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EDITORS Justin Eisinger & Alonzo Simon
2. DESIGNER Shawn Lee
Special thanks to Hasbro’s Aaron Archer, Derryl DePriest, Joe Del Regno, Ed Lane, Joe Furfaro, Jos Huxley, Heather Hopkins, and Michael Kelly for their invaluable assistance.
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G.I. JOE: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION, VOLUME 3. AUGUST 2013. FIRST PRINTING. HASBRO and its logo, G.I. JOE, and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission. © 2013 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved. The IDW logo is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. IDW Publishing, a division of Idea and Design Works, LLC. Editorial offices: 5080 Santa Fe St., San Diego, CA 92109. Any similarities to persons living or dead are purely coincidental. With the exception of artwork used for review purposes, none of the contents of this publication may be reprinted without the permission of Idea and Design Works, LLC. Printed in Korea. IDW Publishing does not read or accept unsolicited submissions of ideas, stories, or artwork. Originally published by Marvel Comics as G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO Issues #25–33, YEARBOOK #1, and by Hasbro as the 25th Anniversary Comic Pack #10 and #32.5.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PG. 4 INTRODUCTION Written by Mark W. Bellomo
PG. 12 ISSUE #25, JULY 1984: “ZARTAN!” Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Frank Springer - Inks by Mike Gustovich Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Rick Parker - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty PG. 37 ISSUE #26, AUGUST 1984: "SNAKE-EYES: THE ORIGIN" Script and Breakdowns by Larry Hama - Finishes by Steve Leialoha - Colors by George Roussos Letters by Rick Parker - Edits by Denny O'Neil - Cover by Mike Zeck and Bob Wiacek PG. 62 ISSUE #27, SEPTEMBER 1984: "SNAKE-EYES: THE ORIGIN, PART II" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Frank Springer - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Rick Parker - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and Bob Wiacek PG. 86 2008: "THE TIGER AND THE TEAPOT" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils, Inks, and Cover by Sheldon Goh
This comic was included as a bonus in Hasbro’s “25th Anniversary Comic Pack[ * • s] ” product, as well as two action figures: Ninja Apprentice (Snake Eyes) vs. the Arashikage Leader (Hard Master), attired as they were featured in this comic pack. This issue greatly enhances the narrative provided in issues # #26 and 27.
ISSUE #28, OCTOBER 1984: "SWAMPFIRE!" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Marie Severin - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Rick Parker - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty ISSUE #29, NOVEMBER 1984: "BEACHED WHALE" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Frank Springer - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Rick Parker - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Michael Golden ISSUE #30, DECEMBER 1984: "DARKNESS" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Frank Springer - Inks by Andy Mushynsky and Pat Redding Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Rick Parker - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty
ISSUE #31, JANUARY 1985: "ALL FALL DOWN!" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by Christie Scheele - Letters by Rick Parker - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Frank Springer and Klaus Janson
ISSUE #32, FEBRUARY 1985: "THE MOUNTAIN!" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Frank Springer - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Rick Parker - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Frank Springer ISSUE #32 1/2, 2008: "A DAY IN THE LIFE OF SPRINGFIELD" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils, Inks, and Cover by Jeremy Dale*
This comic was included as a bonus in Hasbro’s “25th Anniversary Comic Pack[ s] ” product, as well as two action figures: Scarred Cobra Officer (Scar-Face) vs. Cobra Elite Trooper (Crimson Guard [ Fred clone] ), attired as they were featured in this comic pack. This issue greatly enhances the narrative provided in issues # #32 and 33.
ISSUE #33, MARCH 1985: "CELEBRATION!" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Frank Springer - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Rick Parker - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty
YEARBOOK #1, MARCH 1985 Cover by Michael Golden
When Hasbro concocted their revolutionary 11 ½” G.I. JOE action figure brand in 1964, America’s original Man of Action represented a unique, individual fighting soldier—one solo dog-face, seaman, flyboy, or jarhead who could don different outfits and accoutrements to represent the four major branches of the U.S. armed forces. Assuming the identity of an Action Soldier, G.I. JOE could be placed behind a slew of Combat Sand Bag Sets, manning his Bivouac Machine Gun on the soft pine needles of the forest floor. Dressed as an Action Marine, G.I. JOE could field strip his M-1 rifle included in the Beachhead Attack Set while resting atop the dunes of your backyard sandbox. As an Action Pilot, G.I. JOE double-timed it down the tarmac of your driveway while he outfitted himself in the Scramble Equipment Flight Suit. As an Action Sailor, G.I. JOE carefully put on his Scuba Suit from the Frogman Set to swim in the slow-moving stream behind your house. In the sixties and seventies, the concept of G.I. JOE applied to a lone adventurer: one man against the world. And this idea lasted for 14 strong years (1964-1978) until the price of oil nearly quadrupled and petroleum-based plastics were prohibitively expensive. Even at a mere eight inches tall, Hasbro’s scaled-down Super Joe line was dead in the water.
