Newsarama Note: Thanks to Paul Allor and his facebook page, we have full art credits for the pages here! Check it out:
A Coward's Heart (pirates) -- S.L. Gallant, colorist John-Paul Bove
Present-day story -- Alex Cal, colorist David Garcia Cruz
The Debt (WWI) -- Atilio Rojo, colorist David Garcia Cruz
The Gardener (1960s) -- Nicole Virella, colorist John-Paul Bove
Cover -- Steve Kurth, inks by Allen Martinez, colors by Joana LaFuente
(all pages lettered by Shawn Lee)
War waits for no man, and after Fred Van Lente announced he was leaving IDW’s G.I. Joe series at the end of 2013 fans began speculating of who would follow him as the de facto team leader of these Real American Heroes. Well, meet G.I. Joe’s newest recruit: writer Paul Allor.
Allor begins his tour of duty with January’s G.I. Joe #12, pulling back the curtain on the secret history of Cobra Commander, and tells us that “Cobra Commander” is more a title than a man, with a pantheon of Cobra Commander characters going back centuries. It’s a history uncovered and explored by a new COBRA agent named Siren who is working to bolster Cobra’s public relations with the criminal world. In this installment of Newsarama’s Yo Joe!, we talk to Allor about his plans for G.I. Joe in 2014.
Newsarama: Paul, what can you tell us about your upcoming run on G.I. Joe?
Paul Allor: Oh, man, I am so excited to talk about this book, so thank you so much for the opportunity to do so. We are telling a big, big story. It spans continents and centuries, and introduces several new characters both in the present day and the distant past. This is my first time working on G.I. Joe, and who knows if it will happen again, so I absolutely pulled out all the stops. Big action, big adventure, big explosions, all anchored by some great new characters.
The first few issues are split between a modern-day story, featuring Baroness and Siren (a new character), and several flashback stories that tell the tales of past Cobra Commander characters. It's absolutely jam-packed with story. We're hoping to give readers a huge bang for their buck.
Nrama: You're picking up from departing writer Fred Van Lente, so can you tell us about the transition for you and what are the key elements you're hoping to continue on from Fred's run?
Allor: My run definitely fits into the tone and continuity of what came before. But at the same time, it's definitely a bit of a departure from Fred's awesome run. IDW is letting me do something very cool and very unique. So this is a tough question to answer, as will be quite clear after the issues start to come out.
Nrama: Your debut is in January's G.I. Joe #12 - what can readers expect with this first issue?
Allor: You can expect to be thrown into a fast-paced adventure story and psychological drama that kicks off on the first page and never lets up. The solicitations refer to the secret history of Cobra, and we deliver exactly that. We introduce several new Cobra Commander characters, at various points and places throughout history, including a World War I prison camp and the Caribbean Sea at the height of piracy.
The other thing you can expect is absolutely amazing art. Alex Cal handles the present-day sequences (and his work here is as awesome as ever), with the flashback sequences done by S.L. Gallant, Atilio Rojo and Nicole Virella, all of whom just absolutely bring it. The best part of this project has been seeing all of the amazing art pour in from so many incredibly talented collaborators.
Nrama: Earlier you mentioned a new character named Siren, who in the solicitations is said to work under Baroness. What can you tell us about her and being under the wing of Baroness?
Allor: Cobra is filled with terrorists and murderers and madmen, but Siren is something truly chilling: a public-relations practitioner. At the beginning of our story, Siren is tasked with spreading the word about Cobra's history, particularly to the criminal world.
As you mentioned, she's under Baroness' wing, and it's been a lot of fun to develop that relationship. These are two very different people. Baroness is focused on action; on controlling the situation through violence and through power. Siren is focused on communication; on winning people over by relating to them, through the power of a great story. It's a very different approach for a Cobra operative, and Baroness in particular does not react well to it.
Nrama: Also in this, with that great cover by Steve Kurth, is a history lesson in the previous Cobra Commander characters. What can you tell us about this unknown legacy of Commanders?
Allor: These are stories I've wanted to tell ever since IDW killed off the last commander, and revealed that Cobra Commander is more of a title than a man. There is so much storytelling potential there, and even in these issues, I know that I've just barely scratched the surface.
The thing I really tried to focus on was making sure that each commander was a unique individual. If it was just half-a-dozen cookie-cutter commanders, sprinkled throughout history, I'd be doing a disservice to the readership (and telling a super-boring story to boot). Instead, I tried to make them all stand on their own. They have different backgrounds, different personalities, different motivations. And because of that, they also have different ways of wielding power. I feel like I could write an entire series about each of these guys. Hopefully, people will feel like they could read an entire series about each of them. If so, then I'll know I did my job right.
Nrama: Forgive me for saying this, but your name may not be that familiar to G.I. Joe readers. Can you give us your background and what makes you someone recruited to be a G.I. Joe writer?
Allor: Yeah, absolutely. I'm still a fairly new creators, so this is one of my first big gigs. I've been a writer pretty much my entire life (including a long stint as a newspaper reporter), but I didn't really discover comics until the age of 28, about eight years ago. Since then I self-published a couple of books, including Clockwork, a collection of five-page stories, and Orc Girl, a fantasy one-shot. I've done some work in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise for IDW, including a Fugitoid one-shot and an upcoming Shredder one-shot and Utrom Empire mini-series. And my book Strange Nation comes out monthly through Monkeybrain Comics.
As for what makes me someone recruited as a G.I. Joe writer -- well, I guess you'd have to ask the people who recruited me. I will say that I try to tell stories that combine big, dynamic action with compelling characters and a real sense of heart. And I think that also serves as a pretty good description of G.I. Joe at its best.
Nrama: And what would you say are your big plans/goals for your run on G.I. Joe?
Allor: Mainly, I want to use this brief run to tell a fun, compelling story that expands the world of Cobra and broadens the legacy of Cobra Commander. I am so proud of this story, and so thrilled with the amazing work from all of the artists involved. I can't wait to see what people think.