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Tag Archive: G.I. Joe


   

It’s a story that has been played out millions of times in the 1970s, and now it’s finally coming to your local comic book store.  It’s G.I. Joe vs. The Six Million Dollar Man, the latest crossover story from IDW Publishing and Dynamite.  Initially teased as a team-up, it’s actually not–we now know the two franchises will play on opposite sides of the story.  Pitting the famous 1960s-70s 12-inch tall Hasbro “fighting man” team against the hero of the television series that produced one of the best selling 12-inch action figures of all time–this was a fantasy played out in living rooms and sandboxes all over.  Just add in an appearance by Hasbro’s Mike Power and Ideal’s J.J. Armes and you have a snapshot of a kids’ backyard from 1977.

Here’s the description from IDW and Dynamite about the forthcoming four-issue mini-series:

The greatest American heroes go face-to-face with the most dangerous living weapon… Steve Austin!  Hacked by COBRA, the Six Million Dollar Man has the G.I. JOEs in his bionic targets as the fate of world peace hangs by a thread and Cobra Commander holds the world’s infrastructure in his venomous clutches!

Steve Austin, Bigfoot, Storm Shadow, and Snake Eyes!

So technically this isn’t the G.I. Joe of the 1970s, but the reboot universe Joes from the 1980s–the animated series, the mini-figures, and beyond.  As recounted in the recent Netflix series The Toys That Made Us, G.I. Joe began as an action figure line in 1963 to fill an uptapped niche for boys alongside Barbie for girls.  The Six Millon Dollar Man began in 1972 as the hero of Martin Caidin’s novel Cyborg (previously reviewed here at borg.com), and was adapted two years later into a four-season television series starring Lee Majors.

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Netflix is now carrying a new documentary television series that delves into the creators behind some of our favorite toys from the recent, and not so recent past.  The Toys That Made Us features four episodes in its first season of streaming, each focused on a toy line that should bring in a good cross-section of fandom.  The choices for the first shows include Kenner’s vintage Star Wars action figures and playsets, Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, with an emphasis on the 3 3/4″ line of action figures, Mattel’s Barbie, and the Mattel’s Masters of the Universe No doubt Barbie and G.I. Joe should pull in the older crowd, while the latter half of G.I. Joe and Star Wars will pull in the kids of the 1970s and early 1980s, and Masters of the Universe the kids of the 1980s.

Not a show for kids and not another show about toy collectors, the series devotes plenty of each hour to interviews with designers, marketing, other businessmen discussing the nuts and bolts of negotiating deals, like the lawyer for Kenner discussing the greatest toy deal negotiation ever, and the later not-so-great negotiation because of a loose-lipped CEO.  The Barbie episode features a Barbie expert continually bashing the character as a “hooker” as if she has some sort of love-hate relationship with the doll.  But the politics of toymaking is interesting fodder for the right audience.  Should it be a surprise that toymakers have the same ugly corporate politics, the downsizing, the layoffs, and the takeovers, like every other company?  Prepare yourself for several CEOs and designers as they tiptoe, or not, around decisions and employers they wrestled with in the past as toys and brands came and went.  The creators look back both with nostalgia and anger at the former toy companies that eventually terminated their employment.  So look for an unusual take on these toys and these companies.

The next four episodes will be launched on Netflix later this year, and include Hello Kitty, Transformers, Star Trek, and LEGO.  Sometimes what the show chooses to tell is as interesting as how the show tells it.  The eight toy lines chosen no doubt came from the producer’s own focus groups, like the ideas behind some of the toys they discuss.  If The Toys That Made Us really is a one-time thing, someone else should come along and continue the idea with all the other major brands and influences.

