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G.I. Joe: What’s The Other Half of the Battle?
By Bert Ehrmann
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Fort Wayne Reader
When I was younger, my absolute favorite TV cartoon and toy line was G.I. Joe. I have fond memories of buying my very first two Joes back in '82 (Breaker and Short Fuse) and for a time I was so into the line that I subscribed to the comic series. But as the years went by I found myself less interested in G.I. Joe and more interested in other things. I held onto a few of the figures and comics left from my childhood, but honestly up until the movie version of G.I. Joe was announced last year I hadn't thought much about the series in the last 20+ years.
I think what rekindled my interest in the 1980s G.I. Joe was just how bad the movie looked in the promotional material and how much it seems to have deviated from the source material. Which is saying a lot since the overall concept behind G.I. Joe can be summed up in two of sentences: "...America's daring, highly trained special mission force. Its purpose, to defend freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world." How hard can it be to screw THAT up?
Regardless of what I think of the movie, there is some nice material out on the original series.
G.I. Joe: The Best of Larry Hama collects the best issues of seminal G.I. Joe comic writer Larry Hama. Though most may remember G.I. Joe from the hokey TV cartoon, Hama was doing some quality work in the comic series back in the 1980s. After checking out the book, I was surprised as to just how hard hitting and realistic some of the comic stories were in comparison to the cartoon.
Speaking of the cartoon, newly released G.I. Joe A Real American Hero Season 1.1 collects the first cartoon mini-series and the first part of the first season of the show in DVD form. This series was aimed at kids and seems quite innocent and quaint today, but it's still interesting to see another interpretation of G.I. Joe.
Another book that helped me in rediscovering G.I. Joe was Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994 by Mark Bellomo. This book lists in detail each and every 3-3/4 figure from the series along with all the vehicles and play sets from that same period. Looking over the book was a trip down memory lane seeing all the figures that I had growing up, all the ones my friends had and everything else I wanted!
Probably the BEST thing to come out based on the G.I. Joe franchise since the line ended some 15 years ago was the 2009 Web-series/movie of the week G.I. Joe Resolute. Written by comic book writer Warren Ellis who reportedly had never heard of G.I. Joe before accepting the Resolute assignment, Resolute captures the true spirit of G.I. Joe, simultaneously embracing what made the series great and returning a bit of "edge" to the line.
When the trailer/commercial for Resolute appeared online last summer I got really excited over the prospect of a series that finally got G.I. Joe "right." Cobra looked to be as dangerous as one would assume a real terrorist organization would be and the Joe team seemed to be up to the task of taking them on.
Essentially, Resolute reboots the series from scratch maintaining the characters along with their overall back-stories while jettisoning all things hokey that had cropped up in the original series. In Resolute, a ruthless Cobra organization nearly destroys the G.I Joe team in a sneak attack, holds the world hostage and blows up Moscow to prove a point. Joes put their lives on the line and, unlike the original cartoon, sometimes die.
Unfortunately, Resolute never received much promotion, only aired once on TV and, it seems as if the original Webisodes are no longer available online from the original Cartoon Network source. Fortunately, the series is available via YouTube and here's hoping for a DVD release sometime in the near future.
If only the feature film could be as cool as G.I. Joe Resolute, but I doubt it. G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra is currently playing in theaters. Visit me online at AlphaEcho.com. Yo Joe!