"Quartered in top-secret armored underground bunkers-- deep beneath the Army Chaplain's Assistants School at Fort Wadsworth--is America's elite counter-terrorist strike force! Code named: G.I. JOE-- the most fearsome rapid deployment team of all stands ready to fight--anywhere-- any time-- any way!"
Wih that opening stanza, Marvel Comics launched their 12 year, 155 issue run of "G.I. Joe: a Real American Hero". Dubbed as "The Ultimate Weapon of Democracy" and "America's sensational new special missions force for the 80's!", G.I. Joe proved to be the most successful licensed toy tie-in of Marvel's history. I'd even venture to say that both the toys and the comics exceeded anybody's expectations.
G.I. Joe was unique in that it originally entered the mass market on three fronts-- the comics, the toys and animation. I remember watching "Blinky the Clown" one morning in February 1982, when a energetic animated commercial flashed on the TV, blaring about "The Legend of GI Joe" who would "fight for freedom, wherever there is trouble". The commercial ended by shilling a new comic book. I wasn't really into comic books at that time, but was intrigued, since I remembered the name "G.I. Joe" from my big brother's 1970's toys. Plus, it was impossible to find comics in my town, at the time. I hadn't seen any G.I.Joe toys in forever, but they sure were neat, back in the day! So here it was, about a month before my 8th birthday, and I was already feeling nostalgic.
A few days later, I was again watching "Blinky" and that nifty commercial came on again. Only this time, it ended by cutting to a live-action spot of some kids playing with ...whoa... NEW G.I. Joe toys! Holy spit, they're the same size as my Star Wars guys!! That's it, there may be a comic, but I HAVE to get me some of them! This'll be like merging the old favorite "outdoor plastic army guys" with my "inside Star Wars toys"! About a week later, I was at Woolco and persuaded my mom to buy me two of these new figures-- Short-Fuse the Mortar Soldier and Breaker the Communications Officer (I got Short-Fuse because he had a cool visor and Breaker because he had a cool headset). After that, it was ON for me. By the end of the year, G.I. Joe had surpassed Star Wars, LEGOs and Hot Wheels to become my favorite toy franchise. I would buy almost every item they produced, every year. All the way up through high school, when it became a collecting hobby instead of a "play with toys" thing.
Yet I didn't find the G.I.Joe comics until the fall of 1982. G.I.Joe #8 was the first one I ever purchased. It soon became another favorite of mine and got me to jump into the entire world of comics. So G.I. Joe was a big part of my growing up (assuming I ever grew up).
In 2007, I decided to go back through these old comics, re-read and recap them. Along the way, in addition to notes on the comics, I included references to the annual releases of action figures, cartoons and other crap, to help place and relate everything. One final time for me to catalog and remember this stuff. After all, 2007 was the 25th Anniversary of the re-launched G.I.Joe line. It was either that year or wait until the 50th anniversary...but by then I'd be in my 50's and my memory of this stuff would be even foggier. And the only thing more pathetic than a guy in his 30's cataloging GI Joe comics, would be a guy in his 50's recapping GI Joe comics.
I've always felt that if anybody was entitled to recap the ENTIRE G.I.Joe comic library, it'd be me. After all, I still have roughly 871 Flag Points in a giant plastic bag in my dresser. I should've been able to buy stock in Hasbro with those things. I followed the comic, monthly, from 1982 until 1994. Just as I vividly remember picking up that first comic in the fall of 1982, I vividly remember buying the last issue in the fall of 1994.
With this series of articles, I recapped the Marvel run, including "Special Missions" and the Yearbooks, all in sequential order. Yes, EVERY issue is recapped. Obviously, I'm going forward with the IDW Publishing "relaunch" comics. I didn't mess with the 2001 Devil's Due series, since it's been rendered out-of-canon. Check out the lil' dropdown box, below. It'll be at the bottom of each page to help you navigate through the run.
I'll be rating the comics on a scale of 1 to 5 "Flag Points". 5 Flag Points were usually found on the really cool, big vehicles. Further explanation of the scale:
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