G.I. Joe reassigned to IDW Publishing

Bill Radford
The Gazette (MCT)

G.I. Joe is marching back onto the comics scene under a new publisher.

Comics featuring the elite G.I. Joe military unit and based on the Hasbro toys have been around since the early 1980s, starting with a long run by Marvel Comics. Dark Horse and, most recently, Devil's Due also published G.I. Joe comics. Now the license is in the hands of IDW Publishing -- not a surprising move, since IDW also publishes comics based on Hasbro's Transformers.

Though IDW's line of G.I. Joe comics won't kick off until early next year, a special preview issue out in October, "G.I. Joe" No. 0, will offer an action-packed taste of what's to come.

"It is the absolute beginning, the first issue of a brand-new launch of G.I. Joe," says Andy Schmidt, who is overseeing the new line.

And, he's quick to point out, the preview issue is only a buck.

The G.I. Joe line is dumping past continuity and starting anew. "You don't have to have read G.I. Joe back in the '80s or anything," Schmidt says.

The new line will start with three titles. The first, simply titled "G.I. Joe," launches in January and is what Schmidt calls "the meat and potatoes G.I. Joe." It will follow the fledgling G.I. Joe organization as it explores the threat posed by the shadowy organization known as Cobra.

Fans of the old G.I. Joe cartoons know Cobra as "the ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world."

"That worked in the '80s, but you don't throw the word terrorist around anymore," Schmidt says. So he and the writers have updated Cobra as a more sophisticated and secretive organization "that has its fingers in everything."

The second title in the line, "G.I. Joe: Origins," begins in February and is just what it sounds like, Schmidt says: the origin of the G.I. Joe team.

"There is no big base of operations yet. This is the ground floor."

"G.I. Joe: Origins" is being written by Larry Hama, who wrote the original Marvel series and also is known for writing character profile cards for Hasbro's action figures.

"It's funny," Schmidt says, "because everyone sort of defers to Larry. Everybody's like, 'I don't want to step on Larry's toes.'"

March sees the start of the third initial title in the line, "G.I. Joe: Cobra," as a miniseries that will view the threat of Cobra through the eyes of Chuckles, an undercover operative known for his love of Hawaiian shirts. Though Schmidt found him a laughable character in the past, Chuckles, like Cobra, has been reinvented.

"He is the guy who is beginning to infiltrate Cobra and he isn't even sure what Cobra is," Schmidt says.

A live-action movie, "G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra," is slated for release next summer. IDW plans a couple of miniseries tying into the movie, with the movie comics and the regular comics following separate paths.

For Schmidt, a longtime G.I. Joe fan, editing the new line is a dream job.

"I grew up in the zeitgeist. I read the comic book when it originally launched and I watched the cartoon every single day after school."





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