The PREVIEWS Party: The Joes have been forced to go public, wearing costumes into combat, taking on an embedded reporter. What inspired this new, modern take on the Joes? Do you see this as a strength or a weakness for the Joes? How do the Joes view their new status quo?
Fred Van Lente: I was asked by IDW to take a more "superhero" approach, and this was the first thing that leapt to mind -- to make them media figures, and with all the baggage that entails. You get to explore a lot of the things the real military has to in microcosm -- public relations, marketing, recruitment, the press, and so on -- in a way the team members themselves were mostly isolated from when they were strictly special ops. Cobra certainly sees it as a weakness -- that's why they outed the G.I. Joe team in the first place in Chuck Dixon's run that preceded mine. The team is not a fan, no.
The PREVIEWS Party: Cobra has invaded small town America, and it actually seems like the locals are okay with it. Are you trying to portray a moral grey zone? Does Cobra have a legitimate argument to offer these people?
Fred Van Lente: They think they do. In the book, trust in traditional institutions is at an all-time low in America, and Cobra believes they can offer a viable alternative to the government. As you'll start seeing in #2, the people of America have pretty legitimate reasons to believe them. When I said G.I. Joe is involved in hearts and minds, I meant right here, in America.
The PREVIEWS Party: There is actually quite a lot of humor in the book. Was it important to you to make the Joes seem more human and down to earth?
Fred Van Lente: That's more just how I see the world: Long stretches of comedy interrupted by stupefying horror. Given the mordant humor of most of the soldiers I know, it seems to go pretty well with the military genre.
The PREVIEWS Party: You have a pretty diverse bibliography with everything from Action Philosophers (my personal favorite Van Lente work) to Marvel Zombies. How do you bring your own unique voice and perspective to an established property like G.I. Joe?
Fred Van Lente: My brain generates ideas, I tell them to IDW and Hasbro, and if they like them, I write them down on paper (well, pixels) and Steve draws them. Same as everything else!
The PREVIEWS Party: Why should everyone run out to their local comic store right now, buy Issue #1, and add this series to their pull list?
Fred Van Lente: My philosophy of comics is pretty straightforward: "Fun." I want to combine some of the more outré elements of the comics and cartoons with a constant sense of ripped-from-the-headlines danger and excitement. Plus lots of explosions, close calls, and chases. What's not to love?
The PREVIEWS Party would like to thank Fred Van Lente for taking the time to answer our questions. Danger. Excitement. Explosions. Is there any better combination for a new G.I. Joe book? So, head on out to your local comic shop and pick up Issue #1 now, and make sure to add the series to your pull list!
Until next time, keep reading.
- Jason Enright