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By Thomas Wheeler

Finally, the long-awaited traditional-style G.I.JOE comic-figure three-packs have started to come out. These are the sets that include three traditional-style G.I.JOE figures that are featured in the reprint of the Marvel comic that is included with the set, although it's worth noting that the Marvel logo has distinctly been removed from the cover.

Ironically, the first set, which features, of course, G.I.JOE #1, is actually a COBRA set, including COBRA COMMANDER, BARONESS, and a COBRA TROOPER.

COBRA COMMANDER uses the 1991 "Talking Commanders" body, with a new head sculpt. I think the colors are great! They are right on the money, with a blue uniform with yellow-gold trim, and a darker blue hood. The only problem I see with this body is that the original version had a backpack attached to it, which of course is not present now, and so the figure has this strange flat section to his back.

BARONESS, of course, uses the original 1984 Baroness body, finally done in blue after all these years, which is how she originally appeared. The figure has a new head sculpt, which apprears to be too small for the figure. Baroness also has removable glasses, a somewhat peculiar feature. Not a bad idea, perhaps, but she looks like she's wearing swimming goggles. However, it should certainly be noted that the face sculpt underneath the glasses is truly superb.

The COBRA TROOPER figure is a nice piece of work, with an excellent Cobra insignia which is also shared by the other two. The figure also has them on the sides of his helmet. The head sculpt is the original Cobra Trooper, not the narrower version that was used in the Toys "R" Us six-pack. The colors are precisely right for a comic book version of this figure, with a red face mask and yellow-gold uniform trim.

The only odd thing about the figure is that the lower waist piece comes from Roadblock, and it does affect the leg articulation somewhat. Sometimes these parts aren't as compatible with one another as you'd like to think. According to information I've received, that was among a number of molds lost when a factory was shut down recently. And those were brand-new molds, too. That makes me really mad, and I don't even work for Hasbro, so one can guess how upset they are about this loss of tools.

Their file cards read as follows:

COBRA COMMANDER COMMANDER OF COBRA FORCES Cobra Commander is totally ruthless and without a conscience. The leader of the COBRA forces, he wants two simple things: To take over the world through his COBRA organization, and to destroy the G.I.JOE Team. Money and power are what he's after, and he'll do anything to get them. He demands complete loyalty from his forces and metes out strong punishments to anyone who questions him. He likes to be in the middle of the action when his forces go up against the G.I.Joe team. He despises Duke, the leader of the G.I.Joe Team, for stopping many of his evil plans. He believes that if he can capture Duke, then all his evil plans will fall into place. "Cobra Commander is as cunning and dangerous as the reptile for which he is named. Like a snake, he is always shedding his skin, escaping danger then rebuilding his operations overnight."

BARONESS COBRA INTELLIGENCE OFFICER File Name: Classified. Alias: Anastasia DeCobray Primary Military Specialty: Intelligence Operative Birthplace: Classified Incredibly solf-involved and lacking in empathy, the BARONESS has all the primary qualifications of a world-class oil company executive or corporate raider. Born into wealth, she was a student radical and dabbled in extremist fringe groups before aligning herself with COBRA and worming her way unto the confidence of both Cobra Commander and Destro. Nominally designated the director of intelligence for Cobra Command, her duties actually cover a much wider range of loathsome activities. Coldly cynical yet hopelessly romantic, calculating but naive, brutally blunt and prone to beating around the bush at times, the Baroness is a mass of contradictions. "The ideals of COBRA are the true reflection of the self-serving masses that comprise the "me generation". What fairy-tale fantasy about valor, loyalty, and integrity is the G.I.Joe team upholding?"

COBRA TROOPER COBRA INFANTRY FORCES The Cobra Trooper Infantry forces are the most basic, bottom-of-the-barrel soldiers on the Cobra regime. They have to work their way up to even become Cobra Viper forces. They are thugs, mercenaries, pirates and assorted lowlifes who are recruited from all over the world. They are given the most basic level of training, which amounts to simply organizing a handful of them into a reasonably cohesive group, giving them the most basic of uniforms, handing them equipment, and telling them to go out and destroy, sabotage, and wreak havoc. The Cobra Trooper divisions are not specialists, but instead are send in as basic infantry ground forces. Their key advantage is their pure nastiness and sheer numbers. "We're the grunts of the COBRA organization, the guys who pour into the field and fight for all we're worth, overpowering the enemy withmight, meanness and machine guns."

The second set features G.I.JOE #2, and brings us not only SNAKE-EYES and SCARLETT, but the very first figure ever of KWINN! Let's discuss him first.

KWINN was introduced in G.I.Joe #2. He's an Eskimo mercenary, a highly effective one at that, who despite working for some questionable customers has his own personal sense of honor. He appeared later on in a story that ultimately concluded in issue #19 with Kwinn's death at the hands of Dr. Venom, an incident which is alluded to on Kwinn's file card in this set. Despite such an early departure from the comics, his legend remained, and many longtime fans never stopped wanting a KWINN figure. Finally, we get our wish.

This figure is KWINN in his arctic outfit. The figure uses the Big Ben body, which nicely mimics the uniform Kwinn is wearing in the comic, especially the ammo belts. The head sculpt is a little on the small side, but has been done rather interestingly to add an arctic collar to the uniform, even though it's part of the headpiece. It works surprisingly well. Kwinn also comes complete with his legendary weasel-skull necklace. Overall it's an excellent figure.

