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inflatable dalek
2010-05-07, 07:46 PM
So ever since the live action film (which for anyone who hasn't seen it is well worth tracking down as it probably the best bad movie ever made) I've had a hankering to properly read the Marvel GI Joe stuff, and have finally picked up the first few Classics Collections.

So far I've read the first two issues, and it's good cheesy silly fun in a mid-run Budiansky way. I'm especially loving how deeply camp and silly Cobra Commander was in the opening issue, the film certainly got the casting spot on there. Snake Eyes is a bit off from how I imagined though, I'd always thought he was this deeply honourable noble warrior but here he's more like Movie Ironhide, constantly wanting to solve the hostage problem by killing everyone with a mass bombing. His relationship with Scarlett is very Skippy and little Timmy at this point as well ("What's that Snake Eyes?).

Ironically the main weakness is something I've seen praised by many people as a virtue over the cartoon, the high death count and violence. A lot of fun in Cobra Commander's campery is lost by him murdering a village of innocent people (including children) just to stop them potentially helping the Joe's. The "I'm ejecting!" style would actually be more in line with the silliness of Bondian super-villain hideouts and Eskimo Assassins.

Oh wait, I've just remembered from the G2 crossover letters pages that GI Joe is the deeply serious and realistic franchise and has never been silly. Must be something wrong with this collection...


Incidentally, what's the beef with IDW suddenly deciding to restart the original Marvel comic again? Were there great dangling plot threads there that fans have been waiting twenty years for resolution (that the Devil's Due continuation didn't deal with) or is it just cash grabbing over saturation of the market?

Oh, and if IDW ever do issue #81 of the TF comic I will personally kick Chris Ryall in the balls so hard he'll be voicing Starscream in the new cartoon.

Cliffjumper
2010-05-07, 08:51 PM
I've always found the Marvel GI Joe to fall between two stools, like you say - it can't decide whether it's a non-powered superhero comic, or a war copmic, and it usually tries to be both at once. So, yeh, you're presented with pantomime dames in crazy costumes who perform the actions of genuine terrorists. It can also be very boring. And let's be honest, America has never done war comics properly (usually having to import Garth Ennis). They certainly don't fit very well with Marvel.

Preferred the more stripped-down UK Action Force stuff myself where they kept the stupidity to a minimum and found about the right balance of tone. Even then, though, you're better off cutting the shit and just going for a stack of Warlords of Battles... There's something irritating about military comics being hijacked to shill toys, and being made more bollocks in the process that just doesn't great as much with robots (mainly because robot toys have largely been synonimous with robot comics).

inflatable dalek
2010-05-07, 10:26 PM
I agree and don't thinking reading as a war comic would work, even if in the first issue Cobra are blatant Nazi substitutes rather than terrorists as such (the salutes and para military parades through old castles being less than subtle).

I didn't realise until looking into if the comics might be worth getting that Action Force actually pre-dated GI Joe and that Hasbro basically just brought the name and absorbed it into their own thing when they brought it over here (possible gross simplification). Are those earlier pre-Cobra British Action Force comics worth looking into?

EDIT: No, double checking my wonk memory Action Force basically started around the same time as GI Joe did in America and did involve reworkings of their toys but Hasbro didn't take control of it directly till '85 and then gave the comic over to Marvel.

Hound
2010-05-08, 04:40 AM
I have a soft spot for the first year of comics with the original cast, made up largely of characters that no one really knows and were never given much screen time in the cartoon.

As for the stories, they get better later on. It seems to me that in those early issues Hama hadn't really decided what he wanted to do with the book and all those characters but as the series progresses Snake Eyes, Scarlett and Storm Shadow become more or less the main characters and everyone else secondary. What's remarkable is that he managed that while still shoehorning in new characters and vehicles every few issues. What's even more remarkable is that some of those issues that are pretty much one-shot stories to introduce some new character or vehicle are some of the best comics you'll read.

DrSpengler
2010-05-08, 03:30 PM
I started picking up the Classics volumes recently as well. Before now, I'd only ever read a smattering of issues from around the 100s, so mostly later in the series. I liked those stories quite a bit, particularly in the ways Hama took a lot of Hasbro's really silly ideas and tried to make sense out of them.

He actually managed to work a pretty interesting story and explanation for Cesspool and the Eco Force, who were created for the DiC cartoon to capitalize on the popularity of Captain Planet.

I sort of got annoyed when the book became "gi joe FEATURING SNAKE-EYES" and the whole Ninja Force stuff took center stage.


Though going back and finally reading the early stuff for the first time ever, and in chronological order, I found it to be a bit of a chore, particularly that first volume. Not especially fond of the original guys in nigh-identical green uniforms (granted, they're not as gaudy as the insane "Village People" outfits the Joes were sporting by the 90s).

