The Origin of Roadblock
Tragically, Fred Van Lente left before giving us IDW versions of Resolute, Rise of Cobra, or Renegades.
|"The Origin of Roadblock"|
|First published||December 11, 2013|
|Cover date||December 2013|
|Written by||Fred Van Lente|
|Line-art by||Steve Kurth|
|Inks by||Allen Martinez and Clint Hilinski|
|Colors by||Joana Lafuente and David Garcia Cruz|
|Letters by||Tom B. Long|
|Editorial consultant||Carlos Guzman|
Roadblock hasn't always been a member of G.I. Joe...
Years ago, Sgt. Marvin Hinton yells at his cousin Lamont over an internet connection from his cubicle at Fort Aberdeen, Maryland. The two are playing Sigma 6, a video game created by the army for team-building exercises, but the two are squabbling over their inability to effectively cooperate, each blaming the other. Lamont's avatar unveils an oversized piece of "heavy duty" ordnance, confusing Marvin, who was unaware of the patch allowing users to customize their weapons; as he admits, he doesn't read the update emails, only being stationed at the "geek station" of Fort Aberdeen temporarily until he gets the okay to re-deploy to Trucial. Lamont accuses his cousin of simply being jealous of his skill at the game, and challenges him to a deathmatch session the next week... but before he signs off, he thanks his cousin for hooking him up with the game, which has been a great source of recreation in his boring jungle posting.
The next week, Sgt. Hinton is particularly ticked off at one of the other cooks in the Fort Aberdeen kitchens, disgusted at the poor quality of the marinara he's created. As Hinton sends the soldier to the pantry for additional cooking supplies, he is approached by a general, who asks if his cousin is Lamont A. Morris. Hinton gives an affirmative, though Morris's current posting is classified... and is going to remain so. As the general explains, Lamont was killed in the line of duty that morning, laying down his life to help his fellow soldiers get to safety. Marvin is stunned into silence, and over the coming weeks—as he informs his family of what happened, and attends his cousin's funeral—he silently grieves, not allowing his emotions to show.
Some time later, Marvin logs onto Sigma 6 once more to take out some of his frustration, and goes on a rampage of destruction against the game's robotic enemies. After taking down a giant foe, he sees another player engaged in battle... one armed with a familiar piece of heavy duty weaponry. Marvin calls out to what appears to be his late cousin's avatar, but as soon as the other player sees him, he disconnects from the game. Confused, Marvin visits computer specialist Lt. Lacroix, and asks if he can locate another player based on their I.P. address; the lieutenant confirms that he could... but won't, as it's against regulations. Marvin leaves in apparent defeat, but returns with a dish of perfect gulf shrimp in beer and butter sauce... which he couldn't possibly have taken out of the officers' mess, as that would be against regulations. Lacroix takes the bribe, and tracks down the I.P... which, strangely, points to a long-abandoned Army base in Nevada.
As the sun sets, Hinton stakes out the base, and once it goes down, he avoids automated security systems to sneak inside the modestly-sized compound. As he enters, the ground opens up in front of him as a helicopter rises up out of the ground; Hinton takes this as an opportunity, and rappels down through the opening into a vast, high-tech base filled with soldiers of all stripes. Before he can process what's going on, he is confronted with a black-clad, masked commando who hits him with a martial arts strike. He immediately recoils, wordlessly shocked at how tough Hinton is... and seconds later is knocked out with a headbutt from the brawny soldier! Seconds later, though, Hinton himself is rendered unconscious by a taser bolt, fired by a crossbow-wielding woman.
When he awakens, handcuffed to a cell in an isolated room, all Hinton is willing to give the man in front of him is his name, rank and serial number... but the man already knows everything about him, explaining that he's breached into a "ghost facility", and asking what a geek from Fort Aberdeen thought he would get from breaking into a top-secret military base. Hinton clarifies: rather than any ordinary Fobbit, his specialty is as a heavy machine gunner, Aberdeen having only been a temporary posting. As soon as he mentions seeing Lamont's avatar in the video game, the man—known as General Hawk—leaves the room to let Hinton stew... and immediately starts to chew out Lamont, now known as "Heavy Duty", for playing Sigma 6 over an open internet connection. Though Hawk doesn't know what to do with the machine gunner that has been inadvertently brought to their doorstep, but Heavy Duty suggests that they recruit him... and notes that in the video game, his callsign was "Roadblock".
Characters in italics appear only in the Sigma 6 video game. (Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"You call that a marinara, boy?"
