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EDITORS Justin Eisinger & Alonzo Simon
2. DESIGNER Shawn Lee
Special thanks to Hasbro’s Ed Lane, Joe Furfaro, Heather Hopkins, and Michael Kelly for their invaluable assistance.
Ted Adams, CEO & Publisher Greg Goldstein, President & COO Robbie Robbins, EVP/Sr. Graphic Artist Chris Ryall, Chief Creative Officer/Editor-in-Chief Matthew Ruzicka, CPA, Chief Financial Officer Alan Payne, VP of Sales Dirk Wood, VP of Marketing Lorelei Bunjes, VP of Digital Services Jeff Webber, VP of Digital Publishing & Business Development
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IDW founded by Ted Adams, Alex Garner, Kris Oprisko, and Robbie Robbins
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G.I. JOE: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION, VOLUME 4. JANUARY 2014. FIRST PRINTING. HASBRO and its logo, G.I. JOE, and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission. © 2014 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 #34–45 and by Hasbro as the 25th ANNIVERSARY COMIC PACK #36.5.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PG. 4 INTRODUCTION Written by Mark W. Bellomo
PG. 8 ISSUE #34, APRIL 1985: "SHAKEDOWN!" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Rick Parker - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty PG. 33
ISSUE #35, MAY 1985: "DREADNOKS ON THE LOOSE!" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham, Mark Bright, Bob Camp, and Larry Hama Inks by Andy Mushynsky and Mike Esposito - Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Rick Parker Edits by Denny O'Neil - Cover by John Byrne
ISSUE #36, JUNE 1985: "ALL THE SHIPS AT SEA!" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham, Mark Bright, Bob Camp, and Larry Hama Inks by Andy Mushynsky and Mike Esposito - Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Rick Parker Edits by Denny O'Neil - Cover by Michael Golden
ISSUE #36 1/2, 2008: "A BAD DAY AT THE CIRCUS" Written by Larry Hama - Art and Cover by Jeremy Dale
This comic was included as a bonus in Hasbro’s “25th Anniversary Comic Packs” product, as well as two action figures: Tomax & Xamot, attired as they were featured in this comic pack.
PG. 107 ISSUE #37, JULY 1985: "TWIN BROTHERS" 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 PG. 131 ISSUE #38, AUGUST 1985: "JUDGEMENTS" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Rick Parker - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty PG. 155
ISSUE #39, SEPTEMBER 1985: "WALK THROUGH THE JUNGLE" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Joe Rosen - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty
PG. 179 ISSUE #40, OCTOBER 1985: "HYDROFOIL" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Joe Rosen - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty PG. 204 ISSUE #41, NOVEMBER 1985: "STRATEGIC DIPLOMACY" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham - Inks by Keith Williams Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Joe Rosen - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty PG. 228 ISSUE #42, DECEMBER 1985: "TIES THAT BIND" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Joe Rosen - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and Dennis Janke PG. 252 ISSUE #43, JANUARY 1986: "CROSSROADS" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Joe Rosen - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty PG. 277 ISSUE #44, FEBRUARY 1986: "IMPROVISATION ON A THEME" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Joe Rosen - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty PG. 302 ISSUE #45, MARCH 1986: "IN SEARCH OF CANDY" Written by Larry Hama - Pencils by Rod Whigham - Inks by Andy Mushynsky Colors by George Roussos - Letters by Joe Rosen - Edits by Denny O'Neil Cover by Mike Zeck and John Beatty
These two authors immersed themselves within their respective subjects to such an advanced degree that casual readers may only see 1/8th of what Hemingway and Hama managed to place on the printed page, while 7/8ths of the stateliness of their prose (the “dignity” of their respective “icebergs” [the hidden context of their allusions]) floats invisible and unseen yet critically important— lurking just under the surface.
As a devotee of the literary movement known as American modernism, on occasion I have received scholarly grants to support my research. I’m telling you this not to brag, but so you will know that I’ve acquired more than a passing familiarity with many of the authors who encompass this tenet: notable writers such as William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Penn Warren, and T.S. Eliot. However, of all the modernist writers I’ve studied, the many manuscripts I’ve pored over, the academic papers I’ve presented around the world, Ernest Hemingway’s style and philosophy have captured my attention far more than the others. Due to my intimate familiarity with Hemingway’s catalogue as well as the original canonical issues of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, I’ve noted comparisons between Ernest Hemingway and Lawrence Hama in terms of their allusiveness—their ability to make use of indirect, esoteric references in their writing.