You also have to suffer through a lot of repetitive, lousy jokes that Hama liked to make over and over again. I cna only laugh at "LOL C RATIONS!" so many times.


Incidentilly, one of my favorite characters in all of Joe-dom is Cobra Commander. So when Hama killed him off and replaced him with Fred VII, I was suitably irked. And that stint lasted for, like, 20 issues, too. Didn't help that it was also the era of Serpentor, another usurper of Cobra Commander I've never been able to stand.

I don't think it's a bad series, though. I like how self-contained it is and Hama does a better job fleshing out and introducing the characters than the Sunbow/DiC cartoon typically did. It was a more harmonious blend of military and sci-fi, anyway (though I still love the Sunbow cartoon). I'm just a bigger fan of the later issues than the early stuff.

Cliffjumper
2010-05-08, 04:01 PM
Are those earlier pre-Cobra British Action Force comics worth looking into?

Yup - http://www.bloodforthebaron.com/comics/index.html

inflatable dalek
2010-05-08, 04:09 PM
Bloody hell, the new Eagle must have lasted a lot longer than I'd thought. As in longer than six months.

LKW
2010-05-09, 06:03 AM
Well, Hound and Dr. Spengler have done a pretty good job of discussing some of the virtues of the book already; besides saying "I agree!" to much of what they typed, I can elaborate that I think the book really starts to change as it gets into the teens, as Hama starts developing continuing character arcs and the book becomes in general more character-focused and begins to carry on more long-term plots, rather than the "Here's our next mission!" type stories.

I can also try to address this:

Incidentally, what's the beef with IDW suddenly deciding to restart the original Marvel comic again? Were there great dangling plot threads there that fans have been waiting twenty years for resolution (that the Devil's Due continuation didn't deal with) or is it just cash grabbing over saturation of the market?

Oh, and if IDW ever do issue #81 of the TF comic I will personally kick Chris Ryall in the balls so hard he'll be voicing Starscream in the new cartoon.

Heh, one of my thoughts after hearing about the continuation was to post a poll here asking if people would want a similar treatment for Marvel's TF series ("#81 in a four-issue limited series"?). Dunno that I'd've thought to put a "I'd want to kick Ryall in the balls" option, though...

As far as plot threads, Devil's Due left a several year gap between the end of Larry's stories and the start of theirs, but I think they addressed most all of what there was (though I've read more synopses of DD stuff than actual issues). And actually, Hama did a four-issue series for them set right after G.I. Joe #155, "Frontline", though it didn't really resolve that much. - Incidentally, in case it slipped under the radar of anyone who liked the Marvel run - Hound, maybe Dr. Spengs - I found the other work Hama did for Devil's Due - the Storm Shadow series, and the three-issue limited series G.I. Joe: Declassified (not to be confused with Drednoks: Declassified), to be rather good. Declassified in particular comes very highly recommended, if you can track it down - set before G.I. Joe #1, it reveals some details of the backstories of the original/1982 members of the squad (through flashbacks and conversations, not as a recruitment story), and even creates a significant plot point out of the apparent inside joke of a member named "Shooter" (as in then Marvel e-i-c Jim Shooter[?]) being listed on an on-screen roster in G.I. Joe #1. - ANYway, while it hasn't been confirmed last I knew, the likelihood is that Hama's "ARAH" continuation will ignore at least the Devil's Due stuff set after Marvel's #155. (Hell, Hama ignored at least one of the fill-in issues of his own series, declaring in a letter column, in response to a query, that the major guest character of G. I. Joe #9 "doesn't exist in my universe.") (While that may seem a bit much, I heartily endorse a complete rejection of the three fill-in stories which show up in the final fifteen issues of the original series, as they were rather crap.) Many fans seem to be fine with this, feeling that DD made some stupid moves and/or didn't really fit with what came before, anyway; others are angered at the "invalidation" of DD's work - they really don't seem to be as used to the concept of multiple continuties as TF fans are....

But, at least part of this is probably due to the newest nostalgia movement that seems to be happening in comics. Chris Claremont has "X-Men Forever", continuing on in a splinter continuity as though he'd never left in 1991, and now there's Louise Simonson's new "X-Factor Forever". The current New Mutants title is set in the mainstream Marvel Universe, but, thanks to various resurrections, features almost the complete mid-1980s roster (lacking only Wolfsbane, who's busy in that wetworks X-Men title, iirc). In DC, Barry Allen's Flash is finally back after being killed off in '85. Maybe at least some of that is coincidence; but there definitely seems to be some catering to readers who came of age in the 1980s... which may have pointed to some cash-cow money-grabbing possibilities for IDW.

