but Larry has a writing style that noted Hemingway scholar Mark Bellomo once called an "iceberg theory" approach to the Joe universe. That is to say there is a style of characterization and dialogue here that often hints at a vast subtext of information, floating just beneath the usual panel-to-panel comic book action.
Add to that Mr. Hama's ability to artfully harness the storytelling craft of the late Wally Wood*, and then you start to understand what makes him a true diamond in the rough of modern comic book writing.
This is no exception in G.I. Joe - Declassified! The book delves into the deeper history and personality of the original 13 Joes; even introducing a mysterious 14th Joe, and offering cameos of popular characters that we only thought we knew. It starts from recounting the formation of the Joe team via character flashback, and culminates at the end of the Lady Doomsday storyline from issue #1 (only from a very different POV entirely). In the end you will find the Joe team's roots, their individual backgrounds, and the current challenges they face in the storyline, are all made more real to the reader as a result.
One "new Joe" in particular is so brilliantly retconned into the history that acceptance or rejection on the part of this reader never really comes into question. This new character, and all the others for that matter, seem to drift into and past each other by fate or circumstance. As a result, they end up teaching us an inspiring lesson in courage that rivals literature outside the comic medium. That's what makes Larry Hama so great. He dares to step outside of the rut and reputation of the comic book medium itself.
If there is any one "required reading" for any Joe fan, G.I. Joe - Declassified would be it. It is also highly recommended for anyone who is curious about why these characters (and the toys they personify) have continued to last for more than two decades.
*Something few comic book writers even bother to utilize nowadays, making this one of the few truly enjoyable books available from Devil's Due, or any other comic label for that matter.