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Duke #4 review

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

Story: Picking right up where last issue left off, the Pit is being raided by Major Bludd's forces as Stalker is trying to stop them to no avail and is unable to contact anyone for support and Duke is being held at gunpoint by the Baroness as Rock 'n Roll and Clutch fight off more troops.  Duke and the Baroness exchange some words and Duke calls her bluff and they decide to (again) work together to get out of the situation.  Stalker arrives and updates everyone on the situation and they decide, seeing a hole opened in the floor, to go down deeper into the Pit to escape.  They enter an old garage/warehouse full of tanks and other experimental vehicles and Clutch and Duke come up with a plan.  Outside, Major Bludd returns, much worse for wear after getting shot and orders his troops to continue the fight.  Just then, a bunker opens and out rushes a Skystriker Combat Jet, APC [Amphibious Personnel Carrier] and MOBAT [Motorized Battle Tank], crashing into the troops and causing disarray. Bludd's men decide to leave and the Baroness escapes in a Cobra F.A.N.G. [Fully Armed Negator Gyrocopter]. Duke takes off in the Skystriker to follow his leads on where the missing tech went.  At Destro's base, Mercer asks about the power core for a Cobra H.I.S.S. [High Speed Sentry] tank and knows Duke is on his way so he wants Scrap-Iron located to help out.  Duke gets close to the base but Scrap-Iron is able to shoot down the Skystriker but Duke is able to eject and make his way into the base.  Before he can get too far, he encounters a Battle Android Trooper (B.A.T.).

Writing: Williamson is able to keep the pace going for the entire issue, picking up the fight from the last issue easily.  Even the few "down" panels are still interesting enough to keep the story moving forward and, in this issue, it never feels like it really lets up.  Duke has a "no nonsense" style about him and you can tell that he's able to read people pretty well (knowing the Baroness would be more interested in escaping that hauling him in for a reward).  Introducing the new characters seems pretty organic as well though Williamson does make it out to show that Scrap-Iron has some secret weapon that he's been working on when it's just a portable missile launcher.  Once again, ending on a nice cliffhanger. 

Art: Reilly earned my respect on this issue.  He gives us the FANG, G.I. Joe APC, the MOBAT tank, HISS tanks, Scrap-Iron's missile drone, and the Skystriker!  Just really cool to see these vehicles (and, honestly, it's something previous G.I. Joe series have dropped the ball on).  He's also not afraid to show injuries.  Bludd comes back outside with a huge bullet scar going down part of his head and no eye.  Scrap-Iron's face is half-burned.  And then the nice double-page spread of the APC, MOBAT and Skystriker emerging is pretty nice too.  The biggest downside, for me, is the constant orange/reds used as background colours.  I feel it takes away a lot instead of just going for a more natural look to the background. 

Overall:  A fun issue, the plot keeps moving forward at a good pace, there is a lot of action and just a ton of old-school G.I. Joe references with the vehicles and characters.  I do enjoy the fact that they don't feel the need to rehash every event in the issues, as sometimes that can take a lot away.  Williamson does enough to remind us of what the overall goal of Duke is but doesn't focus on it for a page or two.  He gets right to the main story.  Like the past issues, this one ends with a good cliffhanger and will make readers want to get the next issue to find out what happens!  Williamson is also really doing a good job of setting up the future of a G.I. Joe versus Cobra/Destro conflict, with a lot of the classic pieces being put into place (characters, vehicles, locations, etc.). 

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