But part of it is just down to Larry Hama back on his title with the characters he created. Before there was a Budiansky, Hama was there naming toys and creating profiles for Hasbro, and he's generally held in greater esteem by the Joe fandom than Bob is by TF fans - if Budiansky is respected, Hama seems closer to revered. Maybe in part because, besides those aforementioned half-dozenish fill-in issues, Larry was there for the whole run, and, in almost twice as many issues as Marvel US' entire TF series, had a much more favorable hit-to-bomb ratio. And, he also brings some real credibility to G.I. Joe, as a Vietnam War veteran who has worked to keep conversant with changes in the military, and a practiced martial artist. (Granted, Bob had no chance to compete in that respect - unless he really is an alien robot - but Hama also usually seemed to make lemonaide of the things forced upon him by the nature of the comic - herds of new characters, Serpentor, Eco Warriors as mentioned by Spengler - even the TF:G2 launch [though, happy as I was to see the TF series relaunched, I don't think their presence in G.I. Joe really did the title any favors at all] - while Budiansky, for arguably a good half of his TF issues, just gave us the pits.) The work he'd done for IDW in their new-continuity G.I. Joe Origins title showed, at least arguably/imho, that he hadn't lost a step, as well. So, the idea of "the father of G.I. Joe" picking up where he'd left off with the characters as he conceived them, and without the restrictions of other G. I. Joe titles - no need to make Ripcord resemble the movie version, no MASS Device forced in (as Hasbro supposedly demanded of IDW's Joe on-going) - seems very appealing. Whether it's appealing enough to enough people to rival or exceed the sales of IDW's other books, only time will tell, to end with a tired cliche...

(Damn, but I did go on a while. Well, I guess as someone who has thirty-ish Hasbro G.I. Joe comic book two- and three-packs hanging in my stairwell mostly due to what Hama's Marvel series has meant to me, I had an opinion on the subject.)

inflatable dalek
2010-05-10, 05:13 PM
A giant robot. That can fly bits of its body about. If Hama was seeing this sort of thing in Vietnam he must have been having a good time on the hash pipe.

Sill enjoyably camp though, I especially liked the two parter that followed the Rambo III/Living Daylights pattern of our heroes getting help from the lovable Taliban to get the drop on the evil Russians.

As for the Marvel continuation thing: I'll take your word for it that there's good reason for the GI Joe one and that Hama still has it (though you'd have thought IDW would have waited till they'd released the entire original series in Classics for the aid of new readers).

As for a possible TF #81 though (and I think we can take it as read that G2 #13 would never be an option, partly because in a world where LSotW shifts a minimum of copies one with Generation 2 across it will have no mileage with the casual buyer and partly because Alignment showed the Leige Maximo being a tease was much more interesting), absolutely a bad idea.

Firstly, the comic had a decent ending with just about all the lose ends wrapped up, that's part of the benefit of there being a final issue and then suddenly five more that had to be filled with something. A continuation would be pretty much a fresh start and therefore might as well be done in IDW's own continuity.

Seondly, we're taslking about what's basically a nostalgia retro comic. But not recreating the most popular period of the line but one where, regardless of the quality of the issues themselves, the franchise died on its arse in the US. The amount of people desperate for a 1991 flashback are going to be very small.

And thirdly, however much they pretend it's issue 81 of the original run it's not, it's an IDW comic. And even if done by Furman and Wildman (though it shouldn't be, for all people remember the "IT NEVER ENDS!" moment the letters page of issue 80 also shows Furman didn't give a **** and in a universe where his presence wasn't death to a comic would have been moving on anyway. "Well, this is a shame ROBOCOP but I'm sure ROBOCOP Transformers might return one day ROBOCOP and I'm really awesome BUY ROBOCOP and you can look forward to the Neo Knights comic ROOOOOBOOOOCOOOOOOP") it's not going to recreate their glory days.

Though if IDW do want to be really retro they might want to hire editors who can edit.

Hound
2010-05-10, 06:41 PM
A giant robot. That can fly bits of its body about. If Hama was seeing this sort of thing in Vietnam he must have been having a good time on the hash pipe.Yeah, it's campy but the point of the story is to basically give the reader a tour of the headquarters and show you how it works in that kind of a crisis. What I like about that story is how Cobra couldn't just fly around in their airship indefinitely waiting for a beacon. I don't think most writers would've even thought about needing to have enough fuel to return to base.

inflatable dalek
2010-05-10, 07:11 PM
Course, Cobra could have just followed the truck that picked up the robot. It doesn't look like it would have been that hard.

EDIT: Thinking about it, considering the Joe's don't check out the robot until after they get it back to base he could have put a great big bomb in it.

Hound
2010-05-11, 06:16 AM
Well the first thing they did when they got it back to base was scan it for explosives, scanners and such though. We're meant to assume that if there'd been a bomb it would've been disarmed as soon as they discovered it was there along with assuming Cobra couldn't just follow the Joes back to base without them noticing they were being followed.

inflatable dalek
2010-05-11, 06:21 AM
So if Hama doesn't count issue 9 as "canon" does that mean bowler hatted English arms seller isn't dead atfer all? Because he was brilliant. "Fish and Brashers"? I've no idea what brashers are but they must be fancy for him to be wearing full evening wear for a working lunch.

