Hey Joe Fans Hope all are staying safe at home. Joe Declassified and General’s Joes Reborn are teaming up to help solve one of G.I. Joe Comics greatest mysteries. (And to give you a reason to dig in your comics boxes).
Below this introduction is a history of the #21 2 nd Printing Hunt that is written by Josh Eggebeen.
What we are asking the Joe community to do is help find a #21 2 nd Printing and/or new information that helps solve why in 36 years no one has ever found a #21 2nd Printing.
So dig through your brains, dig through Joe comic boxes and help find #21 2nd printing. The logo connected with this post shows the four versions of #21 released in the 1980’s. Of course #21 has been recreated numerous times in many different versions including the comic pack version in 2000’s. So those don’t count. So read the theory and the history below. Joe Declassified members will be helping verify any new information found.
G.I. Joe A Real American Hero #21 2nd Printing Mystery
Phrases like Holy Grail, Biggest Mystery and Just a Theory apply to lots of aspects of comics. And for G.I. Joe comics, those phrases have all been applied to the G.I. Joe #21 2nd Printing.
This Holy Grail hunt has been happening for 36 years.
A brief history on why the G.I. Joe #21 2nd Printing has been so elusive:
Marvel Comics G.I. Joe #21, titled Silent Interlude, came out in March 1984, written by Larry Hama; it is a landmark issue in the comic industry and has been well documented on its creation. It’s importance in terms of story, connecting Snake Eyes to Storm Shadow’s history together, gave G.I. Joe A Real American Hero a long term story that is still going strong today.
There is a Snake Eyes movie coming out in October of 2020 that can trace its roots to this one issue. Larry Hama created an issue without a single word, commonly referred to as the “Silent Issue” and to this day, only a few writers have written a no dialog issue. #21 has inspired numerous kids to become comic book artists themselves as adults. So issue #21 is generally ranked as one of the most influential comics in history on many levels and for many reasons. Plus, it helped sell a toy franchise, let’s not forget that.
Now G.I. Joe in 1984 was close to Marvel’s top selling comic, G.I. Joe as a brand was reaching the height of its popularity in the culture with booming toy sales, a TV cartoon and a tremendous amount merchandise everywhere. So doing a 2 nd printing of Marvel’s most popular comic was a very common place occurrence, more then half of the first 64 issues have second printings.
The true mystery of the #21 2 nd Printing really starts with its 3 rd Printing. The #21 3rd Printing would have been released in July, 1985 (same month as GI Joe #37). This can be verified by matching the advertisements Marvel used in its comics.
Marvel switched its advertisements each month. Also, these 3 rd Printings are all clearly marked with the typed words “3rd Printing” below the indicia copyright section. #21’s copyright date information remains the same saying G.I. Joe A Real American Hero Vol. 1 No. 21, March 1984.
But no known G.I. Joe #21 has ever surfaced with the typed words “2nd Printing”. So how do you get from 1 st Printing to 3 rd Printing without a 2 nd Printing? There are couple obvious questions to be asked: first was the 2 nd Printing labeling was just skipped, was this just a human error? Was there literally a printing problem that happen to the 2 nd Printing? Well in the 36 intervening years there has never been a rumor in the G.I. Joe community nor any Marvel employee who talked about any errors in connection with #21 printing.
Lacking any rumors or knowledge of an error, the collective Joe comics collecting community came to create a theory that the #21 2 nd Printing came out without the words 2nd Printing and would have been released between April 1984 and June 1985 and would have a Black Spidey Head in the Direct Market Box.
So operating on this theory the mystery of the #21 2 nd Printing started.
Part 1 of the Mystery – the Printings:
The mystery of #21 2 nd Printing starts with how the comic industry handled reprints of issues. To briefly explain: An issue of any particular comic would sell out in the comic book stores. To get more of the sold out issue, the comic book store would have to reorder the issue, and the publisher then would reprint the issue based off the number of reorders. These reorders would usually take a few months to be reprinted and be received. This new batch of comics would be labeled 2 nd Printing and be placed on the shelves again. These printings were generally labeled to indicate a clear difference between versions for a collector and the comic book shop.
