With Larry Hama’s G.I. JOE series hitting #300 last month, I feel like breaking out my collection and taking a look at the issues that began it all, including Special Missions, Order of Battle, and the Yearbooks as they came out alongside the main title.
These are original first prints with the following exceptions. #2, 8, 26, and 27 are second printings, and #7 is a “Tales of G.I. Joe” reprint.
And now, let’s take a look at this groundbreaking series, featuring explosive, jump-off-the-shelf cover art.
Quite the run! Especially considering most toy-tie-in comic books only last a year or two.
(To fill the space, I threw in my original Snake-Eyes figure at the end.)
In 1986, Marvel also produced a G.I. Joe/Transformers 4-issue miniseries, which I didn’t include above because I don’t think of them as part of the Larry Hama canon.
G.I. Joe existed in the U.K. as Action Force and had their own separate comics, and Marvel reprinted some of these stories in the U.S. in 1988 and ’89 in a 15-issue run called “European Missions.”
I’m missing European Missions #13 and 14, but here’s an online image of the covers:
Early in 1995, after the Joe run had concluded, Marvel released one last Joe issue called G.I. JOE SPECIAL #1. It’s the exact story as #61 from 1987 but with a different artist. (In ’87 this art had been rejected and a different penciler redrew the entire issue.) I don’t have the original printing of Special #1, but here it is reprinted in one of the IDW hardcover volumes. (The cover seen below was produced in ’95 and not part of the rejected art originally penciled in ’87.)
In 1986-88, Marvel reprinted the first 37 issues in smaller form, known as “G.I. Joe Comics Magazine” or digest issues. These reprinted two or three issues at a time and featured the same cover art. Here’s the size comparison:
And here are the front and back covers of the digest issues:
Also in 1987 and ’88, Marvel reprinted the first 15 issues as “Tales of G.I. Joe.” These were full size reprints on higher quality paper and more vibrant colors than the original issues. These were the best quality versions of these stories for over a decade until the trade paperbacks were released in 2002.
(I again threw in a vintage figure to fill the space – this time Cobra Commander.)
Here are the back covers of the four Yearbooks and the four Order of Battle issues:
In 1987 Marvel collected the Order of Battle issues into a paperback book that featured new front and back cover art.
In 1993 Marvel also collected the four Joe/Transformer miniseries issues into a paperback with new cover art. I don’t have it, but here’s an online image:
And in 2002 Marvel reprinted the first 50 issues in five trade paperbacks with new cover art. Recolored and printed on glossy pages, these stories never looked better.
And there you have it!
All the G.I. Joe cover art produced by Marvel.
Of course, there are many more Joe comics thanks to DDP, IDW, and others, but we’ll save those for another day.
Thanks for reading!