SAVE THIS FORM. IT WILL NOT BE REPLACED IF LOST.
Hemingway and Hama believed their readers were perceptive enough to embrace what literary critic Carlos Baker explained as the iceberg theory: where the substantive, empirical facts of a narrative (the first 1/8th of the iceberg) float noticeably above water, while the supporting structures of the story, replete with symbolism and hidden meanings (the other 7/8ths of the iceberg) operate covertly. In the RAH canon, these symbolic artifacts, images, aspects of military nomenclature, and obscure historical references dot Larry Hama’s literary landscape everywhere: from his using a hexagram of the I-Ching to represent the relationship of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, to employing the concepts of confrérie and fraternal brotherhood to guide interactions between members of the G.I. Joe team. From Hama’s incorporation of a pervasive subversive subtext when rendering the U.S.’ military industrial complex, to Cobra Command’s development of their revolutionary “Siegie” (Crimson Guardsmen–“C.G.”) project. From the singular items readers witness spilling out of Snake Eyes’ Department of Defense file (featured on the cover of RAH #26), to his ingenious parody of America’s “cookie-cutter” credo through the use of the town of Springfield. These aforementioned supporting structures concocted by Hama—and many, many more—allowed his narrative to function on multiple levels… as did Hemingway’s. For instance, if you’re interested in reading a well-written adventure story about friends touring France and Spain while attending bullfights and drinking like fish, pick up The Sun Also Rises. On the most basic level, you’ll enjoy an expertly-written novel about expatriates—one that profoundly impacted American pop culture in the 1920s and 1930s. However, by quickly reading this book, you’ll surely gloss over the secretive, allusive references made by Hemingway and perhaps miss the book’s most crucial point. If you carefully research every allusion, you might discover that the protagonist of the novel is tracing “The Way of St. James”—a major Christian pilgrimage route dating back to medieval times, a sacred path known as the “Route of Santiago de Compostela.” Tens of thousands of people read The Sun Also Rises every year. Yet only a handful of them may realize the profound religious significance of this, one of the most important books in American literary history. A religious significance concealed within the submerged part of Hemingway’s iceberg. Similarly, in the countless interviews he’s conducted over the past 30 years, Mr. Hama has dropped the odd hint that there was something beating imperceptibly beneath the surface of his fiction on the pages of RAH and
within the text of Hasbro’s Combat Command File Card biographies: those impressive, codifying dossiers used to define each of the myriad G.I. Joe team members and agents of Cobra Command. Those “clip ‘n save” bio cards that we as children of the 1980s used to read and re-read over and over until those dossiers were beat up and dog-eared. Yet we managed to memorize a good deal of the text that narrated the back story of our favorite G.I. Joe team members and agents of Cobra Command.
But what was the purpose of these allusions? Who cares about learning that Flint’s original surname was Fairbairn and not—as Hasbro corrected it— Fairborne? What exactly occurred at the officers’ putsch that involved Tomax and Xamot in 1960s Algeria? Who are the Montagnard tribesmen referred to in Duke’s original military dossier? Why is Shana M. O’Hara code-named Scarlett? Who does Mr. Hama actually allude to with the code name Wild Bill? What is The Attica Gazette, and why would Major Bludd submit his poems to this curious publication? How is the Arashikage ninja clan’s tattoo emblematic and symbolic of the relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow? The list is quite extensive. Potentially, I could draft an entire concordance. There’s a reason why each and every volume of G.I. Joe: The Complete Collection possesses dozens upon dozens of pages chock full of these allusive notes which are transformed by my editor into “Ops Briefs.” It is only by first defining and then understanding the military nomenclature, historical evidence, cultural allegories, religious parables, and ideological tidbits offered by Mr. Hama that readers like me can begin to consider the complex nature of each 22-page comic book he authored. Perhaps that’s because when he was writing G.I. Joe, Mr. Hama made use of the 17-volume set of the Department of Defense’s Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, the U.S. Army’s Combat Skills of the Fighting Soldier: U.S. Army Field Manual (FM 21-75); The Rifle Squads: Mechanized and Light Infantry (TC 7-1; The U.S. Army Adjutant General Publications Center), and Long Range Patrol Operations by James W. England, among many other tomes. Which leads approach to years back, Joe, and he us to the most peculiar allusion Mr. Hama has made regarding his writing RAH. During one particular telephone conversation a few I asked him to state the greatest influence upon his crafting G.I. said: “The Junior Woodchucks.”