SAVE THIS FORM. IT WILL NOT BE REPLACED IF LOST.
Unconcerned, Hasbro prepared G.I. JOE for a comeback in 1980/81: American patriotism was at an all-time high, the stigma attached to military toys had finally lifted, Ronald Reagan encouraged his constituents to wave their flags 24-7, and the amateur U.S. hockey team won the gold at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Therefore, with their new line of highly articulated, superbly accessorized, and lavishly designed 3 ¾” G.I. JOE action figures, it appeared that the company couldn’t miss. But there was one catch to the reintroduction of the line: instead of G.I. JOE existing as a generic military everyman, the concept was tweaked and G.I. JOE became a team of specialists thanks to the Herculean efforts of the creative team at Marvel Comics—charged by Hasbro to handle the toy line’s entire back story. Due to the input of Jim Shooter (Marvel’s famous Editor-in-Chief), Archie Goodwin (one of the most beloved editors in the history of the medium), and Larry Hama (the artist/writer/editor extraordinaire tasked to write the G.I. JOE comic book) on the creative end, now each member of the G.I. JOE Mobile Strike Force possessed an area of specialization, with MOS’s (Military Occupational Specialties [a soldier’s “job”]) ranging from Infantry Trooper to Machine Gunner to Communications Officer. Stephen Hassenfeld, the president of Hasbro, was blown away by the joint presentation, and with his blessing, the line was green-lit; the company readied for their all-new G.I. JOE line to take America by storm. Poised as Hasbro was for the renewed brand to hit retail shelves in 1982—with an initial assortment of nine individually-packaged G.I. JOE action figures: Breaker (Communications Officer), Flash (Laser Rifle Trooper), Grunt (Infantry Trooper), Rock ‘N Roll (Machine Gunner), Scarlett (Counter Intelligence), Short-Fuze (Mortar Soldier), Snake Eyes (Commando), Stalker (Ranger), and Zap (Bazooka Soldier)—the perceptive folks at Marvel were exceedingly concerned with the early direction of the line.
And Kenner Toys—due to their successful association with the blockbuster 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope film and accompanying 3 ¾” action figure line—cornered the market for boys’ toys.
Hama recalls these early meetings with Hasbro, where the Marvel Comics contingent was present to discuss the plans for launching the line: “All
of us [at Marvel] realized that Hasbro didn’t have any bad guys for the G.I. JOE team to fight.” Jim Shooter, on his personal website (www.jimshooter.com), shares his memories of that first meeting: “[Hasbro] explained the rollout [of the line]. They didn’t plan to have any villains in the launch. We protested. ‘Who are they going to fight? They need bad guys!’ Archie pitched his bad guy concept. The Hasbro people resisted on the grounds that villain action figures ‘don’t sell’…” “It was amazing,” stated Hama, recounting the same meeting. “All we got were blank stares after asking them about villains.” Perplexed, the veteran writer echoed his teammate’s concern with the question: “So then, what are they going to do all day long, march around in parades and polish their belt buckles?” Silence ensued. To alleviate the tension, “Archie [Goodwin] piped up. He said that perhaps there should be a paramilitary terrorist organization—‘Let’s say we call it Cobra. Like HYDRA is to S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel universe. Why don’t we call it Cobra?’” Hasbro relented. They acceded to Marvel’s request for villains. So then, thanks to Archie Goodwin, Cobra Command and the Cobra Commander were born. In order to rush a lone antagonist into the initial assortment of nine characters, Cobra Commander was offered as a mailaway. Adorned in his special combat helmet, Cobra Commander the “Enemy Leader”—costing a mere 50₵ and five Flag Point proof-of-purchases from any G.I. JOE product—was so well-received by children and collectors that Hasbro actually violated postal rules and regulations in their delay to fill all of the