SNAKE-EYES comes across very well, too. How do you take a character that's mostly dressed in black, and outfit him for the arctic? Simple -- you figure that he's so good, he wouldn't give a darn what color he's dressed in, and then you remold the Snow Job body in black and green and give it the original Snake-Eyes head. The end result is a superb match for the character as he's seen in the comic book.

The slightly oddball figure in the set has to be SCARLETT. Hasbro took the Jinx body mold and did it in white. This isn't Scarlett's arctic outfit, that much is obvious. This is her martial arts tournament uniform that she was wearing before the Joes went on the mission where they encountered Kwinn. It's not a bad outfit, but it's a bit of a mismatch when compared to the other two figures. Additionally, although the headsculpt's appearance is excellent, possibly the best Scarlett likeness ever, complete with a good hairstyle including the ponytail, the headsculpt in and of itself, like the one for the Baroness, is far too small.

Their file cards read as follows:

TRACKER KWINN MERCENARY File Name: Kwinn, Jesse Primary Military Specialty: Freelance Special-Ops Enforcer Secondary Military Specialty: Tracker Birthplace: Kotzebue, Alaska KWINN is a mysterious mystic mercenary who had at one time worked for COBRA, but eventually ended up siding with G.I.Joe. He's an expert tracker, hunter, and woodsman who can speak eight languages including three Inuit dialects. Although unerringly accurate with pistol, long-range rifle, and harpoon, his weapon of choice is the belt-fed, air-cooled .30 caliber machine gun. A man of deep convictions, Kwinn holds strictly to a code of honor that makes his word his sacred bond; he never lies, and never goes back on a deal. In the end, it was his adherence to his personal code that led to his downfall at the hands of a venomous Cobra scientist. Although Kwinn had the doctor in huis power, he overcame the dark urges that he called "the voice of the weasel spirit" and let the evil doctor go rather than become that which he despised. "Break your word and you are a traitor not only to others but also to yourself."

SNAKE-EYES G.I.JOE COVERT MISSION SPECIALIST File Name: Classified Primary Military Specialty: Infantry Secondary Military Specialty: Hand-to-Hand Combat Instructor Birthplace: Classified Some people say that ninjas own the night. If that's the case, Snake-Eyes owns the whole 24 hours. Anybody who isn't a mouth-breather has a reasonable chance of sneaking up behind a sentry in the dark. Snake-Eyes can do it at high noon on a gravel path with no cover. A qualified expert with all NATO and former Warsaw Pact small arms, he is proficient in twelve martial arts systems and a master of the same ninja clan (Arashikage) that produced Storm Shadow. His one known hobby is collecting spike-knuckled trench knives. At one time Snake-Eyes and the Cobra ninja Storm Shadow were sword brothers, but circumstances forced them apart and led Storm Shadow down the evil road to Cobra. Although others see them as bitter foes, Snake-Eyes looks at the Cobra ninja and sees only the best friend he ever had, so he dreads the day he may have to draw his sword against him in earnest.

SCARLETT COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AGENT File Name: O'Hara, Shana M. Primary Military Specialty: Counterintelligence Secondary Military Specialty: Classified Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia The U.S. Military relies on special agents to gather information about the plans of its enemies. These agents put their lives on the line to find and bring back this important knowledge. One of these agents is SCARLETT. She started her counterintelligence work by analysing evidence, setting up surveillance equipment and preparing reports. After she proved her abilities in small missions, she began to conduct field operations. Much of her job is finding and verifying information, but that's dangerous work when you're dealing with sources that are part of the evil COBRA organization. "People ask me what it takes to be a good agent. I say: Integrity, Courage, and Intelligence."

Some (not all) of the figures are also a little glitchy in their articulation, especially the legs. I encountered this especially on the Cobra Trooper, and Cobra Commander. I don't know if this is a mold, production, or assembly problem, but it does need to be addressed. They don't seem to be able to stand up well on their own.

Don't get me wrong, please. Whatever negative comments I have made here are made simply because I feel that G.I.Joe needs to be held to a higher standard than most other action figure lines, and because I know Hasbro is capable of recitfying these problems. From what I saw at the G.I.Joe Convention, the headsculpt size problem has been dealt with. There's another Scarlett coming up in a later set that I think most collectors are going to regard as the best Scarlett of all time. Virtually all of the Joes are getting new headsculpts, and they all looked very cool, and properly sized. What happened here to the Baroness and this first Scarlett, hopefully were just early-set goofs that will not occur again.

Bottom line? I believe these comic-figure three-packs are G.I.Joe's best chance in several years to return to his glory days. These, along with the Toys "R" Us six-packs, are proof that there is still a considerable interest in, and market for, traditional-style G.I.Joes, and with the comic sets, Hasbro has come up with an excellent way to not only provide those figures, but a lesson in G.I.Joe's history and legacy with the included comic books!

I most highly recommend these new G.I.JOE comic-figure three-packs, and I also urge you to, if at all possible, buy them in the stores. Not to malign any online outlet carrying these sets, but I was distinctly told by a Hasbro representative at the G.I.Joe Convention that these sets need to succeed in the stores for them to continue, and believe me, we all want them to continue.