IDW Publishing has released their preview for G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #253, which is a “special missions” style issue focusing on Duke. Check out the solicitation info and the preview below.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #253—Cover A: Brian Shearer
Larry Hama (w) • Brian Shearer (a & c)
“Special Missions,” Part 3 (of 5). G.I. Joe. Cobra. Two opposing forces. Two powerful war machines, each made more lethal by the undeniable strength of their individual parts. But who and what are those parts? Living legend Larry Hama shares some of their amazing stories in “Special Missions”—one-shot stories featuring a variety of characters and different artists to draw them! This issue, longtime G.I. Joe alum Brian Shearer joins forces with Larry to present G.I. Joe’s intrepid first sergeant without equal: DUKE!
FC • 32 pages • $3.99
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #253—Cover B: John Royle
Larry Hama (w) • Brian Shearer (a) • John Royle (c)
FC • 32 pages • $3.99
- Pencil art variant cover by Larry Hama!
A guest post by Skinny
It is a word that you don’t hear used a lot any more. That is because they just don’t happen too much any more. Our lives today are fast, We don’t follow Ferris Bueller’s advice to stop and look around. We also don’t put our hair in a mohawk in the shower. What I mean is, life is even faster and we can only take things in chunks. Anything long lasting is intimidating. G.I.Joe from day one continues to be something that was built to last. An exception.
It all began in 1982 when Hasbro visited the Marvel Offices and sought out a creator to bring their re-envisioned version of G.I.Joe to life. Chosen by elimination, Larry Hama took what could have been a side project and infused it with real storytelling.
The late Herb Trimpe, a veteran at Marvel comics, brought his art to the table. Jim Shooter, Todd McFarlane, Rod Whigham, Ron Wagner, Andrew Wildman, Michael Goldman, Mike Zeck, Mike Vosburg and most recently S.L. Gallant, Brian Shearer, J. Brown and Netho Diaz among countless others all contributed to the success and look of G.I.Joe.
250 issues. It has run from 1982 to 1994 and then again in 2010 picking up exactly where they left off in 1994. There were a few half issues in there expanding the stories from the sidelines, but the official 250th issue comes out today.
We have seen new characters, beloved comic only characters, the deaths of characters, the rebirths of characters, minds reprogrammed, cat fights, towns taken over, civil war, alien robots, disguises, close calls, patriotism, imposters, flashbacks, characters seeing the light, ninjas, detailed locales based on reality, a little bit of advice, military jargon, comical moments, and even one issue used as the basis for a movie about a giant asteroid hurtling toward Earth. It is the golden boy and Mom’s apple pie vs Orson Welles in a hood. It is the many faces of diversity both physical and of character.
The characters as Larry has admitted in several interviews are based on the people he knows so he can keep track of them. This provides a wonderful consistency and is the main reason no one can ever really nail down the character’s essences like he can. It would be like you trying to write about someone else’s uncle. You could get some things right but there would be something missing. I would love to meet the practical joker Airtight is based on he/she must be a wild one.
G.I.Joe is centered around the life of a stand out main character, who cannot talk. Imagine creating this tragic tale of a man who expresses himself in other ways besides speech. It is indeed a tragic tale. G.I. Joe, says Hama, is Junior woodchucks with guns. G.I. Joe takes us all around the world and back in time. G.I.Joe is different things to different people. Hama himself says it best however.
“They don’t understand the intrinsic fantasy. G.I.Joe isn’t a military fantasy, it’s not a war book, it’s a fantasy about loyalty and camaraderie. Which to a ten year old kid is an extremely powerful fantasy because every ten year old kid has been betrayed. Obviously. The idea of best friends that never let you down and will stand up for you; if you are in trouble they will come and get you. That’s a powerful fantasy and its also a fantasy of doing the right thing and having integrity without looking for the reward and about duty, and old fashioned things like that… that to a kid represents order and it’s very comforting.” (Larry Hama YoutubeInterview by Roy Turner 2018)
To center a comic around that theme, and not just make it a toy comic, pushed it into the pantheon of comics that last into the hundreds of issues. Iconic comics.
