Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
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!).
COMIC LEGEND: Larry Hama’s band, The K-Otics, performed in the G.I. Joe episode “Cold Slither.”
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!
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/
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.
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…
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.
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!
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