“You know. Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Carl Barks’ Donald Duck. From Walt Disney?” said Mr. Hama. “What are you talking about? How are they influential to members of the G.I. Joe team?” “There was this one issue starring the Junior Woodchucks in a bridge-building competition... that’s the one that influenced my storytelling the most.”
So I headed to one of my climate-controlled storage spaces. I pulled out a few long boxes from my well-protected late Silver Age Walt Disney Comics. I recalled that it had to be from one of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories from the 1950s starring the Junior Woodchucks. Open the comic bag. Take out the book. Flip, flip, flip. Nope. Set it down. Open bag. Grab book. Flip, flip, flip. Nope. Open. Grab. Flip. Nope. After 40 or 50 of these iterations, there it was: Walt Disney Comics and Stories #181 from October, 1955. An untitled story written and drafted by Disney’s storytelling genius: Carl Barks. In the story, three Junior Woodchucks (Disney’s equivalent to the Boy Scouts of America), Huey, Dewey, and Louie—Donald Duck’s nephews—have been issued a challenge to enter into a bridge-building competition by the South Duckburg Chickadee Patrol. Zaniness ensues (involving Donald mucking things up, as per usual), military references and acronyms are bandied about, the Junior Woodchucks consult their omniscient Junior Woodchucks Guidebook and the three Junior Woodchucks ultimately triumph over their adversaries. Then it struck me. The issue I held in my hands possessed striking similarities with various issues of G.I. Joe. For instance, didn’t Stalker,
Recondo, Roadblock, Gung-Ho, and Ripcord reach a river and build a bridge across it in issue #39, “Walk Through the Jungle”? Roadblock even referenced the Boy Scouts (earning his Pioneering merit badge) within the context of the story. During his lengthy run, Mr. Hama even re-used the concept of acronyms that Barks peppered throughout his Woodchuck narratives. So then, there are some striking similarities, but there is still much more to this “duck tale”: the Barks story is all about how to function as a team. It’s about troopers having to cooperate with one another. Confrérie and the fraternal brotherhood. Sound familiar?
Furthermore, from an artist’s creative standpoint, Hama knew that Barks was all about cause and effect as graphic storytelling. Similar to the old EC Comics artists of the late forties and early fifties: Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, and Wally Wood (who Hama worked under as an assistant). In EC Comics we saw cause and effect. Cinematic storytelling; storytelling that made violent action seem more dangerous. Yet after 1954’s Seduction of the Innocent, people recoiled from this method of storytelling. In comic books post-Seduction, readers received less straightforward cause and effect (e.g. villain with axe chops victim’s head off), yet more vogueing—statuesque characters posing.
As dynamic as the work of Jack Kirby and Gil Kane were in the 1960s, when you look at their action sequences, it’s essentially not cause-and-effect. Inspect Kirby’s Thor or his Fantastic Four of the 1960s, and you’ll observe an image of Thor posing while swinging his hammer. You’ll witness a striking tableau of Dr. Doom shooting a ray gun at Reed Richards. It’s posturing. It’s vogueing: motion in suspension. And this is not to impugn the obvious talents of Masters Kirby and Kane and their brethren. It is pointing out that their artwork—as with many great artists of the 1960s—was restricted by the Comics Code Authority as a result of the The Seduction. The CCA simply wouldn’t permit Thor to smash Loki in the face with Mjolnir. The CCA couldn’t allow Hal Jordan to cleave a villain in two with the “most powerful weapon in the universe.” After Seduction, The reader was missing out on the cause and effect that superhero comic book artists might have created otherwise; these artists indeed had to take an unconscious step backwards. To quote Mr. Hama: “It was the Inquisition clamping down on the Renaissance.” And although EC’s crime, horror, war, and science fiction titles were run out of business, and other publishers fell in line with the CCA, cause and effect continued to be seen in every other type of comic. Particularly those with a “cartoony” (I just hate that word) flair. In John Stanley’s Little Lulu. In Walt Kelly’s Pogo. And in Barks’ Disney stories, where his use of cause and effect remained untouched because his utilization of this method applied to anthropomorphized ducks.
