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The Most Ridiculous Moments In ‘G.I. Joe’ History

With “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” heading to theaters, everyone’s complaining about the ridiculous accelerator suits, terrible dialogue, and forced comic relief. Well, guess what? None of these things are new to “G.I. Joe.”

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Despite its militaristic bent, the franchise has seen its fair share of the absurd and outright silly over the years. And we’re not just talking about the Joes’ ability to dodge lasers and parachute unscathed from downed Skystrikers. No, wackiness cropped up in the “G.I. Joe” cartoon, comic book, and toy line in many forms. Let’s take a look at some of the craziest moments in “Real American Hero” history.

10. The Dreadnoks Perform “Cold Slither,” (1985)
The episode “Cold Slither” finds Cobra at an all-time low, forced to steal money from a pint-sized mobster in order to turn the Dreadnoks into a fake heavy metal band and brainwash the masses through song. Destro designs a “program that creates rock music,” inserting subliminal messages into the impressionable minds of teens and weak-willed hippies Footloose, Shipwreck, and Breaker. (Wait a minute. A program that creates popular music. Destro invented Auto-Tune!)Unfortunately the message wasn’t all that subliminal (“We’re Cold Slither/You’ll be joining us soon!”), and the Dreadnoks are eventually brought down by the female Joe team members posing as skanky Cold Slither groupies. (But, hey, at least they sold out a giant amphitheater, so Cold Slither had a better career than Britny Fox.) Of course, the show must go on, leading the Joes to take the stage as the “Average Joe Band” and perform their show’s theme song (to which they somehow know the music and lyrics) to the delight of the crowd. For once Rock ‘n Roll got to live up to his codename.


9. Snake Eyes Cross-Dresses, “Chaos in the Sea of Lost Souls,” (1985)

At some point in the Season One miniseries “The Pyramid of Darkness,” Snake Eyes and Jack Nicholson stand-in Shipwreck get mixed up with a lounge singer named Satin who performs the breathtaking ditty “The Cobra that Got Away.” (She also inspires Snake Eyes to bust out some hot breakdancing moves.) While escaping with Satin, Snakes and Shipwreck (and pets Polly and Timber) don some hip threads in order to pose as band members on their way to a gig at Cobra Temple. (Who knew Cobra Commander had a thing for wannabe Cyndi Lauper types?) None of which explains why Snake Eyes felt the need to dress like Boy George. It’s always the quiet ones.

 

8. Safe Swimming with Deep Six, PSA, (1985)

 

 

Even before Fensler Films introduced the world to the term “pork chop sandwiches,” the 30-second “G.I. Joe” public service announcements were some of the most unintentionally hilarious animation ever made. Honestly, any of the wonderful “…and knowing is half the battle!” spots could work here, but Deep Six popping up out of nowhere to tell kids not to swim during a thunderstorm has to be one of the weirdest. (And creepiest.) Why is a member of an elite military squad hanging out underwater waiting to impart advice to children? And why is he (and every other Joe for that matter) so quick to zing these kids with a quick comeback? The other half of the battle should have been keeping these creepy middle-aged guys away from kids.

 


7. The Joes Kill Bumblebee, “G.I. Joe and the Transformers,” (1987)

In their first four color meet-up, the G.I. Joe team do what any self-respecting military squad would when faced with a giant robot from outer space–blow it to smithereens. In typical comic book crossover fashion, the Joes mistake poor Bumblebee for a threat, shooting first and looking for his Autobot insignia later. But with the help of Autobot medic Ratchet, the Joes rebuild Bumblebee as “Goldbug,” leading to utter confusion when Bumblebee turned up in “Transformers” the next month with a new name and upgraded look.


6. Cobra’s Ruler Is a 40,000 Year Old Snake Man, “G.I. Joe: The Movie” (1987)

First of all, “G.I. Joe: The Movie” contains easily the greatest three minutes and eight seconds of G.I. Joe animation ever produced. Go watch it now. Back? Didn’t that get you psyched for the movie? Well, get ready to temper your enthusiasm, because it’s rough going from that point on. Beachhead trains some lame new recruits (including basketball-obsessed Big Lob), Duke somehow survives getting stabbed in the chest with one of Serpentor’s serpents, and Lt. Falcon openly sexually harasses new ninja Jinx in the motor pool.And then there’s the slithering deus ex machina that is Cobra-La, a secret society of snake people that’s been manipulating Cobra’s every bumbling move the entire time. Fans were rightly confused when it was revealed that Cobra’s leader was in fact not Cobra Commander or Serpentor, but Golobulus, a stuffy snake man who sounded suspiciously like The Penguin (Burgess Meredith supplied the voice). Of course, Golobulus was basically never heard from again after the movie, making him the “Poochie” of the “G.I. Joe”-verse.

