Monday, July 21, 2014

GI Joe: A Real American History - Part 3

GI Joe History - The Reagan/Bush Years

As a refresher, President Reagan was in office during the years 1981 through 1989. At that time, there was a huge sense of national pride and military spending was enormous. The United States basically out-spent the USSR, eventually causing the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I think this can parallel to both the actual sales of the toy line as well as the implied growth of a "real" GI Joe team. The sense of national pride in the US military, as well as an incredible marketing strategy by Hasbro. As a by-product, in my alt-history, Cobra is growing as well. Since the late 70's, Cobra has been slowly gaining strength in the shadows of society. This can also be implied by the GI Joe club's recent Convention exclusive 12" sets. There have been enemy figures in blue uniforms with emblems that could be implied as pre-Cobra insignia.

As an observer prior to his election, Reagan would have witnessed the events of the failed hostage rescue mission. As soon as he was elected, President Reagan invited the now retired Joseph Colton with a plan - to form an elite team of soldiers that can combat the forces of evil in the world. This time, things would be different. There would be more than adequate funding to support the time and the command structure would be limited and compartmentalized, with limited access to the eyes of politicians. Only a select set of commanders would be in charge of the new anti-terrorist team, code named GI Joe.

Colton is promoted to General and given authority over the team, but prefers to operate more from behind the scenes, rather than directly with the troops. He leaves that with his new hand-selected team leaders, primarily one young dynamic Colonel Clayton Abernathy. Once Abernathy is eventually promoted to General, Colton again heads back to retirement. General's Flagg, Hollingsworth, Austin, and Admirals Ledger and Colby also serve as the top command structure of the GI Joe team, as well as all of the ancillary elements needed to keep the team properly functioning. This includes additional military personnel acting not just as base support, but also as additional combat troops,, such as the Green-shirt program. Many front-line GI Joe "agents" were recruited from the ranks of the Green-shirts.

The basic line-up of characters simply can not run the team without support crews. Somebody has to arm the Skystrikers and maintain the Maulers. Clutch and the rest of the drivers can't take care of all of the motorized vehicles. It just doesn't make sense.

According to our actual history, there were few significant public uses of the military during the Reagan years, but there was plenty of action during the those same years in the alt-history of GI Joe. Cobra was very engaged and many of their exploits, both in cartoons and comics, could be considered "actual" events. Since this is my blog and my idea of historical integration, I'm going to be tempted to just cut out some of the nonsense, primarily from the cartoons.

Let's look at some key elements from the cartoon mini-series and the regular cartoon series. The MASS Device? Sure, why not? But maybe not quite to the full amount of silliness of the series. Yes, to an actual matter transmitter created by Cobra, but it was an unstable, impractical, and expensive device that was destroyed by the Joe Team.

How about the Weather Dominator from the "Revenge of Cobra" mini-series? Again, why not? That's the fun of GI Joe as well as an element of my alt-history of GI Joe - the hi-tech, edge of the future technology. But, again, the technology was unstable and proved to be unsustainable as a practical weapon system.

How about those "Pyramids of Darkness"? Nope, I'm not going there. I'm just writing off that series. No Fatal Fluffies, please. BUT... a key element of the Pyramids of Darkness proved to be true in regards to Cobra. Cobra does indeed create a manned, armed space station which will prove to be key factor in the future of Cobra in this alt-history.

Next up would be "Arise, Serpentor, Arise!" Yes, please! I think this is a great tie-in to the comics as well. I do like Serpentor, especially how Hama portrayed him and his eventual demise. More on Serpentor later, but he does/did/will exist in my alt-history.

I'm not going to dig through all of the episodes of the Sunbow GI Joe series, but I liked a lot of the different elements of the series. The key element that is most important to me is that everyone could fly Skystrikers (no, that's just silly). I'm talking about Extensive Enterprises (EE). Did Hama use Extensive Enterprises? I don't think so, but maybe? I like EE because of what they represent - a "legitimate" business that financially supports Cobra. Even with the comic companies such as Arbco and Broca Brothers, there is an implication that Cobra has a certain level of connection with society, which will eventually be Cobra's greatest area of success. 

What else from the comics? Synthoids? Monsters? Cold Slither? Cobra-thon? Ugh... Maybe the Synthoids, because that could serve as the foundation for the cloned body for Serpentor. I don't know about the rest of the stuff. I would have to dig into an episode guide to see which or how they could be included into my world. Reader help? Hey, offer me a suggestion in the comments!

What about GI Joe: The Movie? You know, Cobra-La? Well, maybe elements. Not the dumb-ass Falcon characterization for sure. What about Cobra-La? Sure, why not? The Broadcast Energy Transmitter could have worked and even a lost civilization up in the Himalayan mountains or wherever they were supposed to be could have work - but not as the true origin of Cobra - hell no! The "Cobra-La" mission would have been buried deep, deep within the secret mission files of the GI Joe team.

Wait! What about "Operation Dragonfire" and the DIC series? Sorry, I'm doing a retcon of even my history. They didn't happen!

As far as the Hama comics, I'm more than happy to include many of those events into my "canon." The Battle of Springfield, the creation of Cobra Island, the Cobra Civil War, and the fictional nations of Trucial Abysma, Sierra Gordo, Benzheen, Frusenland would all work for me. The fictional nation of Borovia could have easily stood in for the actual military events in Bosnia and Kosovo.  

Except maybe the latter years - the comic was almost turning into SNAKE-EYES! with the GI Joe team. Snake-Eyes was the GI Joe version of Wolverine or the Punisher - he was everywhere. Too much Snake-Eyes!! I wonder if some editor at Marvel came to Hama and asked if they could work out a Snake-Eyes/Wolverine team-up? I wouldn't be surprised.

As my mind travels through this fictional world of mine, I see a very active GI Joe team during much of the 80's rolling right on into the elder Bush presidency. President George H.W. Bush served only one term, which would have been a pivotal point in the history of both GI Joe and Cobra.

Time to wrap up this chapter. Next time, I'll discuss the Bush term and move through Clinton's presidency. Plus, the fall of Cobra!

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