Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I remember being in elementary school and running home from the bus stop to make sure I didn't miss a minute of the GI JOE animated series on TV.  At that age I was playing with the toys, reading the comic books and watching every episode of a show were the majority of the dialogue was the phrase "yo joe!" ... and I loved every minute of it!  This was during the first few years of when the toy line was reintroduced in the 1980s (they had been sold in the 60s & 70s looking more like guy Barbie dolls with beards and guns before being turned into "action figures" in the 80s) when there was a focus on some level of military realism with the brand.  The GI JOE of my youth had an infantry man "Grunt", a radio operator "Breaker", a ranger "Striker", a bazooka soldier "Zap", and a Commando named "Snake Eyes" that wore traditional military uniforms and used weapons you'd think real soldiers might be using in combat at the time.  The GI JOE characters evolved over time so that the characters became more fantastic and scifi-ish.  Unfortunately, the toys I see at the store now don't resemble anything that I relate to when thinking of GI JOE.

I came across this video that provides a great overview of the "original 13" which are the characters I associate with GI JOE from my childhood.  Check this out:

I have some hope though for a renewed development of the GI JOE franchise after reading IDW Publishing's  new monthly comic book series that debuted this year.  The GI JOE of my youth was a clandestine force of the best soldiers in the U.S. military taking on the threat of a secret international terrorist organization called COBRA.  IDW has modernized GI JOE for today's times.  COBRA doesn't lurk in the shadows anymore in this new adaptation but is rather a household name for the atrocities it has committed.  GI JOE is public now too.  Everyone knows about GI JOE and the military uses them as a promotional tool to gain public support and recruits.  The leader of GI JOE actually says that they will be using their likenesses and stories for toys, comic books and movies to promote the military.  A fun nod to the toy line and this new comic book series.

The new comic book series keeps some of the classic cheesiness of GI JOE of old though.  For example, the only person to die when the Joes' helicopter is shot down is the soldier wearing a parachute.  One of the bad guys controls crocodiles who he sicks on people.  Cobra's vehicles look more like toys than realistic fighting machines.  That being said, the new comic books have great art work and nice scripting to make them a fun and enjoyable read for both kids today and their 40 year old dads who enjoyed GI JOE when they were kids.  The artwork provides the feel of watching the story as an animated tv show as you read through it enhancing the enjoyment of your reading experience.

There were some interesting takes on bringing GI JOE into modern times that caught my eye while reading the first 5 issues of this new series.  GI JOE is exposed to the public by a "wikipedia leak"; a blogger who heavily uses twitter is added to the GI JOE team as an embedded journalist; and the character ShipWreck has the real life parrot that used to accompany him replaced by a mini-drone called a parrot designed to provide surveillance, scouting and communications support.

If you've missed out on the first monthly issues of GI JOE from IDW PUBLISHING they have compiled the first five into a graphic novel titled GI JOE/VOLUME 1: HOMEFRONT that will be available for purchase soon. Here's the link to it on Amazon where it is available for pre-order:  http://www.amazon.com/G-I-JOE-Volume-1-Homefront/dp/1613777051/ref=pd_sxp_f_pt

Here's a preview of some of the pages you'll find in GI JOE/VOLUME 1: HOMEFRONT.  On a final note I just feel the need to yell out "Yo Joe!"

DISCLAIMER:  I received a limited use digital pdf copy of GI JOE/VOLUME 1: HOMEFRONT to use for this review from the publisher.  I did not receive any compensation for this post and the thoughts/opinions in it are my own.

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