Reviews, Comics

Duke #5 Review: Pulling the Trigger

Grit your teeth for this action-packed miniseries finale that pits Duke against his toughest foe yet within the Energon Universe.

Duke 5 Review Cover
Image: Skybound
By: Javier ReyesApr 26, 2024, 9:09 AM

Duke #5

Duke 5 Full Cover

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artist: Tom Reilly

Publisher: Skybound

Release Date: April 24, 2024

Page Count: 28

Format: Single-issue

With fists, fire, and sparks flying all over the place, Duke #5 delivers an action-packed finale that also sets up an even bigger battle to take place in the future.

One of the first things I wondered about when Skybound launched the Energon Universe last year was how interconnected the Transformers and G.I. Joe stories would be. While early on it felt like the comics would stay mostly separate, the ties between the two franchises have only gotten stronger with each new release. Duke by Joshua Williamson and Tom Reilly was the first series to bridge that gap, as the hero’s journey directly resulted from Starscream’s actions in Daniel Warren Johnson’s Transformers. Now, that the miniseries has reached its explosive finale, where does the G.I. Joe go from here in its engrossing tale connected to the Autobots and Decepticons? Read my full review of Duke #5 for my thoughts on the action-packed series! 


Deep within a secret lair in the mountains, Duke faces off against a Battle Android Trooper, or B.A.T. for short, in a gritty fight that pushes him to his limit. The lair he’s in belongs to none other than Destro, the maniacal arms dealer and mastermind behind the assassination that framed Duke as a fugitive. It’s during the confrontation against the B.A.T. that Destro reveals his true motives and vision for the world. The problem is that those answers are far from what Duke is looking for. It begs the question: Who or what is behind the robot that killed Duke’s partner?

Duke 5 - Action scenes of two characters fightingImage: Skybound


From start to finish, Duke #5 delivered an action-packed miniseries finale that was an unabashed romp. As much as this comic is meant to be a modern reimagining of G.I. Joe, the run always embraced the over-the-top nature that makes the franchise so beloved. From Duke’s heroic one-liners to Destro’s pompous supervillain monologue, this issue was a popcorn action movie condensed into 28 pages of pure fun and excitement. Because this series has been guns blazing for the entirety of its run, it’s only fitting that it ends with an adrenaline-pumping bang.

Not only does this issue deliver an explosive finish to Duke’s first story in the Energon Universe, but it also sets up the pieces for the G.I. Joe to embark on an even bigger mission from here. The solicitation of this comic boasted it would have a “last page shocker” readers won’t want to miss. While a part of me feels like that line was a bit of an exaggeration, the comic’s final stretch does the job of putting the G.I. Joe on a collision course with the Transformers. Uniquely, it’s a reminder of how much the Energon Universe is being built from the ground up to make way for new and exciting stories to be told. That’s all I say about it now, to avoid giving away too much. If you’ve been following what’s been going on in the Energon Universe, it’s definitely a moment you’ll want to see for yourself. 

Duke 5 - Villain talking over DukeImage: Skybound

Before I end, I want to spend time talking about how much the art team of Tom Reilly, Jordie Bellaire, and Rus Wooton pulled out all the stops for this finale. The fight between Duke and the B.A.T. is kinetic and impactful, with blood, sparks, and fire flying everywhere. Even though it’s not the series' most bombastic action sequence, the clash is presented with such detail and energy that it feels much bigger than just two characters slugging it out inside a warehouse. The artists delivered the perfect cathartic finish to this story about a man who gave up his life to avenge his friend and search for answers. 

Duke 5 - Characters duelingImage: Skybound

Final Thoughts

With guns blazing and muscles bulging, Duke did everything it needed to get readers up to speed on how fun G.I. Joe can be. It’s a popcorn flick in comic book form. With its final page stinger that points to an even bigger mission from here, you can’t help but pump your fist in the air in excitement for what comes next. It’s wild to think that even though the Energon Universe has been going on for almost a year now, with dozens of comics out already, we’re only just scratching the surface of the interconnected story. With more titles and miniseries on the horizon from many of comics’ top creators, the stories within the Energon Universe will only get crazier from here. 

Why You Should Read Duke

  • The series is a fun, action-packed ride from start to finish.
  • The ties between the Transformers and G.I. Joe become much clearer in this series.
  • Tom Reilly, Jordie Bellaire, and Rus Wooton mesh beautifully as an art team. 

TAGGED: Skybound
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