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GI Joe: "The Secret of the Mummy's Tomb" (1973)

Writer: Ken Sobol
Illustration: Carl Pfeufer
Audio Production: Dewey Bergman

Secret of the Mummy's Tomb

Intro:

I've hinted about this thing for years, but it's finally time to type about it and finally go old school with GI Joe. So old that it comes before issue #1 and 1982. It even pre-dates the 80's, entirely. It's not a "retcon" or a flashback, but a "GI Joe Comic" (of sorts) from 1973 and Peter Pan Records.

Peter Pan Records were kinda' cool when you were a kid. Even if they did have a somewhat sinister looking logo that always reminded me of Boris Badenov:

Peter Pan Records

You'd get a little vinyl record; usually a 45; coupled with a full-color storybook. The storybooks were more along the lines of a comic book, told with illustrated panels and word balloons. A little bell would sound when it was time for you to turn the page. The record basically read the entire story to you, word-for-word, but had the added bonus of sound effects and different voices. It really spurred imagination in tikes and built an appreciation for literature, as I would sometimes create my own little "Peter Pan Record" for any book I'd pick up in the kids' library. They were a fairly good deal, too. I think they retailed for about 4-8 bucks and could entertain a kid for about 20 minutes, at the very least.

Summary:

So this story opens "somewhere in the great mysterious Egyptian desert" as "Joe" is investigating a missing mummy and jewels that were stolen from a museum. Joe's communications buddy at HQ, "Mike" (call him the 70's version of Breaker or Dial-Tone) radioes to inform Joe about a pending earthquake in the area. But Joe's on an adventure, goshdarnit, and enters the tomb of Amtoltec to search for the missing goods.

GI Joe 6x6 ATV

After some boobytraps, Joe runs into a walking and talking mummy! Very Scooby-Doo-ish, as Joe soon enters a secret room, where he finds the props the "mummy" was using-- mirrors and gauze. Joe turns the tables on the mummy and unmasks him as "Mummy Barka. The worst thief in Egypt". Joe ties him up to deliver him to the all-powerful authorities.

GI Joe Mummy

Right on cue, the earthquake begins. Barka whines that it's the "curse", but Joe knows better. Joe tosses Barka into his 6x6 ATV (the iconic 70's yellow six-wheeled jeep) and tries to escape the quake. As mountains begin collpasing, Joe radioes his pilot, who arrives in the Adventure Team Helicopter to skyhook them out of there. Joe gets the obligatory episode-ending joke: "I won't say that I believe in curses... but that's the last tomb I go into without an invitation from the family!"

GI Joe Adventure Chopper

Notes:

  • So, guess Joe wasn't able to recover the actual stolen mummy and/or return the jewels?
     
  • You could really pick apart and poke fun at every panel in this thing; but there's really no fun in that.
     
  • Biggest thing you can pull from this is: "does this fall in with ARAH/80's/Marvel/IDW Joe continuity"? If you want it to, yes, it could indeed fit in. No harm in saying this was a story about Joe Colton in the early 70's.
     
  • There are a few more (maybe 2) of these GI Joe record/books, floating around. Could you consider them the earliest Joe comics?
     
  • The tone of 70's "Adventure Team" GI Joe is like a mix of Hanna-Barbera cartoons and Indiana Jones.
     
  • Fun to note that while this story may seem like it'll be full of magic curses and monsters, everything is explained as NOT being supernatural. Simiilar to how some of the "curses" of the actual Great Pyramids were eventually de-bunked.
     
  • The two big Joe toys of the era: the Adventure Team Vehicle (ATV) and the Helicopter make appearances.
     
  • My memory of 70's Joe is vague (they were a minor interest of my big brother), but I believe the mummy and sarcophagus prop were an actual "adventure pack" you could buy. For that reason, this story can be scored as a "toy jam".
     
  • There's always been some fan speculation (myself included) that the 6x6 inspired the Oktober Guard's buggy from issue 6, and was later re-visited for the Desert Fox 6WD.
     
  • Story-wise, this would only be "2 Flag Points", maybe even a "1". Toss in the record and it's a "3"!
     
  • Not that it matters, but I picked this up via eBay, circa 2009, when I was in my waning days of Joe Collecting. I think it ran me about 6 bucks, shipping included. I keep it with my Joe comics, because it doesn't really fit well with my records.
     
  • I actually did have some Peter Pan Records and Books as a kid. I remember having a "Star Trek" set from about 1979 and an "Space:1999" set.
     
  • I had a ton of similar sets, as well. I believe they were from Golden Books and/or Disney. To me, playing these was almost akin to watching a movie.
     
  • If you're a fan of the 70's Joes, drop me a line and let me know if I'm correctly identifying the 6x6 and Chopper. Also, was there a "Mike" figure?

Appearances:

Characters (figures/"dolls"): Joe

Characters ("comic-only"):Mummy Barka, Mike

Vehicles and stuff (toys): 6x6 ATV, Adventure Team Helicopter

Rating: 3 Flag Points

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