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Comic Book Legends Revealed #366

Welcome to the three hundredth and sixty-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week is a special All-G.I. Joe legends edition! Was Ghost Rider a member of G.I. Joe?! Was longtime G.I. Joe writer Larry Hama’s band the real life “Cold Slither?” And was there an issue of G.I. Joe written and drawn over a DECADE before it saw print?

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and sixty-five (we now have enough legends for every day of the year!).

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Larry Hama’s band, The K-Otics, performed in the G.I. Joe episode “Cold Slither.”

STATUS: False

In “Cold Slither,” one of the most bizarre episodes of the G.I. Joe cartoon (which is saying something), Cobra finds themselves in major financial distress. Their plan to get out of it is to create a rock band and use subliminal messages to hypnotize the youth of America and hold them hostage at their concert for $100 billion.

The band is formed by Zartan and the Dreadnoks…

You can tell that Zartan is a true master of disguise by the way he completely disguises himself with this outfit…

Here are the lyrics to their song:

We’re Cold Slither; you’ll be joining us soon.
A band of vipers playin’ our tune.
With an iron fist/
And a reptile hiss/
We shall rule!
CHORUS:
We’re tired of words! We’ve heard it before.
We’re not gonna play the game no more!
Don’t tell us what’s right, don’t tell us what’s wrong!
Too late to resist, ’cause Cobra is strong.

We’re Cold Slither, heavy metal machine
Through the eyes of a lizard king you will dream.
When the venom stings/
A new order brings/
Our control!
(CHORUS)

So anyhow, hilarity ensues when three members of the Joes (Shipwreck, Breaker and Footloose) are caught by the subliminal messages, as well.

The rest of the team shows up and they save the day. Of course, the concert is now ruined. So the G.I. Joes decide to put on a concert of their own, as “The Average Joe Band.”

They sing the theme song to the series, but it is the actual voice actors singing, so it is really, really trippy.

So awhile back, reader Charlie E. wrote in to ask:

I don’t know if this should be a T.V. or comic book Legend but I seem to recall that in the Cold Slither episode of the G.I. Joe Cartoon Series the K-Otics are listed as performing the Music of Cold Slither (this is just how much of a geek I was in 80′s). As I am sure you know Larry Hama was the guitarist for the K-Otics, so this isn’t that far fetched of an idea (I believe the K-Otics also played a Marvel Christmas party if the Bullpen Bulletins are to be believed).

Here is a history of the K-Otics (from a Pacific Northwest bands website)…

The K-Otics mutated from The Statics and formed in 1962 by Eric Petersen. Original members were Eric on drums; Gary Hallgren, sax; Dale Nordstrom, guitar and vocals; Gordie Lamont, guitar. Sue Brunton, piano and vocals soon joined the group.

The K-Otics name was revived in 1983 when The Burning Sensations of New York (Gary Hallgren, sax; Larry Hama, guitar; Bobby London, guitar; Brick Mason, trumpet, harp, vocals; Todd Gross, bass; Nel Yomtov, drums) found their name usurped by a California group that actually had an LP out. Personnel changes also happened at about the same time: Bobby London and Todd Gross left the group and were replaced by Jim Olbrys, bass. Jim moved to guitar and was eventually replaced by Mark D. “Doc” Bright on bass. Nel left to play blues harp with his own band and was replaced by Steve Buzbee. Lorin Roser on keyboards and guitar and Tony Steers on accordion were also members for a time.

As you might have noticed, a few of those folks were comic book creators, most notably Larry Hama (and Mark Bright, who drew a number of issues of G.I. Joe). Here is a depiction of the K-Otics as anthropomorphic animals…

And here a picture is the band in action (from the early 1990s, I believe)…

Anyhow, I asked Larry Hama and he said nope.

He did, though, point out that there is a MySpace page for the K-Otics with four songs on it that you all can listen to if you want to hear some K-Otics music!

Check it out here.

Thanks to Charlie for the question and thanks to Larry for the answer.

COMIC LEGEND: Hasbro named a new member of the G.I. Joe team Ghost Rider, leading to an interesting usage of the character in the comic books.

STATUS: True

In 1988, Hasbro debuted a new action figure for their G.I. Joe line of toys. He came packaged with a Stealth Fighter toy.