And although he deals with military themes, Mr. Hama continues in this vein. He rarely shows gratuitous violence as a result of cause and effect. Go back and look in the pages of G.I. Joe #21, “Silent Interlude,” (G.I. Joe: The Complete Collection, Vol. 2) arguably the greatest G.I. Joe story ever told. Really look at those pages as if this were the first time you were reading the book. We don’t witness Storm Shadow’s sword slicing Scarlett out of her ropes; we never watch Snake Eyes landing from his parachute drop, or dispatching the Cobra Soldiers on the roof of Destro’s castle. We witness that Snake Eyes has a grenade, we observe that he throws it at the Red Ninja: and the Red Ninja is no more—without a multitude of blood and gore. Even in this infamous silent issue, Mr. Hama tried to utilize cause and effect to imply the violence that appeared off-panel, for violence is more effective if you use your imagination. It’s like Lady Macbeth on stage right with blood all over hands. We don’t see the murder. But we know she committed the act. That’s why Snake Eyes wears a mask. Characterization itself is more effective if you use your imagination. The flash of light off-panel. The briefest of illuminations and subtlest of hints that makes writing more poetic. What Mr. Hama—the writer—and you—the reader—imagine in your mind’s eye concocts a scene far stronger than what any artist can draw.
And that’s what makes G.I. Joe’s use of violence acceptable to the CCA. Because it’s not the violence that you utilize cause and effect for: it’s the characterization. Yes, there are a few action bits that are choreographed in that manner, but the action/violence is set there to bolster who the characters are in the fiction. It’s the pulling together of it all as a full package, with plot driven by character.
Larry Hama never wrote one comic book of his 155-issue RAH run with a plot set ahead of time. He simply knew the characters, felt the characters, and explored them. He never planned or plotted or schemed how anything was going to end. In the final two panels of “Silent Interlude,” he didn’t even know that Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were going to tear their sleeves; he didn’t realize their sleeves would tear until about page fifteen.
How these soldiers react to certain situations is how you render their character. With this organic impetus added to the dynamic nature of character, predetermination doesn’t work. As a writer, we shouldn’t be thinking “Hmm… What happens next?” We should be thinking about getting these characters on their feet; getting them moving. For if you predetermine situations, you’re forcing the issue. Writers need to attain meaning by allowing characters to have a naturalistic reaction to each other. Writing any other way seems like a screed–a ranting piece of writing where all the characters are doing is reinforcing the author’s point-of-view, rather than reacting realistically to each other or to an event. You can see this in certain writers like Hammet, Hemingway, Barks, and Hama. A lack of choreographed events (bar an impetus for the adventure), where, in spite of the deconstruction of the plot, it is chronological and will follow a real, honest, truer chronology.
And that’s what Mr. Hama has always tried to pursue in his writing of G.I. Joe: the truth. He obtains a truer narrative than most writers who’ve taken over the reins of G.I. Joe in the past because he’ll go to great lengths to obtain the truest way to render a soldier—and not just with his Hemingwayesque allusions: in his issues of G.I. Joe, soldiers don’t speak like superheroes; they refuse to talk like agents of espionage; they won’t converse with each other like rock stars. Larry Hama’s soldiers speak like soldiers. They think like soldiers and they breathe like soldiers. Because Larry was a soldier; he was a vet who made sure that his characters—his “friends” (as he was wont to refer to them)—act like soldiers. They don’t wear capes, don’t have sidekicks (animals, yes… sidekicks, no…), and rarely meddle in the affairs of civilians they are sworn to protect. But if he’s effectively breathed life into his soldiers, why then would we not want to pursue the truth about the aforementioned allusions? Sure, we can give Mr. Hama’s issues of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero a cursory, casual read and appreciate them for being entertaining stories about valorous soldiers and despicable terrorists. Yet again, it’s like reading The Sun Also Rises and enjoying it as an adventure/romance novel, yet not comprehending Jake Barnes’ transformative religious pilgrimage. But to you casual fans who read G.I. Joe for action and adventure, know that you just may be missing out on the hidden secrets of Mr. Hama’s iceberg, on his declining to dumb-down his narratives, on his refusal to confuse realism with truth, and on his proper literary comparison to Hemingway, Barks, and those few other exceptional writers whose job it was to not only entertain, but to strive to give us a little bit more substance as well.
–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. 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, are IDW’s The Art of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, and Krause Publications’ Toys & Prices: The World’s Best Toy Guide.
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