G.I. JOE #1
Lady Doomsday
Cover Date: July, 1982

Scripter: Larry Hama
Penciler: Herb Trimpe
Inker: Bob McLeod

Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

"We're soldiers...our job is to follow orders...to do the impossible -- and make it look easy."
— Hawk

  During a press conference on a train traveling from New York to Washington, D.C., Dr. Adele Burkhart is captured by agents of the terrorist organization Cobra Command. The woman known as the Baroness escapes with Burkhart to a helicopter bound for Cobra's island stronghold. In Washington, D.C., General Austin briefs young General Lawrence J. Flagg on the kidnapping. Burkhart has been an embarassment to the government after she spoke out against the "doomsday project" she had developed for them. Flagg suggests they bring in his "Special Counter-Terrorist Group Delta," code-named G.I. Joe. Later, Colonel Clayton M. Abernathy, code-named Hawk, arrives at the Army Chaplains' Assistant School at Fort Wadsworth, driven by Clutch in the Vamp jeep, warning him to slow down. He changes his mind when Clutch mentions his orders were signed by General "Iron-Butt" Austin. Greeted by some of the Joes at the motor pool, the jeep descends into the team's secret headquarters, the Pit, via a hydraulic lift that goes down.

Hawk interrupts the Joes' combat training and briefs them on the mission to rescue Burkhart from Cobra's Caribbean island. The Joes ask Hawk if Burkhart is a traitor but Hawk tells them they are soldiers, and they have their job to "follow orders" and to "do the impossible and make it look easy." On Cobra's island, Cobra Commander and the Baroness are holding Burkhart. The commander dispatches his army to meet the small force of Joes who arrived by submarine. From the Joes' raft, Stalker attacks the Cobras on the beach with a JUMP jet pack. Cobra Commander realizes the Joes' attack was intended to lure the Cobra army away from the fort. Flash and Breaker jam Cobras radar as Scarlett and Snake-Eyes scale the fortress walls. Grunt, Stalker and Short Fuse destroy the planes at Cobra's airfield, but they are only "dummy" planes and one light aircraft is intact. The rest of the Joes land on the beach with the hydrofoil LCT (Landing Craft Tank) and the Vamp jeep, HAL laser cannon, RAM motorcycle and the Mobat tank. They battle Cobra's army. Stalker's team finds Cobra has wiped out the native fishing village, but have no time to bury the dead. The battle goes on and Stalker uses the JUMP jet pack to rescue Burkhart from a car leaving the fort. Stalker discovers "Burkhart" is really the Baroness in disguise. Scarlett and Snake-Eyes find Cobra Commander holding Burkhart at gunpoint, and he reveals that the fortress will self-destruct soon. He nearly kills Burkhart, but Scarlett injures his wrist with a throwing star. The other Joes blow up the door, but in the confusion, the commander and Baroness escape through a trap door. The Joes load into a Cobra helicopter and fly away as the island explodes. Dr. Burkhart realizes she may have misjudged the government. Later, Cobra Commander and the Baroness leave the island in a small plane bound for the secret Cobra base.  

Commentary:  The first G.I. Joe story serves basically as a set-up for the rest of the series. All the Joes are introduced, as is their secret headquarters. This marks the only place where the G.I. Joe team's official name is mentioned: "Special Counter-Terrorist Group Delta." The story is also filled with the "army humor" that Larry Hama tends to fill his stories with. Our first glimpses of Cobra for the next dozen or so issues paints Cobra Commander's followers as brain-washed "Nazi" followers. The Baroness acts like a militant activist with a poltical purpose, going as far as to call Stalker "pig." These characterizations change a lot as the series goes on. Cobra Commander later comes off as a madman bent on taking over the world, and his character is later filled with humorous touches. The commander we see here is a mastermind with more of a purpose. His later "camp" quality seems to be hinted at with his line, "You will soon see the distinct advantage of having no scruples whatsoever!" The legions of Cobra will seem more like regular soldiers and mercenaries. The Baroness will later be in it for power.

The 13 original Joes seem to have their own personalities in these early issues, but many characters "disappear" as Hasbro creates more action figure characters. Oftentimes in the entire series, there are hints of Larry Hama's struggle to write quality stories while contending with a dozen new characters every year. The story does, however, set-up the personalities of characters that do stay around for the whole series. In this story we learn that Snake-Eyes doesn't speak, and he uses sign language to communicate, an aspect not mentioned in later stories. Hawk's character remains constant through the series. Stalker's rather cold dismissal of burying the natives killed by Cobra and continuing with the mission fits with the very realistic military attitude seen throughout the series. The series stays popular by mixing the Joes' military effeciency with witty comments, balancing the serious and humorous tone of the stories. Hama's "mature" touches are examples of why people are such fans of the comic and what sets it apart from the TV cartoon series. The Joes have a secret base (deliberately set under the most innocent of army installations, a chaplain's assistant school) and are unknown to the public. Dr. Burkhart is more than a regular kidnapping victim. She's a controversial figure that doesn't like the military and is actually an embarassment to the government. The Joes "debate" during the briefing is evidence that this series has some thought behind the stories. Burkhart seems to be a throwaway character, but she later returns in issue #39, and will play a major role in issues #77 and #78.

At various points in the story, the dialogue is at its weakest when making sure the toys and figures are recognized by readers. At one point Cobra Commander says "...I shall now don my special combat helmet." Before the beach assault, someone tells Stalker, "Hurry up and strap on that JUMP -- Jet Mobile Propulsion Unit!" The Baroness and Cobra Commander's escape is a little weak, when the elite special forces team misplaces the enemies to tend to Burkhart's wounded arm. And the self-destructing fortress idea isn't too original. Still, the story remains a good set-up for the series.

