Everything ends badly - otherwise nothing would ever end.
That's not entirely true. Some things do end well. But serialized comics that aren't really part of a story with a pre-set beginning, middle and end usually don't end well.
Not so much with this last volume, which is frankly pretty terrible. The art looks... well... like you'd expect a mid-list mid-90's Marvel book to look. This is not a compliment. There are a few issues where Gosier only did "breakdowns" and there are multiple finishers, and those are pretty close to not meeting minimum standards for publication. Any attempt at characterization of the Joes goes completely out the window, and most of the Cobra stuff is focused on Cobra Commander using his brain-wave scanner to turn all the Cobras who defected over the course of the series back to his side. It's as if Hama looked around and realized that the intra-Cobra drama was always the coolest part of the book and tried to restore it by hitting a big reset button. Only it doesn't work - it just kind of highlights the fact that the book was spinning in circles. Hama becomes Destro sitting in his castle that keeps changing back and forth from a Scottish castle to a Cobra castle, playing an imaginary game of chess with his
action figures custom chess pieces.
The final issue, slotted right after two issues that were fairly obviously inventory stories that Marvel wanted to toss in before losing the license, is one of the series' better ones, though it's completely divorced from anything that precedes it. Through a series of letters, one of which is written by Snake-Eyes, Hama delivers his final statement on the value or plight of the Soldier. It's less about G.I. Joe than the concept of soldiering in general, and while it's really quite touching, it feels like a eulogy of the series. Which is kind of cool in a way, but kind of a strange way to end a 150+ issue series that relied heavily on soap opera. For all the military setpieces and terminology, Hama's G.I. Joe was rarely an actual war comic. It was basically a superhero comic where few of the protagonists had super powers. So while Hama's thoughts on soldiering are poignant, the reader is almost left to stop and ask "Well yes, but what is this doing in a comic about G.I. Joe?"
So it doesn't end well. It ends awkwardly and a little abruptly, without anything that really resembles a conclusion. Hama made this series a lot better than it had any right to be for quite a long time, but eventually it passed its sell-by date. Unfortunate but probably inevitable. I've still enjoyed revisiting this title through the IDW reprints, and reading the issues I hadn't before.
- Dustin Nguyen's artwork on American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares is pretty amazing. I loved Nguyen's work on Wildcats 3.0 way back when, but I'll confess I found some of his Batman work a bit underwhelming. Scott Snyder's scripts on Lord of Nightmares, though, play right into Nguyen's strengths. His shots of the snow-covered Soviet landscape are just tremendous. Nguyen seems to benefit from big panels with lots of open space, and this story gives him the chance to do a lot of that.
- Hawkeye #2 (Matt Fraction/ David Aja) was just as good as #1. Which is to say, really really really good.
- I think I hate all the Horizon Labs characters in Amazing Spider-Man. I've got a longer post in mind down the road about Slott's Spidey, but my hate of the Horizon folks can't be confined to a single post. It's almost approaching Pym levels.
- I liked the first arc of Fatale (Ed Brubaker/ Sean Phillips) but the second arc (starting with #6) is way better. I think in part it's that Jo's character seems more fleshed out now that she has decades of experience with her "powers", but there's more. This arc just clicks in a way the first danced around, but never quite nailed. The meta-story seems to me to be falling into place really nicely, and I think this is going to be really impressive by the time it's done.