Book Review: G.I. Joe – A Real American Hero: Saturday Morning Adventures: The TV Show Comes to Life in This Fun Miniseries

During the 1980s, G.I. Joe – A Real American Hero, was seemingly everywhere. What began as a successful toy line from Hasbro turned into a Marvel comic and, from 1983 to 1986, an animated television series lasting 95 episodes. Now, IDW has captured the spirit of the original TV show in a four-issue series, collected in one trade paperback as G.I. Joe – A Real American Hero: Saturday Morning Adventures.

Written by Erik Burnham with art by Dan Schoening, the comic looks and feels like the old TV show, even including the PSAs at the end of each issue like the TV show used to. Here we get ones about cyber safety, how stealing comics (and in general) is bad, how we should not be cruel to animals, and one about luck. All of them end with the familiar, “Now I know and knowing is half the battle” tagline. The artwork looks like it could be stills lifted right from the show, which is a credit to Schoening and colorist Luis Antonio Delgado.

The plot is typical G.I. Joe animated fare – ridiculous, but fun. Cobra Commander tasks Zartan and the Dreadnoks to steal an artifact, one in which he promises to pay handsomely for. Zartan and his crew, along with Destro and the Baroness, can’t imagine why he would want this ugly artifact, until it is revealed that it contains Aladdin’s lamp.

The genie comes out of the lamp and grants Cobra Commander three wishes. The Commander immediately wishes for ultimate power, but the genie tells him that’s not how it works. He then asks for a battalion of giant Battle Android Troopers loyal only to him. After the Joes make quick work of the first trooper when Ace crashes his Skystriker jet into its leg, Cobra Commander tasks Destro to make improvements on the MegaB.A.T.S. as he calls them and sends them to destroy Paris, Tokyo, and Washington D.C. — unless he is paid a sum of $1 billion dollars. When Baroness questions why not just wish for the money, Cobra Commander tells her never to question him and that that he wants the world’s leaders to bow to his wishes and that it was never about the money.

For his second wish, the Commander asks for weapons for his most loyal soldiers that are not harmful to me, a loophole the genie exploits when one of the Joes refers to himself as me and he seemingly survives getting blown up. This is a knowing nod to the TV show, where jet planes could take a missile to the cockpit and then they’d cut to commercial only to have the pilot parachuting to safety when it came back from the break.

After the MegaB.A.T.S. capture Duke, the Joes discover that Cobra has a secret base on Guam and set out to rescue Duke and attack the base. Cobra Commander wishes that all the Joes become loyal to Cobra to end the conflict and the genie once again reminds him that isn’t how it works, but then says he will grant his wish of ending the conflict by making all of the Joes and Cobra fight until the last person standing. Not wishing to see his source of revenue dry up, Destro proposes a deal with Flint where someone needs to find the lamp to undo all of Cobra Commander’s wishes. The genie has the door blocked though and says no member of G.I. Joe or Cobra shall pass, so it falls to an unlikely source to retrieve the lamp.

G.I. Joe – A Real American Hero: Saturday Morning Adventures is a fun, quick read that is very much in the spirit of the old TV show both in looks and feel. The book is essentially a love letter to the original show and longtime fans will find a lot to like about this story.

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