This Wednesday is a bittersweet day for G.I. Joe fans. The milestone #300 of G.I Joe: A Real American Hero hits comic book store shelves that day, but also marks IDW’s final issue of the ongoing G.I. Joe series first launched by Marvel Comics in March of 1982. IDW lost the licenses for both G.I. Joe and Transformers earlier this year, after publishing them since 2008. This seemed like a perfect to look back on the high points of G.I. Joe at IDW.
The Return of the Original!
After years of Joe fans seeing new continuity at Devil’s Due and IDW, Free Comic Book Day 2008 saw the return of the original Marvel Comics continuity under the pen of the writer most associated with G.I Joe, Mr. Larry Hama. For many G.I. Joe fans, Larry Hama is G.I. Joe, and anything written by someone else may as well be fan fic. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #155 1/2 felt like seeing old friends again for the first time in years.
Snake Eyes Gets Extreme!
There are few comics creators that seem as polarizing as Rob Liefeld. Even he has joked about the vitriol in which some fans come at him online. But there is no denying that Snake Eyes: Deadgame is the best selling G.I. Joe comic published by IDW. And it’s a fun comic! Deadgame saw Snake-Eyes in his most superhero story that the character has ever been a part of. If you were a child of the 80s who frequently had your Joes team up with your Super Powers, Masters of the Universe and Secret Wars action figures, this story which features the Joes teaming up with super powered gods, may harken back to those days for you.
Killing Mr. Franchise!
No, I don’t mean killing Larry Hama, though I would totally understand calling him the franchise when it comes to Joe. No, here I’m talking about Snake Eyes, though Larry Hama, as writer of the series, was behind it. In G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #213, Snake Eyes makes the ultimate sacrifice, saving the world from a giant doomsday robot piloted by the Cobra Emperor, Serpentor. The robot blows up, taking Snake Eyes with it. This is huge, considering just how popular Snake Eyes is compared to every other Joe. He’s the one who got his own movie. He’s the one whose name Marvel slapped on the cover of the later issues of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero in the 1990s. Snake Eyes has sort of come back since then, in the forms of Sean Collins and Dawn Moreno, but trust me, that’s too complicated to get into here.
Heart & Minds
My favorite, pre-return of ARAH to IDW Joe comic is easily G.I. Joe: Hearts and Minds by Max Brooks, Howard Chaykin and Antonio Fuso. Each issue of this series focuses on an individual Joe and Cobra, giving us intimate character portraits and some really gorgeous art. This is series I come back to time and again.
Giant Sized Golden
Besides being the company that publishes G.I. Joe, IDW also publishes their award winning line of Artist’s Editions books. These reprint in full size the original art boards in different comics. While G.I. Joe never received an Artist’s Edition book, it did get the Artist’s Edition treatment with the publication of the Michael Golden’s G.I. Joe Yearbook Artist’s Edition Portfolio. This portfolio reprinted the complete Michael Golden from G.I Joe Yearbook #2.
But Didn’t This Air on Weekdays?
It’s hard to believe that IDW waited until their final months of having the G.I. Joe license to publish a comic like G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Saturday Morning Adventures. The art by Dan Schoening and colors by Luis Antonio Delgado really evoke the feel of the classic 1980s cartoon, and Erik Burnham‘s scripts are pitch perfect. Burnham credited “watching a lot of cartoons as a kid, and the voices stayed in my head” at the IDW panel at NYCC this year. It’s a shame we won’t be getting more of this book from these creators.
At the time of this writing, it has not yet been announced which publisher G.I. Joe is heading to next, though rumors have been circulating for months. Hopefully whoever picks up the Joe baton bring Larry Hama on board to write new ARAH stories. Wherever Joe lands in the future, there is no denying that for close to a decade and a half, IDW left an indelible stamp on the franchise, publishing some great material for fans of the franchise.
G.I. Joe #300 is out in stores and digitally today. Read our review of the issue here.