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Duke #5 review

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

Story:  Colonel Hawk and Stalker are questioning Clutch about the whereabouts of Duke but Clutch refuses to answer.  As the Battle Android Troopers (B.A.T.) holds onto Duke, Destro comes out and offers Duke a job, talking about how weapons are the winners of war and claiming he knows nothing of the transforming jet (Starscream) that killed his friend but Duke doesn't believe him and head butts Destro and engages with the B.A.T. again.  Destro, along with Mercer and Scrap-Iron, decide to blow up the base as Duke continues fighting and, finally, defeating the B.A.T., realizing he just needs to outlast its battery (and something Destro realizes needs work).  As the trio drive away, they blow up the base and Duke is presumed dead, put forth by some news reports.  Duke wakes up handcuffed in a hospital bed when Colonel Hawk and Courtney "Cover Girl" Krieger arrive.  Hawk mentions he knows stuff is going on but can't go through the normal channels because of M.A.R.S. Industries's connection to the government and offers Duke a job. He takes him out to the Pit again, getting a make-over, and offers him the ability to train and lead a special mission force to handle the new threats.  While Duke is initially reluctant, Cover Girl shows him pictures of Transformers Optimus Prime and realizing something bigger is going on.

Writing: While Williamson wraps up his arc on Duke, we get a lot of closure on the story thus far.  Duke finds out Destro/M.A.R.S. really has nothing to do with The Transformers (whether he believes it or not) and that there are more of them, Colonel Hawk was just using Duke the whole time to get more information without going through official channels, and we finally get the beginnings of the G.I. Joe team being built.  While it seemed a lot of the issue did focus on Duke's battle with the B.A.T., Williamson was able to use that to put forth some more story elements, mainly between Duke, Destro, and Duke himself (as destroying the B.A.T. was his catharsis for helping him move on and grow). I also enjoyed the fact that the government doesn't see a difference between good and bad Transformers yet, with them looking over a picture of Optimus Prime unloading two guns on a target and the fear it represents to them.

Art: Duke just taking a beating from the B.A.T. and turning the tables on it, that's the bulk of the art in this story and it's pretty good.  Just a good, solid, one on one fight and how Duke is finally able to get the upper hand and defeat the B.A.T..  We also get a nice, full-page introduction to Destro with a full, modern business suit but still sporting the open chest and big gemstone. I liked how they reversed the colours from his standard black with some red to a red suit with some black highlights.  That was a nice touch. And Duke just looking so beat up at the end of his battle and the injuries carrying over to what we see in the hospital bed is nice too (though why they would have shaved his head when we don't see any stitches or bandages on his head is beyond me).  And, of course, keeping with tradition, we see Destro and company zoom away in a Cobra Night Attack 4-WD Stinger.  Reilly's been really good about incorporating classic Joe and Cobra vehicles into the art and it's nice to see.  And keeping a good preview of what's going on in the Transformers series (in case people haven't been reading that) was cool, as we see Optimus with Megatron's arm cannon blasting away. 

Overall:  I felt this was a nice end to the first G.I. Joe miniseries.  We get to see some sneakiness by Colonel Hawk, we get some answers, and we've set the foundation for what's coming next.  I, personally, would have liked to see one more issue that is more of an epilogue of Duke recruiting his initial Joe team and getting to see a few more characters but maybe that's a story for another series.  Art has been consistent throughout the series and stays strong even at the end. And, working from the ground up, has really worked for this series in connecting it to the larger Energon Universe that Skybound Entertainment is building. 

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