We want to see an episode on Marx toys, including little toy soldiers and the 12-inch action figure series.  We also want to see a history of the broad Mego line of figures, Hot Wheels, Stretch Armstrong, and Big Jim.  How about companies like Fisher Price, Playskool, Playmobil, and Radio Flyer?  A series like this needs to cover more “recent” but still classic toy lines, too, like My Little Pony, Cabbage Patch Kids, Strawberry Shortcake, and figure out a way to capture famous classic toys like Spirograph, Tinker Toys, Play-Doh, Etch-A-Sketch, Erector Sets, Lincoln Logs, and the ultimate multi-license toy, Viewmaster.  How about a tour of the Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers factories of the past?  Who put out more great board games than these companies?  It’s easy to imagine entire episodes on the history of games like Clue/Cluedo and Monopoly.  And how about featuring a current game company that’s been around for decades, like Wizards of the Coast?

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What artist wouldn’t want to take over an entire month of comic book covers?  We’ve seen it before, as with Ant Lucia and his gorgeous DC Bombshells cover gallery back in June 2014 (if you missed out, check them out here).  Next month illustrator Tom Whalen, known best for his retro Mondo posters, will take over IDW Publishing’s cover art with twelve variant covers created in his unique, Art Deco-inspired style.

Not only does the collection include a cover featuring Flukeman–the most popular Monster of the Week from The X-Files–for Issue #16 of The X-Files monthly, there’s a great image of Mr. Spock featured in Issue #16 of the Star Trek Waypoint series.  The rest would make a great wall collage display for a pop culture kid from the 1980s.

There’s Shredder on the cover of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Universe, Issue #12, Raphael on the cover of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Issue #72, Optimus Prime on the cover of Issue #9 of Optimus Prime, Megatron on the cover of Transformers: Lost Light, Issue #6, Baron Karza on the cover of Micronauts: Wrath of Karza, Issue #4, ROM on the cover of ROM, Issue #13, Matt Trakker on the cover of M.A.S.K., Issue #9, Snake Eyes on the cover of G.I. Joe, Issue #6, Judge Dredd on the cover of Judge Dredd: The Blessed Earth Issue #4, and Doc Brown on the cover of Back to the Future, Issue #22.

Check out all the full covers above and below:

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DeptH cover 1

In so many ways, Dark Horse Comics’ Dept.H is everything we look for at borg.com.  Science fiction, action, adventure, retro, mystery, noir.  And it’s all in one comic book series.  Writer/artist Matt Kindt has said his series Dept.H was inspired by 1970s G.I. Joes, Fisher Price Adventure People toys, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Jacques Cousteau, and you can feel all of that come through in its first nine issues this year.  From the patch on the underwater crew outfits that evokes the classic 1960s/1970s G.I. Joe Adventure Team patch to the SP-350 diving saucer from the famed Calypso in the craft that takes the series lead to the depths of the ocean floor in the opening pages, to the setting and Department H Headquarters based on the ocean floor that screams H.G. Wells, Dept.H is at the top of this year’s comic book series.

Best known for his run on his Mind MGMT series, Eisner Award nominee Kindt wrote and illustrated the story, with coloring supplied by wife Sharlene.  The series is an Agatha Christie-inspired closed room case.  We meet Mia Hardy, who has been asked to find the mole in the undersea lab, a mole who is believed to have sabotaged the base and murdered her father.  Mia has worked with the suspects before, providing the opportunity for the writer to hold back information and share with us bits and pieces when necessary.  Who killed Mia’s father?  Was it Q, the head of Dept. H security?  Her father’s business partner Roger?  The frenetic head of research Jerome?  Demolition expert Bob?  Her childhood friend turned enemy Lily?  Her own brother Raj?  Or Aaron, the research assistant?  Or was it somehow, someone topside?

dept-h-issue-8-kindt

Readers feel the pressure of undersea operations as Mia is plunged into her own peril, as the facility again is sabotaged before she can work her way though all the suspects.  How long can Kindt take us for this suffocating adventure before letting us come up for air?  The page design even features a graduated flood gauge at the pages’ right edges that slowly “fills up” with water issue after issue.

