Picture it. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, 1982. A young, burgeoning comic book fan has a Sunday tradition with his father where they travel to the local 7-11 or IDA Drugstore after their day together and pick up a book for the youngster to read. On one occasion, this comic collector was in the IDA a few days early with his mother and found what looked to be a very exciting first issue of something called…G.I. Joe. Knowing that he’d have to wait a few days to get the hugely important title, the child hit the issue amongst a group of unrelated magazines, hoping upon hope that no other collector would find the hidden gold. Come the next Sunday, child and father walk in to the I.D.A. Father watches with a grin on his face as the child magically pulls out the prize.
And that,my friends, is how I scored the first issue of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero!
That classic first issue, which introduced us to the new breed of Joe in Stalker, Clutch, Hawk, Scarlett, Snake-Eyes and others is now reprinted, alongside the rest of the first year of the series, in a gorgeous hardcover from IDW – G.I. Joe: The Complete Collection. It’s a massive undertaking, with a planned 15-volume set, but for the diehard and novice Joe fans, it’s an essential collection that we should be thrilled to have on our shelves.
The hardcover looks great and feels good in your hands; unlike other compilations, this first Complete Collection isn’t heavy to hold. While one may argue that would could fit another twelve issues into this sort of omnibus and potentially save readers some money, I’d rather be able to sit comfortably on a couch or in bed and read the book rather than have something that weighs more than my child in my lap.
IDW have gone all out with this collection; along with the classic stores included, this edition also has extras found in that seminal first issue, including file cards, the layout of The Pit (which I drew on in my now worthless original) and the great Hot Potato short story. There’s also an introduction from noted G.I. Joe expert Mark W. Bellomo, that highlights just how integral series writer Larry Hama was in creating all the characters for both the comic and the toy line. Hama’s legacy is a great one that inspired a generation of readers and toy collectors, and having his run so beautifully compiled is a testament to his work.
While Devil’s Due during the 2000’s and IDW now have created some fantastic Joe stories, I think there’s no arguing that the 80’s run that Marvel published is still considered by many to be the definite G.I. Joe comic experience. Luckily, with IDW reissuing that series, fans can experience them again for the first time, just as I did some thirty years ago.
You can purchase G.I. Joe: The Complete Collection Volume 1 here.