The most obvious difference was that the phrase “2nd Printing” was typed below the indicia copyright information section on the first page. In general, a 2nd Printing also had a few differences on the cover, and the interior advertisements were almost always different. So for the different printings its possible to match the month it was released by the advertisements inside.
Part 2 of the Mystery – the Direct Market Symbol:
The second part of the theory of the 2 nd Printing revolves around the Direct Market Symbol. The #21 2nd Printing mystery is tied into another major event that happened the next month in Marvel history.
Amazing Spider-Man #252 is the 1 st appearance of Peter Parker wearing the Symbiote Suit in the main Spider-Man series. Though chronologically it’s actual first appearance was in Secret Wars #8, several months later. This suit would go on to become Venom and be one of the most fan favorite changes to Marvel’s most popular character. In connection with this new costume for Marvel’s most iconic character, Jim Shooter, the Editor in Chief of Marvel, changed the Direct Market logo on all Marvel comics from the previous White Spidey Head to a Black Symbiote Spidey Head. Here is a quick overview of the Direct Market symbol history; it starting in 1979 as comic book publishers started selling comics directly to comic book stores and bypassing the newsstands. A system was set up where comic book stores ordered and never returned a certain amount of comics. Newsstands were able to return unsold issues or just their covers, comic book stores could not return them. The difference in the issues was determined by a box in the bottom left corner.
For Newsstand editions the UPC code was in the box and for the Direct Market versions anything the Editor preferred. From 1979 to 1984 the White Spidey Head was the most commonly used version on Marvel titles. By 1984, the Direct Market comics were starting to outpace Newsstand sales. G.I. Joe #21 comes out in March 1984 with a White Spidey Head in the Direct Market Box along with a Newsstand UPC version plus a 0.75 cent Canadian priced Newsstand version. It’s a sold-out comic and reorders happen immediately.
In April 1984, Marvel then begins the transition from white Spidey Head to the Black Spidey Head in the Direct Market box. G.I. Joe issue #22, April 1984, has separate variants with both a white and black Spidey Head Direct Market version. Every G.I. Joe issue from #1 to #22 has a White Spidey Head until #23, May 1984, when the Black Spidey becomes the standard, it does revert back to the White Spidey Head with issue #68 in February of 1988.
Part 3 of the Mystery – The Collector Hunt.
So by 1994, the G.I. Joe comic series ended. And the fans who grew up reading the book were generally headed off to college and new lives often away from their comics. But the collectors who remained, when there was little to collect for G.I. Joe comics, started discovering differences on the cover; and other notable variations between printings this knowledge of Direct Market/Newsstand, 2 nd and 3 rd Printings and Canadian priced variants was slowly added to the community knowledge base. Part of collecting G.I. Joe comics was hunting for the 2 nd printing of #21 but it proved elusive. At the time of the release of #21 2 nd Printing, it’s unlikely that any collector actually wanted the 2 nd Printing. So no one was hunting for it when it was released.
And in general, even to this day, 2 nd Printings don’t have the value of a 1 st Printing. So its likely more then a decade went by before anyone was even really looking for it and during the 36 years of #21’s history, its also very likely that collectors have had #21 2nd Printing sitting in a long box and didn’t know it.
Another potential theory is that #21 2nd Printing was to be bundled with the Marvel Comic multi-packs that were being sold in various stores. #21 3rd Printing is included in one known Marvel Comics multi-pack that also has issues #10 & #30. Part of the theory is that the many of the 2nd and 3rd Printings of G.I. Joe often came from opened multi-packs, but this has been extremely hard to confirm.
Part 4 of the Mystery – the Collector Theory
The best theory that collectors could figure out about the #21 2 nd Printing became: #21 2nd Printing has a black Spidey Head in the Direct Market box.
Contains no markings, typing or anything other then the normal #21 1 st Printing indicia copyright information in the space at the bottom of the first page.
The advertisements on the inside and back cover will be different then both the 1st and 3 rd Printings.
Other differences may appear on the cover like price, codes, M logos, wording changes etc. For decades, no collector has been able to find a confirmed version.