Since the character flew the Stealth plane, he was dubbed…Ghostrider…

Hmmm…sounds familiar…

I asked Larry Hama about how they handled this…

Hasbro didn’t check with us on the trademark, so they went ahead and named their pilot figure Ghost Rider. Of course, we couldn’t have that in a Marvel comic, so I came up with the gimmick that nobody could remember his name.

And sure enough, when the character debuted in G.I. Joe #76, his name was not used in the comic, to comedic effect…

This continued a few issues later in G.I. Joe #80…

Over thirty issues later, in #115, his name was still part of the gag…

A very clever solution by Hama!

Commenter Ritchard noted that in the final issue of G.I. Joe Special Missions (#28), they sort of kind of show you Ghost Rider’s name in the comic as his codename is written on his plane. You can sort of see “Rider” here…

and “Ghos” here…

Thanks to reader Mike for the question, thanks to Larry Hama for the answer, thanks to YoJoe.com for the picture of the figure and the file card and thanks to Corey Stinson for providing the file card FOR YoJoe.com. And thanks to Ritchard for the neat Special Missions info. And thanks to Ethan Shuster for noting it was #76 that what’s his name debuted in, not #80 as I originally had it.

COMIC LEGEND: A 1993 issue of G.I. Joe was mostly written and drawn in 1982.

STATUS: True

G.I. Joe #143 came out in 1993, when the original G.I. Joe series was nearly on on its last legs (it would last one more year)…

It opened with a strange framing sequence by writer Eric Fein, pencilier Jesse D’Orozco and inker Tim Tuohy, strange because the framing sequence itself was a flashback (as it was set 10 issues or so earlier)…

(and okay, Scarlet’s “Ninja Force” era outfit was also pretty darn strange)

And then the flashback sequence began, written by Vic Sutherland and drawn by Tom Mandrake…

And it wraps up with the framing sequence.

Here’s the weird thing, though. The “flashback” story was not originally written AS a flashback story! It was written and drawn over a DECADE before it came out!

You see, Marvel Comics used to have a policy on pretty much all of its titles. They would have writers and artists who weren’t regularly working on the book do so-called “inventory stories,” stories that they could plug into the comic if the regular creative team fell behind schedule. The “problem” with G.I. Joe was that Larry Hama was so good with getting the book done that he didn’t MISS issues. I believe Hama had a 100-issue stretch at one point without missing an issue!

So it is 1993, the end of the title is in sight, and Marvel has this inventory story produced in 1982 (when the comic launched) that was going to be useless pretty soon, so I guess they decided now was the time to use it (I presume the word balloons at the end of the “flashback” story were added in 1993 to tie in with the framing sequence).

It is fascinating to see really early work from Tom Mandrake. I believe that this could have been his first full-length comic book story for Marvel or DC. At that point in time he was mostly doing short stories for DC’s war comics.

Jeff Bohn posted a great response he got from Mandrake about the issue in question awhile back:

Ugh, the less said about that job the better. I think I pencilled and inked it back around 1982, I got it from Denny O’Neil and I seem to recall it was the first job I did for Marvel.

I BLEW IT! Turned in a true disaster of an art job…totally choked on it. Denny was very kind and didn’t tell me how bad it was, but of course I didn’t get anymore work from him.

Years later, Denny was an editor at DC and I was either finishing my run on Firestorm or starting The Spectre, Denny stopped me in the hall and told me he felt I had improved more than anyone he had ever seen and that I was pretty good now. That made me feel quite a bit better, first because Denny didn’t hand out compliments very often and second because the Joe debacle still hung silently over my head whenever I saw Denny, which was pretty frequently as Dan Raspler (My editor on Firestorm) was working with Denny in the same shoebox size office.

At that point, more than 10 years had gone by and my ugly little art job seemed to be dead and buried in a drawer somewhere but NO…out of nowhere somebody at Marvel pulls the stake out of it’s heart, slaps a few pages of wrap-around story to update it and the next thing I know I’ve got my very own copy of the story I never wanted to see again. I never looked directly at it…just sort of squinted at it out of the corner of my eye. I think Vic Sutherland penciled the wrap-around story. I don’t know if M. Hands did art corrections on the story I did (there aren’t enough M. Hands in the world to put lipstick on THAT pig) or inked the wrap-around.

