Black Hops U.S.A. G.I. Vol 1 Review - "Best G.I. Joe Comic Ever, Sorry Jawbreakers"
Updated: Sep 7, 2020
I picked up Black Hops USA GI as an add on to the sequel campaign that ended a few months back. I didn't know what I was getting into aside from the images of a cute bunny and the gorgeous art from Mark Pellegrini.
Digging into the story, I think it's safe to say that Black Hops is one of the best-crowdfunded books released to date. It's a unique concept and masterfully executed from beginning to end. The framework of the story reminded me of the classic 80's movie trope of the retired soldier getting called back into action by the government for a final mission.
If you're an 80's or 90's kid you've seen this premise before, Insert an adorable bunny and Bruce Willis cameo.
You'd think that the story would be absurd and it is but Tim plays it straight. He doesn't cheat in establishing this setting and guidelines for what Hops can or cannot do. This method of storytelling works for the reader because we're always in the loop in regard to the tools Hops has at his disposal when dealing with emerging situations. It's like a Claremont X-Men comic. Cannonball is invulnerable while he's blasting. Nightcrawler can teleport his body weight or risk exhaustion.
Black Hops is still a goofy book but the comic works because it takes a lot of inherent problems presented by the nature of the lead character and constantly subverts expectations with humorous results.
The story reminded me of the classic G.I. Joe silent issue. Replace Snake Eyes with Hops and you'll have a good idea of what to expect out of this story. I was on board with the comic from the introductory section of the book but what really hooked me into the narrative was the art direction.
This is a beautiful graphic novel. The colors are bright, the characters are adorable and the scenes no matter how grim they get are almost always set against a bright or vivid setting.
Contrast to the overall light tone is the shocking level of violence on display. Hops even has a tragic origin as one of the survivors of the Hiroshima bombing of WWII. Once you get past the opening section of the book you're in for a wild ride into R-Rated action movie territory.
Imagine Hops as John Matrix from Commando and you'd be on the right track. If Hops had a voice it would be Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bunny goes up against man and animal alike and all of it is beautifully rendered.
The book moves at a brisk pace and none of the scenes overstay their welcome. I have Black Hops II and will check it out soon. This is a worthy addition to any collection and stands at the top of the current field of crowdfunded comics.