If you’ve been following G.I. Joe collecting over the past few years you’re no doubt aware of the fantastic series of modern figure guides entitled “Rank and File” that James Kavanaugh, Jr. has been producing. He’s currently selling Volume 3 on RAHCGuide.com but unfortunately, over the years, his first volume has completely sold out.
There has been a high demand to get this first volume (which covers G.I. Joe’s 25th Anniversary and G.I. Joe: Resolute series of figures) so James has turned to Kickstarter to get the funding necessary to produce it.
That’s right, Rank & File Volume 1 is now available on Kickstarter!
Official Press Release
I am pleased to announce that, after a long wait, Rank & File volume 1 now has a chance for reprint via Kickstarter! This resource guide originally debuted in April of 2015 and sold out by June of 2016. The Rank & File series archives the history of 4″ G.I. Joe and currently has three volumes produced. This reprint was also updated to account for some carry forward figures produced after the guide’s first printing, as well as some additional information and error correction. Below is the description for Rank & File volume 1:
After a brief hiatus in 2006, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero went in a new stylistic direction that is still predominately used today! Fans revisited some of their most cherished icons within the G.I. Joe mythos and were introduced to new characters that are now known and loved.
The Rank & File Guide volume 1 fully displays every G.I. Joe action figure produced between the 25th Anniversary and Resolute, complete with every accessory and variation produced. Volume 1 begins with a introduction to G.I. Joe and discusses its 1964 origins all the way up to the A Real American Hero line in its first two generations, before fully exploring the 25th Anniversary and Resolute series. Not only are the accessories shown, they have been carefully cataloged in an upcoming volume to guarantee the proper shade of accessory goes to the appropriate action figure. To top it off, every vehicle and play set released in the 4″ era has been documented and every easily removable piece has been individually photographed, ensuring collector completion. This full color, 52 page resource manual beautifully illustrates the two series’ 275 action figures, 29 vehicles and every accessory, including all known variations. Not only is every accessory present and accounted for, they have each been assigned a unique number and identified throughout the resource guide. Each action figure has been carefully examined between its initial run and further re-releases to ensure that an accurate sample is clearly and concisely presented, perfect for the collector who is identifying individual action figures or sorting through unorganized lots.
Whether you’re a seasoned or rejuvenated collector, enthusiast, or toy vendor; the Rank & File Guide is the definitive compilation for G.I. Joe action figures, vehicles and play sets produced between 2007 to today. Let the Rank & File Guide serve as a reference for completion or a scrap book to the next big turning point of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
This Kickstarter not only allows you to be the first to have a reprint of Rank & File volume 1 in hand, it also provides a chance to obtain some rare and fun items, primarily some of the very action figures cataloged in the 25th Anniversary series. The demand has been listened to and the time is nigh, let’s bring back Rank & File volume 1 for another round.
Hi all, I’m back again. I must be a glutton for punishment. It’s either that or Justin in getting lazy. Probably all three. You read that correctly. It’s that time of the year and we’re all a buzz about the new reveals and great exclusives at San Diego Comic Con. I just wrapped up the Revolution crossover set review yesterday and now I’m onto the G.I. Joe-specific Missile Command Center. I was at Joe Con during the i09.com reveal and this set took us by a pleasant surprise! I was also close enough to see the set in the case, take it in as much as I could at con, and knew it was going to be a great piece. FYI, I run around like Joe Con like a lunatic (or maybe I should replace “like” with “as”) and don’t really experience the new product until I get home so we basically have the same view. Besides, if I really did take the view, I would be there for hours and in everyone’s way. Well, more than normal.