5. Major Bludd Gets Urinated On By a Dog, “Chunnel” (1991)

The cartoon took a serious downturn in the early ’90s, with once cool characters like Major Bludd and Cobra Commander reduced to cheap comedic relief. “Chunnel” finds Cobra Commander kidnapping the Queen of England for some reason, which leads her royal pooch to relieve itself on Major Bludd’s boot. What, was Michael Bay watching “G.I. Joe” back in the ’90s? That would explain poor Ironhide’s fate in “Transformers.”


4. Tomax and Xamot’s Stupidity Gets Four Joes Killed, “G.I. Joe” Issue #109

After 109 issues, “G.I. Joe” comic writer Larry Hama decided to shake things up by actually making those Cobra bullets stick for a change. But instead of letting the Joes die with dignity on the battlefield, he had it all be a big misunderstanding. While holding several Joes prisoner, Tomax misinterprets Cobra Commander telling him to “get rid of them” as an order to commit cold-blooded murder. (What is this, an episode of “I Love Lucy”?)Of course, the brothers are too chicken to go through with it, and recruit the Saw Viper (a new toy that year who oddly resembled the Spider-Man character Paladin) to do their dirty work. Doc, Heavy Metal, Thunder, and Crankcase are all dispatched by the Saw Viper’s machine gun, while three more Joes perish while escaping in a Cobra vehicle. Sure characters finally died, but in the dumbest way possible. A rare misstep for the writer of arguably the best toy-based comic of all time.

 


3. Flint Gets Slimed By Toxic Waste, “G.I. Joe,” Issue #124 (1992)

In the early ’90s, G.I. Joe rode the eco-friendly wave just like pretty much every other toyline. (Good thing Captain Planet, Toxic Crusaders and the like put a stop to that whole global warming mess. Oh, wait.) With the Eco-Warriors, the Joes focused their efforts on stopping Cobra’s dastardly environmental-related schemes, which mostly consisted of blasting toxic waste from vehicles like the (no kidding) Septic Tank. The Eco-Warriors turned up in the cartoon, and poor Larry Hama had to work them into a few issues of the comic. Here a Sludge Viper (really?) zaps Flint (clearly forced to join the unit after the brass caught wind of his relationship with Lady Jaye) and new recruit Clean Sweep with a stream of weapons-grade Plasmatox. El grosso to the max, indeed.

 

2. Ice Cream Soldier Debuts, 1993

Pretty much no one was paying attention to G.I. Joe in 1993, which explains why they could get away with crap like giving a Joe a name that wouldn’t even past muster in the Rainbow Brite ranks. (The name was inspired by a “Sgt. Rock” character who likely got tons of grief from Easy Company.) From his filecard: “The last thing you would expect from G.I. Joe’s fiercest flamethrower commando is for him to be called Ice Cream Soldier.” Yes, that is the last thing we would expect. Even on the spectrum of ridiculous Joes (this is, after all, a line that featured an accountant/falconer named Raptor) the ICS was a new low. At least his mold was put to good use in 2002, when it was reused as the Shock Viper. Turns out he was both lame and a traitor.


1. Star Brigade Fights Aliens, 1994

By the end of the first incarnation of Real American Hero, Hasbro was trying anything to keep up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jurassic Park, and other popular toy lines. And unfortunately, that meant the Joes had to go into outer space to fight the alien Lunartix empire. (Apparently, Hasbro was employing “Mad” magazine writers in those days.) The ugly, blocky aliens, with names like Carcass and Lobotomaxx, looked like rejects from the Mos Eisley Cantina, and successfully drove the franchise into the ground. (Ironically, the last gasp of the ’70s “kung-fu grip” era of G.I. Joe also featured aliens.) Hasbro futilely attempted to save the brand with the Sgt. Fury rip-off “Sgt. Savage & the Screaming Eagles” and the highly unfortunate “G.I. Joe Extreme.” Hey, it was the ’90s. Everything was “extreme.”


Special thanks to Tim Finn, author of an upcoming book on the Real America Hero incarnation of G.I. Joe, for artwork assistance.


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