Cliffjumper
2010-06-09, 08:00 PM
Having downloaded the entire run I'm up to about #16 and it's pretty shit. I stand by my initial verdict - it can't decide whether it's a silly Bond-style supervillain book or a proper military comic. The scripting is Claremont-esque, and most of the first year cast made no impression whatsoever. The red shirt killing is hilariously bad (there's a great bit where Dr. Venom, some wanker named Scarface and a random Cobra trooper are in a building, and Venom doublecrosses them - he wants them both dead, so he shoots the trooper dead... then hits the named character over the back of the head with the butt of his gun and runs off. Guess who then escapes?), as is the dialogue (lots of characters standing around telling each other what their latest tank's contrioved initials mean and how it's their new tank and it's going to totally kick Cobra's arse because it's driven by this guy who's our new tank driver - it's not sledgehammer exposition, it's asteroid strike exposition). And all those little boxes explaining the simple are terrible.

I also like the way now most of the original team have been relegated to scenery, having been it for the first dozen issues, new Joes keep turning up at random, occasionally in the middle of battle scenes. Getting ****ed by Cobra? No worries, here's Ace with a shitload of F-14s we just didn't bother mentioning. It's Brad Mick.

Destro's made things a little tiny bit more interesting through having something approaching a character, as has the belated injection of personality into Cobra Commander and the Baroness. But basically this comic is impossible to take seriously on any level. Give me Commando any day.

Funniest bit so far: the Joe scuba diver (Submarine? Torpedo? Diver? Scuba?). Now, I get he's probably multi-skilled enough to be useful in something over than rivers, thus not falling into the old Seaspray/Dive-Dive trap, so there's nothing wrong with him getting roped in when Cobra attack some city for a hazily justified reason before running off. But they let him wear his flippers and scuba gear around when fighting inside a building? Hahahaha... Though a close second is Snake-Eyes getting his mask torn off, his face set on fire, getting trapped in a bunker and blown up with a missile. He survives, and even finds time while trapped in this bunker to recreate his original mask. And coming in in third is the way they make a big deal of hiding Destro's head only to reveal it in incredibly unspectacular fashion in a random panel.

Cliffjumper
2010-06-09, 09:18 PM
"Listen up, y'all! I'm a new GI Joe called Duke who outranks pretty much all of you. I was conveniently standing on this hillside with a heavy weapon at this funeral of some ****er who didn't do anything for 20 issues but you're all pretending to give a shit about when you'd actually forgotten who he was, and none of you have even ****ing heard of me, but there you go, best take it on faith because that's how a top-secret counter-terrorist organisation would actually ****ing work." Give me a ****ing Stunticon roll-call any day.

Silent issue was tops, and probably the first occasion the comic's been drawn well. The rest? Not so much. It feels like I'm missing whole issues at some points, then it lurches back the other way and some situations haven't changed after being dropped for three or four issues. Plus, LOL, Trip-Wire keeps tripping over! THAT IS SO ****ING FUNNY. Not quite as funny as the little narrative box telling me what 'ASAP' stands for, though.

Hound
2010-06-09, 11:08 PM
Having downloaded the entire run I'm up to about #16 and it's pretty shit. I stand by my initial verdict - it can't decide whether it's a silly Bond-style supervillain book or a proper military comic. The scripting is Claremont-esque, and most of the first year cast made no impression whatsoever. The red shirt killing is hilariously bad (there's a great bit where Dr. Venom, some wanker named Scarface and a random Cobra trooper are in a building, and Venom doublecrosses them - he wants them both dead, so he shoots the trooper dead... then hits the named character over the back of the head with the butt of his gun and runs off. Guess who then escapes?), as is the dialogue (lots of characters standing around telling each other what their latest tank's contrioved initials mean and how it's their new tank and it's going to totally kick Cobra's arse because it's driven by this guy who's our new tank driver - it's not sledgehammer exposition, it's asteroid strike exposition). And all those little boxes explaining the simple are terrible.You do get that the book was being written for young children right?

I'm not saying you aren't making valid points about the title's quality I just want to point out that most of that is a product of the audience the book was aimed at. Of course the book is trying to be "a silly Bond-style supervillain book" and "a proper military comic". I think that's pretty much the idea behind it all, a toyline that gives you a bit of both those things. They probably figured kids would go for that.

Yeah, the dialogue is certainly "Claremont-esque", in that most of the dialogue is characters explaining what the new vehicle or weapon is or what it does, or explaining who they are and what they do. Again, a product of it being a book for young boys designed to get them to ask their parents to buy the toys.

