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REVIEW:
G.I.JOE COMIC SET ISSUE #9
By Thomas Wheeler



This three-pack of G.I.Joes, based on the Marvel Comic, should've been out a year ago. Why it wasn't remains a mystery. But people were definitely looking forward to it for two reasons. It included BREAKER, which pretty well wrapped up the remakes of the original G.I.Joe Team, and it included a superb-looking SCARLETT, dressed in her traditional togs, instead of the white Jinx-suit she came with in Set #2, that also had a headsculpt with the worst case of Pygmy Head ever seen in the line.

I was immensely impressed with this three-pack, which also includes a transparent blue "holographic" Cobra Commander -- details on that in a few paragraphs -- when I ordered it recently. The figures are well-made, more neatly painted than I've come to expect from Hasbro lately, and none of the heads had that horrible mold-crease problem that has cropped up far too much in recent times.

Let's consider each figure individually...

ALVIN "BREAKER" KIBBEY - Another case where Hasbro apparently wasn't able to specifically use the code-name of the character, so they threw his real name around it and trademarked that, instead. What the heck, it works.

I'll be honest, I've never been all that gung-ho (no, not that Gung-Ho) about making sure that all of the original 1982 team was re-released. If nothing else, the frequent combination of incompatible parts trying to come up with a reasonable and yet slightly more detailed facsimile of a 1982 character often resulted in a figure that had trouble even standing up straight. And while I won't say that I'll miss the original molds if Hasbro should decide to never use them again, I'm also very pleased to say that the aforementioned problem is not the case at all with Breaker. He looks decent and stands perfectly well.

His head sculpt doesn't have a serious "pygmy problem" and is a truly superb likeness of the Breaker character as he appeared in the comic, which was actually quite different than his original toy. The Breaker toy had a beard. The Breaker character in the comic book was clean-shaven and tended to come across as something of a youngster and a bit of a smart- aleck, forever popping bubble gum. Thankfully, the bubble gum is not included.

Breaker comes with a rifle, and the very small and very popular among collectors little cel-phone-like walkie-talkie that was originally included with Firefly in 1984. It's a nicely detailed little accessory that is highly sought-after by collectors, in part because it's so well made, but also in part because it's so small that doubtless a great many of them wound up in vacuum cleaners over the years. He also comes with a helmet that's a nice remake of the originals from the 80's, although in a somewhat wasteful move that's cropped up from time to time on figures' entire heads, the helmet is painted -- one color. It'd kill them to mold it in that color?

Breaker's file card reads as follows:

ALVIN "BREAKER" KIBBEY

Communications Officer

File Name: Kibbey, Alvin R.

Primary Military Specialty: Infantry

Secondary Military Specialty: Radio Telecommunications

Birthplace: Gatlinburg, Tennessee

BREAKER established himself as the G.I.Joe Team's first communications expert. He is the link between the battlefield and headquarters. Communications as as crucial to operations as ammunition is to a weapon. Without a radio operator, you lose the ability to call in air strikes, provide artillery coordinates, request a Medivac or find the extraction site. Breaker constantly monitors Cobra frequencies and jams their transmissions. He also has an uncanny ability with cracking enemy codes and tracing them back to their own base of operations. He is well liked by his teammates, but has an annoying habit of chewing bubble gum and sneaking up behind them to pop his bubbles.

"Knowing what is happening when it's happening is critical to the success of a mission. I get the messages where they're supposed to be, no matter what's happening around me."

This Breaker figure is a real treat, and honestly a lot cooler than I expected it to be. Next let's consider --

AGENT SCARLETT. It wouldn't be quite accurate to call this figure the "ultimate Scarlett" much as I did with the Storm Shadow and Firefly figures that came in their own comic-based sets come months ago. On the other hand, this figure comes pretty darn close.

The head is a LITTLE on the small side. Nowhere near as bad as the Scarlett that was in Set #2, but it could stand to be a little larger than it is. On the other hand, that aside, this is an incredibly impressive Scarlett figure that otherwise probably would qualify as the ultimate Scarlett. The headsculpt, size notwithstanding, is absolutely perfect. The facial details are superb, and the hair is a separate sculpt, of the length as seen in the comic book, as opposed to the very short hair the original figure head, tied off in the back. It's the right color and very nicely styled.

The uniform is the original 1982 Scarlett outfit, but slightly lighter in color, reflecting the color scheme of the comic book. That's okay, because it still looks good, and is unquestionably Scarlett's distinctive uniform. The paint work is excellent, even if there isn't a lot of it (it doesn't really need it), but someone added the nice touch of black borders around the gloves!

Interestingly, the figure comes with a pair of skis and ski poles, which look like she borrowed them from Snow Job and repainted them to her uniform colors. This is worth noting because in the comic story included with the three-pack, Scarlett does use skis at one point. Now, I was all prepared to say that this was rather ironic because Scarlett is one of the very new figures in the entire G.I.Joe line that doesn't have holes in the bottom of her feet, so she can't use the skis.