So yeah, the MCC (I’m not typing Missile Command Center every time, though I could c ‘n p), let’s rap. Nostalgia seems to be the strong, underlying current of many of our major brands and this set was a healthy dose straight down the hatch! To recap, this set was a vintage, store exclusive that consisted of every Cobra The Enemy action figure produce at the time (all three) and a cardboard missile command playset. Cardboard playsets seemed to be an easy exclusive to produce and were well received growing up. Well received, that is, if knew the store sold it. But who didn’t? One of the greatest childhood memories for children of the 80s and before was staring for days at the toy catalogs of major retail chains. We circled over and over the ones we wanted and checked off the ones we had. And, on the other side of the coin, the fragile cardboard rarely survived the sands of time, thus creating a very desirable adult collectable piece. You know this reviewer is always going to give you the straight talk (not what the internet falsely says 60s Iron Man gives) and say G.I. Joe is currently an “Emerging Challenger Brand,” which means a few things, but for this set means primarily adult collectors. This notion of adult collectors being the focal point can only be reaffirmed by a trip to Joe Con. And, like I said in the previous Revolution, I self-identify as a G.I. Joe-specific collector so this is my wheelhouse.
I do own a vintage MCC but I do not own one in package. A google search can show you the differences but I don’t know the size comparison. Your google search will agree with my point that this thing is almost indistinguishable! I briefly wondered if this set would be considered 25th style or something similar and it’s close but not really. I am dubbing it “hyper-vintage.” I don’t care if it sticks or not, (I actually do, I’m sensitive like that) but I do think this set goes even further to gives us the nostalgic feel than even the 25th set out to do. One can obviously recognize the 4” styled Cobra in the upper left tunnel but, other than that, any change requires some advanced insight of the vintage set. Pawn Stars will have to call in their expert to confirm. Derry DePriest introduced this set at Joe Con while systematically introducing the name Bobby Vala to the fans as the new guy on the Joe brand. I will be crediting him for his awesome work throughout this interview and will start by saying his attention to detail is intense and his desire to recreate a nostalgic purity is so intense, weathering affects were even applied to the outer box. Holding it really makes you feel like you’ve found a legitimate holy grail at the flea market.* And for an MSRP of $50. No coming home with a loose “Frankensteined” Lightfoot/Scoop, two dirty Sneak Peeks, and a gold Steel Brigade thigh for $50, we hit the jack pot!
*Designer’s note: I notice while absorbing the packaging and taking in the “weathering” application, the UPC is starch white (I’m confident for easy scanner readability if this was ever brought to retail). This is by no means a knock, just a fun facet of the process. We truly live in a digital era.
So, start with easy part. The set comes with three characters, Cobra Commander, Cobra Officer, and “Cobra” Trooper. These three characters laid the foundation for the terrorist cell…, err, enemy camp and have remained at the forefront of the Cobra The Enemy antagonist since. And, reiterate what was stated before, they were in the vintage set. It is this reviewer’s opinion that early “A Real American Hero” is gaining an a bit of an uptick in popularity and these figures capitalize on this resurgence. But let’s further state the obvious and say we live in a 4” G.I. Joe world and the new, sans O-ring, style reigns supreme. All three of these action figures utilize tooling we’ve seen from the 25th Anniversary series up until the 50th (“50”) series. However, these action figures each hold their vintage counterparts to a higher level of accountability and further dial in the “vintage accuracy” to a level not yet seen.
No, I didn’t forget the word “Trooper” in the title, this is an homage to his 1982 naming convention (on both the card back and file card). Children of the 80s didn’t need everything spelled out for them, we read between the lines that this was the trooper. This is the classic go-to for that nostalgia kick. As a guy who’s dabbled in nostalgic card backs, it really boils down to the minutest details. The action figure’s core derives from The Pursuit of Cobra series and, hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It does, however, modify the legs to showcase the sleeker elements of the 1982 figures but including the pockets and slightly eccentric (for combat) boots. The blue is even a richer, deeper blue that hasn’t been seen since 1982. This blue output further convinces me the team was striving for accuracy. Oh, and to nail down my point, the gloves are blue. It. really. is. the .little. things.
