President George H.W. Bush enters office in 1989 and only lasts for one term, leaving in 1993. That "Read My Lips" comment hurts him in any reality. President Clinton is elected and serves for two terms, from 1993 until 2001. The important element to remember from the toy line is that GI Joe ended in 1994 and ended with a large chunk of the line focused on Star Brigade.
During the Reagan years, GI Joe was a dominant force in the battle against Cobra. Sure, Cobra won a few rounds, but GI Joe dominated in the overall war, slowly but surely, crushing Cobra's forces. GI Joe had a huge budget involving personnel and hi-tech weapons systems.
Cobra gets effectively beaten throughout Bush's term, with a final, critical defeat during Clinton's first year. Cobra is basically over - finished. While there are still military issues that need addressing throughout the world, Cobra is defeated and President Clinton makes the decision to shut down the GI Joe team basically due to the end of the threat of Cobra and being a huge budget item. Or is there more to that?
Since the cartoons are basically over and the toy line is basically dead, now I get to just use my imagination and turn the world on edge, really digging into my weird alt-history.
In the early 90's, Cobra Commander and his top financial advisers see that failure is on the horizon. Cobra will fall. The most dramatic event that occurred that set the full might of the GI Joe team upon Cobra's ass was the use of the Cobra orbiting space station to use it's space based weapons to attack American soil. No, I don't have the details on this, I'm making it up almost as I go along. I remember considering this, but don't recall the details.
GI Joe gears up for a final assault on the Cobra space station using the Defiant and Crusader combat shuttles. Yes, that would mean two shuttle complex systems. Meanwhile, Cobra bases are falling across the world. In the early 90's, Cobra Commander takes his most trusted officer, Overlord, and directs him to start pulling in resources and key personnel and consolidating assets within countries that would act as safe havens.
Destro and the Baroness are gone, back to Scotland. Major Bludd, Firefly, Scrap Iron, Zartan and the Drednoks have all abandoned Cobra Commander. Even Tomax and Xamot are withdrawing their financial support from the "legitimate" side of Cobra.
A final, epic battle occurs, both in the American desert and in orbit around the Earth. The shuttle complexes are attacked, with the Crusader complex being destroyed just after launch. Cobra forces are ultimately crushed in the American desert. The two shuttles take the fight to the Cobra station, with the station being overrun and destroyed; the remains tumbling into the Gulf of Mexico over the skies of the nearly abandoned Cobra Island.
And an escape pod tumbles to Earth, parachutes deploying nearly too late, and plunges into the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Costa Rica. As the escape pod begins to sink, a man crawls out and starts swimming toward shore. <cut to an underwater scene> The escape pod sinks and a tattered blue mask drifts out of the opened hatch and drifts away in the currents.
Cobra is finished, GI Joe has been a great success in the 12 year war against Cobra and humanity goes along it's way, still fighting and killing each other over land, resources, or beliefs.
The next incarnations of GI Joe fall into this time period during the hiatus of the Real American Hero line. Sgt. Savage and GI Joe: Extreme are the two standouts of the line. What do I do about them? Well, Sgt. Savage works for me, but only in his 12" format.
He's right there in the middle, between Falcon and Dial Tone. I don't see Savage as a Captain America knock-off; he's just an extraordinary soldier who was a part of the GI Joe team.
GI Joe: Extreme? Nope, not going there. I'm dropping them from my alt-history. The only way that they would exist is as an actual toy line loosely based on the actual declassified GI Joe team. Extreme just sucks.
The next incarnation of GI Joe are the TRU commemorative series in the late 90's and early 00's and they just sucked in regards to quality. Again, maybe just a toy line based on the real GI Joe team.
The next incarnation of GI Joe are the GI Joe vs Cobra lines from 2002 to 2006. Cobra is back, but how? Where did they come from? Wasn't Cobra dead?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Stay tuned for GI Joe: A Real American History - Part 5.
The Death and Rebirth of Cobra.