G.I. Joe and the history of Springfield

It’s interesting to poke fun at the city of Springfield, Illinois giving Cobra Commander the key to their fine city, but the truth is there is a long, established connection between Springfield and Cobra that goes all the way back to the first year of A Real American Hero, 1982.

Interestingly, when Larry Hama chose this mythical “Springfield” as Cobra’s hometown base of operations, he did so for much the same reasons as the Simpsons chose it several years later as their imaginary home town.

I plan on speaking with Larry Hama about G.I. Joe’s relationship with Springfield, and will post that next week, but for now, click the Continue Reading link below to explore a little of Springfield’s history.

After you read it (or before) check out GIJoeCon.com to see how you can go see Cobra in their natural habitat in Springfield, IL!

Springfield is innocuous there is supposedly a “Springfield in every state” which leaves it up to the reader to decide where the real Springfield truly is.

In the Marvel Comics, the small town was mentioned in issue #5, but made its first actual appearance in Issue #10, a mythology defining issue which first explored Snake Eyes’ ninja history, introduced Billy as Cobra Commander’s son, and brought the Brainwave Scanner and Dr. Venom to the public consciousness at the time.

GIJoe-Springfield-Issue-10

Over the course of several years, this “Nice Little Town” served as a backdrop to Cobra’s United States operations, and many times, readers have attempted to try and translate which Springfield was truly the Springfield.  Hama himself as never confirmed one way or the other.

It’s interesting to note that in issue #14, which brings Destro front and center, there are other references to a hidden Cobra Compound in Springfield, and that Springfield is clearly identified as “a five mile square section in Vermont”, though it’s still unknown whether that is truly the Springfield or not.  In fact, Cobra Commander, within that same issue, identifies the Vermont location as their “toxin test site” so it’s a safe assumption that Springfield is far away from the real one.  I’ll tell you, I live about 25 miles north of Springfield, VT, if Cobra was milling around in there, I think I’d know.

GIJoe-Springfield-Issue-14

Interestingly, Springfield, VT not only got called out by Cobra Commander within the early issues of the Marvel Comic, but also won a national contest to be considered the true Springfield home town of the Simpsons as well.  It would appear all rivers flow through Springfield, Vermont.

Throughout the next few years of the comic, Cobra is seen frequently within the town of Springfield, with Destro, Major Bludd, and the Baroness lurking around in the sewers, and with Cobra Commander’s aforementioned son Billy donning a Springfield Cub Scout uniform and threatening to gun his own father down.

GIJoe-Springfield-Issue-33

When men in chrome masks and purple capes weren’t wandering around, overweight ninja masters were tearing up the police station and genetically engineered clones were being brewed in large vats concealed in high school gymnasiums and local museums.

GIJoe-Springfield-Issue-50-1

Innocent towns folks mingled among undercover Crimson Guards, who walked the streets as normal during the day, then performed insidious experiments and tried to conquer the world from the shadows.  The town of Springfield itself became a character in G.I. Joe history, and was tightly interwoven among all the threads of great stories within the 80s.

GIJoe-Springfield-Issue-38

But all good things must end.  When Zartan made his dramatic move to take the place of Ripcord and uncover the location of G.I. Joe headquarters in issue #46, he set a chain of events in motion.  Ripcord ended up being taken in by Cobra, thinking he was actually Zartan, and was brought into the town to recover from his injuries.  Instead, he smacked Buzzer in the face with a bedpan, squared off against a 6 year old toting a Magnum .44 caliber handgun, then called for reinforcements.

GIJoe-Springfield-Issue-49

You can’t make this stuff up.

Ripcord’s call for help coincided with the birth of Cobra’s new Emperor, and in the double-sized landmark issue #50, G.I. Joe and Cobra had a pitched battle in the streets of Springfield itself, tearing apart the small little town and sending its civilians scattering.  When the smoke cleared, Cobra was nowhere to be found and the Joe team was under scrutiny for apparently decimating an innocent United States town.  They had suffered a serious blow, which would be followed up three issues later when the very Pit itself was torn to the foundation.

GIJoe-Springfield-Issue-50-2

But the comic wasn’t the only place where Springfield was pervasive within G.I. Joe lore.  Infamously, during a two-part episode of the Sunbow animated series, entitled “There’s No Place Like Springfield” venerable G.I. Joe slacker Shipwreck is drawn into an adventure involving a nice little town barely concealing a sinister Cobra plot…

NoPlaceLikeSpringfield

Cobra and Springfield go hand-in-hand, and have for many years.  Sure, after Springfield there was Milville and Broca Beach, but nothing that quite matched the charm of that first nice little town.

2 thoughts on “G.I. Joe and the history of Springfield

  1. I like to think of Springfield as being in Rhode Island because of the Hasbro connection and because it’s one of the states that doesn’t actually have a town by that name (at least according to Google maps).

  2. You know it is Springfield, VT, MA & NH and the towns in between. Think about it old factories, depressed areas where people are desperate for economic growth, small towns that can easily be taken over by “popular” candidates. Skilled labor force in the 80’s with the existence of the dying factories in the Machine Tool Industry. The area was the start of many arms manufacturers … the perfect unsuspecting area to launch a plan for world domination…lol!

    and I am just up the road a bit from Springfield, VT also…

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