orders. Following the Commander’s overwhelming success, a few weeks later a Cobra Soldier (simply dubbed “Cobra”) and a Cobra Officer were developed and solicited as part of Series One; both masked adversaries were code-named “The Enemy.” Oddly enough, other than the Baroness and Major Bludd (and the recentlydeceased, short-lived villain, Dr. Venom), every single member of Cobra Command was masked. Their facial features were concealed—an idiosyncrasy that concerned writer Larry Hama, since this feature limited the emotion that he could convey in the Marvel Comic. “Sometimes,” states Hama, “I had to create new characters in order to facilitate storytelling. The Baroness came about because there wasn’t one single Cobra character with a visible face. It’s very difficult for actors to perform when nobody has any agents of expression.” So then, each member of Cobra was masked. Cobra Commander. Destro and Storm Shadow. Firefly and Wild Weasel. Scrap Iron and Copperhead. Even the “nameless, faceless legions” of Cobra Command obfuscated their features: Cobra (Soldier), Cobra Officer, Cobra HISS Driver, Cobra Viper Pilot, and the Cobra Stinger Driver. That is, until the arrival of Zartan and the Dreadnoks. In the issues contained within this volume of G.I. JOE: The Complete Collection, beginning with #25 (“Zartan”), Cobra Command truly expands its nefarious ranks with Buzzer, Ripper, Torch, and Zartan. Although all four characters were concocted by Hasbro from a sheer marketing and design perspective, intrepid writer Larry Hama made lemonade with the lemons he received, transforming these terribly weak scoundrels into four supremely interesting arch-villains. Strictly speaking, Hama dealt with edicts from Hasbro for all 12 years that he wrote the Marvel Comic book and the action figure Combat Command File Cards. So then, when he was approached by the company and introduced to the first of these new characters, Hasbro Inc. sent Hama a few reference photographs for a brand-new action figure—with no manner of descriptor
Hama balked: “The figure changed color in sunlight… what do I do with that, right? Rather than focusing on the physical aspects of the character, I tried playing with the whole ‘chameleon’ concept. I thought: ‘What if we extend that to his personality instead?’” And he followed this tack when creating Zartan’s file card, reproduced in its entirety:
Master of Disguise Code Name: ZARTAN
but a single name: ZARTAN. According to the writer, “I don’t think I actually came up with the name Zartan. As I remember it, it is simply a jumble of TARZAN… [meaning “White-skin”—in the fictional ape language of “Mangani” from the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels]. ”Along with these photos, a Hasbro exec proudly bragged to the writer: “We have this new figure. Utilizing a new kind of plastic, we’ve made a toy that CHANGES COLOR IN SUNLIGHT!!!” Apparently, earlier in 1984, Hasbro had stumbled upon a process by which they could inject a toy’s ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene: the plastic material which the company used to construct their action figures) with color-changing capabilities. So then, this new action figure’s parts were comprised of photochromic ABS with light-adjusting parts that darken (via ultraviolet rays) when exposed to sunlight—a process that Hasbro used many times over with Zartan/Dreadnok-related characters and vehicles.
File Name: Unknown Aliases: Too numerous to list Birthplace: Unknown
Zartan can alter his skin color at will to blend in with his environment. He is also a master of make-up and disguise, a ventriloquist, a linguist (over 20 languages and dialects), an acrobatic-contortionist, and a practitioner of several mystic martial arts. Very little is known of his background and origins, but most security agencies agree that he must have had European military academy training (probably St. Cyr). Psychological Profile: Extreme paranoid schizophrenic. Grows into various multiple personalities to such an extent that the original personality becomes buried and forgotten.