I'm probably a poor judge, I like the first set of stories featuring the original cast best, just like I like the first few episodes of the TF cartoon with the original toys best too. I don't know why...

inflatable dalek
2010-06-10, 07:14 AM
I've read up to issue #50 now, my view hasn't really changed. It's deeply silly nonsense but hugely entertaining.

The more slapstick comedy stuff has tended to be the best, especially the high farce of the Crimson Guard bloke living opposite the Joe secret base and constantly missing them. Plus I do love me some Doctor Mindbender (though bloody hell, once Hasbro decided to change his name when the letterer was halfway thorough his first issue would it have been that hard to go back?).

The Trip-Wire thing is deeply irritating though, as a one off gag to introduce him it might have been fun, if groan inducing. But it's basically his whole character. Though constantly falling over is more than "Chews Bubblegum" guy gets.

Duke's deeply dull as well. And looks far to much like Hawk, to the point I'll frequently think one is the other till they get named.

Cliffjumper
2010-06-11, 03:00 PM
You do get that the book was being written for young children right?

Was it? There's lots of moralising on the realities of war, and lots of generics being blown up and headshot. If it was a kids' book (as, I believie, most mainstream comics basically were at the time) it wouldn't have such lurching mood changes, would it? The problem is that it can't decide if it's a kids' comic or not, and Hama seems to have his head up his arse in this respect. And then there's all the pretentious ninja shit - the issue where Snake Eyes and the rest of the Ninja Superfriends are busting some Joes out of Fakeeasterneuropeanrepublicavia is painful, there are whole pages wasted in navel-gazing fortune-cookie philosophy toss.

I'm up to about 70-ish now, and it's getting disorientating with the new characters and the tiny little plots... I think the problem is they're all these specialists. I know Transformers all had their special jobs on their tech specs, but in the comics they were all basically troopers. But when GI Joe suddenly get a new pilot out of nowhere and you're suddenly "Hey, where's Ace?", it really jars.

Talking of Ace, though, the issue which is just him and Lady Jaye having a big ****-off dogfight with Wild Weasel and the Baroness is super stuff. And Trip-Wire's stopped tripping over things, but there's this new Joe who breaks everything he touches - lawlzor. Though Cobra descending into Decepticon territory has really slowed the pacing down. The way Hama forgets about plot threads and then resolves them out of the blue issues down the line is pretty irritating too - like that thing with Ripcord's girlfriend, where the thread is just left for ages, and then he's brought in for one frame to be told she's dead. Don't get me wrong, closure's good, but could that not have been fitted in a bit earlier if all they were going to do was that?

inflatable dalek
2010-06-11, 03:16 PM
The way Hama forgets about plot threads and then resolves them out of the blue issues down the line is pretty irritating too - like that thing with Ripcord's girlfriend, where the thread is just left for ages, and then he's brought in for one frame to be told she's dead. Don't get me wrong, closure's good, but could that not have been fitted in a bit earlier if all they were going to do was that?


Well that sucks, I've been waiting for them to come back to that, and assuming (as I remember from the TF UK reprints that Billy shows up later looking like Dudley Moore playing Tarzan) that all three of the people in the car plus the comedy fat "Gun's don't kill people" Ninja master would all turn up again.

Cliffjumper
2010-06-11, 03:58 PM
Bollocks, will spoiler in future. If it's any consolation, it was probably less underwhelming hearing it that way.

But yeh, the out-of-sight rocketing was the end of it for the other three in that car - the Soft Master (? - you lose track, there are something like eighty zen ninja mentors in the damn series) did indeed sacrifice himself in a completely pointless way, the bloke in the car was just arbitrarily weird. Where I'm at, Billy's basically disappeared as well.

It's difficult to judge compared to Transformers as i've never been able to separate the UK/US stuff in my mind - even just reading the US issues my brain automatically fills the gaps. So I'm not really sure if this is badly written compared to Transformers or not. I genuinely don't think Transformers was as boring or up itself as Hama is though - at least not in the Marvel days, anyway.

inflatable dalek
2010-06-11, 09:37 PM
Bollocks, will spoiler in future. If it's any consolation, it was probably less underwhelming hearing it that way.

Oh don't worry about that, it's a going on thirty year old series of comics, plus just from the TF stuff I know a lot of the later details (I think TFUK got at least as far as the fake Cobra Commander storyline, not sure how much longer it went on after than but the whole business of this guy just putting a mask on and claiming to be the original did stick with me at the time. Even beyond that, it was actually surprising how many bits and sods I remembered reading the original comics about various characters and their set up from those reprints despite never reading them all that closely).

But yeh, the out-of-sight rocketing was the end of it for the other three in that car - the Soft Master (? - you lose track, there are something like eighty zen ninja mentors in the damn series) did indeed sacrifice himself in a completely pointless way, the bloke in the car was just arbitrarily weird. Where I'm at, Billy's basically disappeared as well.

