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G.I. Joe

G.I. Joe
By Larry Hama and lots of artists

Behind the silly costumes and codenames, Larry Hama (who wrote nearly every story of the original 155 issue run that started in the 1980s) built up a huge soap opera of intertwined character drama, betrayals and secret ninja clans. Backstabbing and conniving mercenaries constantly fight each other for control of the terrorist group Cobra, while attempting to get rich through audacious blackmail and paramilitary contracts. Meanwhile, the reason behind Cobra Commander’s formation of Cobra ties into the background of the early fan-favorite ninjas Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow, ninjas who fight on opposite sides of G.I. Joe and Cobra. Hama actually has some devious and clever plots by the bad guys, actual tactical maneuverings as each side tries to outthink each other, and well-researched foundations to the military hardware (most real life American technology shows up in one form or another). Exciting military action ranges all over the world, from small special ops against terrorists to full-scale amphibious attacks on islands. The series suffers from the problem of having to constantly introduce new characters and vehicles (for every new toy), and a massive cast, but Hama manages to focus on a select core and build up an entertaining and ongoing dramatic saga amidst constant military action and Cold War intrigue, while making some comments on war and the military life. Plus an additional spin-off series, G.I. Joe: Special Missions, broke away from the toys even more to focus on specific Delta Force and Green Beret type missions.

For fans of The Expendables and Battlefields