Is Duke the Hero We’ve Been Waiting For?

Author: Mike Keady

Duke opens with all we need to know of Duke, the Real American Hero and leader of the Joes. He’s a decisive, strong, empathic leader who cares for the people around him – risking his safety and career for the men and women on the ground with him. But he’s hurting.

Duke’s seen something that he shouldn’t’ve, and he’s got a strong belief in truth and justice that has the brass worried that he won’t keep quiet. Duke saw something monstrous, and despite what his superiors tell him, he knows what he saw and is unwilling to let it go.

Writer Joshua Williamson & artist Jordie Bellaire, along with Skybound, Image Comics, and Hasbro, bring us Duke, a G.I. Joe, and Transformers crossover that I never knew I needed (but now I know, and knowing is half the battle)! Spanning five comics, with the newest issue due to release on April 24th, this series is quickly becoming a favorite.

We enter the story, and Duke is being gaslit – not only lied to but also told that there isn’t a problem and that if there was a problem, he’s part of the problem. Duke’s mission through this story arc is one of a man seeking vindication – the proof that he’s right. The opening pages show us that Duke’s seen something that can’t be explained: a plane that turned into a giant robot and murdered his copilot, and his trademark tenacity means he’s now in deep.

The illustration and colour work is excellent – showing not only an attention to detail and colour design – but also a passionate understanding of the colours and contrasts to create evocative scenes. Duke depicts a foe unmatched in their ruthlessness, and the art brings them to life on the page.

Recognizable characters and harrowing action scenes meet expert storytelling that keeps a solid pace on both gun battles and investigations. 

The art style masterfully replicates both old-fashioned mystery comics and G.I. Joe toy packaging art, with an easy segue into stylish colours and classic designs that mesh well with what could be expected in the Energon universe. This fits the series’ conspiracy-thriller vibe as Duke delves into deeper and darker plots.

As mentioned above, it opens with Duke being gaslit – not just lied to or generally mistreated. Gaslighting specifically refers to when somebody attempts to make you question your own sanity or powers of reasoning. Duke is determined to make it clear to his superiors that he saw something – and they throw it back in his face, claiming that he’s unfit for service and needs “to go get his head right.”  

This is hugely frustrating, even distressing for Duke, as it jeopardizes the trust he holds in the systems and people around him – and it’s something many people go through in the real world, whether at home, at school, or in the workplace. Gaslighting can be truly challenging to manage alone, so if you feel that someone you trust is treating you this way, please reach out to trusted adults and professionals and do your best to take care of yourself. 

Duke truly brings together action, suspense, and anticipation into a tight narrative that I can’t wait to spend more time with. I can honestly say I don’t have any strong criticism except for a desire for more. Not seeing much of the Transformers in these pages only adds to the suspense for their reveal in the plot.

I rate this series: 5/5

Ready to join Duke on his exhilarating quest for justice and truth? Don’t miss out on the adventure – grab your copies before the next issue drops on April 24th, and discover why knowing is just half the battle!

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