According to the above file card, we can assume that Zartan received European military academy training, perhaps at St. Cyr, the École Spéciale Militaire de St-Cyr (“Special Military School of Saint Cyr”)— the premier military academy in France, chosen by Larry Hama because “…aside from Sandhurst [located in Berkshire, England], it was the only other European military school I could think of.” Regardless, the “ESM” (St. Cyr) provides its cadets with an intense and rigorous program that focuses as much on academics as military tactics, and is deeply rooted in French traditions and customs. After completing his military training, Zartan became “a master of make-up and disguise, a ventriloquist, a linguist, an acrobatic-contortionist, and a practitioner of several mystical martial arts.” With an infamous reputation, he was initially approached by Cobra Commander many years before organizing the Dreadnoks… for reasons to be revealed later in the canon. One of the more controversial aspects of Zartan’s biography is his psychological profile, which describes the Cobra agent as an “extreme paranoid schizophrenic [who] grows into various multiple personalities.” An explanation of this disorder might best be recounted by looking into
the DMS-IV TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision) under the entry for “Paranoid Schizophrenia” (also called schizophrenia, paranoid-type [DSM-IV, 295.30]). This disorder is the most common type of schizophrenia, with the effected person exhibiting relatively stable (yet often paranoid) delusions, usually accompanied by hallucinations—particularly of the auditory variety (hearing voices)—and perceptual disturbances. The paranoia associated with this type of schizophrenia manifests as a “thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion (i.e., persecutory beliefs; beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat toward oneself).” Furthermore, according to his file card text, it appears that Zartan’s paranoia is so acute that these aberrations may lead him to manifest other personalities (i.e. Dissociative Identity Disorder [DSM-IV, 300.14]); “distinctly different dispositions that alternately control his behavior—accompanied by memory impairment for important information not explained by ordinary forgetfulness.” Unfortunately, in response to the psychological profile on Zartan’s mass-produced file card, certain groups reacted adversely. According to an article in the New York Times (“Toy Maker to Remove Schizophrenic Label,” [12/05/84]), Hasbro issued an apology for the character’s biography on December 4th, 1984, in response to “…complaints from several mental-health associations” about Zartan, citing that they “…used ‘poor judgment’ in marketing [him] as a schizophrenic adversary of… G.I. JOE.” As a result, in subsequent solicitations, Hasbro changed Zartan’s dossier and removed his psychological profile altogether. Regardless of his controversial nature, Hasbro sold nearly one million units of this toy—an impressive number by any count. Zartan’s loyal band of Dreadnoks resulted from another more ludicrous marketing ploy by Hasbro executives.
In 1983, by all accounts Kenner cleaned up at retail with their release of Star Wars action figures and stuffed animals based upon the cute, friendly, furry Ewok characters (a gaggle of hunter-gatherers who literally resemble plush teddy bears) from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983). In response to their competitor’s success, Hasbro approached Larry Hama with a directive: inject some furry, teddy beartype creatures into the G.I. JOE universe as the team’s adversaries. Hama steadfastly refused, based on a simple premise: “Good guys just can’t shoot rifles at teddy bears. Parents will lose their minds!” Rarely did Hama take a hard stand against an idea, but this was one of those moments: “[Hasbro] came up with the name and the concept of plush bears. eWOK–dreadNOK? Get it? I fought it. It was one of the few battles I won. I finally got them to relent and switch from teddy bears to outlaw bikers from OZ [Australia].” Hama continued, “Marketing and salespeople ‘wag the dog’—which is the case EVERYWHERE. But the only argument that works with these folks is: ‘I think it seems like a good thing in the short term, but my contention is that this will hurt your sales globally in the long run.’” Of course, he was right. And the Dreadnoks were ridiculously popular from the beginning. Hama relates an evening back in 1985 when he and his wife were watching late night television: “One night, Jay Leno went on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show right around the time when the Dreadnoks’ action figures were released, and his entire comedy bit was reading the Dreadnok file cards aloud to the audience. He actually read them aloud on Carson! He was feigning offense at the biker phenomenon because the Dreadnoks were portrayed as stupid bad guys. We also got some sort of protest from some ‘biker church’ in Connecticut that was run out of a drive-in movie theater…”
Nonetheless, Hama’s creation and execution of the Dreadnok phenomenon showed the degree of his stylistic skill when constructing a universe of realistic, serious-minded characters. He was not going to “dumb down” his message of subversion; he was not going to depress the level of sophistication of the narrative. Hama crafted his fiction in the manner it deserved to be written, and as a result, kids and collectors alike received the Dreadnoks: three unique criminals, a trio of delinquents to represent the outlaw motorcycle club subculture.
When reviewing the complex yet accessible Combat Command File Cards for Zartan’s Dreadnoks, the depths of Hama’s allusiveness and his conscious use of literary devices were ever-present. Even as a child, Hama was extraordinarily well-read, and his poring through Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey during sixth grade impressed upon him the importance of meter and rhyme—the two preeminent aspects of epic poetry that make oral tradition more memorable. Hama knew the importance of cadence, tone, and meter when constructing his Combat Command File Cards, and he used these devices often to give G.I. JOE and Cobra dossiers a melodic, lyrical quality in the vein of oral tradition—and the Dreadnoks’ biographies were no exception. When asked about this aspect of his writing as it applied to the Dreadnoks, Hama acknowledged the connection: “It is simple triplets… listen. Tom, Dick, Harry. Winken, Blinken, Nod. When you set up names like this, it’s more memorable.” Many readers forget that we Americans have been imprinted upon since our pre-school years to remember certain rhymes and rhythms and oral traditions—and not just the sophisticated, revered passages of Beowulf or The Odyssey. Every culture retains and records their oral traditions, and these legends may be as basic as the nursery rhymes of Mother Goose or the fables of Aesop. Hama’s use of (indirect) historical and literary references and his hyper-awareness of the lyrical aspect of oral tradition manifest themselves from the very beginning with the Dreadnoks’ file names.
