G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #1 by Larry Hama
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read a lot of this series when I was young, but it was as reprints in the UK, with the name changed to Action Force, and I believe the reprints started later in the series so as to include stories about the characters that were on toy shelves in the UK at the time, so this was my first time reading this particular story of the Joes.
I was genuinely surprised to find that this is not an origin story for GI Joe. The team is already well established and used to working together. The other thing that both surprised and impressed me about this issue, considering that it’s a comic book based on a toy line that was firmly aimed at boys, is the number and prominence of strong female characters, from the Joe’s own Scarlet to Cobra’s villainous Baroness to the kidnapped Dr Burkhart…women are front and centre in this story!
That’s not to say that it isn’t full of macho men doing manly things (that being shooting things and blowing stuff up). Of course the stand out character is the silent but deadly Snake Eyes, who is effortlessly cool, clad in all black with his face completely covered with a mask. The Joe’s man of mystery has become something of a cultural icon, and rightly so.
I know that this gets a LOT better, which is why I haven’t given it five stars (heck, it probably doesn’t deserve the four I’ve given it, but I’m honestly just excited to own a copy of this book!), but this is already head and shoulders above other toy tie-in comics of the eighties. It never feels like the characters are just listing products that you can go and buy right now at your local toy store. Of course, Cobra Commander comes across as being utterly useless…but he’s Cobra Commander, that’s what he’s supposed to do…
Anyway, in summary, this is great and you should probably read it.