First Appearances:

  • G.I. Joe team: Breaker, Clutch, Flash, Grand Slam, Grunt, Hawk, Rock n' Roll, Scarlett, Short Fuse, Snake-Eyes, Stalker, Steeler
  • Cobra: Cobra Commander, Baroness
  • Recurring Characters: General Austin, General Flagg, Dr. Adele Burkhart.
  • G.I. Joe Vehicles: HAL laser cannon, JUMP Jet Pack, Mobat tank, RAM motorcycle, VAMP jeep, LCT (Landing Craft Tank)
  • Geography: The "Pit", Fort Wadsworth

...Hot Potato!

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Don Perlin
Inker: Jack Abel

Summary:  Somewhere in the middle east in Colonel Sharif's Emirate, Hawk, Stalker and Clutch are sitting in a tavern, waiting for "the tape" from Scarlett, Snake-Eyes and Rock n' Roll, who are trying to get the tape safely through the desert. The tape contains information on how Cobra is bankrolling Sharif's army, the "Guardians of Paradise." In the desert, Scarlett's team has defeated part of the army, but are expecting reinforcements. Scarlett has been injured and orders Rock n' Roll and Snake-Eyes to leave their weapons and ammo for her and deliver the tape on their own. Before Scarlett is killed by the army, Snake-Eyes reappears, having turned back to save her. Rock n' Roll delivers the tape and rushes back with the RAM motorcycle to rescue Snake-Eyes and Scarlett. Rock n' Roll saves them, but an air strike is called in. Just before the RAM is destroyed, Hawk and Clutch show up in the Vamp and shoot down the plane. Meanwhile, Stalker is undercover on a plane to Gibraltar to deliver the tape.

Commentary:  "Hot Potato!" is a ten-page back-up story included in issue #1. With this extra-large issue, it's obvious that Marvel was hoping this series would be a popular one. The title refers to the tape and comes from Hawk's line "that thing is like a hot potato," referring the children's game where no one wants to hold it for too long. Cobra is just mentioned here, and one of the strengths of the series is showcased: the Joes don't battle Cobra exclusively. In the cartoon series, it seems that the Joes exist only to defeat Cobra. Their mission is broader here. Here the Joes have a smaller, less sensational mission. The story is no less interesting with the use of a tape filled with vital information -- a often-used plot device. Also, the use of middle east fanatics helps to date this issue in the '80s (not that the middle east is much calmer now).

Some interesting aspects in characterization show up in this story. Scarlett is shown as the leader of her team, willing to sacrifice herself to accomplish the mission. Not your typical female character in any media. It also establishes that Scarlett and Snake-Eyes have a relationship when Rock n' Roll says he thought Snake-Eyes "had some feelings" for Scarlett and when Snake-Eyes disobeys orders to save her. Another aspect of Snake-Eyes' character is mentioned by Stalker when he says he's afraid Snake-Eyes will take the order "if somebody gets wounded, leave 'em behind" too seriously.

First Appearances:

  • Recurring Characters: Colonel Sharif
  • Geography: Colonel Sharif's Emirate

Personnel Files

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Herb Trimpe

Summary:  The issue ends with four G.I. Joe personnel files, the text of which are identical to the action figure file cards. Each includes a picture with a joke. In Scarlett's file, she's about to shoot an apple off Clutch's head with her crossbow. In Breaker's, he can't hear a distress call because he's playing music through his headphones. Flash is seen in the classic army punishment of peeling potatoes, and Stalker is flying in his jet pack telling kids to not try it at home. While a little silly, these files serve point out that the series will not take itself too seriously all the time.

Reprinted in

  • G.I. JOE: Marvel Treasury Edition #1 (1982). Reprinted in larger format with modified cover.
  • G.I. JOE Yearbook #1 (March 1985). Includes "Operation: Lady Doomsday" and the diagram of the Pit.
  • G.I. JOE Fact and Yearbook (1985). From Ventura Books. Includes a black and white reprint of G.I. Joe Yearbook #1, along with other non-comic material. Find more information here at YoJoe.com
  • G.I. JOE Comics Magazine #1 (December 1986). Digest format from Marvel Comics. Includes entire issue excluding all of the personnel files except Scarlett's, and issue #2.
  • Tales of G.I. Joe #1 (January 1988). Reprint series from Marvel. Includes entire issue.
  • G.I. JOE: Volume 1 (May 2002). A trade paperback collection from Marvel. Includes "Operation: Lady Doomsday" only, and the entirety of issues #2-10.
  • A version of the issue including only "Operation: Lady Doomsday" was released by Hasbro in 2004, packaged with comic-based action figures of Cobra Commander, Baroness and a Cobra trooper. All references to Marvel Comics were removed.
  • Another version of the issue was released by Hasbro in 2008, packaged with comic-based action figures of Hawk and Scarlett. All references to Marvel Comics were removed. It features a new painted cover, based on the original.
  • Classic G.I. JOE: Volume 1 (January 2009). A trade paperback collection from IDW Publishing. Aside from some slight changes made to the cover, this is a reprint of the earlier Marvel collection, including "Operation: Lady Doomsday" only, and the entirety of issues #2-10.
  • G.I. JOE: Best Worst of Cobra Commander (May 2009). Part of a series of reprints from IDW. Also includes issues #5, 16, 38, 55 and 61.
  • G.I. JOE: Best Worst of Baroness (January 2010). Part of a series of reprints from IDW. Also includes issues #13-15, 34 and 47.

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