GI Joe #1
Dark Horse (December, 1995)WRITER: Mike W. Barr COLORIST: David Nestelle COVER ARTIST: Frank Miller LETTERER: Tracey Hampton-Munsey DESIGNER: Cary Grazzini EDITOR: Phillip Amara “The Hour Of The Iron Claw” PENCILER: Tatsuya Ishida INKERS: Scott Reed & Tatsuya Ishida “From The Ashes” part 1 STORY: Mike Richardson ARTIST: Jerry Bingham
This comic is based on G.I. Joe Extreme, an attempt to do the concept 90s style. The show wasn’t very good and the toyline failed to capture what made the previous lines so popular. The line takes place in 2009 (the near future at the time), and there’s no mention of Cobra or the “Real American Hero” G.I. Joe characters. Instead of Cobra we has SKAR, led by Iron Klaw, but with the same mission of world domination. To stop them, a special team is assembled, named after a mystery soldier known only as GI Joe.
In the main story, Iron Klaw is after something called Ferti-Gel, but the team stops the theft. SKAR (and no, I don’t know what that’s an acronym for, nor do I care having seen the show) makes a second attempt at an introduction party given by Count Alaric Von Rani, ruler of Kalistan. Klaw kills Von Rani and assumes his identity, something he seems to be keeping secret from his underlings, and possibly SKAR’s leader, the Duchess who want Europe run by royalty again.
What they got right: This comic did a far better job of introducing the characters to everyone than the first episode of the show, and even brought in two new characters: Tall Sally (Metalhead’s love interest) and Short Fuze (whose wife is pregnant and since they don’t have toys or appear on the show, I don’t think I have to spoil what happens next), plus a new villain in SKAR’s leader, the Duchess. While we don’t learn a lot about them, we at least know who they are.
What they got wrong: Why couldn’t Iron Klaw actually BE Von Rani already, as in the show. Duchess’ complaint is that European countries (like her home country of Mklavia), should be run by royalty rather than a democracy. Why not have a world leader who grew up under her wing rather than turning Iron Klaw into Zartan? Also, Tall Sally is a terrible military codename, and this franchise has had some stretches.
The backup feature focuses on an agent to grew up with adventures of GI Joe. Investigating bombings of military bases, the agent barely survives a bombing at their office, and goes to the President’s office (he has the right security level, so it’s not ridiculous) to warn him that there are spies. The President decides it’s time to rebuild Project: GI, a new GI Joe force.
This one’s kind of short, and I’m not sure if this is Clancy’s backstory or not right now. Clancy mentioned in the first story that he’s fought SKAR for years, but he’s a blond kid in 1976, and a black-haired adult in 1996, so who knows? Still, an interesting start.
Recommendation: First issue and already leagues better than the TV show. It may be worth a look if your curious about the franchise over the show, but there’s a reason this version of GI Joe never sold well. (I’m not sure how it made two seasons on TV, though.