoming Storm Shadow "Master and Apprentice 2". We have a few
surprises in store, though, but you'll have to wait and see.
Q: Will the new series be a continuation of the former, but with less (or no) focus on 20 year old history?
I think I covered the first part of this. To clarify on the history,
though, the one change we're going to be making is this: It's long
overdue that we make it official. The Joes aren't all 40-plus years
old. They didn't fight in Viet-Nam. Not even Desert Storm. Instead,
it was a more general "South Eastern conflict." They weren't formed in
1982, they were formed "about ten years ago." That kind of thing. If
you see flashback scenes, they might very well have technology that
wasn't available to soldiers in the early 80's.
If you go back and look at our series, we've never actually said the
characters fought in 'Nam, or that they were in their 40's or 50's. We
did say that they were decommissioned for seven years (referring to the
end of the Marvel run in '94, and our first issue in '01) or "about ten
years", so that will have to be swept under the rug a bit. It's just
time to make that official. The kind of thing every long running
series has to do, otherwise characters like Batman would be pushing 80.
Q: Do you consider the new series to be "grit-n-gritty"?
You know, I don't know WHERE this part came from. Probably just an
assumption based on some of Joe Casey's more edgy work. I'll say it
again, though, what we're doing now is as 'gritty' as it gets!
Hasbro's never going to let us chop off heads and blow arms off, or
anything like that, and I don't think we'd want to anyway. I still get
emails, though, requesting to make G.I.Joe more violent all the time.
Q: Will there be a series focusing on Cobra Commander?
There will be STORIES focusing on him. A series? Maybe someday.
Q: Will the new team be led by General Rey?
This was a tough choice for us. Rey is one of the stories we have that
is going to take a while to follow up on, but he's not totally going
away. Someone else will be leading New G.I.Joe, though, and I don't
think it's who you'll expect.
Q: Will the new team wear standard uniforms?
Yes! Spandex and capes for all! Or trenchcoats and sunglasses. Just
We DO want some basic similarities between the uniforms, but for each
member to still be very unique. So far what Stefano has turned in has
been awesome. It's important that they still look very military,
although they'll have a very high-tech slant.
Q: Will this continue directly from issue 43 of the current series, or
will there be a time gap?
It will be approximately one year from the end of issue #43.
Q: Will there be more short, one to two issue story lines, or will the
story lines continue to be four to six issues long?
They'll still have a decent length to them, but the smaller roster and
the focus on a smaller group of villains for each story will allow for
a lot more in depth character interaction.
Q: What are your sales expectations for the relaunched title?
It would be nice to double, or triple our sales, but that's what
everyone wants, right? Don't think I've given away all our surprises
for this. Gotta save SOMETHING for the comic book news websites.