Monday, November 26, 2012

Daytime Heroes: GI Joe: A Real American Hero (1983)

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the GI Joe: A Real American Hero comic book series from Marvel, which in turn rebooted the line of action figures that had been created by Hasbro some 2 decades earlier. Whereas before, GI Joe was just one person, Hasbro & Marvel reimagined it as an entire counter-terrorism force under the direction of the US Military.

In 1983, Marvel's television arm, in conjunction with Sunbow Productions, produced the first GI Joe miniseries. A second one followed a year later, and the fan response, coupled with sales numbers on the comic remaining strong, led to the decision to go full bore with a regular series, which launched in 1985, and lasted two seasons. During this time, pro wrestler Sgt. Slaughter, who had left the World Wrestling Federation for the American Wrestling Association (AWA) at the time, joined the cast, credited under his real name, Robert Remus. Slaughter stuck around through the end of the series in 1987, culminating with a direct-to-video movie, but didn't return for subsequent revivals and reboots.

GI Joe would return again in 1989, but this time produced by DIC, which didn't have the same kind of success, and the DIC-era series hasn't yet turned up on The Hub, the Hasbro-owned cabler that holds the rights to the series, at least as far as I can tell. Sunbow took back the franchise and produced a weekly series, GI Joe Extreme, in 1995, which lasted two seasons. The Joes have subsequently returned twice more since, first with the Japanese-produced GI Joe: Sigma Six, which aired on Fox initially, and has found its way to The Hub, which launched the current series, GI Joe: Renegades, in 2010, and thus there has been at least one series in each of the last four decades. Pretty good, don't ya think?

Here's the season 1 open. Jackson Beck is the narrator.

We'll catch up with the other incarnations down the road, but the original is still the best.

Rating: A-.


SaturdayMorningFan said...

Wow, I had no idea that the Marvel Comic pre-dates the 3" action figures and the first cartoon. I always thought the sequence was: toys, TV, comic. I guess I thought that because that's the order I encountered them and back then, we didn't have the internet to look things like that up.

hobbyfan said...

The original GI Joe toys came out in the 60's, I believe, and the commercials did get a little on the campy side (remember the Intruder villain figure?). Hasbro felt they needed to revamp and upgrade the concept for a new generation, and hit a home run.

Marvel's GI Joe book debuted 30 years ago, and they also did the animation for the ads promoting said book. That led to the TV series.