Well -- SOMEBODY at Hasbro is paying attention, because this Scarlett, finally, after nearly 25 years, finally has peg-holes in the bottom of her boots, and can wear the skis just fine, thank you! Way to go, Hasbro! Scarlett also comes with her traditional crossbow.

Seriously, if you can get your mind around a slightly small head, this just might be the best Scarlett figure ever. Her file card reads as follows:

AGENT SCARLETT

Counterintelligence Agent

File Name: O'Hara, Shana M.

Primary Military Specialty: Counterintelligence

Secondary Military Specialty: Keeping Snake-Eyes' temper in check (kidding -- it's Classified)

Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia

Agent Scarlett first learned martial arts from her father and three brothers, who are martial arts instructors. She began her training at age nine and was awarded a black belt at age 15. She was not only physically ahead of her time, but was mentally advanced as well. She graduated summa cum laude from two Ivy League universities and went on to excel in training courses at all four branches of the armed forces. The Cobra organization often mistakes her for just a pretty face rather than a member of the elite G.I.Joe Team, which makes her perfect for undercover missions. She is great friends with Snake-Eyes, and the two make a deadly combination against all Cobra adversaries.

"Beauty may be only skin deep, but lethal goes right to the bone."

Scarlett was the first female figure in the G.I.Joe line, and has certainly attained the same legendary status as many of the most popular male characters, such as Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow, Roadblock, and others. I'm very pleased that this set featuring such an impressive version of her finally came out.

Finally, let's consider COBRA COMMANDER. Although not specified on the file card or description, this is actually a "Holographic" Cobra Commander. So, how is that possible? Well, within the context of the story in this issue of the comic book, Stalker walks into a darkened room and is greeted by a bright blue holographic projection of Cobra Commander. The story, it should be noted, is one of the very, very few in the entire run not written by Larry Hama, who, as far as the toys allowed, tried to keep the technology reasonably real-world.

On the other hand, I saw my first demonstration of a hologram in my high- school science class in the mid-1970's, and I suppose it would be entirely possible for an advanced organization like Cobra to create a mono-colored life-size hologram of their esteemed leader in an otherwise darkened room, even by the early 1980's. It's not like we're talking Star Trek holosuites here!

The figure is interesting, if a little on the ordinary side. It's molded entirely in transparent blue. The lower arms are not those of Cobra Commander, but are identical to a Cobra Trooper's. The body is the one which has been used since Comic Set #1. It's a decent body mold, although given that its original use was in the Talking Battle Commanders set in 1991, it has a rather protruding and oddly-shaped back, originally designed to accommodate the huge backpack that those figures came with. I've always considered this especially annoying since this figure was reworked as an individual figure in 1993 with a different, adn far more agreeable, back piece. If Hasbro is tracking down old molds and has any plans of issuing any more Cobra Commanders, this is a mold they should find. And his now-missing lower arms.

But these are minor complaints for an otherwise interesting and certainly unusual action figure. One might think that it doesn't have a lot of practical uses within a G.I.Joe scenario, but consider the fact that Cobra Commander has proven his cowardice on repeated occasions. I wouldn't put it past him in the least to work out the means to simply project his image to his troops, order them into battle, while he's safe and sound in some bunker someplace, probably playing Call of Duty on his XBox or something.

And you can probably have some fun standing this figure in a group of those "holographic" Star Wars figures that Hasbro has produced, and your friends can wonder when Cobra Commander joined the Jedi Council... Cobra Commander's file card reads as follows:

COBRA COMMANDER

Cobra Supreme Leader

File Name: Classified

Primary Military Specialty: Intelligence

Secondary Military Specialty: Ordnance (Experimental Weapons)

Cobra Commander leads the evil forces of Cobra in their quest for world domination. He has no conscience or honor, and he will stop at nothing to achieve his terrible goals. He has built a large network of spies who supply him with information about governments and businesses around the globe. He uses this information to expand his empire and increase his power. The one group stopping him from complete victory is the G.I.Joe Team. He despises their sense of justice and honor. In the mind of Cobra Commander, he is sure they will fail and he will win. Why? Because to him, you don't rule with kindness and decency; instead, you force people to obey you with threats and fear. The fact that he is wrong has never occurred to him.

"I learned long ago how to get what I want. Take it by persuasion, by force, by any way you can. No one else matters. That's how you win."

Oddly, this holographic Cobra Commander comes with the "Venom" blaster gun that the very first Cobra Commander came with - and yet the gun is molded in solid back. Go figure.

Overall, this is really an excellent set of G.I.Joe figures. The BREAKER figure is much more impressive than I expected, the SCARLETT figure is immensely cool and definitely a must-have for any G.I.Joe collector, and the holographic COBRA COMMANDER, while a little strange, is still a cool figure in its own right. The paint details are excellent, and at least in this set that I received, the mold-crease problems that some figures heads have had of late are, to say the least, minimal. I noticed one very minor one on Scarlett's face and that was about it, except, oddly, for some fairly serious creases in her boots! I've never seen this before, and the boots are made from harder plastic, not the softer plastic of the heads and lower arms.

G.I.JOE COMIC SET ISSUE #9 has my highest and enthusiastic recommendation.