HASBRO X MATTEL UNIVERSE [Part 1 – G.I. Joe]: Playing With The Big Boys.

Travis Moody
@TravMoody

So, what did you do under quarantine? With some of us geeks having way too much time on our hands, it was the perfect time to catch up on our endless backlog of games, 2 TB hard drive full of digital comics, days and days of Netflix, and all the chill. While I certainly have a lifetime of Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo games to catch up on, blame Hasbro for their brand new 6″ G.I. Joe action figure line, Classified. Wait.. what?

In short, these were the Joes (and Cobras) my Star Wars Black Series droids were looking for. I discovered them, bored AF under quarantine in prep for Hasbro Pulse to debut their new initiative: #FanFirstFriday. Of course, I was in it for the Star Wars. Then I heard about Pulse’s Deluxe Edition Snake Eyes — a limited exclusive I completely unaware of just a month or so prior. Major bummer, but I had to get it. While paying second-hand for this Snake was the single most expensive single figure I’ve ever paid for (thank you, stim-check!), I ain’t mad at it. This purchase that changed everything…

Not only did this gorgeous figure hook me back into my deep childhood fascination with the G.I. Joe franchise (that only continued from A Real American Hero to the Larry Hama-penned comics of the same name), but the world of Hasbro was now something I wanted to take in once again. And they certainly assisted on the date of March 27th, when Hasbro’s YouTube channel first began to stream random episodes of ARAH — which they are still airing live!

Enter Tubi, which I had never even heard of previously, and then the choice to go full-on Joe and take in the later, darker animated series, later (bravely) the movies, and then some of the new IDW comics… and we had ourselves a marathon. But, how do you watch G.I. Joe’s Sunbow run without watching Transformers‘? You don’t. So throw in Generation 1. Then Gen 2, then Beast Wars, and so on and so forth. All of the essentials. Based on critical and fan reception, I did my best to avoid all of the bad (steering clear of that D.I.C. Joe run, ducked under the many more current ‘Formers toons, etc.)

Now throw in some Power Rangers (because, why not?), and then.. a month later at this point I was still under quarantine, so let’s throw in the Mattel Universe too! Modern He-Man! Modern Thundercats! Modern Ninja Turtles! Oh boy, what was once an accidental eye-drift to a single new G.I. Joe fig became this whole Spring and early Summer quaranfling with cartoons, comics, campy super-ninja shows, and (mostly) shitty movie adaptations. Cowabunga!

With that said, I present a series of articles running down the Hasbro x Mattel Universe (with IDW thrown in there, etc., you get the picture), starting with, obviously…

G.I. JOE

TV

1.) G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1983-86) – The definitive take on the G.I. Joe franchise. This took the simple and silly idea of military hero/male Barbie doll Joe Colton and brought his legacy to the living rooms of 80 gazillion children. While the animated series gets overly silly in spots, you can forgive it because it’s the 80s; but even the zaniness of Dr. Mindbender and Serpentor had a deep purpose. Really, every nerd needs to have watched this classic animated series at least once or twice in their lifetime. – 4.5/5

2.) G.I. Joe: Resolute (2009) – Despite the fact this animated series/movie’s writer was just ousted by #ComicsGate for being a major creepshow, Resolute kicks ass! It’s only an hour total, and you can watch the thing in one shot on Tubi. Cobra Commander‘s new “Classified” look (the navy retail version) was definitely inspired by this miniseries, and I enjoyed every characterization and the possibilities that didn’t quite follow. – 3.75/5

3.) G.I. Joe: Renegades (2010-2011) – Only a must-watch if you’re really into Joe or the A-Team, which this show probably has more in common with. The episodes are hit and miss, have highly questionable costume designs (Destro, ICK!), but mostly just a solid watch. – 3/5

Movies

1.) G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987) – Simply, fabulous. Peep this. – 4.75/5

2.) G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) –  This is the business. 29% on Rotten Tomatoes? Fuck no! This movie is sick! It’s mostly accurate/faithful to the cartoon and comics, and improves in spades upon the first trash film other than the mind(bender)less geopolitical x nuclear war plot. – 3.5/5

3.) G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) – On the bright side the vehicles looked dope, and I enjoyed the chase through France despite those ridiculous million dollar sci-fi suits. Whoever designed these costumes should “never work in this town again”. Ray Park is Snake Eyes and that.. MOUTH!!! I’m fuckin’ horrified. – 1.5/5

Comics

1.) G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (IDW Vol. 1 – current) – This is my next project involving G.I. Joe until, of course, when the Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins film is released in October. I own all the old Marvel trades, and they’re back home in Boston.. but it’ll be cool to flip through Larry Hama‘s second go-around digitally. – 4.25/5

2.) G.I. Joe / Cobra / Snake Eyes / etc. (2008-2012) – The early days of IDW publishing their our canon, a reboot if you will. It didn’t feel like a Joe universe — far more modern day espionage — which is exactly what made this run (mostly) awesome. Been years since I touched these but I wouldn’t mind revisiting Chuck Dixon, Christos Gage and Mark Brooks‘ original take once again. – 3.75/5

3. G.I. Joe: The Fall of G.I. Joe / G.I. Joe (2015-current) – The most recent Joe comics I’ve read were from the current series and the previous. Karen Traviss (Legends Boba Fett scribe) pens a solid tale, but I had difficulty catching up to Steve Kurth‘s sketches. Too many blonde guys; no overlay; who the fuck are they? It wasn’t hard to get lost in Fall‘s multi-string narrative and the scruffy details. I didn’t hate it, but so far I’m preferring Paul Allor‘s first six issues (which doesn’t continue until August 19th) a little more. Despite the controversial first ish death that pissed a lot of people off, the endgame could make for an intriguing story. – 2.75-3/5

-Travis Moody

We’ll see you next week back here with Part 2 for a spotlight on Transformers!

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