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Max Steel

Not to be confused with Steel starring Shaquille O’Neil or Real Steel starring Hugh Jackman, Max Steel is a new “coming of age, family, superhero” movie due in theaters next month.  In a world of big budget superhero movies based on 75-year-old characters like Superman and Batman, how can a relatively unknown superhero compete?

With a new trailer that plays a bit like *batteries not included or Explorers, there may yet be room for a Max Steel.  Is there a young audience being missed by the violence and language of movies like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Deadpool?  Maybe a film for kids with a plot less complicated than Captain America: Civil War?  Or a movie for audiences looking for the next Sky High?

Max Steel is the combination of angsty teenager Max (not Mark) McGrath and Steel–a smart-alecky alien tech robot drone.  Does “organic armor” make Max Steel a new cyborg?  A plus for the character is its source in Mattel’s large-sized action figure line based on the format and marketing of the original, classic 12-inch G.I. Joe action figures, as well as an animated series.  Will that draw in viewers?  Max Steel apparently has a large following in Latin America: While Mattel’s Big Jim 12-inch action figure series died out in the U.S. in before the 1980s, it was thriving there.  Original Max Steel figures wore Big Jim clothes and were packaged with the same accessories.  In the 1970s Big Jim was sold in Latin American countries as Kid Acero, or “Kid Steel”.

Max Steel figure

Will Max Steel usher in the eagerly awaited return of Hasbro’s Mike Power, the Atomic Man?  That would be a fun blast from the past.

Check out this trailer for Mattel’s theatrical release of Max Steel:

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DeptH cover 1

Writer/artist Matt Kindt has said his new Dark Horse comic book series Dept.H was inspired by 1970s G.I. Joes, Fisher Price Adventure People toys, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Jacques Cousteau, and you can feel all of that come through in Issue #1 of the series, available in comic book stores this month.  Even the patch on the underwater crew outfits is black and red, and with design lines you’d see the Department H patch twisted back into the classic G.I. Joe Adventure Team patch.  It’s stamped on all the players in this underwater murder mystery story and queues the adventure that awaits readers.  And we easily see the SP-350 diving saucer from the famed Calypso in the craft that takes the series lead to the depths of the ocean floor in the opening pages.

Multiple Eisner Award nominee Kindt, best known for his run on his Mind MGMT series, writes and illustrates the story, with color work supplied by wife Sharlene.  The series opener begins with a slow build to lay the groundwork for the mystery and introduction of Mia, who has been asked to find the mole in the undersea lab, a mole who is believed to have murdered her father.  It’s an Agatha Christie-inspired closed room case, as all suspects are still living in the deep-sea lab.  Yet Kindt’s careful writing leads you to believe he may have already given us more than enough clues to solve the murder in his panel images and subtext.

dept-h-p3

With its excellent pulp noir novel-style cover, low lighting and narration, call it the first undersea noir comic book series.  It also evokes movies like the Abyss, Leviathan, and Sphere.

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Gentle Giant Ant-Man SDCC 2015

As we find every year, Gentle Giant is back again next week with several great exclusives for San Diego Comic-Con 2015–something for everyone.  The finest pieces come from Marvel Studios’ new Ant-Man film and classic Star Wars characters.  The Ant-Man sculpt, shown above, is a top-notch rendering of Paul Rudd’s character in costume.  This statue is limited to only 500 pieces.  It is 4.25 inches tall–not ant sized but big enough to appreciate.

Gentle Giant prototype Boba Fett SDCC 2015

Next is this stunning bust of the prototype for Boba Fett.  Every version of Boba Fett that gets turned into a toy or collectible simply amazes, and this all white version just makes us all want to see this character in action.

Deadpool Gentle Giant SDCC 2015

Deadpool fans will appreciate this interpretation of Deadpool by Gentle Giant artists.  It’s Deadpool as he may have looked in Secret Wars.  This figure stands 12 inches tall.

