I hadn't read a GI Joe comic since probably the early 1990's when the series was still being published by Marvel Comics. It was never a great favorite as I felt it never lived up to its potential. Marvel clearly was aiming the title towards kids who played with the action figures. Thankfully Devil's Due has taken into account the many adult fans of "Joe" with stories that are gritty and contemporary. G.I. Joe Frontline "Icebound" is a 96 page, full-color trade paperback. It collect issues 5 - 8 of the G.I. Joe Frontline comic.
In 1994, Duke led a team of operatives to remote scientific research facility in the arctic region of Norway. The scientists were working on a project coded Operation: Coldfire to genetically enhance soldiers to be resistance to temperature extremes, in this case, extreme cold. When communications with the facility suddenly stopped, Duke and his team were sent to investigate...and Duke returned as the only survivor of the ill-fated mission. Now, seven years later, a distress signal is coming from the same facility which Duke feels is impossible since the entrance was completely sealed.
Against his wishes, Duke is ordered to gather a team and once again return to Norway. His team consists of Scarlett, Snake-Eyes, Lifeline, Airtight, and Frostbite. It's obvious to the rest of the team that Duke is very apprehensive about returning but he doesn't want to talk about it when prodded by Lifeline. The fact that their leader is nervous only serves to make the rest of the team tense as well. As they enter the facility and begin their search, the team comes face-to-face with the threats that wiped out Duke's team the first time. To make matters worse, the entrance has collapsed, trapping the team inside.
This story combined elements of noted horror films "The Thing" and "Resident Evil" to make for one of the most unique G.I. Joe stories I've ever read. Writers Dan Jolley and Drew Johnson did a superb job of building the tension as the team begins the search of the research facility. Much like a film, you never knew what might be lurking just around the corner or in the shadows. The tension was palpable among the various team members, especially Duke and Lifeline. Adding to the atmosphere was the outstanding use of color with pale blues to reflect the cold of the arctic and reds to display the dim lighting of the inside of the facility. Color is often underrated in comics and here is a great example where color was used very effectively to convey a mood. The colors, along with the art of pencilers Drew Johnson, Javier Pena, and Tom Feister, and inkers Ray Sneider & Juan Santacruz made this one of the most visually appealing G.I. Joe stories I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Add to that the book includes the gorgeous covers to the original for comics by Tony Harris.
The only minor grumble I might offer is that Snake-Eyes, long one of the fan favorites, isn't given a whole lot to do in the story and seems just along for the ride. That very minor issue aside, this was a fantastic story and highly recommended even if you are not a Joe fan.