And so with that history of the mysterious #21 2 nd Printing now explained let the hunt begin…
Two links to G.I. Joe comics for 2 nd Prints and the Direct Market/Newsstand for GI Joe comics:
I can’t quite enter the words for how this Destro makes me feel. I know there have been many stalwart 1:18 scale faithfuls who have turned their noses up at the six inch figures, which they have every right to do. But I think this Destro may just be great enough to convert at least some of them!
Various online retailers reveal Destro today with the surprise launch of a pre-order for this figure, long rumored to be a part of the first wave of G.I. Joe: Classified six inch figures. He appeares to be available at several of them right now, most notably Big Bad Toy Store and In Demand Toys (which is based in the UK).
EDIT – He is also now available for pre-order on Hasbro Pulse!
Drool over the mighty images below, but be sure to hit that pre-order link, these things are a hot ticket!
I teased that my return to G.I. Joe reviews would hit the web next week, but I just couldn’t keep from playing— err… reviewing this figure, which is not just a new version of Snake Eyes, but a new iteration of the brand itself.
How’s that saying go? Things can change in an instant? It wasn’t that long ago that the G.I. Joe community at large was questioning just what sort of life was left in the brand. I’m not sure that specific question has been answered, but at least we know there’s something to look forward to in 2020!
In fact, if my suspisions are correct– there is a LOT to look forward to in 2020, not the least of which is Hasbro’s new 6″ G.I. Joe: Classified line.
I know, I know… “but GeneralsJoes, we grew up on 3.75″ G.I. Joe’s in the 1980’s why fix what ain’t broken??”
Well, let me start by saying– just because there’s a 6″ line coming doesn’t mean there isn’t a 4″ line coming. There’s still a lot of time left in 2020 leading up to a brand new movie in October, so I think given the next few months, 4″ G.I. Joe fans will have something to look forward to as well.
Now, as for this figure.
Holy crap. I mean, you all knew I was going to love it, right? Anyone who has followed my site for any length of time knows that my love of G.I. Joe isn’t necessarily restricted by scale or format. I was one of the biggest fans of Sigma 6 (both 8″ and 2.5″) back in the day, and as long as the toy is cool, I like it.
This toy, Joe fans, is damn cool. It also marks a milestone. For the first time in G.I. Joe’s 50+ year history, we are getting figures in the 1:12 (or 6″) scale. Figures that can stand alongside Star Wars: Black, Marvel Legends, DC Heroes, Power Rangers, etc…
Let me just say at a 6″ scale, this Snake Eyes figure is fantastic. I mean, I had high expectations as it was, being a fan of Marvel Legends, but I have to say this figure surpassed them.
First of all, the design work. Where Hasbro could have easily just taken a blow-by-blow replica of the ’85 version and done it in 6″ scale (and made many Joe fans happy) they went a different route and made something totally new. Granted, there are elements of the ’85 version here, with the knight’s visor and the bandolier, but there’s also a heavy influence from his Resolute version, which is one of my favorite looks for the Joe ninja commando, with just the right hints of the Retaliation version mixed in.
He’s got a good mix of body suit and military style, with baggy pants, shin-high boots mixed with knee and shoulder armor, gauntlets and some awesome layered armor sculpted on the torso (alongside the removable bandolier, belt and secondary webgear). On the surface and at a quick glance, the figure could easily be mistaken for a more modern version of the ’85 figure, but in truth, when you really look at him you realize just how new and different the figure really is, and I couldn’t be happier for that fact.
The color scheme is subtly fantastic as well. On first blush you figure, oh it’s another Snake Eyes, another black figure, big woop. Well, one thing I didn’t notice with other images was just how rich this figure was in different colors and hues. The brown leather harness and brown straps around the armored forearms and fingers really adds some nice different elements to the figure and takes away from that same old same old black Snake Eyes blandness.
Along with the overall design and sculpting work, Snake Eyes has a few functional holsters/sheaths, one for his pistol, one for his knife, as well as sheaths for his swords. He can’t hold everything he comes with, of course, but he’s got that handy weapons rack that I’ll talk about a little further down. The straps with pouches on his arms are removable, as is the bandolier, and if you were an enterprising enough customizer (I’m not) his belt and thigh holster/sheaths would be removable as well.
So, yeah, the sculpting is pretty amazing throughout this figure with all sorts of excellent details worked in which are even more evident on the larger 6″ scale. I guarantee if they did this exact same figure in a 4″ scale, G.I. Joe fans everywhere would be losing their minds.
