Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Happy 30th Anniversary GI Joe RAH

Happy 30th Anniversary GI Joe RAH

Only realized this now, that this year 2012, is the 30th Anniversary of GI Joe Real American Hero. I was reading up on old GI Joe comic books these past few weeks when I chanced upon this brilliant kernel of truth. GI Joe is really special to me as it was the perfect creative outlet for that old pastime of playing soldier. Funny also that this is also the 30th year of Macross, two great childhood loves were created on the same year. How about that?

The cartoons was what got me into the series but what really kept my interest was the GI Joe comics series (published by Marvel) penned by the very talented, Larry Hama. He wrote all the bios of the GI Joes and back story too aside from writing the comic book. The comic book officially ended in 1994 with issue 155, where the GI Joe base known as the Pit was decomissioned and the Joes disbanded.

Of course I shouldn't forget to give praise to the other creative staff behind the GI Joe comics that gave life to the characters that Larry Hama penned. Specifically to Rod Whigham, Herb Trimpe and the rest of the other brilliant artists, inkers and colorists. While reading the old pages it brought back memories of laying in bed, drinking a soda and eating a sandwich. Stuff I did while reading the comics.

Researching further, its nice to see that IDW Publishing picked up the rights to GI Joe iand that they started again to pick up the story after issue 155 in 2010 with Larry Hama doing the writing chores. It's not really the same GI Joe for me without Larry Hama behind the keyboard penning the stories. If I have time (and the spare cash), I would love to pick up the comic again.

The cartoons were great but the story was your typical feel good story and lacked continuity as everything had to be resolved in the 20 minute duration of the show. Larry Hama added depth to the storyline of GI Joe and made sure that it wasn't just your typical toy sale driven title. Lets admit it, that GI Joe was really a toyline by Hasbro whose true purpose was to sell toys. Hence probably the reason why the character got weirder and weirder as the toy gods in Hasbro kept coming up with crazier and crazier characters and vehicles (any toy released past 1986) to keep up with what's "in" in the toy world at that time and of course, to ensure that there would be something that the fans would be able to buy year in and year out. What they forgot was that its "realistic" formula was what made them attractive to kids.

You've got to give it to Larry Hama for doing his best to keep the series "real" after all that the Hasbro executives were giving him. And it was nice that that Cobra-La debacle in GI Joe the movie was never able to grace the pages of the comic book. I remember reading a response to a fan letter by Hama in one of the backpages of the GI Joe comic book where he wrote that it was a rule that whenever a commercial was made for a GI Joe toy, the vehicle or character had to make its way into the comic book, but that he drew the line with Cobra-La.

The Cobra-La storyline was the low point for me in the GI Joe universe. What Hasbro was trying to push down our throats was the storyline that Cobra Commander was really a snake creature and that there was a secret civilization of snake-men secretly running the Cobra organization. That's also where the Serpentor storyline came in, where Dr. Mindbender builds a new leader for Cobra out of the DNA remains of great historical leaders of the past. Was thankful too that Larry Hama decided to kill off Serpentor by having Zartan shoot an arrow through his head in the comic book.

As already previously mentioned, GI Joe was a very special childhood experience for me. I spent countless hours in our garden creating fox holes and bases for my GI Joe toys. And even when the sun went down the playing never stopped as I reshaped my blankets and pillows to form a new base for my GI Joe toys.

So congrats Hasbro, for creating such an enduring franchise and making it last for 30 years. Please take good care of it.