Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 1

Published: December 31st, 2008 (IDW reprint version)
Written by: Larry Hama, Steven Grant, Herb Trimpe
Art by: Don Perlin, Herb Trimpe, Mike Vosburg
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 238 Pages

Review:

This is the first in a series of collected volumes that are reprints of the original Marvel Comics run on the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero franchise. These are the tales that started it all and introduced people to these characters from one of the best-selling toy lines of all-time.

This series is written by Larry Hama, the man who really is the original author of G.I. Joe and who established everything that people have come to know about the franchise and its characters. While he didn’t work on the popular cartoon, it was Hama who developed the characters’ personas and who set the tone and style of the series.

G.I. Joe was originally developed by Hama to be a series for Marvel that followed the son of Nick Fury, a team of commandos and their war against Hydra. Marvel rejected the idea but when Hasbro came knocking, looking for a comic book series to tie into their toy line, Hama resurrected his idea and retrofitted the commandos into the G.I. Joe team and Cobra became the replacement for Hydra.

This volume collects issues 1 through 10. At this point, G.I. Joe hadn’t evolved into a saga like it would become. These earliest issues were more like the cartoon, one-off stories that stood on their own without having to really read the stuff before or after. As the series rolled on, story arcs got longer, the mythos expanded and most issues were connected to a larger narrative.

While I prefer the series when it gets broader and tells larger tales, these early issues are still great.

However, there is one real highlight with this and it is the two-parter that introduces us to the October Guard (or Oktober Guard, as it would later be spelled). They are the Soviet equivalent to the G.I. Joe team and while things start out rocky between the two groups, they look past Cold War drama and work together to fight Cobra. Other than this quick two-parter though, everything else was single issue stories.

I do like that the earliest stuff uses Stalker a lot, as he is one of my favorite G.I. Joe characters. The Joe team is pretty small here though, as is Cobra. In fact, the only named members of Cobra in these first ten issues are Cobra Commander (who is not a coward like in the cartoon) and the Baroness.

These earliest stories were fun to relive but the series gets better as it finds its footing, establishes some new ideas and new characters and evolves away from simple, one issue storytelling.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.

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