Every day in April we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!
Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).
Today’s list is the Greatest G.I. Joe Stories Ever Told!
10. “Return of Cobra Commander” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #98-100
Larry Hama, M.D. Bright and Randy Emberlin return the original Cobra Commander back in this three-parter which has a great opening where the returned Commander “takes care of all family business.” One of the funniest aspects of the next fifty-five issues of G.I. Joe was seeing all the people the Commander seemingly kills in #98 slowly but surely return as the series goes on as they are too cool to let stay dead (Zartan, Cobra Commander’s son Billy, Dr. Mindbender, etc.)
9. “The Snake Eyes/Kwinn/Dr. Venom/Scar-Face Saga” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #12-19
In this six-part story (that was just a sub-plot in some of the issues), Snake-Eyes, the mercenary Kwinn the Eskimo and the Cobra agent Dr. Venom are all seemingly killed by the Baroness in #12. They survive, of course, and make their way back in a sort of Planes, Trains and Automobiles-esque story. Venom is rescued by Cobra eventually and the Cobra soldier known as Scar-Face is infected with a virus that is meant to kill the Joes when they “capture” Scar-Face. The whole thing ends with Cobra invading what they think is the Joes’ headquarters in the first Battle of the Pit. In one of the first major bloodbaths of the series, pretty much all of the major players of this storyline are killed. I especially liked Scar-Face’s death, as he realizes too late just how much he’s wasted his life. This storyline also introduced Destro into the comics. Mike Vosburg and Jon D’Agostino provide the artwork.
8. “The War in Benzheen” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #108-115
While G.I. Joe #19 had the first major casualties of the series, it was only in minor characters that did not have their own action figures. That changed with G.I. Joe #109, where a miscommunication between Cobra Commander and Xamot leads to a Cobra SAW-Viper killing a number of prominent G.I. Joe characters, including Doc, Breaker and Quick Kick. This is set against a bigger storyline where Cobra invades the country of Benzheen, and Hama is able to do his take on how G.I. Joe would fight a modern war in the Middle East. Clearly, the order had been given that major deaths were allowed, as the storyline sees a number of Joes killed, including Battle Force 2000 and Sneak Peek. The latter’s death was given particular attention. M.D. Bright closed out his run on the book with the first part of the story and then John Statema took over (with one issue drawn by Ron Garney). Randy Emberlin inked most of the six-parter.
7. “Chuckles Saga” G.I. Joe: Cobra #1-4, G.I. Joe: Cobra II #1-4, 10-13
Mike Costa, Christos Gage and Antonio Fuso show us the seedier side of G.I. Joe and Cobra in this series, which was part of IDW’s relaunch of the G.I. Joe characters a few years back (Chuck Dixon was in charge of most of the rebooted titles, while Costa and Gage had their own little corner to work with). It shows G.I. Joe undercover operative Chuckles as he infiltrates the highest levels of Cobra. It shows the very fine line between being a bad guy and pretending to be a bad guy. Namely, if you do lots of bad things to get the bad guys to think you’re one of them, at what point does it really matter any more WHY you’re doing what you’re doing? The whole thing concludes in a fashion that took everyone by surprise, including myself.
6. “The Gulag Saga” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #61-66, G.I. Joe: Special Missions #6
In this compelling series of stories, G.I. Joe members Stalker, Quick Kick, Snow Job and Outback are on a mission when everything goes haywire. With most of the team wounded, Stalker orders Outback to escape to let the other Joes know the situation. G.I. Joe Special Missions #6 tells Outback’s journey. Meanwhile, the remaining members are thrown into a Gulag. Things get dicier when Hawk reveals that G.I. Joe will NOT be rescuing their teammamtes due to international relations. Naturally, then, Snake-Eyes and Scarlett fake their own deaths so that they can save their friends “off the books,” as it were. A few different artists drew this storyline, including Marshall Rogers and Ron Wagner.
Go to the next page for the top five!
5. “The Origin of Snake-Eyes” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #26-27
Larry Hama and Steve Leialoha (with Leialoha finishing Hama’s breakdowns on art) tell the tragic story of Snake-Eyes. Man, his origin is MESSED UP.
4. “Shake Down!” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #34
This classic one-off story by Hama, Rod Whigham and Andy Mushynsky pits Ace of G.I. Joe against Wild Weasel of Cobra in an issue-long dogfight. The best flying battle you’ll see this side of Joe Kubert and Enemy Ace!
3. “The Battle for Springfield!” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #45-50
Rarely has Larry Hama’s penchant for layered subplots caused a more difficult attempt to identify a storyline than with this one. However, I think it is fair to go with #45-50 (which is how most people voted for it), as the events of #45 (where Rip Cord tries to clear the name of his ex-girlfriend, who he doesn’t know is already dead, by doing a solo invasion of Cobra Island) lead directly into the Joes finally getting proof of Cobra’s Springfield headquarters and invading there (of course, Cobra just goes to Cobra Island and destroys all of the evidence before the Joes get there). Still, we get to see a mobilization of the ENTIRE G.I. Joe force in #49-50, which is awesome. These issues also include the introduction of Serpentor into the comics and features the Joes invading Cobra Island to rescue Rip Cord but also Zartan and Rip Cord switching places, with Zartan trying to reveal the location of the Joes’ headquarters while Rip Cord actually succeeds in revealing the location of the Cobra’s headquarters. Meanwhile, Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow try to take revenge on Zartan for killing their sensei years ago and Baroness kills Storm Shadow before he can do so. As you can see, lots of stuff is crammed into these issues. Rod Whigham and Andy Mushynsky did the artwork.
2. “The Cobra Civil War” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #73-78
Hama had been building to this for awhile, as the new Cobra Commander challenges Serpentor for leadership of Cobra. A major battle breaks out on Cobra Island and the Joes are drawn into it, fighting on Serpentor’s side. This is pretty much the last story in the series to feature all of the then-current roster of the Joes. Destro enters the conflict, making it a three-way battle. The whole thing ends in a fascinating fashion. There is then an epilogue where the Joes’ government overseers try to sell the whole team out, leading to Roadblock having to go out on his own with retired Joe Clutch to clear his teammates. Ron Wagner, Marshall Rogers, Rod Whigham, Randy Emberlin and Fred Fredericks did the artwork.
1. “Silent Interlude” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #21
Likely the most famous single issue of G.I. Joe, Larry Hama wrote and did art breakdowns (with finishes by Steve Leialoha) for this story of Snake-Eyes breaking into a Cobra compound to rescue a captured Scarlett. Storm Shadow knows what is going on, so there is a major battle between the two. The famous part of the issue, of course, is that it is told without dialogue .
That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let us know!