Classic G.I. Joe – 10 Issues So Good You’ll Wish You Never Forgot Them

Classic G.I. Joe

In the 1980’s the soon to be classic G.I. Joe toy line was a massive moneymaker and a big part of that success was due to Marvel Comics.

A legacy is born

It all began with a chance meeting with then Marvel President Jim Galton and Hasbro CEO Stephen Hassenfeld. As Hassenfeld told Galton about the new toy line, the idea of Marvel producing some animation for commercials and a comic book adaption of the toys was born.

Due to his military background, Marvel Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter brought the project to writer Larry Hama. Hama stated that he took the assignment because, during this time, he would have taken any project that came his way. Conveniently, Hama had been working on a pitch for a new S.H.E.I.L.D. comic that featured Nick Fury’s son. As it turned out, this work was easily retooled it for the now classic G.I. Joe comic.

Let me break it down for you.

Issue One – Operation: Lady Doomsday

In the spring/summer of 1982, the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toy line was released along with the Marvel publication of the same name. The first issue (Operation: Lady Doomsday) has a cover date of June, was priced at $1.50, scripted by Hama, and penciled by the legendary Herb Trimpe. It was about the G.I. Joe enemy, Cobra kidnapping the nations top nuclear physicist, Dr. Adele Burkhart. Burkhart just so happened to be working on the Doomsday Project.

She is on her way to Washington, by way of a train, to testify to Congress when Cobra strikes. The Baroness (Cobra member) is able to infiltrate the train and escape with Burkhart. America’s elite counter-terrorist strike force, G.I. Joe is brought in to get Burkhart back before Cobra is able to extract any of the information she has.

Issue Two – Panic At The North Pole

Two months later saw the release of Panic At The North Pole. Once again Hama helmed the story, however, this time Don Perlin penciled the book.

During this issue, an American research center at the North Pole had been demolished. Naturally, the U.S. believed the nearby Russians were to blame. Remember, this is the 1980’s. The Joes are sent in to do recon and during their mission, they have their first meeting with the mysterious new character, Kwinn.

The G.I. Joes must then figure out, who’s side is he on as they try to survive the harsh elements of the North Pole.

This classic issue is rare in the sense that in its entirety, Cobra is not involved.

Issue Three – The Trojan Gambit

Cobra is back!

This issue is titled The Trojan Gambit and marks the reappearance of Cobra.

In this issue, the G.I. Joe’s capture a Cobra robot, dismantle it and bring it back to The Pit for study. While they thought they had achieved the upper hand, Cobra had secretly planned this so the robot could reactivate itself, make its way back to the surface, and broadcast its location back to Cobra.

Once again, Hama is involved with the script and Trimpe is back on the pencils.

Issue Four – Operation: Wingfield!

This issue marks a little bit of a change from past works. This is the first time Larry Hama is not fully in charge of the story. This happens only a few times throughout the collection. Eventually, Hama takes full control of the story and does not relinquish it.

In this story, the Joes go to infiltrate a Cobra funded Para-military group that is not only training a new soldier but also has their hands on nukes. G.I. Joe leader, Hawk, and Grunt go undercover to join the trainees, while Snake-Eyes is outside the compound as back up.

Unfortunately, things get hectic when the crazed leader, Wingfield decides to launch the nukes.

Issue Five – “Tanks” For The Memories

“Tanks” For The Memories… seems like a nice day at the Armed Forces Day Parade in New York.

In this issue, General Flagg wants to show off the new G.I. Joe tank, the MOBAT by having it secretly going down the parade route. But, what happens when Cobra finds out that there is an unarmed Joe tank out in the middle of the city?

Scripter Larry Hama and returning pencil, Don Perlin handled this issue.

Issues Six (To Fail Is To Conquer…To Succeed Is To Die!) and Seven (Walls of Death)

These two issues are notable because they are the first time we see a storyline continue for two issues. This trend will continue as the title ages. More than that, these two issues mark the first appearance of the Russian G.I. Joe team, the Oktober Guard.

As in most cases, Larry Hama scripted and Herb Trimpe plotted and penciled these issues.

To Fail Is To Conquer… To Succeed Is To Die! begins with a Russian spycraft crash landing in the mountains of Afghanistan. The mission drastically changes when the Joe’s (driving their Rough Terrain Vehicle) become aware that the Oktober Guard is also in pursuit of it.

Walls Of Death then begins with Cobra seeing that both the Joes and the October Guard are preoccupied with fighting each other. Cobra uses this to their advantage and swoops in to steal the spy craft from right underneath them. Now the Joes and the Guard must work together to keep Cobra from getting the secrets out of the spycraft.

Issue Eight – Code Name: Sea-Strike!

This issue is a pure Herb Trimpe creation, as he handles the writing and pencils.

A Space Shuttle is launching and Cobra is planning to take it over. Once taken over, they look to outfit it with their own missiles that have warheads attached to them. The warheads will then allow them to hit any target on the planet. What they don’t know is that the Joes are already on the scene ready to defend the shuttle launch.

Issue Nine – The Diplomat

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you mixed classic G.I. Joe with a James Bond movie?

The Diplomat has G.I. Joe members Scarlett and Clutch tasked with protecting Brian Hassell, a state department Diplomat who is involved with talks with a Persian Gulf nation. Naturally, Cobra wants him taken out and will stop at nothing to silence him. The action takes place on the beach, in the middle of town, in a car chase through the mountains and finally in the snow.

This issue was written by Steven Grant and had pencils done by Mike Vosburg.

Issue Ten – A Nice Little Town Like Ours…

This issue has Larry Hama returning as scripter along with Mike Vosburg on pencils.

While trying to take down a Cobra base in New York, Snake-Eyes, Scarlett, and Zap are captured and flown to the Cobra-controlled town of Springfield. This is important, as it is the first time we learn about this town and it will become a huge part of the comic series. What we don’t find out is where the town that Cobra has taken over is.

During the issue, we are also introduced to the Cobra officer, Dr. Venom. Dr. Venom is integral to the Cobra operation because he is building a machine that records brain waves. This machine will allow them to brainwash their victims.

Now captured, the Joes must escape. The question is, how will Snake-Eyes survive Dr. Venom’s machine?

Image © IDW Publishing

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