"Uh... I call it tomato sauce, sarge?"
"Well I call it weak sauce!"
- —Marvin Hinton and a kitchen soldier
"Did you see that? Big guy cold-cocked Snake Eyes with his head. His head! That could be the coolest thing I've seen in my life."
- —Scarlett has been waiting for this about as long as the readers have
"HEAVY DUTY! Get over here! What did I tell you about not playing that stupid arcade thing on an open internet connection?"
"But — I was almost at the all-time record in headshot kills —"
"I'll show you a headshot kill!"
- —Hawk isn't impressed with Heavy Duty
- Okay, let's get this out of the way first: the entire premise of this issue is a big ol' retcon. Back when IDW's G.I. Joe continuity first started, trademark kerfuffles meant that the crew couldn't use the classic character Roadblock, despite him being one of the most beloved and memorable characters in the Real American Hero line. Instead, they did what several mid-2000s pieces of Joe media and toys did, and used the other muscular African-American heavy weapons operator with a sophisticated side from the '80s, Heavy Duty, as a substitute. By the time of the start of G.I. Joe vol. 2, however, Hasbro had reacquired the "Roadblock" name, and without any fanfare, it seemed that the Joes' machine gunner went back to using the originally intended name. This issue overturns that, by claiming that founding G.I. Joe member Heavy Duty and volume 3 mainstay Roadblock were two different characters all along.
- Heavy Duty has to fake his own death to join G.I. Joe, as was their standard policy prior to G.I. Joe volume 3.
- The Pit returns! The cavernous underground facility, located beneath a decommissioned Army base, was the base of operations for G.I. Joe from its discovery in G.I. Joe: Origins #5 to its destruction in G.I. Joe vol. 2 #3.
G.I. Joe references
- Given that Fred Van Lente started his G.I. Joe run by bringing the pre-1980s "G.I. Joe" and "Adventure Team" lines into IDW continuity, and spent the middle of it bringing in elements of the 1990s "Extreme" and "Sgt. Savage" lines, it seems appropriate that he should cap it all off with a homage to the mid-2000s G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 franchise in the form of the Sigma 6 video game:
- The Sigma 6 version of Cobra Commander appears on the game's title screen (albeit without any Cobra symbols, for obvious reasons), and the game's robotic enemies are based on the B.A.T.s from Sigma 6, which also inspired the original designs of the IDW continuity B.A.T.s.
- Heavy Duty's in-game avatar is based wholesale on the design of Heavy Duty from that series — and, indeed, the "real-world" Heavy Duty has been redesigned to incorporate aspects of his Sigma 6 design, such as his bandanna and sideburns. Roadblock's avatar, meanwhile, is based on a "Sigma-ized" version of the "Valor vs. Venom Heavy Duty design, which hails from the period when H.D. was acting as a trademark-friendly replacement for Roadblock.
- The art and coloring for the video game sequences are in a more stylized, "cartoony" style than the real-world sequences, somewhat emulating the appearance of the Sigma Six cartoon.
- Roadblock and Heavy Duty being cousins hails from the G.I. Joe: Spy Troops DTV movie, and was prominently brought back in the G.I. Joe: Renegades cartoon..
- The helicopter that bursts from the Pit in front of Hinton is a Dragonfly, the Joes' classic 'copter. It has a significantly different design to its appearance in G.I. Joe vol. 3 #4, in which it was based much more closely on the Rise of Cobra Dragonhawk (a renamed update to the Dragonfly).
- It's not clear whether or not the general that informs Marvin of his cousin's death is Joe Colton or not. He does look a lot like how Steve Kurth draws him, but Kurth's art does suffer quite a bit from sameface syndrome...
- No name for this issue actually appears on the page. We've taken "The Origin of Roadblock" from the first sentence of the solicitation, which sometimes contains the issue name... and sometimes just has a witty remark. It's kind of a crapshoot, but in lieu of any other title, we're going with it.
- Heavy Duty's name here is given as "Lamont A. Morris", his original name, but when he returned in Action Man: Revolution, his name would be given as "Hershel Dalton" — his name from the live-action movie and Renegades continuities — per Hasbro request.
- Cover A: Heavy Duty and Roadblock open fire in tandem, by Steve Kurth, Allen Martinez and Joana Lafuente.
- Cover RI: Marcy's choice of contractors for the party prove to be unreliable, by Ryan Dunlavey; part 5 in a series of Marcy Malone, Intern of Cobra covers.