I don’t know if I actually provided you with any information here or if you should just bill me for a therapy session.

Anything else you want to dredge up out of my past? The name of my dead goldfish? The first girl who beat me up and took my lunch money?…sniff…-Tom “

Thanks to big-time G.I. Joe fan Ethan Shuster for the suggestion! And thanks to Jeff for the response from Tom and, of course, thanks to Tom Mandrake for that most excellent response!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). If we hit 3,000 likes on Facebook you’ll get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000 likes! So go like us on Facebook to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Also, be sure to check out my website, Urban Legends Revealed, where I look into urban legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at urbanlegendsrevealed.com.

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

63 Comments

GI Joe Starring Snake Eyes, forgot they did that

GI Joe Starring Snake Eyes, forgot they did that

It was a strange, strange time for the title.

It was so fitting that the pilot of the stealth fighter had a name no one could remember that I didn’t even question it when I read the stories.

But it’s Ghostrider without a space in it!

I asked Tom Mandrake about that issue almost 10 years ago, and here was his response…

” Reply To: (#363) GI Joe 143
Author: Jeff Bohn
Date: THU, 10/24/02, 7:35 p.m.

Ugh, the less said about that job the better. I think I pencilled and inked
it back around 1982, I got it from Denny O’Neil and I seem to recall it was
the first job I did for Marvel.

I BLEW IT! Turned in a true disaster of an art job…totally choked on it.
Denny was very kind and didn’t tell me how bad it was, but of course I didn’t
get anymore work from him.

Years later, Denny was an editor at DC and I was either finishing my run on
Firestorm or starting The Spectre, Denny stopped me in the hall and told me he
felt I had improved more than anyone he had ever seen and that I was pretty
good now. That made me feel quite a bit better, first because Denny didn’t
hand out compliments very often and second because the Joe debacle still hung
silently over my head whenever I saw Denny, which was pretty frequently as Dan
Raspler (My editor on Firestorm) was working with Denny in the same shoebox
size office.

At that point, more than 10 years had gone by and my ugly little art job
seemed to be dead and buried in a drawer somewhere but NO…out of nowhere
somebody at Marvel pulls the stake out of it’s heart, slaps a few pages of
wrap-around story to update it and the next thing I know I’ve got my very own
copy of the story I never wanted to see again. I never looked directly at
it…just sort of squinted at it out of the corner of my eye. I think Vic
Sutherland penciled the wrap-around story. I don’t know if M. Hands did art
corrections on the story I did (there aren’t enough M. Hands in the world to
put lipstick on THAT pig) or inked the wrap-around.

I don’t know if I actually provided you with any information here or if you
should just bill me for a therapy session.

Anything else you want to dredge up out of my past? The name of my dead
goldfish? The first girl who beat me up and took my lunch money?…sniff…
-Tom “

“Here is a depiction of the K-Otics as anthropomorphic animals”

Why?

Also, Zartan must be a big Twisted Sister fan.

wow, that GI Joe 143 cover…not sure what’s the worst part. The melting face, the badly foreshortened arm, the toupee hair, or the fact that Scarlett’s bust is much wider than her shoulders?

One piece of extra trivia: K-Otics drummer Nel Yomtov was the colorist for most of the Transformers Marvel series.

Why?

My guess would be because of Hama’s Bucky O’Hare comic, but honestly, I have no real idea. It is from their MySpace page.

Much nostalgia, this week. Marvel’s G.I. JOE (and TRANSFORMERS, for that matter) was my gateway drug to the world of comics.

Yes, Larry had a pretty clean record. Of the 155 issues of the main series, there were only 8 issues that he didn’t write:

#8 (Feb 1983, Herb Trimpe)
#9 (Mar 1983, Steven Grant)
#10 (Apr 1983, Steven Grant)
#20 (Feb 1984, Steven Grant)
#119 (Dec 1991, Herb Trimpe)
#143 (Dec 1993, Eric Fein and Vic Sutherland)
#153 (Oct 1994, Eric Fein and Peter Quinones)
#154 (Nov 1994, Peter Quinones)

And he also did all but 2 of the 28 issues of the spin-off, G.I. JOE SPECIAL MISSIONS:

#24 (Aug 1989, Herb Trimpe)
#27 (Nov 1989, Michael Fleisher)

Thanks, Jeff! I added that to the piece! What a great response from Tom!