Here is where I am totally blown away. Being a Marvel Legends collector off and on for a while, I know what sort of articulation is possible on a 6″ figure, which was a big reason why I was so excited for this line. But trust me when I say Snake Eyes goes a step beyond even my own high expectations.
The joints are tight and double jointed pretty much everywhere. He’s got great range of motion in all ball joints and is not at all restricted by any of the sculpting from what I can tell. Nearly any pose you can think of, Snake Eyes can achieve, and perhaps the best thing is that due to the tightness and fit of the joints, the figure has amazing balance, to boot. It’s one thing to be able to pose a figure, but to be able to balance him in those poses for display is another thing entirely, and this version of Snake Eyes hits that mark in spades.
The ab crunch isn’t noticeable at all with the armor sculpting, and he’s got very subtle swivel cuts in the thigh and calf which give his legs some nice range of motion. Ball joint hips, shoulders, rocker ankles and wrists– yeah this guy is crammed full of articulation.
His impressive elbow and shoulder articulation allows for any number of fantastic weapons holding poses, including rifles (courtesy of Marauder “Gun Runners”), swords, submachine guns and pistols.
Uh. Holy crap. Now, granted, this version of Snake Eyes was designed as an exclusive to Hasbro Pulse, so he naturally comes with a lot more gear than the standard retail release figures will. That being said, he comes with a LOT of gear.
There’s a smaller group of accessories that come within his single box, that I believe will likely come with the retail figure as well, which includes those in the last image of the gallery you see above. Basically it’s an Uzi and pistol (which share a common silencer) a knife, two replacement hands, a backpack with sheath and his sword.
I’m thrilled to see that he does come with his trusty Uzi, which seems to be almost a miracle considering what Roadblock is saddled with. Along with the Uzi is a pistol with removable silencer, a sword that looks amazingly like the original ’85 classic, plus a bevy of other ninja-oriented bladed weapons. These weapons all helpfully fit on a very nicely designed ninja-themed weapons rack.
He also comes with a nice military backpack, and his bandolier is removable, so I guess we’ll consider that an accessory as well. Lastly, he’s got removable hands, one in a “karate chop/salute” pose (which actually has ninja climbing claws sculpted to his palm) and one holding a ninja shuriken. You want it, you got it with this version of the G.I. Joe ninja commando.
Normally I don’t talk about this much– after all, I’m primarily a loose collector so the way the box looks doesn’t matter to me a whole lot. But I felt like I had to mention it here. The design of the box, the artwork and everything surrounding this figure is top notch. You can tell a ton of thought and effort were put into it, from the Timber influences on the included paperwork to the great embossed detail of the packaging. The interior package is more similar to the retail releases, though the subtle differences in color schemes may be an annoyance to some.
When it comes to G.I. Joe, there is a time and place for nostalgia, but as a fan, I love seeing new concepts and new ideas. This version of Snake Eyes seems to walk that line very nicely. The larger scale provides a robust canvas for impressive sculpting, detail work and accessory integration, and the articulation of this figure is some of the greatest I’ve seen throughout G.I. Joe’s long and storied history.
Yes, the larger scale will upset some people, and yes, the chance of a widescale vehicle line for these figures is very slim, but taking a step back and looking at this version of Snake Eyes for what it is, I love it and I’m eagerly looking forward to having another retail G.I. Joe line to support throughout 2020 (and hopefully beyond!)
G.I. Joe Classified Snake Eyes (Hasbro Pulse Exclusive)
What can I say? Did anyone really expect anything less than five stars? To be honest, I almost gave up the star ratings with this re-introduction to the G.I. Joe brand, but I figured I would set a new framework for some of the other Classified figures to match. To my mind, Snake Eyes deserves every one of these stars, even though it’s a new scale and a new look at our favorite brand.
– Tons of fantastic articulation
– Intricate and subtle paint applications are better than you think
– Great interaction with accessories, holsters and sheaths
– I still love my 4″ Joes and hope for a return to that scale
– Snake Eyes, as cool and necessary as he is, is a bit overdone. Looking forward to a deeper roster