Anyone who’s been following my posts and comments over the years knows that I’m a huge comic fan when it comes to G.I. Joe… much moreso than the Sunbow cartoon. I loved the more adult and realistic storylines told in the comic pages. Larry Hama had a way that he wrote these characters that gave them all personality and made them all so unique, yet not silly or dumb. The Sunbow cartoon did this stuff as well, but it seemed to go to such extremes sometimes (as with Bazooka or Spirit) that it almost made mockeries of the characters instead of making them real.
Not only that, but the situations were, of course, so outlandish and unrealistic to coordinate with a “kid’s cartoon” that it was real tough to take seriously, even when I was 10 years old.
But to just cast off the Sunbow cartoon is to ignore a significant chunk of G.I. Joe history. Many more people saw the cartoon than read the comic. Many more people identify with the characters in the cartoon much moreso than the comic…it seemed to reach more kids and reach more people, for better or worse. In some ways it’s worse, because COBRA was always labelled with such incompetence that it was hard to consider them a serious threat. But looking back, there was a lot to be taken seriously with the Sunbow show. The writing was crisp, and while the characters were outlandish, they were consciously so…the writers knew what they were doing when they wrote Shipwreck, Bazooka, and Gung Ho the way they did.
I discovered the Sunbow cartoon the week that the Mass Device mini-series first aired, but didn’t discover the comic until a couple of years later. So the cartoon made the first impact on me, before Larry Hama’s magic fingers wove his own story. I was introduced to Duke, Scarlett, Destro, COBRA Commander, and Gung Ho in their cartoon incarnations long before I knew who they were when Hama wrote them and Mike Vosberg (or Herb Trimpe) drew them. So, yes, even as a lifelong comic fan, I can appreciate and enjoy the Sunbow series as well. It deserves it’s spot in the Joe mythos, and this weekend I’m giving it its spot.
On Saturday I’m going to post my Top Five favorite moments of the MASS Device mini-series, and then on Sunday will post my Top Five favorite moments from the Revenge of COBRA. Both mini-series’ were just released as boxed set “Battle Packs” and deserve a little more pub, and I’m happy to give it to them. In going back through and refreshing my memory I realized there were some great things to love about these cartoons, and hopefully you’ll enjoy the “Sunbow Weekend”. 🙂