FEATURE: A Comic Book History Of The G.I. JOE Franchise

Did you know that G.I. Joe has been a title used in comic books since 1942? With John Chu's G.I. Joe: Retaliation set to hit the big screen in the UK on March 27th and March 29th in the US, we thought now would be a good time to look back at the comic book history of the beloved franchise.

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Dave Breger was drafted into the United States Army in 1941 and spent his nights drawing comic strips which were published in 'The Saturday Evening'. When the Army learnt of his talents, he was transferred to the Special Services Division in New York where he started working for the 'Army Weekly'. When they asked him to create a new series for them, he came up with the title G.I. Joe. This was based on the "Government Issue" military term and the name of the lead character, Joe Trooper. It was here that the legend of G.I. Joe would begin!


DC's involvement with G.I. Joe was short-lived to say the least. Between 1964 and 1965, they released two issues of their Showcase comic book series under the G.I. Joe title. These adventures also took place in WWII. Marvel however have published several different series. The first was G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. The 155 issue series was created to coincide with Hasbro's relaunch of the toy franchise and the run was unique in that it was promoted on television. It was written almost entirely by Larry Hama. The success of this series led to Marvel launching G.I. Joe: Special Missions from Dave Cockrum and Herb Trimpe. A later spin-off would see the G.I. Joe characters teamed-up with the Transformers; this actually introduced Goldbug to the latter universe.

THE 1990'S

While they didn't contradict the ongoing Marvel series, Blackthorne Publishing's six issues (and one 3D annual) of G.I. Joe were not considered to be canon. However, when the toy line was once again relaunched in 1996, it was Dark Horse Comics who acquired the rights to publish comic books based on G.I. Joe Extreme. A later ongoing series dropped "Extreme" from the title, but lasted only four issues before being cancelled. Benchpress Comics were next to pick the rights up for a series featuring the now iconic characters, but they went bankrupt and the license was lost before even a single issue could be released.


G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was originally set to be just a four issue limited series, but strong sales saw it quickly become one of the most popular ongoing's at Devil's Due. Initially published through Image Comics, it picked up seven years after the end of the Marvel Comics series, and lasted for 43 issues. The next few years would see the release of several other limited-series and one-shot's, many of which were written by Larry Hama, exploring the origins of the most beloved characters (thereby expanding the G.I. Joe universe). G.I. Joe: America's Elite picked up one year after the conclusion of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and featured a much darker and realistic tone that past efforts. G.I. Joe Reloaded took a similar direction, but low sales meant that it lasted for only fourteen issues. A younger audience were catered for in a six issue limited series called G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 which was based on the toyline and animated TV series of the same name.


When Devil's Due lost the rights in 2008, IDW rebooted the franchise with an all-new G.I. Joe series. This was written by Chuck Dixon - with several G.I. Joe: Origins spin-off's written by Larry Hama fleshing out the characters - before it too was eventually cancelled after 27 issues. Another reboot followed in 2011. In 2009, several tie-in issues were launched to mark the release of the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra movie. These include a prequel and an adaptation. The past couple of years have been fairly quiet for G.I. Joe in the world of comic books...


...until now! IDW has recently relaunched the franchise yet again. Coinciding with the release of John Chu's G.I. Joe: Retaliation (which stars Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki and Bruce Willis), former Amazing Spider-Man writer Fred Van Lente is penning this series, the first issue of which was launched last month. This new series has been described as seeing, "The anti-terrorist titans will be up against a new threat: publicity! With their formerly secret identities compromised, Duke must lead his squad of Real American Heroes up against the legendarily evil COBRA in the public eye." Perfect timing for the release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation on March 27th in the UK and March 29th in the US! Be sure to stay tuned to CBM for more coverage on the film!

Check out photos and video from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation London press conference HERE.

In this sequel, the G.I. Joes are not only fighting their mortal enemy Cobra; they are forced to contend with threats from within the government that jeopardize their very existence. The film stars D.J. Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum with Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson. Directed Jon M. Chu, and produced by Lorenzo di Bonventura and Brian Goldner, from screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick based on Hasbro’s G.I Joe characters.


Channing Tatum as Duke
Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock
Bruce Willis as General Joseph Colton
Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye
Ray Park as Snake Eyes
Lee Byung-hun as Storm Shadow
Ray Stevenson as Firefly
RZA as Blind Master
Arnold Vosloo as Zartan
D.J. Cotrona as Flint
Elodie Yung as Jinx
Stephen Martines as Cross-Country
Eddie Hargitay as Tunnel Rat
Joseph Mazzello as Mouse

RELEASE DATE: March 27th, 2013.

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