That’s awesome, Jeff. Brain should incorporate some of these quotes into the story.

Ethan Shuster

May 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

Great column, Brian. Thanks for using my suggestion! I have actually heard that there’s another unused Marvel Joe script floating around out there that may show up in an upcoming book.

And now I will sound ungrateful and point out that Ghostrider actually first shows up in G.I. Joe #76, complete with the name-forgetting joke. But the scene here works just as well. I believe the joke came up every single issue he appeared in.

Ethan Shuster

May 11, 2012 at 10:12 am

I don’t think Mandrake’s art there is as bad as he said. It’s not great but it looks like it’d fit in perfectly with those early issues of G.I. Joe.

It helps that Mandrake’s art in the flashback is much, much, MUCH better than the new art in the framing sequence. Standards had slipped pretty far in the 1990s.

Note that there’s an allusion to Ghostrider’s name in that first story: his mission is Golf-Romeo, which of course is the phonetic alphabet version of ‘G.R’. Clever!

How many professions have emergency fail-safes in case of LAZINESS!! Comics are AWESOME!!!

I’ve always wondered why the book ended with a cliffhanger, then two crappy fill-in stories, then the finale. Marvel wanting to burn off the stored inventory makes perfect sense, since they’d be unusable if they lost the license.

Ghostrider’s name did show up once in the comic. Can’t remember the issue number, but there’s a shot of the stealth fighter flying by another Joe aircraft (piloted by Wild Bill or Ace, IIRC) where his code name is stenciled under the cockpit. I think it may be partly obscured, but it’s definitely enough to tell what it is. I’ll see if I can dredge up what issue number that is.

Yes they do. It’s called “doing a shitty job just to get it done on time”. Also, I don’t get why Ghostrider would be a problem for the comic and not the toy. Ghost Rider is a Marvel property, and at the time Marvel properties did guest star in Transformers (making some issues unreprintable today). Plus, it wasn’t even the character but the name, and trademarks are usually only issues on the covers. For instance, people call DCs Captain Marvel by name in dialog even though on covers he is always called Shazam. I’m surprised both that the figure got made with that name and that the name was somehow an issue in the comic.

Ethan Shuster

May 11, 2012 at 11:11 am

Dalarsco, I believe using a character’s name in a comic and a toy are sometimes two separate things. For years, Hasbro didn’t have a trademark on using the name ‘Roadblock’ for an actin figure, but that character still appeared in the comics the whole time.

Also, it may have been that Marvel just wanted to avoid the potential “confusion” of having two characters in their comics named Ghost Rider.

Dalarsco, I know Marvel constantly jerked the Old West Ghost Rider’s name around, switching him to “Night Rider” whenever Johnny Blaze or Dan Ketch had a series (then switching back when the biker demon was between series). Maybe they just didn’t want two Ghost Riders, period.
Oogabooga, it wasn’t just laziness. I remember a 1970s letter column in which they listed problems that had triggered the “dread deadline doom” such as finished art getting lost in the mail, an India ink shortage at their supplier and one artist’s house getting mudslid into the ocean. Unfortunately, the fill-ins were usually mediocre.

Ethan Shuster

May 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

I’ve also heard that many fill-in issues were credited to writers’ or artists’ alias, sometimes to hide the fact that the fill-ins were sometimes done fast and half-assed.

Kind of funny that the art on the job that Mandrake “blew” is still substantially better that the art on the “framing sequence.”

Holy crap. I completely forgot about Cold Slither but instantly remembered the music as soon as I read the lyrics.

I thought the same as Tim Levine, but then I realized it wasn’t entirely the “new” art’s fault. Part of the problem is in the latter day Joe designs. It is pretty difficult to draw stuff like Ninja Force or Battleforce 2000 with any seriousness, even without stealing the sword training routine straight out of Star Wars.

The long jumped the shark nature of GI Joe polluted the art and the story design itself. The “flashback” was effectively an entirely different product, and an artist’s apparent aversion to drawing backgrounds is a small sin compared to what GI Joe became.