Cobra Officer follows much of what I said about the Cobra Trooper…, er…., I mean Cobra. The blue is the same deep, rich blue and finds its foundation in the same The Pursuit of Cobra Cobra Trooper but takes his own steps to pull from his vintage roots. The legs are a slightly different, yet just as sleek, configuration that more accurately tackles the vintage legs. He is armed with a recently tooled AK-47 and has his respected silver emblem. Honestly, when it boils down to it, what’s good about the Cobra is good about the Cobra Officer.
The Enemy Leader rounds out the set’s trifecta. He utilizes the “Ultimate” version’s foundation from Retaliation but is then modified with the 25th torso so he can put his laser pistol on his back. The blue on him is a richer blue and, again, much more vintage accurate. The biggest nod to the vintage Cobra Commander is the early logo commonly known as the Mic…, err, famous rodent that is very protective of it’s IP. Don’t pick up what I’m laying down? Here’s your internet search homework. Trust me, this is a hot little nod. Again, little things (I’m think I’m going to say that a lot with this set).
To round it out, these core/founding members of Cobra have been regular occurrences in the A Real American Hero and, more specifically, the last ten years. Oh yeah, it’s the ten year anniversary of the 25th Anniversary line that started this size off, I wonder if Hasbro new this? Ok, squirrel, back on topic it’s very hard to impress the 1982 Cobra Commander, Cobra (Trooper) and Cobra Officer onto a guy who’s archived ten or more of these and this set passes the test. If someone would’ve described just the idea of these three figures in a sentence or two, I would’ve been apprehensive; but, believe it or not, I like to be proven wrong. It was really great to get back to G.I. Joe’s foundation and wouldn’t mind seeing some more strategic approaches to 1982-83.
Missile Command Center
To give a quick history lesson for anyone who’s not familiar, the A Real American Hero was originally designed to be a vehicle line but the action figures stole the show. I always say we took that little tag line “collect them all” a little too literally. However, in this case, I think the Missile Command Center is the star of the show. Whether it’s nostalgia or rarity, reintroducing the MCC was a great idea and, without being in the boardroom, seems like a perfect product to surprise SDCC, appeal to that market, easy to produce (Bobby might disagree), and hit a specific price point. This armchair wannabe toy designer is going to dub it brilliant! These cardboard sets were always great for kids. I’m forty years old, so I’ll try not to sound like I’m telling the kids to get off the lawn when I say I think we were drawn more towards assembly, cut out pieces that were, looking back, lower tech. I wasn’t a model builder but I think that we’re the last generation actively embraced that (I’m not deeming the hobby dead but I recognize it is past its hayday. Not hatin’, just statin’) and this set gave me that feeling. I’ll be honest, it’s been so long since I put a cardboard set together, I was a little rusty.
The original set was ingeniously designed and very dynamic, considering it’s simply a few pieces of flat cardboard. Once assembled, it really forms an intriguing piece. It’s so simple, yet so intricate and so fun. Whether you own one or not, I’m sure avid fans are all too familiar with the piece and probably have the image burned into their monitors due to extensive projection (do monitors still do that?). Oh, and this set takes the piece one step further. Like I said, Joe Con for me is like a whirlwind, I didn’t notice that all the art was recreated. I thought it was a simple scan, clean-up, and then produce. That’s not the case. Bobby took the time to recreate every minute detail. Both of Maxim Bady’s tag lines came to mind (look him up, I think he’s hilarious). Everything is so crisp and yet the art and color palette makes you think this the vintage art. I’ll say this, if you prefer the “imperfect” / hand drawn art by Ron Rudat, (the seemingly future-tech used on Castle Gray Skull, other card board sets, and other Heavy Metal inspired art), I think you’ll look at Bobby’s art and see it as your child mind thought you saw in the 80s. It wasn’t when I put the two together that I could really pick them both apart. Well, besides the decade of dust I had to remove and the now 35 years of cardboard aging that time has applied to my vintage one. Real quick, I couldn’t find my vintage chairs. I’m pretty sure I put them someplace where they wouldn’t’ be damage and that was seriously around the time I started the R.A.H.C. Guide (late 2005). There’s a reason why I don’t showcase my collection, you can see a pile of tubs at Walmart anytime you like.