I'll keep the spoilers as comparison of real world killings to a silly kids comic may be a bit offensive to some, don't read if it's likely to seem OTT peeps:

Well, I'm at least glad the Soft Master's dead, his whole "Hey, if you don't let people have guns they'll just do even more lethal stuff" just pissed me off. That seems to be the standard response from whenever a guy who's sold the gun to the most recent spree killing nutter makes (and indeed, most recently the chap in charge of Derek Bird's gun club was saying the same...) despite the lack of mas killing made by people with axes or baseball bat. What does a taxi driver, regardless of any menatal health/drink issues that should have gotten the guns taken off him earlier, actually need with a sniper riffle anyway? [tangent ends]

It's difficult to judge compared to Transformers as i've never been able to separate the UK/US stuff in my mind - even just reading the US issues my brain automatically fills the gaps. So I'm not really sure if this is badly written compared to Transformers or not. I genuinely don't think Transformers was as boring or up itself as Hama is though - at least not in the Marvel days, anyway.


An excellent point, I must admit, I've mostly blanked out the exposition * boxes (except when I genuinely didn't recognise the term used, though my military know how is zero) in the same way I do all the *THE HOME PLANET OF THE TRANSFORMERS accompanying just about every first mention of Cybertron in each issue of the TF comic.

But, if we take the GI Joe title to be aimed at about 14 year olds (in terms of teen pleasing violence plus not being mature enough to be a proper grown up comic) most of them should be more than familiar with a lot of standard army terms already, if only just from things like MASH or Rambo, be they regular readers or not. That's Vs. Transformers which was (supposedly, as far as the American comic went anyway) aimed at a younger audience and featured a lot of made up terms that any new reader wouldn't recognise straight away.

Mind, if it was a Marvel House Style forced on Hama, I'd take the needless exposition boxes if it was what allowed the soldiers to be using roughly accurate jargon throughout.

Hound
2010-06-12, 05:46 AM
Was it?Of course it was. Now I wasn't working at Marvel in 1982, I was a 5 yr old then, but the book's main purpose is to get it's audience excited enough to get their parents to buy the toys for them. That's a reasonable assumption right? Just like it's cartoon counterpart and Transformer cousins. So, the comic is aimed at whoever the toys are aimed at.

To me that just seems obvious in the way that Hama scripted the book. It seems to me that he's trying to use, at least, semi-real dialogue that you'd hear in a military unit, then he does what he can to make sure that it's still understandable to the young audience. You get new characters explaining who they are and whatever new vehicle they might pilot because you want the kids to want to go out and get the toy.

I guess you could argue that that's just the way that Hama writes a comic, it has nothing to do with the comic having to advertise the toyline and appeal to the toyline's target age group he just always writes that way, but I have several Wolverine comics that don't really support that argument.
There's lots of moralising on the realities of war, and lots of generics being blown up and headshot. If it was a kids' book (as, I believie, most mainstream comics basically were at the time) it wouldn't have such lurching mood changes, would it?Well, many comic series jump from light-hearted to being more serious from issue to issue, sometimes from page to page. Again, I'm just making suppositions, but I imagine that with having to write a comic who's purpose is to get kids to buy toys Hama is still trying to write a comic that he might enjoy reading, just like any writer would be. There's nothing in the series that didn't pass the comics code, so nothing that was considered unfit for a child to read.
The problem is that it can't decide if it's a kids' comic or not, and Hama seems to have his head up his arse in this respect. And then there's all the pretentious ninja shit - the issue where Snake Eyes and the rest of the Ninja Superfriends are busting some Joes out of Fakeeasterneuropeanrepublicavia is painful, there are whole pages wasted in navel-gazing fortune-cookie philosophy toss.Again, just me supposing but I imagine that while he's writing for the kids he's also doing his best to make a book that would also appeal to an older audience too. That happens all the time right? You see that with Pixar films and such. Not an unreasonable assumption.
Talking of Ace, though, the issue which is just him and Lady Jaye having a big ****-off dogfight with Wild Weasel and the Baroness is super stuff.That's probably my favorite of the series.
The way Hama forgets about plot threads and then resolves them out of the blue issues down the line is pretty irritating too - like that thing with Ripcord's girlfriend, where the thread is just left for ages, and then he's brought in for one frame to be told she's dead. Don't get me wrong, closure's good, but could that not have been fitted in a bit earlier if all they were going to do was that?Well it is Larry Hama, he's definitely no Warren Ellis, he's not even a Peter David. I guess there's an argument to be made that he had so much to juggle with this series that it excuses some of that, and I think he was writing Wolverine too by the latter part of it all but there's also that he's just a mostly ok, sometimes good writer. They certainly weren't going to pay for someone like Alan Moore.
It's difficult to judge compared to Transformers as i've never been able to separate the UK/US stuff in my mind - even just reading the US issues my brain automatically fills the gaps. So I'm not really sure if this is badly written compared to Transformers or not. I genuinely don't think Transformers was as boring or up itself as Hama is though - at least not in the Marvel days, anyway.I'd like to say that of course it is and leave it at that as if it's obvious and nothing else need be said.

