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G.I. Joe Has ALWAYS Been About ‘Social Justice’

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
G.I. Joe Has ALWAYS Been About ‘Social Justice’

This is “Just a Reminder,” when I look back at comic book history whenever I think there’s something worthwhile to look back at on in connection with things going on today. This time around, we’re looking at some of the reactions to the recent GI Joe news about a new, Hispanic female Snake Eyes and accusations about the decision-making on the book being driven by “Social Justice Warriors.”

RELATED: GI Joe Has A New, Female Snake Eyes

First off, you often hear critics of comic creators introducing diverse versions of famous comic book characters argue that it is not the idea itself, but rather how unsupported the change is. Well, in the case of Dawn Moreno taking over as the new Snake Eyes, Larry Hama has spent a year and a half of his current run on G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero setting the storyline up, from Dawn’s first appearance in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #226…

to her adoption of her new identity in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #244…

So anyone paying attention to Hama’s current run would know that this is not just some gimmick that he pulled out of nowhere. This has been in the works for almost two years.

However, what’s even more amusing is that the criticism over Larry Hama making decisions out of a desire for better diversity completely overlooks the fact that Hama has done the same exact thing on G.I. Joe…for over 30 years!

First off, you might have noticed that of the original G.I. Joe team, that the most diverse characters tended to get the most play in the comic in the early issues.

But more importantly, one of the most famous storylines in the series originated out of Hama’s desire to add some diversity to the line (I discussed this in my Comic Book Legends Revealed column in this past Spring). You see, in 1984, Hasbro introduced the “Cobra Ninja” action figure…

Hama was disappointed that the very first Asian character in the G.I. Joe toy line also happened to be a villain. Therefore, after he introduced Storm Shadow into the “G.I. Joe” comic book series with the classic “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” #21 (the famous “Silent Issue,” which was written and drawn by Larry Hama, with Steve Leialoha doing finishes over Hama’s art)…

He then decided that he was going to make their only Asian character one of the good guys. He slowly developed Storm Shadow’s background (and his connection to Snake Eyes), which became one of the most famous aspects of the entire G.I. Joe series!

Later, Storm Shadow eventually ended up joining the G.I. Joe team…

Therefore, diversifying the comic book series has been a goal of Hama’s for over thirty years now!

Also, not for nothing, but I spoke with Hama over the term “social justice warrior” and he told me that “I embrace the term. It was coined to be a put-down, but I don’t see anything wrong in being a “social justice warrior.” Isn’t that better than being a “a vigilante with remorse?”

Well said, Larry!

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