I don't think my lack of excitement about this issue stems from the sillly straw-man argument about liberals that Chuck Dixon uses. Dixon has an old friend of Scarlett's show up and espouse the virtues of keeping Middle Eastern folks primitive, and the character talks about how the simpler life is better for them. Scarlett argues that the decision should be their choice. The liberal doofus turns out to be a traitor (he betrays Scarlett to his allies), a hypocrite (those allies are mercs out to destroy a pipeline), and a coward (he again betrays Scarlett when she is able to escape captivity). The guy was just such a lousy character that I thought he weakened the entire story. I enjoyed seeing Scarlett leading around one of the cooler mission teams (Stalker, Recondo, and Leatherneck) and the Joes did get to kick some butt. The timeline seems to have jumped considerably from the first 5 issues though, since the team is well-formed here. This actually could have been a random issue of the Joe ongoing book. I think Hama will be back at some point and I'm looking forward to his return. Dixon is a solid Joe writer, but Hama brings a special something that is hard to match.
Augustin Padilla is a new name to me, but his work is fine. I love how IDW gives these types of artists a shot. They are not spectacular or ground-breaking, but they are solid storytellers who get the job done.