Thanks to the most recent Humble Bundle, I’ve been reading a load of the older IDW GI Joe comics. I remember delving in and out of them at the time, and thinking they were decent enough, and that assesment stands thus far.
It’s a bit of a weird thing, they discarded a lot of the goofier elements at the start - each character having what amounts to a costume is gone in favour of more generic military uniforms embellished with some bits of the old toy/Marvel/Devil’s Due character design, and there’s a lot of modern military jargon dropped in there, and for the most part the art depicts modern guns as opposed to random sci-fi esque things. The really out-there elements of the 80s franchise - like Serpentor and Cobra-La are reworked as a scientology-esque cult that funnels money and mooks into Cobra. Which works very well.
But at the same time, it’s very sci-fi. When the story begins, GI Joe is a covert military team who inhabits an underground base the size of a city - there’s buildings and a road network and everything. The crux of the plot for the first 30 or so issues of the regular series is that Cobra are trying to make a teleporter. There’s ninjas and insanely advanced robots and drones and other random bits and pieces. And to a degree the naturalism falls away - we see more of the toy character and vehicle designs show up, but it tries to keep the stories as grounded as possible.
But at the same time, there’s the Cobra series. Which is basically Sleeper, but without super powers. Even down to an art style reminiscient of Sean Phillips. And it’s not as good as Sleeper, but it’s really good.
Overall I enjoyed what I’ve read so far, but there’s one thing which bugs me about the narrative in the books (as of the Cobra Command storyline). One of the things that made the 80’s Transformers and GI Joe comics work was that both sides had defeats and victories. It felt like a war. In the IDW GI Joe, the Joes are pretty much on the backfoot throughout the whole thing, and at best get some phyrric victories while Cobra’s losses don’t seem to faze them. I’d like to see them get an unequivocal win at some point.