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The Fall of GI Joe 1 cover   The Fall of GI Joe 1 cover b

Is there something not quite right about a new G.I. Joe series that features a Joe team finally headed up by Scarlett, that is also titled “The Fall of G.I. Joe”?  We’re guessing the juxtaposition of these two elements wasn’t intended to be some kind of causal thing.  Instead we’re focused on plenty of cool covers released by IDW Publishing for the series, which is expected to ship its first issue in September.

G.I. Joe: The Fall of G.I. Joe will be written by Karen Traviss with interior art by Steve Kurth.  Several covers will be available, from artists including Cliff Chiang and Jeffery Veregge.

Check out these covers from the new monthly.  The cover style from Veregge makes us wish Phil Noto or Kevin Dart was also working on this series, and maybe provide some variant covers.  Still, they do look like something we might have seen back in 1972 on the box covers for large-sized G.I. Joe action figures.

IDW Fall of GI Joe alt cover   New GI Joe

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CodenameAction01-Cover-Jae Lee     CodenameAction01-Cov-1 retro key

Captain Action was first introduced by Ideal Toys as a large-sized action figure in 1966 to compete with Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, although both figures were designed by the same guy, Stan Weston.  Back then the figure came with alternative costumes, including Spider-man, Green Hornet, The Phantom, The Lone Ranger, and Captain America.  A five issue comic book series was published a few years later with little to do with the figure and his ability to switch personas.  More than 30 years later Playing Mantis brought a line of toys to the market featuring the Captain Action characters.  And next week, Dynamite Comics, the publisher known for its retro series like Green Hornet, Bionic Man, Ms. Fury, The Lone Ranger, and Flash Gordon, picks up the Captain Action licensing and is introducing a mini-series to reboot the character, beginning with Codename: Action, Issue #1.

Written by Chris Roberson (Masks, Superman), with art by Jonathan Lau (Green Hornet, Bionic Man) and alternate covers by artists Jae Lee (Before Watchmen), Francesco Francavilla (Black Beetle), Johnny Desjardins (Phantom, Green Hornet), Jason Ullmeyer (Red Sonja, Vampirella), Art Baltazar (Tiny Titans), and Lau, Captain Action is the new superspy on the block complete with gadgets, a Judy Dench-type head of spy HQ, and plenty of action.  Lau and colorist Ivan Nunes really bring home the retro spy look of the 1960s, complete with a team of agents driving a 1963 Corvette as their car of choice.

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Red 2 long banner

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s interesting that the publicity folks for RED 2 have stressed in their latest movie trailer no Robots, Monsters, or Superheroes.  Although we’re not so sure RED 2 isn’t chock full of its own breed of superhero, it’s true you’ll find no monsters or robots here.  RED 2, previewed at borg.com here, is definitely not like any other film creating waves this summer.  But it is the most fun you’ll have at any movie this year.

You don’t need to ask, for example: Were too many people killed in the movie’s finale (as with Man of Steel)?  Or lower your normal standards a bit to allow yourself to just plain have fun watching a giant robot take on a giant monster from the ocean’s depths (as with Pacific Rim).  Or struggle with friends over whether or not Benedict Cumberbatch was cast appropriately as a sci-fi villain (as with Star Trek Into Darkness).  With RED 2, you don’t have to think about all those things that distract you from just having a good time.  Do the heroes kill a lot of people in RED 2?  You bet, and we like it that way.

Red 2 clip A

What RED 2 will make you do is think about where it stands in the line-up of the best of Bruce Willis’s movies.  When was the last time you saw such a good Bruce Willis film that made you work through that analysis?  The reality is that Bruce Willis’s performance as retired spy Frank Moses in RED 2 is up there with his first run as John McClane in the original Die Hard, and we haven’t seen him play a character this cool since Pulp Fiction.  Pull up your Netflix queue and take a second look at him in Striking Distance, Twelve Monkeys, and The Fifth Element and you might just add RED 2 to your list of Best of Bruce keepers.

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