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‘Duke Volume 1: Knowing is Half the Battle’ (review)

Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Tom Fowler
Published by Skybound /
Image Comics

 

This was one of the first spin offs from Robert Kirkman’s “Energon Universe” that continues a really big story that began in the comic book called Void Rivals.

The Energon Universe is a crossover universe between G.I.Joe and the Transformers and some new characters. This book focuses on Duke, one of the Joes who is a pretty strange character to focus on. The creative team do a hell of a job with it though, and really make this book something really great, both by itself and in terms of the scope of the overall universe that is being set up.

The premise is simple. This book takes place before G.I Joe becomes the unit of the military that it eventually becomes. We get introduced to Duke (who later becomes a leader for the Joes) and we see that he is a military man.

During one of his missions, a tragedy occurs. Duke and one of his partners encounter one of the Transformers named Starscream. The encounter does not go very well as Starscream kills Duke’s partner.

When he tells his superiors about it, Duke is appalled.

For some reason, they are telling him to let it go. But why are they telling them that?

Is there something bigger going on than what they are telling him?

Duke decides to quit his position.

Then, we get to see Duke a few months later. He’s got long hair an looks like a surfer. That is a heck of a creative decision that the writer and artist take, but it makes sense in a way I would have never thought. Duke decides to rebel against his former bosses and their wishes, and now he is out for blood. He is determined to find out what killed his partner and maybe even enact a little bit of payback.

The setup is very compelling and it really only gets better from here.

Duke goes deep in his investigation. As he does, the government seems very determined to stop him.

Why is that though? What purpose do they have to try and do that?

They even send some familiar faces to stop him (it was great seeing Stalker used the way he was here). A lot of action erupts and all of it is very exciting. Artist Tom Fowler really knows how to make the action exciting and stylized, without sacrificing any bit of storytelling. It is quite the feat!

Eventually, Duke gets captured and has to find a way out. He is determined to find out what the hell these beings from another world are. He is determined to find out why the government is hiding them or possibly even protecting them? Is there a bigger treat to the world than everyone is seeing?

While in captivity, he comes across another prisoner with whom he eventually has to team up with.

That character is the Baroness, and they strike up an uneasy alliance.

The rest of the book is basically Duke  and the Baroness having to escape and find a way to solve all of the questions presented. A lot of it is very fast paced.

Eventually, they run afoul of Destro, and they have to figure out how his company fits into the overall conspiracy that they are investigating. There is a lot of action and the book never drags. It also does a smart thing by making it very character oriented.

By the end of the book, a lot of the conspiracies and mysteries are solved. They are solved in a very compelling way that makes complete sense and is very exciting. It is also solved in a way that leads to the next chapters in an overall story.

The big picture of the Energon Universe keeps growing and expanding.

It is cool that they are taking these concepts and finally doing something that is interesting with it.

RATING: A

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