Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Micro-Reviews: G. I. JOE, Vol. 5, Part Two

G. I. JOE #46 (April 1986) Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow team up. Cobra Island is infiltrated. Kids’ heads explode. #GIJoe #LarryHama @MikeZeck
The Commander asks for the Firebat’s sales pitch. It’s like this is a toy you could go out and buy or something.
The Firebat, oddly, appeared a year before the toy in the cartoon, with the wrong color. Going to assume the lead time for animation didn’t allow Hasbro to remove the prototype version from the show. 

Due to some unusual plotting, Ripcord is actually dressed as Zartan at the moment. Candy’s father saves his life; is possibly killed by Storm Shadow.
This arc is the only real attention Ripcord ever received. Strange he was given such a push (and radical makeover) in that terrible movie later. The 1986 version of Hawk, with that awesome jacket, debuts. He still has Duke’s hair. (Or Duke has his.) Years will pass before the comics “correct” Hawk’s hair by darkening it.

G. I. JOE #47 (May 1986) Possibly the first of the comic commercials I can remember airing. Another classic @MikeZeck cover. #GIJoe #LarryHama
I was probably too young to remember the TV ads before this one. #GIJoe#LarryHama
When the TV ads appear when Hama’s mid-storyline, he just barrels on. Beach Head and Wetsuit debut with barely an explanation. Hama having to justify Hawk joining the fight, as he’s featured in that TV spot.
Snake Eyes vs. a shark. I think someone tried to make this a meme, during one of the earlier rounds of JOE rediscovery.
Funny that an image so memorable couldn’t appear in the ad, since Snakes was in the previous line, and they weren’t promoting that old stuff. 

The issue ends with Storm Shadow surviving an intense battle, only to be shot in the chest by Baroness. Hama loved pulling these stunts. Every issue still feels BIG, even if toy tie-in material has to be recognized. #LarryHama #GIJoe

G. I. JOE #48 (June 1986) I love the extreme emotions on these Zeck covers. #LarryHama #GIJoe @MikeZeck
This is just odd, given there were TWO scenes last issue indicating Doc already suspected Zartan was impersonating Ripcord.
Doesn’t Zartan come across as a Ditko character here? Also, notice Duke with square hair. That’s a no-no.
Was it some Hasbro edict that Sgt. Slaughter beat up (and outsmart) the Joes in his debut? Same thing happened in the cartoon.
And of course he’s the one to defeat the villain and resolve the story. I had no concept of the Mary Sue as a kid; I ate up this Sgt. Slaughter stuff.
Even though I had some awareness of wrestling, had no clue he was a WWF star. I probably assumed they hired some actor to do those promos. 

The Jugglers debut. Previously, Hama’s use of The Brass has been overwhelmingly positive. The Jugglers are far more sinister, serving shadowy political ends, never having the Joes’ best interests in mind.
From the ‘70s on, military generals are almost always villains in fiction. Soldiers can still be heroes, but the guys in suits have something nefarious going on. Probably the only cliché negative military portrayal Hama afforded in the series.

G. I. JOE #49 (July 1986) Another image I distinctly remember from the commercials. #GIJoe #LarryHama @MikeZeck
No one seemed to know how to color Serpentor’s outfit. Ruddy brown in that ad. Green in the comics. Gold in the cartoon. 

Hama dismisses much of the ad in the first two pages. Destro and the Doctor have robbed those graves in-between issues.
Hama’s attempt to rationalize Serpentor, easily the craziest concept to come out of Hasbro yet. Funny that within a year, he draws the line at Cobra-La.
Perhaps the first time Hama uses “Yo Joe”? The ramp-up towards #50 begins. Springfield’s location revealed; every Joe called into action.
Serpentor actually has personality, even if he’s a character clearly dropped in from the toy company. Hama just accepts the challenge and makes the best of it. #45-50 is, to many, peak JOE.
Numerous plot threads converge, momentous events occur each issue, and there’s still a newness to the book. And, of course, to others this was the beginning of the end. (Or THE end.) Serpentor has always divided fandom.

G. I. JOE #50 (Aug 1986) The climactic third act of my imaginary JOE movie. #GIJoe #LarryHama @MikeZeck
Interesting that Hama initially tried to sell Serpentor as a noble warrior. Most fans likely remember him as a ranting tyrant from the cartoon.
By the way, I loved Dick Gautier as Serpentor. Absurd, but never lazy camp. Dick Gautier also delivered a surprisingly natural performance as Rodimus Prime that same year. And this page I always thought was brutal. "I know you love Sandy, too!"
Rare instance (the first?) of Hama using the “Co-bra!” battle cry. I think all the minority Joes are miscolored this issue, by the way.
Mindbender called by the wrong name for perhaps the last time. Also love the predicament Hawk’s been placed in.
The second half of the comic is a SPECIAL MISSIONS preview. JOE was so successful, a spinoff was an easy decision. By ’88, there are 5 monthly JOE books.

G. I. JOE SPECIAL MISSIONS #0 (Aug 1986) Never officially called that, but this is the second story in #GIJoe #50, the preview issue. #LarryHama
Hama is the writer, of course. Trimpe returns to pencil and ink. Phil Felix letters every issue, providing a more distinctive font. Felix’s letters just confused me as a kid. So BIG. And, well, not pretty. I do appreciate that unique font today, though. 

Trotsky is referenced often in these non-Cobra stories. Finally had to break down and Google the guy. (…)
#GIJoe SPECIAL MISSIONS was often this ruthless. Rarely had anything to do with Cobra. Usually involved plausible terrorist threats
...and the Joes tactically working out solutions to the problems. For an aging audience that resented “kids’ stuff,” this was heaven-sent. IDW’s initial launch of JOE, with Hama defining its world, leaned heavily in this direction. 

Within 10 years, they were doing silly, ironic JOE. Fans balked, sales continued to drop, and it’s dead now. Hama continues the Marvel continuity, merging the SPECIAL MISSIONS approach with ARAH. 

Wow, the Joes would get present-day Marvel in no shortage of trouble with this attitude.
And this closes out the Marvel run of JOE trades. Rushed out over the course of a year. No real extra material. A missing back-up. None of the YEARBOOK issues (they skipped the Michael Golden comics!) Great covers, though. 

“Hot Potato” by the way, didn’t appear in @IDWPublishing's recent anniversary reprint of #GIJoe#1, either. Just odd.

What isn't odd (okay, it's quite weird) is the final installment in my JOE novel series. Check out "Endings without Worlds" for free over at Smashwords.

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