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The Greatest G.I. Joe Stories Ever Told!

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Every day in April we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest G.I. Joe Stories Ever Told!

Enjoy!

10. “Return of Cobra Commander” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #98-100

Larry Hama, M.D. Bright and Randy Emberlin return the original Cobra Commander back in this three-parter which has a great opening where the returned Commander “takes care of all family business.” One of the funniest aspects of the next fifty-five issues of G.I. Joe was seeing all the people the Commander seemingly kills in #98 slowly but surely return as the series goes on as they are too cool to let stay dead (Zartan, Cobra Commander’s son Billy, Dr. Mindbender, etc.)

9. “The Snake Eyes/Kwinn/Dr. Venom/Scar-Face Saga” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #12-19

In this six-part story (that was just a sub-plot in some of the issues), Snake-Eyes, the mercenary Kwinn the Eskimo and the Cobra agent Dr. Venom are all seemingly killed by the Baroness in #12. They survive, of course, and make their way back in a sort of Planes, Trains and Automobiles-esque story. Venom is rescued by Cobra eventually and the Cobra soldier known as Scar-Face is infected with a virus that is meant to kill the Joes when they “capture” Scar-Face. The whole thing ends with Cobra invading what they think is the Joes’ headquarters in the first Battle of the Pit. In one of the first major bloodbaths of the series, pretty much all of the major players of this storyline are killed. I especially liked Scar-Face’s death, as he realizes too late just how much he’s wasted his life. This storyline also introduced Destro into the comics. Mike Vosburg and Jon D’Agostino provide the artwork.

8. “The War in Benzheen” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #108-115

While G.I. Joe #19 had the first major casualties of the series, it was only in minor characters that did not have their own action figures. That changed with G.I. Joe #109, where a miscommunication between Cobra Commander and Xamot leads to a Cobra SAW-Viper killing a number of prominent G.I. Joe characters, including Doc, Breaker and Quick Kick. This is set against a bigger storyline where Cobra invades the country of Benzheen, and Hama is able to do his take on how G.I. Joe would fight a modern war in the Middle East. Clearly, the order had been given that major deaths were allowed, as the storyline sees a number of Joes killed, including Battle Force 2000 and Sneak Peek. The latter’s death was given particular attention. M.D. Bright closed out his run on the book with the first part of the story and then John Statema took over (with one issue drawn by Ron Garney). Randy Emberlin inked most of the six-parter.

7. “Chuckles Saga” G.I. Joe: Cobra #1-4, G.I. Joe: Cobra II #1-4, 10-13

Mike Costa, Christos Gage and Antonio Fuso show us the seedier side of G.I. Joe and Cobra in this series, which was part of IDW’s relaunch of the G.I. Joe characters a few years back (Chuck Dixon was in charge of most of the rebooted titles, while Costa and Gage had their own little corner to work with). It shows G.I. Joe undercover operative Chuckles as he infiltrates the highest levels of Cobra. It shows the very fine line between being a bad guy and pretending to be a bad guy. Namely, if you do lots of bad things to get the bad guys to think you’re one of them, at what point does it really matter any more WHY you’re doing what you’re doing? The whole thing concludes in a fashion that took everyone by surprise, including myself.

6. “The Gulag Saga” G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #61-66, G.I. Joe: Special Missions #6

In this compelling series of stories, G.I. Joe members Stalker, Quick Kick, Snow Job and Outback are on a mission when everything goes haywire. With most of the team wounded, Stalker orders Outback to escape to let the other Joes know the situation. G.I. Joe Special Missions #6 tells Outback’s journey. Meanwhile, the remaining members are thrown into a Gulag. Things get dicier when Hawk reveals that G.I. Joe will NOT be rescuing their teammamtes due to international relations. Naturally, then, Snake-Eyes and Scarlett fake their own deaths so that they can save their friends “off the books,” as it were. A few different artists drew this storyline, including Marshall Rogers and Ron Wagner.

Go to the next page for the top five!

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23 Comments

Biggest omissions are the other two silent issues (“SFX” from ARAH #85 and “Hush Job” from G.I. Joe Yearbook #3) and an arc that features an insanely badass portrayal of Snake Eyes where he fights his way out of a building Die Hard style (ARAH #103-106).

The IDW series is kind of underrepresented (though unsurprisingly, as the original Marvel series outclasses it in pretty much every way). The Chuckles story is notable if only for the fact that they actually wrote an interesting story with Chuckles, which would have seemed impossible at one point in time as he’s pretty much the biggest joke character in the entire franchise (save for maybe Ice Cream Soldier). Also noteworthy is the “new” “Cobra Civil War” that IDW did where they offed Cobra Commander and replaced him with a used car salesman (IIRC).

Otherwise it looks like this has pretty much all of the classics covered.

I’m a tiny bit surprised World War III, which closed out the Devil’s Due involvement in the series, didn’t make it. It was pretty well received when it came out, and it’s quite good.

I forgot to vote but I really love the Gulag saga and am thrilled it made it on the list. I’ll always remember how the other Joes freeze out Outback when he returns home. And then when those left behind return they march right up to Outback and the other Joes expect them to be angry but instead they thank him for obeying Stalker and leaving them. It’s really well done.

