Those chilling words spoken by the masked man and bane of GI Joe's existance were spoken in the very first issue. Cobra Commander. Quite a different thing to hear from what is often written off as a silly cartoon from the 80's isn't it?
We all know the catchphrases, the toys it's silly cartoon movie and it's fun but largely stupid live action movie, but one important piece of Joe information lies unturned by many, it's comics and largely it's original early 80s to mid 90s Marvel run.
The book followed the rest of it's media counterparts similarily in that G.I. Joe was a US elite special forces team consisting mainly of the Army, but including the Marines, Airforce and Navy as well. Fighting global terrorism and defending America, largely from Cobra, an underground terrorist cell that would ensure to undermine any and everything till they had totalitarian control of the world. The Joes had it's characters like leader, General Hawk, cajun Marine Gung Ho, the enimatic commando turned ninja Snake Eyes among others. Cobra was headed by the eponymous Cobra Commander, his second in command the Euro-trash Baroness, the weapons supplier Destro and legions upon legions of faceless followers.
Almost every book had it's share of action and adventure with even a touch of politics. Cobra wasn't quite the cartoony organization it's cartoon counterpart was shown to be, in fact they could be downright ruthless and dangerous when they needed to be. Cobra Commander wasn't a stupid simp either, he as far more conniving and cagey. The man, a former used car salesman who saw the world as the big guy getting everything and that the government failed to protect the little man the way they were supposed to, he moved to a small town where he found people shared his ideals and started a revolution, one called Cobra. Quite a change over.
Every year as more Joes and more vehicles were made and Hasbro did get some say in who got book time and who didn't as a way to push it's new products. Larry Hama was great at getting in what was needed and working around certain issues. A classic example came when the GI Joe animated movie came out in 87 and got rid of the Cobra Commander character EXCEPT that Hasbro ALSO put out a Cobra Commander figure the same year. A little bit of clever writing allowed Larry to get the figure out in the book AND keep Cobra Commander dead for a while since he was adamant that one of the books most famous characters NOT die this way. Larry was also not one to shy away from the reality of combat in that often Joes were injured in the books and some on occasion DIED. One series of books which took place during the 1991 gulf war had the Joes in a similar engagement to and before the conflict was over in the course of 6 issue (half a year of books keep in mind) at least 10 Joes were dead, and not just bench warmers, popular characters too.
Larry also did not have a problem getting his military knowledge and patriotism into the book. A former member of the Army, Larry had all sorts of lines in the book pretaining to military knowledge such as what countries made they're bullets out of what kind of metal, problem solving to getting machines working, medical practices and more. Early in the books run (issue 2 to be exact) it looks like the Joes are in trouble and will not make a deadline, but after a little ingenuity, they're back in the running again and it did surprise me since the story gives you the impression that all is lost. Politics came in with a memorable piece of business where the Joes are sent on a mission to rescue for a second time a political activist with some of the Joes wondering WHY they should go on an impossible mission to rescue someone who is wholly opposed to what the Joes do, but the team leader reminds them that as an American, the captive is fully allowed to believe what she does and like it or not, it is the Joes job to rescue her. He also adds that if he thought that the team rescuing her would have any change in her opinion, then he would lose all respect for her. It's a nice change of pace to hear this kind of voice in comics when so many go out of their way to trample the values others hold dear. The final issue has even more to say about what it means to be a soldier and why people do it. It's one of the best comics I've ever read, and that the message comes from the character Snake Eyes, who rarely gets his thoughts on paper it's made even better.
Seen by many as a glorified toy catalog since Hasbro had a hand in it's development and it definetely fell by the wayside when the 90's rolled around with the book and toyline becoming more geared towards cashing in on the trends of the times like Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles along with conforming to parents wishes with characters having more colorful and friendly colors and costumes, the original Marvel run of G.I. Joe was a great read. If knowing is half the battle, then knowing that the comic side of the cartoon took things with a more serious light is the other half.
What did you think of this review?
Hasbro relaunched their G.I. Joe franchise with G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, which was supported by a Marvel Comics series of the same name. It was unique at the time in that it was a comic book series that was promoted on television commercials which also supported the toy line. This 155-issue series is considered to be one of the longest-running comic book tie-ins to a toy line. Much of its success is to be credited to Larry Hama, who wrote the entire series save for a few issues with guest writers. Rather than treating the stories as a mere promotion for the toys, Hama wrote the series with seriousness and infused it with doses of realism, humor, and drama. Other than Transformers, no other series was able to duplicate its success. Notable artists include Herb Trimpe, Ron Wagner, Rod Whigham, and Marshall Rogers.
Issue #21 has been recognized as a modern comic classic, not only because the Cobra ninja Storm Shadow was introduced, but that issue also became a prime example of comics' visual storytelling power, having no dialogue or sound effects.
A number of differences existed between the comic book and the animated TV series. Certain characters who were very prominent in the comic book, such as Stalker, were featured very little in the cartoon, while characters who were less prominent in the comic book, such as Shipwreck, were very prominent ...