Wednesday, February 4, 2004

As a kid, I was a big fan of GI Joe. I vaguely remember in the 70s having a couple of the big 12" dolls and the jeep. I think at least one of them even had "real" facial hair. In the 80s, I really got into them when the 3-3/4" action figures came out - Snake Eyes, Grunt, Scarlet, Stalker and Cobra Commander, who you could only get via a mail-in promotion. We shoplifted a bunch of them from the old Caldor's in Pelham every time we went, hiding them in our socks with the cardboard backing that had their data cards resting in the small of our backs. We used to play elaborate games out in the yard that would last days at a time. My cousin Joanne would try to make them play house whenever I visited and once threw one out the window because I wouldn't play along.

In 1983 or 84, I got a Super 8 camera and projector for Christmas that I'd been begging for for months. The film cost $5 or so for a 2-1/2 minute reel and developing was another $5! I made a four-reel silent movie starring my GI Joe figures, the various accessories I had (VAMP, APC, Command Center Headquarters) and the enemy's base of operations made from a cardboard box and colored markers. It was a dramatic tale of Cobra Commander's attempt to take over the world and ended with a massive explosion and GI Joe saving the day. While I did set some things on fire for a special effect shot, the grand finale was nothing more than a close-up of an exposed light bulb! I was the next George Lucas!

I casually followed the cartoon show ("...and knowing is half the battle.") but wasn't ever a big fan of the comic books and so didn't pay them much attention when I noticed they were being published again as part of the 80s revival that's going on. A new issue, though - "COBRA: REBORN" - caught my eye while I was at Midtown Comics on Monday. I'd read something a while back about a GI Joe: Reloaded series that was coming out, completely updating the setting and giving it a more real-world feel, aka Cobra as terrorist organization. A realistic Cobra Commander on the cover and Paul Jenkins (Spectacular Spider-Man) doing the writing piqued my interest so I bought a copy. Go Joe! Jenkins' current arc on Spectacular has an interesting take on the Israel-Palestine situation and in Cobra: Reborn he shows a similar flair, tackling US politics and terrorism and managing to give plausible backgrounds to everyone from Cobra Commander to Zartan (the master of disguise apparently spent some time as a Saddam body double!). I was suprised by how much I enjoyed it and am looking forward to GI Joe: Reborn and the new ongoing series, GI Joe: Reloaded.


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