For example, the file names of the Dreadnoks are Tom Winken (Torch), Dick Blinken (Buzzer), and Harry Nod (Ripper). Larry Hama concocted these surnames as an allusion—an indirect reference—to Wynken, Blynken, and Nod from the children’s nighttime song (ca. 1889), “Dutch Lullaby [The Fishermen Three].” Famous for his light-hearted and accessible children’s poetry, American writer Eugene Field penned this fantasy bedtime story which recounted the fantastical tale of three children fishing and sailing among the stars in a wooden shoe. In this popular poem, the three tiny fishermen symbolize the nodding head (“Nod”) and winking (“Wynken”) and blinking eyes (“Blynken”) of a sleepy young child. The version of the poem included below is taken directly from 1904’s The World’s Best Poetry, Volume One—a poem of which Hama was intimately familiar: Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night Sailed off in a wooden shoe— Sailed on a river of misty light Into a sea of dew. “Where are you going, and what do you wish?” The old moon asked the three. “We have come to fish for the herring-fish That live in this beautiful sea; Nets of silver and gold have we,” Said Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
The old moon laughed and sung a song As they rocked in the wooden shoe, And the wind that sped them all night long Ruffled the waves of dew; The little stars were the herring-fish That lived in the beautiful sea; “Now cast your nets wherever you wish, But never afeard are we”— So cried the stars to the fishermen three, Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
All night long their nets they threw 25 For the fish in the twinkling foam, Then down from the sky came the wooden shoe, Bringing the fishermen home. ’T was all so pretty a sail, it seemed As if it could not be; 30 And some folks thought’t was a dream they’d dreamed Of sailing that beautiful sea. But I shall name you the fishermen three: Wynken, Blynken, And Nod. 35
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes, And Nod is a little head, And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies Is a wee one’s trundle-bed; So shut your eyes while mother sings Of the wonderful sights that be, And you shall see the beautiful things As you rock in the misty sea Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three— Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
Furthermore, the three forenames of the Dreadnoks’ personal names read “Tom, Dick, and Harry”—essentially “placeholder names” for relatively unimportant persons. The origins of the expression “every Tom, Dick, and Harry” stems from the appellations given to three generic Galapagos Island tortoises brought back to England aboard the HMS Beagle by Charles Darwin, as documented in his book, The Voyage of the Beagle (1839). So then, Dick Blinken, Harry Nod, and Tom Winken were the names given to Dreadnoks Buzzer, Ripper, and Torch—each of whom warrants a bit of explanation unto themselves.
Along with his two compatriots, Buzzer formed the core of the villainous biker gang dubbed the Dreadnoks (a modified spelling of the noun “dreadnought” [those who “dread nothing; are fearless,” Oxford English Dictionary])—Zartan’s interesting and colorful bunch of reproachable miscreants whose sole purpose in life is to torment those weaker than them. In later issues of the Marvel Comic, Buzzer was often portrayed as intelligent and arrogant—oftentimes he is the leader of this motley group. Buzzer is the only member of the Dreadnoks with an education, a characteristic which makes him all the more dangerous.
Even casual G.I. JOE fans will note that the names of the Dreadnoks reflect their MOS’s: “Buzzer” chainsaws things apart, “Ripper” rends things to pieces with a blade, “Torch” melts them to the ground. For further edification, what follows is Buzzer’s original Combat Command File Card:
Buzzer File Name: Dick Blinken (Richard Blinken-Smythe) Place of Birth: Cambridge, England
Buzzer was an extreme left-wing Cambridge sociology don* who went to Australia to research the biker gang phenomenon. Following a short respite, he found himself transformed into a vexated wanderer. One year later, Blinken-Smythe changed into the very object of his research. Years of intellectual displeasure and extreme indignation at society’s two-faced morality caused repressed psychotic anger, [which] manifested into an intense desire to chainsaw apart the expensive geegaws of technological society.
