Paul Allor And Corey Lewis On ‘GI Joe: Deviations’ And The World Where Cobra Won
Next March, IDW is launching an event called Deviations, a set of one-shots that take five of their licensed comics --- Ghostbusters, Transformers, GI Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The X-Files --- and ask what if --- er, what would happen if things had worked out just a little differently? In the case of America's daring, highly trained special missions force, that means a universe where GI Joe failed, and Cobra Commander took over the world. That's the bad news. The good news is that since ruling a world terrified into submission is actually pretty boring, Cobra Commander is reassembling the team so that he has someone to fight again.
To find out more, I spoke to writer Paul Allor and artist Corey Lewis about how they approached the story and what it's like to live in a world run by Cobra --- and got a look at some of Lewis's designs for a post-apocalyptic Cobra Commander and the sensational character find of 2016, Hawaiian Style Snake Eyes.
ComicsAlliance: When the opportunity for doing this kind of alternate universe story for GI Joe came up, how did you settle on the idea of showing a world where Cobra won? Were there any other premises that you batted around before settling on that one?
Paul Allor: Yeah, I kicked around a few different ideas with editor Carlos Guzman. The whole "the bad guys win!" thing isn't a startlingly original idea, but the more I thought about what a Cobra victory would mean --- not just to the world, but to Cobra itself --- the more I wanted to do it. As Cobra Commander says in our story, the problem with ruling the world is, you have to rule the world. Cobra is an organization that's geared towards conquest, towards absurd violence and audacious destruction. And if they actually succeeded in taking over the world, literally none of those skills would apply. Instead they'd have to deal with infrastructure, education, health care, renewable energy. Cobra would need to shift from an insurgency to a bureaucracy. And that's what this story is about.
So, that was the plan, to tell that story, and have some fun with it. And then when I found out Corey was on board, I was just so freaking thrilled, since it meant I could dial the batspit insanity up to like 11, and just steer into the absurdity of this whackadoodle premise.
CA: That really makes me want to know what the Cobra government's policies are. Presumably they don't really offer the electorate much of a choice, but what are they doing to keep the people however happy they need to be to not kick off a rebellion? What is their policy platform like?
PA: Yeah, the post-Conquest world is definitely a Cobraocracy, not a democracy. And the look of the world is definitely very Cobra-influenced. Corey is really running with that aspect of the book, and it is awesome. As for what they're doing to keep the people happy... it's pretty much what you would expect from any functioning government. Fixing potholes. Funding education and healthcare. Fighting global warming. It's all quite pedestrian and boring, and that's kind of the problem, for Cobra Commander, at least. It's been a long time since he's carved his face into the moon or destroyed the world's currency. Dude's getting restless.
CA: We've talked before about stories you've done with stuff like the Cobra Commander of pirate times, so how did you approach an alternate GI Joe team?
PA: I worked with Carlos and Corey to put together the cast. And once they were in place, it was really just a matter of imagining what several years in isolation would do to these guys --- where they would be, what kind of mindset they would have. and the same goes for the Cobra characters, though the results for each of those groups are quite... different.
CA: So who comes out the worst for the years of isolation?
PA: Well, as you see on the cover, Snake Eyes' uniform hasn't held up well. But mentally? The lack of decent grub has been pretty tough on Roadblock, and that has some fairly drastic consequences. On the Cobra side, Destro has become a bit of a helicopter parent.
CA: What's our cast of characters? On the cover, we've got Scarlett, Roadblock and Snake Eyes on the Joe side, and Big Boa, Major Bludd, Destro and Croc Master for Cobra, and obviously Cobra Commander's in play, too. Is anyone else going to show up?
PA: Yes. We have some pretty freaking awesome cameos, including some that Corey pushed for (though he didn't have to push hard!). We've pulled in characters and concepts from a lot of different GI Joe iterations, and really tried to spread the love. I can't wait for the preview of this issue to drop, since I think that once people see the first page, they'll understand that this book is basically a love letter to the GI Joe franchise as a whole.
CA: Corey, I've got a lot of questions about your art and how you approached these characters, but I mainly just want to talk for an hour about Snake Eyes in a Hawaiian shirt on that cover. Has he been on vacation? Was it a Christmas present from Chuckles? Will there be an action figure that I can buy immediately?
Corey Lewis: I guess the life of a post-Cobra ninja is pretty hectic, so I hear Snake Eyes lost most of his gear, except for his mask. So for this particular adventure, Snake Eyes is rocking some kind of "normal" clothes. I decided to give him a kind of Tyler Durden look. Unkempt activewear to both chill in and kick butt.
CA: Your art style has this exaggerated dynamic energy to it that seems like the perfect way to accentuate the toyetic nature of the Joes. Were there any particular elements of the characters that you latched onto when it came time to draw the cast?
CL: When Paul told me I'd be drawing Croc Master and Big Boa I pretty much freaked out. I guess I like cool masks. And they both have really good ones.
One thing I was particularly excited about was slightly re-designing some of the main Joe characters. Since it's a bit of a post-apocalyptic thing for the remaining Joes, they get to have some new "survivor duds." I redesigned the remaining Joes through the lens of Mad Max & Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, two things I'm currently infatuated with.
Cobra Commander is also getting a bit of a new look from me. He's always been all about the masks. For my version, I'm giving him a bit of a two-face thing going on. He's got half of his hood mask, and half of his silver plate mask-- but I'm also throwing on a bunch of eyes to evoke his appearance from the 1987 GI Joe animated movie. Also the mask motifs are inspired by Naruto and Evangelion, believe it or not.
CA: The idea of a world where Cobra Commander won hearkens back to an episode of the original cartoon, "Worlds Without End," where a small Joe team finds themselves in an alternate reality where Cobra's in control and most of their teammates are dead. Was that something you looked to for inspiration?
PA: I can't speak for Corey, but I did not. When I'm doing a similar story to something else, I tend to avoid it, rather than seeking it out. I'll just wait for people to tell me what all I accidentally ripped off, ha.
GI Joe: Deviations will be on sale in March from IDW.