In July, GI Joe: America's Elite kicks off a year-long epic beginning in issue 25. An event this big can only be called "World War IIi." Here at Fluit Notes, I'm so excited about the upcoming story, I contacted GI Joe writer Mark Powers. He graciously agreed to answer my questions and whet my appetite. Feel free to read along and enjoy.
Fluit Notes: Hello, Mark. Thanks
for agreeing to do this.
Mark Powers: No problem, it's my pleasure.
You took over the series with issue #21. Let’s set the scene a little. What kind of shape was the team in when you
The team had just been through a
very trying period. Cobra Commander had infiltrated the highest levels of
American Government, and used his access to its secrets to strike at G.I. Joe.
In his guise as Presidential Advisor Derek Freedlowe, he spearheaded the
formation of the Phoenix Guard—an elite strike force comprised of Cobra
operatives in disguise. They attacked the Joes' hq, the Rock, and nearly
succeeded in destroying the Joes before their leader, General Rey, realized
he'd been duped and helped the Joes win the day.
Little did the Joes suspect that this operation was only the very beginning of Cobra Commander's most ambitious, ruthless initiative. One that will have dire consequences for the world at large…
The biggest element from the Phoenix
Guard story in terms of importance to the WW3 arc is Cobra Commander's access
to state secrets, as well as elite figures within the government, military, and
business. He's had months to learn and study myriad governmental secrets, and
to form relationships with sympathizers within the establishment.
Issue 25 kicks off your World War III story. How big is this story for the GI Joe team and
for the fans?
At the risk of sounding overly
hyperbolic, it is huge—it's THE biggest story we've ever told, THE biggest
conflict the Joes have ever been involved in. The stakes are no less than the
future of the world, and the lives of billions.
Was the World War III story your idea or was it one that you
inherited when you came on board the title?
It is a variation on an idea I had
very early in my time as editor of the book. Once Mike O' brought me aboard as
writer, we began working together to craft it into an effective story. Mike had
the same desire to do something big, sweeping, and unprecedented for the title.
We tend to think along the same lines and work very closely together.
Cobra Commander looks to be the major player in World War
III. How did he get his axis of evil
back under his thumb?
Did he ever really lose it?
Something Mike and I really wanted to do is to re-establish Cobra Commander's
sense of ambition, and his cunning in terms of pursuing that ambition. He's a
long-term thinker, and if that wasn't evident at the end of issue #24, it'll
become painfully clear in the months ahead.
How did he gain an advantage over the good guys?
This very much goes to what I
mentioned above—he is a visionary. A twisted one, but one nonetheless. The
dominoes he's knocking over now he set up months and years in the past. The
events of the Phoenix Guard story, and Sins of the Mother quite obviously play
into the title's current events. He's a student of history and of human nature.
He's a master strategist and manipulator. We've really endeavored to play up
those aspects of his character lately, and those traits will be brought into
even sharper focus as we head into WW3.
That's a tough one. In terms of
what's already been established for this cast of characters, it'd be hard not
to go with the villains; they've been more fully fleshed out than the heroes.
Think about how much we know about the pasts of the Baroness, and Destro, and
even Cobra Commander, and contrast that with what we know about guys like Duke
Can you give us a little glimpse of what’s coming? What’s in store for GI Joe? And how are they going to respond?
Hmmmm…that's a tough one without giving
anything away. Let's put it this way: "World War III" is a very
literal title for this story arc. Place a soldier in the midst of a war that
will determine the fate of the planet—force them to make painful, emotional
decisions—that's the type of thing you're going to see. In the course of this
very big story, we'll be putting our characters in positions that'll force them
to reveal who and what they are at their core—heroes and villains alike. And
there'll be some surprises in that regard.
On a more basic, long-time fan
level, I can say you should expect to see anyone and everyone who's ever been
important to the Joe mythos in the course of this arc.
This sounds like a big story. How many Joes are in on this? All of them?
Oops, too fast again. See above!
Who are your favorite Joes?
In writing #27 and #28, I've come
to really love Duke. I feel like I have a good handle on him now. I like him
and understand him as a person. I like Stalker a lot and I'd like to spotlight
him more. Because of the work done by Brandon Jerwa and Joe Casey, I think Flint
I suppose that a lot of comic book fans know of you from your days as editor of the X-Men. What did you learn from working on that team that helps you write this team?
Hah! I laugh at myself because every day is a learning experience. Things I feel like I should know keep popping up, making me want to slap my forehead. I guess the biggest thing, in terms of writing a team book, is the need to keep hitting character beats effectively in the course of the larger goings-on, to give everyone "their moment," so it doesn't seem like 95% of the cast is just there to shoot guns.
What’s harder: being an editor or being a writer?
Neither is harder; they are different animals. Obviously, there are plenty of similarities too. I will say that it's interesting (and fun) to consider challenges I'm familiar with from a completely different perspective.
Do you have any other upcoming titles or projects that you’d like to plug?
Definitely. The biggest is DRAFTED, an all-new original title I'm developing with Chris Lie for Devil's Due. The basic concept is that Earth is approached by an alien race, and everybody on Earth—regardless of social status, age, sex, etc.—is drafted to fight in an interstellar war. It's an adventure story of epic scope that—hopefully—also has some interesting ideas bubbling beneath the surface. There's a 99c Preview Special out now, and an exclusive two-part feature is live at myspace.com. The official site is www.theworldneedsyounow.com .
Again, my pleasure. Thanks!
And that's it. Be sure to check out GI Joe: America's Elite #25 which should be in stores next week. And come on back for future columns of Fluit Notes as I'm sure I'll talk about this epic event again.
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This column was originally published on: June 29, 2007