What cool timing, I just saw the Cold Slither episode awhile back on the Hub.

Strange seeing Scarlett training with Luke Skywalker’s Jedi blaster droid though……

ParanoidObsessive

May 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Wait. Wait wait wait.

“Brick Mason, trumpet, harp, vocals”

Brick Mason?

Is that a deliberately punny nickname or stage name for someone, or did they just have REALLY cruel parents?

Huh, I just read the story with “he whose name could not be remembered” in one of the GI Joe collections recently, and I had no idea what was going on with that. Clever idea by Hama.

Dalarsco, I know Marvel constantly jerked the Old West Ghost Rider’s name around, switching him to “Night Rider” whenever Johnny Blaze or Dan Ketch had a series (then switching back when the biker demon was between series).

Night Rider was a short-lived name. Marvel switched his name again to Phantom Rider when they realized that “Night Rider” had been a term for the KKK. Not so good for a ghostly vigilante dressed all in white.

Mind you, Marvel’s Old West Ghost/Night/Phantom Rider was a straight-up rip-off of Magazine Enterprises’ Ghost Rider from the 1950s, who had the same costume, the same gimmick and of course the same name.

The K-Otics guitarist Bobby London: the Dirty Duck and Popeye Bobby London?

Brian you made my day with the Cold Slither entry and Hama wielding that flying V!

I didn’t remember Phantom Rider–I believe they also tossed off “He Who Rides the Night Winds” in one of his Avengers guest-star turns (and I think eventually asserted “well, the Indians know this legendary figure by many names.”).
I remember reading about the pre-Marvel Ghost Rider, but I’d forgotten until you mentioned it.

It’s like the old CFL and the Roughriders and the Rough Riders.

Man, even back when the books 1st came out I caught on to the whole Ghost Rider name gag and why it was probably happening. I do like how they finally called him Captain Jeffries (his name and rank) in that last bit, which was his last appearance in the series, IIRC – during the Trucial Abysmia war. So in the end, he was finally remembered. Somewhat.

And is it just me or is Mr. Hama’s answer about K-Otics a bit too quick and easy? ;)

I wish that the recent GI Joe Renegades cartoon hadn’t been cancelled, so we could’ve seen Cobra Industries start a record label with Zartana as their teenybopper subliminal pop star. It’d be like Ultimate Cold Slither!

To me, GI Joe was 12 inches and liked to WWII cosplay and he dated Barbie when Ken wasn’t around. Then he grew a fuzzy beard and drove an ATV and got Kung Fu Grip.

Then he became a little plastic nub with a bad cartoon. And you know the cartoon was bad. Don’t gimme that shit. Don’t gimme any this 80s shit. GI Joe? Transformers? Fuckin’ Smurfs?

Johnny Quest, muthafuckah!

Brian from Canada

May 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm

The only good think about Ninja Force was the Blaylock & co. could mock it when the series FINALLY got brought back right at Devil’s Due. (And damn you, Hasbro, for taking it away from them!)

PS Mark: That’s a bit different… the Roughriders have blocked the Rough Riders from taking back their *older* name because they only want one Riders team in the league! :-|

Cold Slither!!! I looooove that episode! “Remember kids, might makes right!”

Almost as funny as that Transformers episode where Starscream tries to make energon cubes by hooking human brains to a suction device!

They just don’t make cartoons like that anymore…

Looked it up and the stealth pilot’s name appeared in G.I. Joe Special Missions #28 (the final issue). It actually appears twice, only partially each time. Near the beginning of the book, you can clearly make out “Rider,” and, later on, you can see “Ghos” (no ‘T’).

This may have happened another time in the series, but I’m not sure.

Great article. GI Joe was one of my first comics as well, and I still have a soft spot for Larry Hama, would love to see him do some more GI Joe if it was possible.

And I had the exact same thought as Ted Levine, the art in the framing sequence is very very 90′s bad.

And I was finally able to listen to some of the K-Otics (didn’t have an up-to-date version of Flash earlier). Dag! Larry Hama is a great comic book writer, a fairly good comic book artist, a walking encyclopedia, a martial arts master… he wrote one of the best Wolverine runs of all time, almost singlehandedly invented the Joe team, appeared on MASH, possesses a nearly-unparalleled wit, AND plays a mean guitar? Are we sure he’s merely human anymore, or was he bitten by a radioactive something-or-other at some point and has kept it under wraps all this time?