Let me just say that I haven't actually completely finished the series. I have the TPBs and the rest of the series downloaded and the first couple of times I tried to get through it I always started from the beginning and would get a few issues past 100 and get burned out. Plus I really don't care for reading scans and 70 issues is a lot to get through that way. I'm trying to finish the series now because IDW is going to continue it and I'm up to 127 I think but I started at 100. Anyway, I can't speak to the last 30 or so issues is the point.

The way I see it, the TF comic gets pretty ridiculous and really, really awful on many an occasion. G.I.Joe just doesn't get that bad, or at least not with the frequency that you see in the TF comic. Now I will say that if you compare the best of each series TF is going to have the better stories especially taking the UK comic into account, imo. Though I am much more a TF fan than I'll ever be a G.I.Joe fan so I tend to take into account that I'm biased and that maybe that wouldn't be the case with someone who was a fan of niether.

Also I haven't read the old TF comics in a really long time now so my memory of them is fuzzy while G.I.Joe is comparatively fresh in my mind. So take that into account also.

Heinrad
2010-06-12, 01:21 PM
I haven't read many G.I. Joe comics(mainly the storyarc that sees a SAW Viper take Cobra Commander's orders a bit too literally and the frenzied aftermath thereof, and the G2 crossover featuring Snake Eyes and the Day-Glo ninja squad), and they just never grabbed me.

Say what you want about Budiansky burning out, no matter how weird he got(Spacehikers, wrestling, and space carnivals included), the writing still grabbed me when I read them, made me want to read on, if only to see whether or not Bob's sanity had finally snapped by the end.

Hama's writing style, at least on G.I. Joe(which, I admit, is all I've read of his stuff), just never grabbed me that much. One thing I'll give him credit for, though. He was able to take everything Hasbro threw at him and keep going.

Cliffjumper
2010-06-13, 07:22 AM
Not sure if it's just a hundred and odd issues bludgeoning me into submission, but I'm actually starting to enjoy this a bit more. Destro and the Baroness have suddenly started to get interesting, and it's cool to have
Cobra Commander back, even if the explanation for him surviving was incredibly dumb ("No, when I was shot and buried I just wasn't dead and I've been building an army with the same name and same cover names for X years without anyone noticing").
The endless flow of new faceless Joes seems to have largely stopped as well. There's still a bit too much cod-zen toss from the ninja brigade, though, and the SAW Viper bit was crap though.
Some random Cobra trooper comes from nowhere and just kills half a dozen Joes who've done basically nothing for fifty-odd issues, and then we're back to 'none of the named characters die' once more...

Well, many comic series jump from light-hearted to being more serious from issue to issue, sometimes from page to page. Again, I'm just making suppositions, but I imagine that with having to write a comic who's purpose is to get kids to buy toys Hama is still trying to write a comic that he might enjoy reading, just like any writer would be. There's nothing in the series that didn't pass the comics code, so nothing that was considered unfit for a child to read.

I can't think of many that do it this clumsily, though. The moods clash rather than change. Which is why the Pixar comparison doesn't really work for me - this isn't a kids' comic with a few well-aimed bits for the adults, this is a kids' comic that has pretentions of being more adult than it actually is.

I think GI Joe gets just as terrible as Budiansky ever does, and is often more pretentious with it. I don't recall Transformers having anything as shit as this in it: -

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f269/TomPrankerd/th_m066_08.jpg (http://s49.photobucket.com/albums/f269/TomPrankerd/?action=view&current=m066_08.jpg) http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f269/TomPrankerd/th_m066_02.jpg (http://s49.photobucket.com/albums/f269/TomPrankerd/?action=view&current=m066_02.jpg)

Hound
2010-06-13, 08:11 AM
I think GI Joe gets just as terrible as Budiansky ever does, and is often more pretentious with it. I don't recall Transformers having anything as shit as this in it: -

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f269/TomPrankerd/th_m066_08.jpg (http://s49.photobucket.com/albums/f269/TomPrankerd/?action=view&current=m066_08.jpg) http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f269/TomPrankerd/th_m066_02.jpg (http://s49.photobucket.com/albums/f269/TomPrankerd/?action=view&current=m066_02.jpg)That's probably some real martial arts belief/philosophy or whatever though. We know Hama studied a martial art (judo, I think) so it's more probable he injected some real aspect of what he learned there rather than having made all that up.

I don't know if it's pretentious, it's obvious he has a great love for the ninja characters and that whole aspect of the stories he was telling. It makes sense to me that he'd try to include some real life martial arts philosophy and stuff where he could. Yeah, maybe he is just trying to show off, but I don't know him. I can't speak about Hama's character.