*A head or fellow of a college. **Modus Operandi.
Specialty and M.O.**: A scavenger of the swamps, Buzzer can cut through steel, wrought iron and any metal (except armor plate) with his diamond-toothed chain saw.
Ripper was a founding member of the original triumvirate of Zartan’s Dreadnoks. The reference to Tasmania on his file card (reprinted below in full) was an obvious allusion to Ripper being a “Tasmanian devil”: whether the animal (the small, muscular, dog-like carnivore which is the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world) known for its screeching cry, foul odor when stressed, and ferocity while feeding, or the Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes character—immediately recognizable due to its caricaturized display of a real-world Tasmanian devil’s behavior (i.e. its ravenous appetite and crazed manner of conduct).
Ripper File Name: Harry Nod Birthplace: Grim Cape, Tasmania
There are devils in Tasmania and Ripper is probably the meanest of them all. Was expelled from nursery school for extorting candy from his schoolmates and spent most of his adult life in various correctional institutions. He is a professional criminal motivated by greed and a malignant dislike for the niceties of civilization—except for motorcycles. Specialty and M.O.*: Edged weapons and cutting tools. Is known throughout the swamps for using his blade like a cross between a fireman’s axe and a can opener to unlock gates and crack safes.
Along with Buzzer and Ripper, Torch was the final member of the despicable Dreadnoks’* first generation of career criminals. According to his mass-produced file card (reprinted below), at fourteen years old, Torch was recommended by the Australian judicial system to attend a borstal reform school (an organization that is long since dissolved [ca. 1982]), a generic youth prison (i.e. not “Borstal” as indicated on the dossier, but “a borstal”) intended to reform seriously delinquent young people; for instance, a court-ordered sentence would recommend “borstal training.” After escaping borstal, Torch did a stint in the Australian Merchant Marine (an auxiliary entity used to augment an existing branch of military service) where he learned to utilize all manner of cutting torches—his personal choice when wreaking havoc with the Dreadnoks. Following his hearty life at sea, he returned to Australia where he joined the (fictional) Melbourne Maulers Motorcycle Club. For reasons unknown, he moved to the United States to become a founding member of the Dreadnoks.
Torch File Name: Tom Winken Birthplace: Botany Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Subject was remanded to Borstal* at age fourteen. Escaped and went to sea in the Merchant Marine where he learned the use of the cutting torch. Later rode with the Melbourne Maulers M.C.**
Torch is an illiterate, unrepentant thug whose penchant for sudden and unexpected violence is matched only by the utter depth of his stupidity. Specialty and M.O.***: Works with Oxy-Acetylene torch as a general cutter mostly on remodeling stolen cars and occasional safe crackings. Scavenges the swamps for fun and profit.
*Reform school **Motorcycle Club ***Modus Operandi
–Mark W. Bellomo
For the past fifteen years, Mark W. Bellomo has written hundreds of articles and a number of bestselling books on the topic of action figures, where he has cemented his reputation as one of the world’s foremost experts. Most recently, Bellomo provided forewords to IDW Publishing's Transformers: Classics and G.I. JOE: Special Missions trades, and he is currently presiding over the fifteen-volume hardcover project, G.I. JOE: The Complete Collection–the first tome of which you’re holding in your hands. Readers may view him as the subject of the 18-part YouTube documentary The Collectable Spectacle, or witness the fruits of his labors as a consultant for Syfy’s Collection Intervention. His latest books, IDW’s The Art of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (Autumn, 2012), and Krause Publications’ Toys & Prices: The World’s Best Toy Guide, (Spring, 2013) will be available at fine bookstores everywhere.
* Although the Dreadnoks were not introduced to retail shelves until Series Four of the Hasbro toy line (1985), they were featured much earlier in the Marvel comic—introduced in the exact same issue that premiered Cobra’s mysterious Master of Disguise: issue #25, “Zartan” (published in July, 1984). As further evidence that these three characters were created much earlier than their 1985 toy appearance would indicate, the action figure representations of Buzzer, Rippper, and Torch were definitely designed in 1984. This fact can be confirmed because all three of the original Dreadnoks do not possess the same magnificent neck articulation (not just side-to-side movement, but the ability to pivot up-and-down on a ball joint) that was introduced with the rest of the Series Four, 1985 assortment of action figures. Therefore, Ron Rudat and his team of toy designers at Hasbro had finished these figures’ designs well before the remaining 1985 characters.