Colton, J.
The Original

File Name: Joseph R. Colton

Central Falls, RI
Rank: Brigadier General

Primary Military Specialty:
Executive Officer
Secondary Military Specialty:

Status: Active

First Appearance:
G.I. JOE #86 (May 1989)

   The man who would become the legendary G.I. Joe graduated top of his class at West Point's United States Military Academy in 1960. He joined Special Forces and quickly distinguished as an outstanding Green Beret. In 1963, Lt. Colton's special forces team was overrun by North Vietnamese troops in the central highlands of Vietnam. Only Colton, his first Sergeant "Top" Wenzel and Specialist Angel Vasquez survived the attack. On the extraction chopper, Colton was given orders to report to the President immediately, but he refused to go, demanding to stay with the injured Vasquez, who died shortly afterward. Colton met with President John F. Kennedy personally, and was appointed to lead an elite team of soldiers reporting directly to the President. A year later, the team went into operation under the name "G.I. Joe". The name kept the team anonymous and elusive, and became the unofficial code name for Colton. The team was involved in missions all over the world, assisting other units and participating in covert operations throughout the 1960s.

    In 1969, Joe grew tired of a soldier's life and took a well-deserved sabbatical. He began to travel the world and explored some of the most exotic and dangerous parts of the world, having a number of adventures. In 1970, he became a part of the civilian group known as the Adventure Team. Throughout the next decade, Joe and his team worked for private groups, serving as guides and rescuers to archaeologists and other scientists working in the field. The team even worked for various government agencies on occasion. The Adventure Team disbanded as the 70s came to a close.

    In the 1980s, Joe returned to work for the U.S. government as a security specialist, helping to protect many top secret installations. Joe became chief of security for the secret Strategic Defense Initiative installation hidden inside New York city's Chrysler Building. A highly-advanced laser weapon was built and tested there by a group of government scientists led by Jane, the former nurse of the original G.I. Joe team. As "G.I. Joe", Colton was well-known, but he tended to keep his identity a secret, since so many of his team's missions remained classified. In 1988, the SDI facility came under attack by a large number of Cobra Vipers. The current G.I. Joe team sent a group to assist in the defense of the laser. Colton met Hawk, the Joe team's commander and together they fought off Cobra's attack. Hawk was so impressed by Colton's leadership in the situation, he made him an honorary member of the team. Joe was so amused by Hawk's offer that he revealed his and Jane's true identities. Years later, Cobra again attempted to take control of the SDI building. Joe teamed up with the G.I. Joe team once again and used portable battle copters to fight off the terrorists. Cobra managed to fire off one shot with the laser, which was only used to destroy a ship running drugs into their town of Broca Beach. Months after last working with the Joe team and a short time before the team was disbanded, Colton was called back into active duty for one last top secret mission, the details of which remain classified. A short time after the Joe team was shut down, Colton and Jane -- still working at the SDI facility -- helped a small team of Joes in their mission to transport a top secret electronic device and evade Cobra.

    Years later, after the Joe team was reinstated, General Colton came out of retirement to help the Joes by filling in as their commanding officer in the absence of Hawk, who was shot by Cobra Commander and lay in a hospital bed, paralyzed. With Hawk out of commission, the cabal of Generals known as the Jugglers used a disastrous mission for the Joes to tighten their control and dismantle the team. Colton was quickly transferred off the team and General Philip Rey was placed in command of a smaller team. After the Joes stopped Cobra Commander's plans to unleash the weapon known as the Tempest, a new threat began to emerge in the form of the Red Shadows. The mysterious group began killing Joes and Cobra agents, and Joe Colton became one of their targets. He was confronted by a member of the Red Shadows, and was surprised to see the man was Wilder Vaughn, the fellow soldier he had last seen decades earlier. Vaughn shot Colton and left him for dead, but though his injuries were critical, Colton survived and eventually recovered.

    One year after the defeat of the Red Shadows, General Colton was asked by the President to head up the newly reestablished G.I. Joe team, headquartered at the secret facility known as The Rock. At first reluctant to take command, but accepted the position in the wake of the deliberate crash of a satellite into downtown Chicago. Colton ordered the Joes to investigate and allowed them to do so independently. During the mission, Colton had to deal with more personal issues with the team than he expected: some members' mistrust of Storm Shadow, Flint's reckless behavior following Lady Jaye's death and Duke breaking all contact with the team while on a personal mission for Hawk. The Joes stopped the satellite crashes and found the culprit to be terrorist Vance Wingfield, who had assistance from Destro's armaments company. Following that incident, Colton authorized an unofficial mission to rescue Scarlett from Destro's submarine, which resulted in the supposed death of Snake-Eyes, who was somehow resurrected by the Red Ninjas. Following Snake-Eyes' return, General Colton began to lose the trust of Stalker, Snake-Eyes and Scarlett when they discovered that the Baroness was being held in The Rock without the knowledge of the rest of the team. They confronted Colton, but were interrupted by an attack on the base by the Phoenix Guard. The group was eventually defeated, but not before killing many members of the base's support staff. Following the attack, Colton vowed to repair the fracturing of the team, which he believed to be partially his own fault.

    Following Cobra Commander's acquisition of the M.A.R.S. corporation and the revelation that he possessed information on the identities and families of many Joes, the Joe team expanded its roster of active members. The team began tracking down as many former and current Cobra operatives as they could find. G.I. Joe soon learned that the new spike in Cobra activity was part of Cobra Commander's plan to literally start World War III, leading General Colton to activate all reserve members of the team. The conflict spread across the globe as the Joes took the lead in fighting Cobra and the Iron Grenadiers. A Cobra attack on The Rock forced Colton, Jane and other Joes to abandon The Rock and set up a small base of operations in a cabin in Idaho. Near the end of the war, Colton personally led a mission to infiltrate Cobra's headquarters at Ft. Meade and retake the Army base. Eventually, the Joes crushed Cobra and finally arrested Cobra Commander, bringing an end to the war. Most reserve Joes have returned to their previous assignments while Colton and Hawk continue commanding the team with the full support of the president.

Data Desk Handbook by Nelson Blake II  (thanks to Mike O'Sullivan); G.I. JOE #152 (cover) by Phil Gosier and Scott Koblish; G.I. JOE #82 (interior) by Marshall Rogers and Randy Emberlin.


  • G.I. JOE: #86, 127, 152
  • G.I. JOE vol. 2: #34, 35, 40-43
  • G.I. JOE: Battle Files: trade paperback
  • G.I. JOE: Front Line: #2-4
  • G.I. JOE: America's Elite: #0, 1, 2, 6, 8-19, 21-23, 25-36
  • G.I. JOE: Special Missions: Manhattan, Tokyo, Antarctica, Brazil
        (compiled with help from Bryon Hake)
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