He may be the latest-born writer on a regular G.I.Joe property, but Aubrey Sitterson has distilled his interpretation of the team into a military sci-fi property that earns the title “The Crown Jewel of the Hasbro Universe”. With a Transformer on the team and an awesome new headquarters, Aubrey joined us today to talk G.I. Joe, The Hasbro Universe and what we can expect after the latest Hasbro event First Strike!
* * * * *
FOG!: Yo, Joe! Thanks for taking the time to talk Joe with us! What brings you to the IDW Joe Universe? How did you end up taking over for this season?
Aubrey Sitterson: Last year I wrote the fan-favorite Street Fighter x G.I. Joe, which was not only beloved by readers, but by Hasbro themselves. They dug the high-energy take on the Joes, one where they all felt like unique characters, so when it came time to launch a brand-new G.I. Joe series, IDW knew exactly who to call!
Following Revolution, we’re seeing a brand new take on IDW’s Joe properties, certainly different than the ongoing Larry Hama G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero continuity. For one, it is integrated into the other Hasbro titles, as “The Crown Jewel of the Hasbro Universe”. Tell us what it is like to write a Transformer, Skywarp, on to the team.
What kind of question is that? How is it to write a big, mean, surly transforming robot that happens to be on a team with people he could literally crush beneath his foot? It’s AMAZING, Clay.
This was one of the things I was most excited about coming in, as not only does it make for great visuals, but it gives me a chance to explore one of my favorite fiction tropes.
Skywarp is our Vegeta, which, if you’re not DBZ literate, first of all, shame on you, second of all, it basically means that he’s a barely reformed villain who has maintained all of his crusty irritability.
Plus, I’d be lying if I said that scenes between Skywarp and Rock ‘n Roll weren’t some of the absolute most fun to the write.
For those not reading along or caught up, we’ve also got ROM The Space Knight’s enemies Dire Wraiths making an appearance. Are they going to play more of a threat than Cobra?
Well, as seen in the instant classic G.I. Joe #3, the Dire Wraiths are actually using Cobra symbolism, so the division between “ROM villains” and “G.I. Joe villains” is a little more of a grey area that folks might think at first glance. Plus, with the events of Revolution barely in the rear view mirror, as well as another shocking revelation in issue #3…the Dire Wraiths are very much on the radar of Scarlett and her team.
After the first issue, I thought I wouldn’t see Snake-Eyes, thankfully I was wrong. Are you taking more of a shift away from the Arashikage ninja action, or like my favorite Joe stories, are you going to sneak some of that in over the course of time?
The first issue features not only Snake Eyes, but a bunch of Red Shadow ninjas in the very first scene!
If you’re thinking about the Revolution one-shot though…you’re right. No ninjas of any kind in that one. Reason being is that the G.I. Joe has an unspeakably massive roster and generally speaking, every fan has a different favorite. I’m trying to walk the difficult balance of making sure everyone gets a chance to shine, choosing the characters whose specialties make sense for each individual mission while also keeping an eye on the larger character arcs we’re fleshing out.
It wouldn’t be G.I. Joe without Snake Eyes, plain and simple. But there’s a lot more to the team than just one ninja commando, so I’ve made a conscious effort to avoid getting too Snake Eyes or Arashikage-centric.
Forgive me, first of all I am embarrassed to ask, but secondly you must get asked this question a lot. Where does this “Season 5” fit in? Have the previous season’s events existed in your timeline, or this this a hard reboot. Or is it just fun and doesn’t matter? As someone committed to Joe comics and an Arashikage tattoo on my arm, I need to know!
Season 5 happened. Just like everything else in the IDW Joe continuity (separate from Hama’s ARAH continuity) happened. That said, in an effort to make these books accessible to folks who haven’t read 8,000 pages of Joe comics over the past decade, we aren’t leaning too heavily on the backstories contained in there. Additionally, while there hasn’t been an ongoing IDW-continuity Joe book in a few years, that doesn’t mean that their world has been held in stasis, so there’s definitely been some changes since then.
There seems to be a big shift stylistically with the art as well. Some costume designs have changed of course but also it seems a bit more fun, in the style of the cartoon series, both Sunbow and Resolute. Is that the direction you are giving your artists, or is the art team coming from IDW?
The best Giannis Milonogiannis and I can tell, we’re the latest-born writer/artist team to ever work on an ongoing G.I. Joe book. This is important because for the first time, you’ve got a team that, while we have the utmost respect for Hama’s ARAH comics, are actually more influenced by the Sunbow cartoon series. That was our Joe, and we didn’t discover the Hama books until we were adults.
Since that’s the Joe we love, that’s the Joe we’re leaning into, which has informed Giannis’ amazing redesigns, Lovern Kindzierski’s eye-searing colors and my own efforts to pack as much plot, as many big set pieces, as much soap opera personal drama and as many jokes and one-liners into the book as possible. The intent really was to replicate the feel of the Sunbow cartoons but for a contemporary audience that is…somewhat older than the original demographic.
What are some advantages you see to approaching this book from a non-traditional, non-military strategy standpoint that was taken in previous seasons of the book?
First off, it’s something new, something that hasn’t been seen before. The previous IDW continuity books are quite often rooted in a kind of real world aesthetic – lots of talk about call signs and gun models, everyone in fatigues and, most notably, lots of death. We’re spinning in an entirely different direction, giving you a Joe like none you’ve ever seen before.
Also, I take umbrage at the categorization of our book as “non-traditional.” If you watch the original Sunbow series, which is how a wide swath of Joe fans came to the property, it’s a bright, aspirational, fun and funny series with lots of wacky villains and threats and monsters and robots. For millions of fans, that approach defines what G.I. Joe is. We’re tapping into that.
Another thing I love about our approach is that it allows us to steer clear of what Larry is doing on ARAH. I don’t want to compete with Larry because I can’t compete with Larry. The man is a legend and G.I. Joe wouldn’t exist in its current state without him, and furthermore, there’s no way that I could do justice to a more military-focused Joe book.
Finally: We get to play around with lasers and monsters and giant robots which are three of the things that comics do best.
Shipwreck is back..along with some other deep cuts on the roster in issue #6, revealing more of the team than first starting in the series. Are there other characters expected to make an appearance? I know we haven’t seen much of Cobra besides the Dreadnoks and Road Pig. More please!
Other characters will absolutely be showing up, but I don’t really believe in just shoving characters into a story to check off boxes. One of the great things about the Joe property is that there are so many preexisting characters that whatever I might need for a given story, there’s likely already someone to fill that spot. While we’re going to keep a focus on our core cast, you can expect other Joes to show up as the story requires.
And as for Cobra…if you’re going to ask me “wait and see” questions, I’m going to have to give you “wait and see” answers.
Bonus question: will the team return to The Pit or are they stationed on Lemuria to be an international fighting organization wherever there’s trouble? Thanks again for joining us, and I for one am enjoying being along for the ride! Yo Joe!
G.I. Joe is no loner just an American organization – they’re now responsible for protecting the whole world – which is why a base like Lemuria, at the bottom of the sea, in international waters, freed from political machinations, is so crucial. Plus, it’s a converted Decepticon spaceship so, it’s also pretty much the coolest base ever. Officially.