BTW, phred, it appears you posted while I was writing that. IDW is currently publishing a continuation of the Marvel Joe series, beginning with issue #155.5.

Hama also wrote a few stories for Devil’s Due (The Mission That Never Was, the 7-issue Storm Shadow ongoing, and G.I. Joe: Declassified), as well as some stand-alone comics for Hasbro that are mostly set in the Marvel Joe universe and the first arc or two of G.I. Joe: Origins in the new IDW-verse.

I can at least claim to have had the thought first, as I am pretty sure I bought the issue back in the day. Still have it buried in a long box I think, unless I donated it. Hope I didn’t, the craptacular art might have dissuaded some poor impressionable kid from reading comics. I kid, I kid. It’s not that bad.

Ritchard- thanks, I caught a few of the IDW issues, but I didn’t know Hama had written any. Didn’t know about the rest, I’ll try to track those down.

Here’s a Cold Slither video from youtube hahah

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4q5OHKsN1Q

@ The Mutt…

And his best friend was Big Jim.

Travis Pelkie

May 12, 2012 at 1:33 am

Y’know, I read a lot of the Joe series from the Classic TPs from a local library, and I was surprised at how damn good they were. Really good done in one stories that built a nice mythology and all. Hama is the man!

Someone get that “Cold Slither” episode to the Venture Brothers guys! Shallow Gravy needs to cover that! Sphinx!

Mandrake is doing a really nice job on Night Force for DC now. Very nice atmospheric stuff. He was a Kubert School guy, which I assume is why he was working on the DC war books.

That Ghostrider thing is cool. Smart way around it.

And that last part, the cover with Scarlett gets me thinking of another Scarlet with similar “attributes”. You can’t stop them, you can only hope to contain them. Damn!

Wow, to be a Marvel artist and they show your worst material in the books. It would be great for anyone.

Travis Pelkie

May 12, 2012 at 2:32 am

Lex’s comment got me curious about what else Mandrake’s done for Marvel. According to GCD, he did Call of Duty the Precinct, an arc on Weapon X, some inking back in the day on New Mutants, and a couple other one offs like Punisher and so on.

They didn’t list the Image series (of at least 2 issues) called Creeps. I kinda liked that one. (I hope that one was him and I’m not misremembering…)

Boy, he sure likes that Ostrander guy, though, huh?

I had no idea that’s why they didn’t remember the code name of the stealth pilot.

I thought that was because he was the character you could send away for with your own personal code name on him and because of that they obviously couldn’t give him one specific one and had to come up with a way around it.

Hey Brian I forgot about the Ghost Rider question! The “what’s his name bit” is such a great example of Mr. Hama’s cleverness. Any comics fan who missed or dismissed the original Marvel series owes it to themself to read the first 75 issues. Tons of great stories in there mixing the serious thought provoking stuff, action, and offbeat humor, especially the meta-mocking of goofier characters. The toy tie-ins and later spandex trends got too dominating for me after that.

Ah, the 90′s. EVERYBODY had a Danger Room back in those days. Not just the X-Men, but Avengers, Youngblood, WildCATS and even G.I. Joe.

I get Mandrake being hard on himself. I don’t get O’Neil holding it against him, because they were (and have since) put out art a lot worse than that. Sometimes regularly. It may not have been classic, but nothing to be ashamed of, in comparison.

Travis Pelkie

May 12, 2012 at 8:42 pm

But M-Wolverine, from what Mandrake’s saying, O’Neil didn’t really hold it against him, he just didn’t hire him for art jobs on books he edited. He ended up telling Mandrake that he thought Mandrake had really gotten better, so it sounds like he recognized that Mandrake had put in a poor showing, but later redeemed himself, and Denny took the time to let him know that he knew that. Probably Denny could tell that Mandrake felt odd around him, so he took the time to tell him he’d greatly improved, to help ease the tension so that Mandrake didn’t keep feeling odd around O’Neil. That seems like a nice gesture on Denny’s part.

