Sunday, August 9, 2009

G.I.JOE: The Greatest Missions...

If The Rise of Cobra left you thinking there's nothing more to G.I.Joe than mindless action and one dimensional characters think again. The G.I.Joe vs Cobra mythology is a very complex and rich story filled with compelling characters and tons of intriguing tales. Lets take a look back at some of the greatest stories from the 25 year struggle between America's Elite and the ruthless forces of Cobra.

- " Worlds Without End" (G.I.Joe, Sunbow Animated Series - Season One / Original Air date November 4-5, 1985)

A surprisingly effective and intense tale for an 80s animated series. This two part episode features a team of JOES arriving on a parallel universe where the forces of Cobra have eradicated G.IJOE and conquered the planet. The episodes give us a great glimpse at the emotional and mental state of these characters. For the first time in the cartoon series these characters come across as fully fleshed individuals with internal lives. We also get a glimpse at what its like for a team to suffer casualties in battle, something the cartoon never really dealt with. By the end of the episode some of the JOES make a great personal sacrifice by staying behind in this parallel universe in order to help fight the forces of Cobra so humanity can stand a chance once more. An epic tale and one of the best written episodes of any animated show of the era.

- "The Silent Interlude" (G.I.JOE # 21, Marvel Comics / March 1984)

A truly unique issue of the G.I.JOE comic book. No dialogue is utilized at all. The entire story is told through images. Larry Hama didn't only fulfill his writing duties, he also drew the entire issue. The issue features the first appearance of Storm Shadow and reveals the mysterious connection between him and Snake Eyes with our first glimpse at the tattoo they both share. A must for any JOE fan.

- "Snake Eyes: The Origin" (G.I.JOE # 26-27, Marvel Comics / August, September 1984)

This epic two-parter reveals Snake Eyes tragic back story as Stalker explains his past missions with Tommy Arashikage (Storm Shadow ) and Snake Eyes in Vietnam. Many of the key pieces of the JOE mythology are put into place in this storyline. The first appearance of the Arashikage Ninja clan and the details of how Snake Eyes and Cobra Commander's lives were forever intertwined are just a few of the highlights in this fan favorite storyline. Probably the greatest and best remembered tale in the history of the Real American Hero line. The book also features what I think is one of the coolest covers in the entire G.I.Joe comics run featuring a series of mementos from Snake Eyes life along with his department of defense file.

- "Crossroads" (G.I.JOE # 43, Marvel Comics / January 1986)

More details of Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and Stalker's missions in Vietnam as part of the Long Range Recon patrol are revealed as well as a surprising revelation from one of the men left behind in Vietnam by the team.

- "The Invasion of Springfield" (G.I.JOE # 45-50, Marvel Comics / March-August 1986)

As the JOES execute a no holds barred invasion of the town that gave birth to the Cobra empire Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow join forces to avenge the death of their master. In the midst of such chaos Dr. Mindbender and Destro go on a quest in search of the tombs of the greatest leaders of all time in order to obtain some of their DNA. Using Cobra's brainwave Scanner he soon creates Serpentor, the ultimate Cobra leader. Two great storylines in one epic multi-part saga. Intense action combined with compelling drama make this tale a perfect example of what made Larry Hamma's writing so perfect for G.I.JOE.

- "The Cobra Civil War" (G.I.JOE # 72-78, Marvel Comics / June-October 1988)

A complex storyline that hits its boiling point after many issues of buildup. The arrival of Serpentor has split the loyalty of Cobra's members right down the middle. The JOES join forces with some of Cobra's rank and file to help put and end to the conflict and try to bring down Cobra Commander once and for all. Action-adventure storytelling at a grand scale.

- "Death in the Dessert" (G.I.JOE # 109, Marvel Comics / February 1991)

The Battle in Trucial Abysmia is another one of the most memorable sagas in the JOES mythos. Fans remember it as the tale that finally showed the consequences of war by doing the unthinkable -- killing off some of our favorite heroes from the G.I.JOE team. Larry Hamma once again surprises readers by making us realize these larger than life warriors are not invincible. By the end of this tale seven JOES have lost their lives including fan favorite Quick Kick.

- "A Letter from Snake Eyes" (G.I.JOE # 155, Marvel Comics / December 1994)

In the final issue of the Marvel Comics the government decommissions the G.I.JOE team and closes down The Pitt for good. As this is happening Snake Eyes receives a letter from Sean Collins, the adopted son of his old war buddy, Wade Collins. Sean has been thinking of joining the army but first he wants to find out what's it really like to be a soldier. Expressing his feelings about war and sacrifice for the first time to readers, Snake Eyes responds with a detailed letter. Not only does this storyline wrap up GI.JOE's Marvel run on a very touching note, but it also introduces us to Sean Collins who will grow up to become Snake Eyes' apprentice and future G.I.JOE: Kamakura.

- "The Mission That Never Was" (G.I.JOE Front line # 1-4, Devil's Due / October 2002-February 2003)

Larry Hama returns to tell the tale of what truly happened after the events of the final Marvel issue in 1994. While the public believed the JOES had been decommissioned we discover they actually remained in service for another year taking part in a series of classified missions. Here the JOE team joins forces with the first G.I.JOE: Joseph Colton for one last mission before their official decommission.

- "Icebound" (G.I.JOE Front line # 5-8, Devil's Due / March-July 2003)

A great combination of thrills and chills from an intriguing tale with some very effective horror and sci-fi elements. If you love Zombie and sci-fi flicks from the 50's this tale will keep you hooked and turning the pages in anticipation. Duke, Snake-Eyes, Scarlett, Airtight, Frostbite & Lifeline are sent to the Coldfire Laboratory on a priority mission. We soon learn that back in 1995, Duke had been part of another mission at the same laboratory. He was the only one to get out alive. The suspense is crafted beautifully thanks to the mystery of Duke's past experiences and the looming threat of an unknown group of mysteriously altered life forms.

Come back tomorrow night for Part Two of G.I.JOE's Greatest Missions.

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