Does Transformers get worse than those two pages? Well yeah, I mean, if you want to use two pages out of context TF US issue one pages 14 and 15 are worse than those two.

Cliffjumper
2010-06-13, 08:42 AM
#1 14 & 15? Which ones were those?

And I'm not sure how out of context that is. It's two three-quarter pages of ninja wankery in an apparent kids' comic. I'm not sure how much context boring toss like that needs.

Cliffjumper
2010-06-13, 02:34 PM
Just finished the run - hell of a wobbly last dozen or so issues, sadly. Shitloads of plots left unresolved - the cancellation came from nowhere by the looks of it, but at the same time the issues between the TF crossover and the last one are full of puff standalone crap that doesn't really go anywhere - think "End of the Road" suddenly happening after the Micromasters wrestling issue.

Hama, interestingly, does pull the same trick as Furman manages in the later US issues - the toyline (at a guess) seems to have been made up of a lot of recoloured/retooled/redressed old characters by the 1990s, so he can basically keep telling stories about Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow, Flint, Duke, Roadblock, Destro, Cobra Commander, Zartan, Dr. Mindbender and so on as long as he changes what they're wearing fairly often.

On the other hand, I've spend 30 on GI Joe toys on ebay this morning, so I guess it does manage to sell toys to kids well enough.

Hound
2010-06-13, 03:21 PM
#1 14 & 15? Which ones were those?It's the spread where the autobots pretty much read their tech spec to you.

I just finished 134 last night, almost there.

Which toys did you get?

Cliffjumper
2010-06-13, 05:03 PM
Oh, that bit - it's clumsy, but it does serve the purpose of introducing 20+ characters in the first issue. It is basically revelant.

I got me a stack of those "versus" two-packs they did a few years back (10 packs in all, figured they'd do as a 'starter' set even if IIRC most of the figures aren't definitive... If nothing else, I can crib weaponry and go for 'unarmed' toys), an Awe-Striker, Barbecue and Mainframe. Most of it seems pretty cheap secondhand in the UK, at around 2-4 for pretty much any figure, it's just finding it... The Cobra Rattler is the one toy I really want - I don't suppose you know if this Target 25th anniversary one is any good?

Hound
2010-06-13, 06:10 PM
I don't. I've never been much into any of the Cobra vehicles. I suppose it's mostly because they, predominantly, don't resemble actually military vehicles. Which is why I got myself a MOBAT (the tank) and want to get stuff like the Skystriker, the USS Flagg and the WHALE (hovercraft). What's tragic is that those are gigantic toys that cost a fortune.

That may account for my affinity for the original cast of characters too, in that they seem to better resemble what a military unit might actually be like instead of what would come later. Hmm...

Cliffjumper
2010-06-13, 06:29 PM
I'm pretty much the same - the Rattler's just an A10 with knobs on, and I like that. I'd love to own the Flagg, but no idea if it came out over here - God knows what transatlantic shipping would be on a damn six foot toy. Agree on the figures too - aside from a few characters that grabbed me, I prefer the camo squad or the Cobra troopers before they went a bit too mad - or at least the ones who have some half-plausible reason for wearing something a bit different. Though I'll probably end up getting Bazooka because he was in the UK comic a fair bit from memory... But I can see myself getting a Falcon even if he was a bit of a prat, but I'm not that interested in, say, the Drednoks or Chuckles or Sergeant Slaughter.

Hound
2010-06-13, 06:40 PM
I eventually want to have all the original 15 or so figures, but I also want Shipwreck, Baroness, Destro and Gun Ho because between the comic and cartoon those are probably the coolest characters.

It's disappointing that they didn't make any Cobra vehicles in that first set of toys because the comic is riddled with the most awful looking vehicles for Cobra.

Hound
2010-07-07, 05:32 AM
I just got the first tpb of GIJoe Special Missions and it is pretty damn good.

It's basically Hama writing whatever he feels like, using whatever characters he feels like. There's 7 issues of it and I've read the first 4 so far and I'm very impressed.

It went for 28 issues, I hope they're all this good.

Halfshell
2010-07-08, 01:22 PM
So, basically, we're saying that GI Joe had a quite good Sunbow cartoon and a shit Marvel comic, with toys that looked like their fictional counterparts?

Wacky.

Cliffjumper
2010-07-08, 01:33 PM
Aww, "shit" is probably harsh on the comic. There are some cracking issues in there, and a bit like Transformers when it does bother with characterisation it gets it right... It's just often very, very boring, and occasionally colossally stupid (so Cobra's elite troops kill a grand total of no Joes [not counting prop General Flagg, on the grounds that everyone had blatantly forgotten who he was until he walked into a room and let Major Bludd shoot him], and then a SAW Viper wipes out six in one go... Underbase doesn't approach it). The book just takes itself a little bit more seriously than it properly deserves, whereas the cartoon at least realises how stupid Cobra are.