I probably wasn’t being clear. I’m just saying that even if that wasn’t what we consider TM’s work today, his worst is certainly still better than a lot of artists and the time, and since, that O’Neil regularly employed (as well as others). I don’t think he should have been looked over for work, because his bad work was still better than a lot of others good work. When he got better, it just became a no-brainer.

Wow, the “Rider” isn’t especially noticeable in that panel of the original version. It’s much plainer in the re-colored IDW reprint collection.

I’ve always wondered why Tom Mandrake’s artwork on that issue of G.I. Joe looked nothing like his regular stuff. Now I know… and knowing is half the battle :)

IDW is currently publishing a continuation of the Marvel Joe series, beginning with issue #155.5.

Which is really good. Definitely worth checking out. If you need to catch up on it, IDW has three TPBs out so far. The full title of the series is G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero to distinguish it from their other Joe books. I’ve written a couple of reviews of various issues of the series, if anyone wants further info:

http://voices.yahoo.com/gi-joe-real-american-hero-volumes-8938693.html?cat=38

http://benjaminherman.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/a-marvelous-g-i-joe-reunion-at-idw-4-2/

@Dalarsco –
IDW has worked out the problems with those Transformers issues with Marvel characters and are now reprinting them in a new series of TPBs. The only really significant one is Circuit Breaker, who was created for Transformers but appeared in a Secret Wars II comic first so Marvel could claim ownership, since other characters that were created for the comic became Hasbro property (GB Blackrock, any Witwicky character)
Having a Hasbro character in the Marvel comic with a similar or identical name of a Marvel-owned character could lead to copyright dilution problems, easier to avoid these things by not having the name appear …

larry hama fan

May 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Thanks for these stories! The GI Joe run with Larry Hama, up until the last two or three years where absolutely ridiculous things were forced into the comic by Hasbro, were simply amazing. I think when one looks back at the restrictions Hama was put under and the fact that he was forced to create a real comic out of toy characters, then his efforts were extremely impressive. I view him as the best comic writer that I have read since the obstacles he overcame would normally seem too difficult to offer a well written creative comic. There is a reason no writer really liked to do toy related comics, and why almost all of them failed relatively quickly.

Some of the comics were truly groundbreaking — especially things like the Silent Issue. Not only was Hama able to effectively tell a story without a single word, but he also gave clues about secrets that were to be unveiled for years to come. The explanation for the Ghost Rider stuff, for instance, shows what remarkable creativity Hama had. Even as an adult, when I go back and read the stories, I am impressed at the themes, comments, plots, etc — Hama never dumbed down his material for kids. Some of the references and quotes by the characters, such as the Soft Master stating that the conquering Japanese attempting to ban knives led to the most deadly forms of hand to hand combat ever being created by the Okinawans, and that politicians would never learn the futility of banning objects, is something that most adults today have trouble with — let alone exposing such wonderful critical thinking concepts to kids and teenagers.

I know that was my first exposure also to the concept that unlike on tv and in movies, the bad guys often got away with their behavior especially if they were wealthy and connected with high priced lawyers. Seeing the US troops being used as pawns for dictators and thugs around the world was also another eye opener, and unfortunately all too real. Anyway, for those who have gone years without reading the, or who never have, I strongly encourage you to check out the first 115 issues or so of GI Joe in the trade paperback volumes available on amazon.com. The last issue of GI Joe, despite the horrible artwork contained, had the most emotion inducing writing I have ever seen in any comic, bar none. Hama is by far the most underrated writer in modern comic book history, and the sales numbers he achieved with GI Joe and Wolverine were proof that I am not alone in that view.

larry hama fan

May 23, 2012 at 12:09 am

One other thing: a lot of people unless they are pretty hardcore fans of the comic and toy line don’t realize that while hasbro forced various figures on marvel, Larry almost always came up with the background and wrote the file cards for those new characters. Anyway, just another memory I had of how creative and impressive Larry’s task was in making a toy comic highly entertaining and intellectual.

Larry Hama, what a workhorse. And unlike Transformers where it was debatable whether the comics or cartoon was better, with GI Joe there was never any doubt, the comics were leagues beyond anything from the show.

The Cold Slither music was also used as background music in “The Transformers” a bunch of times.

Also, in the close up of the “Ghos” on the jet, Ghostrider is clearly David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight.

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