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Duke #1 review

Creators: Joshua Williamson (Writer), Tom Reilly (Artist), Jordie Bellaire (Colourist), Rus Wooton (Letterer)

Plot: We get a brief history of Duke's exploits in the US Army while he's talking to Colonel Hawk, who is concerned about Duke's recent change due to an event where he saw a friend of his killed by a transforming jet but the government is covering it up and Duke just wants answers. He eventually meets up with Dr. Adele Burkhart and together, try to find some answers about possible aliens or high technology. With her help, he infiltrates M.A.R.S. Industries and sees the high-tech war machines that they are producing. He fights Mercer who, along with the other guards, kicks Duke out after ruffing him up a bit. Duke returns to Dr. Burkhart's house to find it ransacked and she is near death but passes what "whoever did that to her" was after to him. After a run in with the police, Duke runs off. Colonel Hawk decides to find Duke and wants the best to do it.

Story: Part of Skybound Entertainment's new "shared" Energon Universe, Transformers and GI Joe will be integrated together and it starts here for the G.I. Joe team. Not only do we see Starscream in this issue, we get a few other hints and Easter Eggs as well throughout. I enjoyed seeing some of the background on Duke and why he's turned down promotions and stayed a "field leader" (which could be easily incorporated into other G.I. Joe stories). Duke is a soldier's soldier and so he goes through great lengths to find the answers he needs and is able to easily hold his own. We get more than one mystery within the story and the groundwork for forming the G.I. Joe team by the end of the series.

Art: The art is pretty decent in the series. When Duke is "on", he looks sharp and cool. When he's down, he looks slovenly and out. The colours are hit or miss. There are a lot of Easter Eggs in the art spread throughout the series, some which are easy to miss on a first read-through. Like a lot of series, there is a lot of colour washing throughout, where different scenes will be primarily one colour (like yellows, blues, etc.). While I feel this can convey what our characters are feeling, I also think it takes away from what could be, with sharp, contrasting colours instead of everything looking the same.

Overall: Story-wise, a good first start to the G.I. Joe entry for Skybound Entertainment. Unlike IDW's shared universe (which started AFTER both series had been around for years), starting from the ground floor seems more organic and will allow the two properties to mesh together better. I enjoyed the writing and the art, though the colours did leave something to be desired. Easter Eggs abound within the issue, though they don't take anything away from the story and, in fact, leave us wondering if they'll just there for fan service or will they play an important part later on? 

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