Chuck Dixon's new G.I. Joe Special Missions series started strong with a first issue showing a scheming Baroness hellbent on retrieving sunken COBRA treasure and a covert team lead by Scarlett eager to get there first. Throw in some Serpentor-meddling and you've got an intriguing story ripe with promise as both a stand-alone series and a sister series to the main G.I. Joe series. The second issue slams on the brakes, effectively ruining any sort of momentum the first issue had by focusing on an out-of-nowhere romance between Mainframe and Scarlett. Dixon's knack for writing believable banter between the Joes is still solid, and Gulacy's art appears to be a little more complete this time around but the complete disregard for interesting plot development in favor of unrelated, silly situations makes issue #2 a wasted opportunity.
Apparently Special Missions isn't quite the fresh start I had hoped for, since the romance between Mainframe and Scarlett isn't even hinted at by the time Mainframe puts on the moves, deep underwater in a flooded container. Some sort of recap or reminder would have been nice, as is it feels completely out of place and random to new readers. The two of them going on the dive mission to investigate the wreckage doesn't make a whole lot of sense to begin with seeing as water-based Joes Torpedo and Deep Six are available. With Scarlett worried about being found out, Mainframe reveals himself as a horndog only interested in getting laid, despite the precarious situation. It all builds to a laughable cliffhanger where the couple is surrounded by Baroness's crew and a group of hungry sharks. Really? Sharks? It's a odd choice that basically zaps any excitement created in the first issue.
Serpentor's search for the Baroness continues with the first of what seems to be a series of sabotages putting him one step closer to finding her. Baroness has secured oceanic resources by kidnapping the children of a wealthy ship owner, Serpentor offers to rescue the children in exchange for information on the devious Baroness. The rescue mission is really the only bit of exhilarating action in the issue. It's well-drawn and somewhat surprising, with a series of quick twists that shows that most plans don't go off without a hitch.
Overall, the title still feels rushed with Gulacy's art being wildly inconsistent from beginning to end. His art is better than the first issue but still a long ways off from where it should be. The plot needs to kick back into high gear and abandon the romance under the sea subplot. The set up of an impending collision between the Joes, Baroness' mercenaries, and Serpentor is a neat idea that could provide some incredible entertainment and action, but Dixon shouldn't get distracted by silly subplots with no bearing on the main narrative. G.I. Joe: Special Missions #2 is a disappointing continuation of a promising title, hurt by distracting subplots and seemingly rushed art. It's much too early to give up on Special Missions entirely but this is one issue you shouldn't worry about missing.