So, we have nostalgia, check. We have a contemporary update, check. And we have a great pricepoint, check. Some few points of interest and need to knows. This is cardboard. No, I’m not giving you sass. Well, I am, but I really want to clarify you might want to think out putting yours together and study the blueprints if you do. This is especially important if you’re a picky collector like me. Start by cutting the bags open, not trying to save them. The bags are durable but will stretch when trying to simply remove the tape. Failure to acknowledge this might close the plastic in on the cardboard and damage the cardboard. Second, the tabs are meant to hold this thing together. Not another “duh” moment, I say this because I am treating this piece like a one way street. My tabs did bow, bend, and split when I inserted them. It’s not a knock on the product, it’s just how cardboard is compared to the demand that’s being placed upon it. However, most important, the “U” shaped console is very thing at the points where the center angles into the sides. It almost seems like it’s supposed to fold there but it is not. My impetuousness suffered some very slight folding but whatever. Half way into assembling this thing, it reminded me that it is cardboard and not meant to last. Cue “Dust in the Wind.” These imperfections are not noticeable unless I point them out but I can’t help but notice every little detail on things once I analyze them. Ask my shrink, he hears about it every Thursday. Just kidding. He dropped me as a client year ago. If you are pickier than me, my condolences. But seriously, you might just want to admire it flat and from afar. I will, however, strongly encourage you to not only buy one but to just dive in and put it together.
I am not engineer-minded, though not engineering inept, it might help to start a conversation with the fans and figure out ways to refine the process and simultaneously reinforce the piece if you want to increase durability. At this point, you’re asking cardboard not to be cardboard and I don’t know what to tell you about that. However, I am extremely confident our fandom has the talent and the solution and, at this point, you’re asking this shirtless jungle reviewer to go on a mission in the arctic. I’m not Gung-Ho (that’s not what she said).
File Card holder
Have I mentioned it’s all about the little things recently? Because, if not, it is. This set even includes the foldable file card holder, meant to hold all original thirteen file cards. This piece was originally in the vintage set so itz ghottztah be in this recreation. This piece makes a great little knickknack to put on your desk or to round out your Joe area. An interesting not, the file card holder has the vintage card art on it, not the 25th art. Or, if it has 25th art, the thumbnails are so small, you can’t tell. A quick interesting point of interest, the “Bazooka Soldier” is labeled the “Rocket Launcher Soldier.” I wonder why that is.
And if you think I forgot to mention the red back file cards, you’re crazy. RED BACK FILE CARDS!! We Joe collectors love our red backs. I recently contributed to a fan project that wanted a file card and the group wouldn’t move past the file card being red back. And why would they?? It’s just another simple, yet essential, aspect of the set that puts a nice cherry on a superb sundae. The file cards are meticulously designed to emulate the originals, yet utilize the 25th card art and have a few missing details no longer used by Hasbro proper (flag points). But c’mon, are we going to cut our red backs? I think that’s a shunning from the hobby. I don’t know, I’ll have to check the bylaws.
If you haven’t been picking up on my enthusiasm towards this set, then you’ve been simply looking at the pictures. I don’t blame you; I don’t read Justin’s commentary either. And I’m totally a tl;dr reviewer. If you’ve always wanted a MCC or wanted an nice crisp one than this is you set. If you can’t get enough of the Cobra Command, this is your set. If you already have a nice MCC…, well…, forget you. Just kidding. You might want to put your vintage one in a hermetically sealed case and display this recreation. I am confident you will get the same level of enjoyment. I know you get four stars for showing up in a review around here so I don’t know how to rate this. I tend to think you’re either in or you’re out so this one’s in*.
*Yes, guys who archive toys are biased because we own everything anyway, leave it be.
If you are near Dayton, OH, I will be at the Ohio Toy and Comic Show and will have these exclusives there to view. Find me or check out the What’s On Joe Mind? panel, I stand in for Justin (someone has to draw the short straw). I have always enjoyed the SDCC sets more than most and this one keeps that spark alive.