The 21st issue is the GREATEST! I wonder how WWIII was ranked? Just asking.

It did not receive much support. The Chuckles story arc was pretty much the only non-Marvel story to get any real support. Hama dominated otherwise.

@Greg Burgas —

The DDP series is not exactly remembered fondly. I think a lot of people overlook the WWIII story arc because of its association with the rest of that series.

I agree with Paul Garcia though. Brian, would you mind letting us know exactly where the WWIII arc ranked on the list?

I think my initial theory was probably right. WWIII was arguably one of the greatest non-Marvel arcs in G.I. Joe ever. It’s just a shame that it had to come at the tail end of an otherwise forgettable series.

I wonder how much support did the Marvel-era Special Missions get? I’d imagine probably not much, since it didn’t have any long form arcs and usually didn’t feature Cobra as the antagonists.

Four of my picks made it. Happily, they were four of the top five.

i was wondering if silent interlude was going to be in the top five. given how its the only comic without dialog plus it showed how great snake eyes is. and surprised to see not only the issue where the original cobra commander returns and takes care of all those who betrayed him. but also the storyline where the saw viper winds up with a high joe body count. plus the cobra civil war too on this list.

Silent Interlude isn’t the only dialog-free issue of the series. There’s also “SFX” from #85 and “Hush Job” from Yearbook #3 (although IIRC the latter has a single line of dialog).

I had WWIII as my #10 pick, with all the rest being Hama stuff. I also had Special Missions #6 as #3 on my list, with the rest of the Gulag Saga appearing at #8. SM#6 is up there with Shake Down as one of the best single issues of a comic I’ve read.

I haven’t read any of the IDW stuff yet, although I did get a few trades on sales through Comixology I haven’t checked out yet. I’ll have to give the Cobra series a look.

Also missing from this list is The Snake Eyes Trilogy (ARAH #94-96), one of the many arcs that demonstrates just how thoroughly badass Snake Eyes is.

I voted for that trilogy. I wonder how close it was to making it.

Forget the issue#, but my favorite was the issue with tge destrucion of The PIT and the aftermath.

Of all the Greatest lists so far, this is the series I have the least experience with. So it’s interesting to see what the fans consider the great stories.

Hard to argue with a list like this.

Half of my votes made it.
I was kinda kicking myself for not voting for Transformers/G.I.Joe by John Ney Rieber and Jae Lee as I really like the alternate WW2 take on the characters but I know it wouldn’t have had a chance of getting ranked anyway.

Random question: Have they ever used any of the Cobra-La stuff in a comic? Just wondering.

IAM FeAR: Aside from the introduction of Serpentor (noted above), I would be curious about that, too. Especially to see if any of the comics ever featured my favorite “GI Joe” character: Nemesis Enforcer.

It’s hard to be a badass in a pink and purple outfit.

It IS a great story, but looking back I wonder what they were expecting to go up against that they chose a team made up of Quick Kick, Snow Job, and Outback. Fighting ninjas in a skiing resort in the Australian desert? Stalker must have been shaking his head and figured that mission would go south.

The 2 issue (iirc) Gi Joe Cobra arc with Scoop investigating a scientology-esque snake cult was pretty awesome and a nice job of making a goofier character pretty chilling.

The only personal favorite of mine that didn’t make this list was G.I. Joe Special Missions #2, “Words of Honor.” Clutch is my favorite Joe and for him to be able to accomplish the team’s mission while keeping his word *and* exacting a measure of revenge against the worst of humanity made for a gripping tale. It demonstrates just how good a writer Larry Hama is. I also loved the assortment of Joes used in this issue’s two-pronged mission, with many rarely-used team members getting some “face time” (Alpine, Airtight) and good ol’ Breaker.

Oh, and Herb Trimpe, who penciled this issue, remains my favorite G.I. Joe artist.

I always liked the issue (I think it was 33) when Ace and Wild Weasel are both out on training flights and run into each other for a wild dogfight. Great action as they duel it out in the skies leading to the fantastic ending as they charge each other, both realizing they’re out of ammo and break off at the last minute but close enough so each can salute the other as a worthy opponent. Great bit that showcases a line Hama would later use: “Sometimes the soldiers you respect the most are on the opposite side.”

How did I miss this one? Arrgh! :)

I’m a bit surprised The Snake Eyes Trilogy didn’t make the Top Ten. Same for “Panic at the North Pole,” Kwinn’s first appearance, and a gem of an issue. Also conspicuous in its absence is “A Letter From Snake Eyes,” the final issue of the Marvel series, and pretty much an excuse for Hama to write a graphic essay on the role of soldiers in general.

As for Cobra-La, Nemesis Enforcer appeared in a pack-in comic with the Falcon/Nemesis Enforcer 2-pack in the 25th Anniversary figure line. It’s by Hama, but outside regular continuity. Also, though very far removed from the original concept, Pythona and Golobulous appear in the IDW Cobra series (Pythona as a cohort of the cult leader Serpentor, who promotes the worship of the god Golobulous).

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