Maybe I’ve missed the discussion, because I’ll grant you I’m not in too many comic book circles, but this past Wednesday saw the release of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #228, and with that one, mostly incidental comic issue, Larry Hama took another trendsetting step that I hope more publishers take note of.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is a mostly male dominated comic, but one thing that has always shone through with G.I. Joe is the strong female characters that permeate the universe, even though they’re somewhat smaller in number.
On Wednesday, those females took over. For 22 pages, Hama wrote a story told only using female characters within the G.I. Joe universe. It wasn’t gratuitous, it wasn’t shouted from the rooftops or proclaimed as some big “event”, it was just done. Baroness, Zarana, Dawn, Lady Jaye, Scarlett, Jinx, Cover Girl, Dr. Biggles-Jones, Cassandra Knox and several others drove the story as if it were just another issue of the comic. No story was sacrificed, no punches were pulled, it just happened, and it was pretty great.
As most of you are aware, back in the 80s Larry wrote a now legendary comic, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #21, and has freely admitted that back then it really didn’t get much notice. People saw it as a gimmick and nothing more, but in the decades since, it has been elevated to legendary status and replicated by all manner of other comic writers and publishers. He’s always managed to stay ahead of the curve.
I’m really impressed that this latest issue took this great step without making it a big deal. Girls are part of G.I. Joe, that’s just the way it is, and they can be a major part of the story (or the only part) without any sacrifice to plot or action. Not just that, but they’re such a normal part of the story, it’s not even a big deal when they take over the story. Just another day in the life of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
As a lifelong G.I. Joe fan with two daughters, I applaud Mr. Hama for doing this, and for doing it naturally. The issue was a great one, and the fact that it was driven by an all female cast only made it better. If you haven’t grabbed issue #228 yet, you might want to get on that. I suspect in ten years people may be looking back on it with similar inflection as the great issue #21.