Thursday, August 06, 2009

And Knowing Is Half The Battle

OK: This is not about sports. Given today's SN column lead connecting John Hughes to sports, I was caught with a wave of nostalgia for the formative moments of my youth. Today's big movie release offers a segue...

Let me make a confession: When I was growing up -- 9, 10, 11 years old -- I was crazy for G.I. Joe.

Had all the toys (PRE-"swivel-arm battle grip" aka Eddie Murphy's "kung-fu grip"). Had the plane with the retractable wings. Had the helicopter. Had the jeep. Had the base. (Had Zartan, the figure who changed color in sunlight!)

But more than anything, I was into GI Joe comics.

I was a comic-book collector as a kid, and for whatever reason, I thought GI Joe was amazing. I started with issue No. 1 (remember, on special "Baxter" paper?) and kept it up at least into the issues numbered in the 80s.

I still have them in a storage unit, complete with bags and boards. I cannot bring myself to get rid of them. (I asked a comic store last year what they'd pay for the collection: He said "$20." I left.)

I'm not sure what it was about GI Joe that had me so hooked. The toy tie-in? The cartoon? The cool weaponry? The neat outfits? Snake Eyes? (I mean: Who DIDN'T like Snake Eyes?)

Destro and his pimp outfit? (There had to have been dissertations written that deconstructed Destro's pimp symbolism -- his job, "arms dealer," his mask, his chain, the "Baroness?")

I'm torn about the movie. I've heard it is a debacle. On the one hand, it brings back all of these fun childhood memories. On the other, it is a bit of a desecration of them.

The "fanboy" contingents for Start Trek or Star Wars or X-Men or Spider-Man or Fantastic Four were so much more active, and I felt like the filmmakers wanted to cater to them.

Will the GI Joe filmmakers do anything to nod slyly to us kids in the early- and mid-80s who bought all the toys and waiting diligently every month for the new comic issue to arrive?

For example: In looking over the GI Joe character list on Wikipedia, it appears that Clutch -- the swarthy jeep driver -- was Jewish. (Lance Steinberg... who knew?)

-- D.S.

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