Sunday, March 2, 2008

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #8 (February 1983)

Code Name: Sea-Strike!

Credits: Herb Trimpe (writer/artist/inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Christie Scheele (colorist), Denny O’Neil (editor)

Feature Characters: Breaker, Clutch, Flash, Grand Slam, Grunt, Hawk, Rock ‘N Roll, Scarlett, Short-Fuze, Snake Eyes, Stalker, Steeler, Zap

Flash, Rock 'N Roll, Short-Fuze, and Zap appear next in G.I. Joe #10. Grand Slam and Steeler appear next in G.I. Joe #11.

Supporting Characters: None

Villains: Cobra Commander, the Baroness (appears next in G.I. Joe #10), Cobra troops (one identified as S.E.A. Legs Leader One)

Story: Cobra attempts to attack a space shuttle mission that will put a satellite into orbit capable of destroying Cobra’s network of undersea bases. The entire G.I. Joe team is assigned to defend Cape Canaveral.

Reagan-era Goodness: Before the mission begins, Hawk channels Phil Esterhaus when he tells everyone, “Let’s be careful out there.” For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 1980s, Phil Esterhaus said this every week on the cop show Hill Street Blues.

Review: This is the first issue where Larry Hama doesn’t write the story in some capacity. Instead, this issue is handled by artist and occasional co-writer, Herb Trimpe. What follows is a departure from the somewhat realistic aspects of Hama’s stories into cartoon territory. Cartoon territory isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it is a bit jarring to go from the ripped-from-the-headlines US-Soviet tension of the past two issues to a paper-thin plot featuring two-dimensional villains using odd vehicles/devices never seen before and, what the hey, a space shuttle flight.

Speaking of the shuttle flight, I find it incredibly unlikely that members of the G.I. Joe team would even be mission specialists on a shuttle flight. While we’ve seen a couple of the Joes in action as capable pilots, we’ve seen nothing to indicate the level of training necessary for a space mission. I don’t buy it. Incidentally, the G.I. Joe team would return to space in issue #65 using their own space shuttle ( another can o’worms unto itself).

Cobra’s plan here, to circle the planet with warheads, is rather ambitious as is Cobra Commander’s claim that it’s the first step “in ruling the cosmos itself.” Again, this is the sort of thing that would become rather common on the cartoon a couple of years later. Some of the more strident fans claim that since this issue wasn’t written by Larry Hama, it doesn’t count as part of the greater Joe canon. The events of this issue aren’t ever referred to again so I’m not going to freak out about it.

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