So Sayeth the Odinson: A Look at Comics History: Part 5 of 10 – GI Joe and Transformers

Greetings from the Odinson,

A Look at Comics History: Part 5 of 10 – GI Joe and Transformers

Not every team-up goes over as smoothly as peanut butter and chocolate.

The Odinson is taking a look back at Comics History.  More specifically, I will be looking at interactions and relationships between characters that do not necessarily have much in common but when they do interact, it’s always noteworthy. 

I’ve written down the names of ten different odd couples on Post-its, threw them in my winged helmet, and each week I will pull one at random. 

This week, A Real American Hero and the Robots in Disguise.  

GI Joe is a small army of elite soldiers that use their special skills to defend the free world against a rogue terrorist organization bent on world domination.  The Transformers are sentient, shape-shifting robots from a far off world whose centuries-old civil war has spilled over to planet Earth. 

From insanely beloved toy lines to iconic animated series to cult classic comics to live action films, GI Joe and Transformers are pop culture royalty, and together they have one of the most unconventional and pleasantly surprising rivalries in Comics History. 

A Real American Rivalry – The Odinson’s childhood was ground zero for the Golden Age of 1980s action figure toy lines aimed at boys.  This was the time of Kenner’s Star Wars, Mattel’s Master of the Universe, and right at the top of the list were Hasbro’s GI Joe: A Real American Hero and Transformers!  On any given Saturday morning, a young Odinson could declare one or the other as his favorite of all time and that enthusiastic delight carried over to their respective cartoon shows.  So, just imagine my unbridled joy when in 1987, Marvel Comics combined them and released GI Joe and the Transformers.

Worlds were colliding!

Just look at that magnificently stunning cover for GI Joe and the Transformers #1 with art by classic GI Joe artist Herb Trimpe.  That is an image that just screams Pick me up and see what happens next

When the Decepticons devise a plan that will destroy the world, the Joes, Autobots and even Cobra must combine their efforts in order to stop them.  GI Joe and the Transformers’ first meeting in the four color medium is a classic crossover of two icons.  It would be far from the last. 

Allies and Enemies in Disguise – It would be well over a decade before they would meet in the comics again when in 2003, Image Comics released GI Joe vs. Transformers.  This exciting mashup is set in an alternate reality where Cobra, the Joe’s sworn enemies, discover a wrecked space ship with technology from beyond the stars and use this super science to turn the tide in their bid for world domination.  Yet another series with so many exciting, eye-catching covers.    

One year later, GI Joe’s war against Cobra and the Autobots’ war against the Decepticons collided once more in Devil’s Due GI Joe vs. Transformers II.  This time around it’s a time-traveling caper that sees the Joes and Cobra uniting to travel through the past, present, and future in order to save their world.

Finally, this early aughts trilogy comes to a head in 2006’s GI Joe vs. Transformers: The Art of War!  In yet another alternate reality, a new lifeform rises that threatens all life in the galaxy, organic and sentient metal.  This causes the Joes and Autobots to embark on an interstellar odyssey to stop this new threat.

Crossovers that are More than Meets the Eye – In 2003, Dreamwave Productions unleashes perhaps the bloodiest and most devastating conflict between these two icons in the pages of Transformers/GI Joe, featuring the stunning stylized artwork of Jae Lee. 

The stakes are raised even higher in 2007’s GI Joe vs. Transformers: Black Horizon when the continuity of the animated films collide.  The monstrous forces of Cobra-La and the world-devouring Unicron unite and not even the combined might of GI Joe and the Autobots may be enough to save the day.

In 2014, IDW reignites the rivalry with Transformers vs. GI Joe, yet another alternate take on what a mashup up between these two franchises may look like, only this time, the battlefield is both Earth and Cybertron!

Yo, Unicron – IDW’s 2019 mega event, Transformers: Unicron, is, hands down the Odinson’s favorite crossover featuring A Real American Hero and the Robots in Disguise.  Not only does this epic tale bring GI Joe and the Autobots together once more to save the world, but they must ally themselves with other iconic 80s franchises including M.A.S.K., the Micronauts, Visionaries, and the Odinson’s beloved ROM Spaceknight!

Animated Ties – The classic GI Joe and Transformers cartoon shows have many juicy tie-ins.  Marissa Faireborn, a member of the Earth Defense Space Force in Season 3 of the original Transformers cartoon is the daughter of Flint and Lady Jaye, prominent characters of the GI Joe cartoon.  There is another earlier episode in the Transformers cartoon that shows Flint fishing with his kid, but off the top of my head, I forget which one.  But, needless to say, yes, the GI Joe and Transformers cartoons are connected.

Voice actor Christopher Collins further connects the two classic shows as he provided the distinct, shrill voices for two of the most iconic villain of the 1980s – Cobra Commander and Starscream

Here is a bit of Trivia: Back in 1986, originally, the animated GI Joe: The Movie was supposed to be released first.  But, when production fell behind, Transformers: The Movie hit theatres before the Joes.  This is significant because, as any child of the 80s knows, the cartoon’s greatest hero, Optimus Prime dies in the film. 

Well, originally, the Joe cartoon’s greatest hero, Duke, was supposed to give up the ghost in GI Joe: The Movie, but because the passing of Optimus Prime traumatized children across the globe so much, they were forced to re-edit the film so that Duke fell into a coma instead of dying.

In 2017, IDW explores what it would have been like if these two iconic animated franchises had actually crossed over in a movie event.  The comic book adaption of this faux event plays out in the pages of Transformers vs. GI Joe: The Movie!

GI Joe: A Real American Hero and Transformers are two of the most beloved and enduring franchises to come out of the treasure trove of pop culture that is the 1980s.  Two franchises seemingly connected at the hip in their origins, their popularity, and their legacies. 

Be sure to tune in next week as the Odinson picks another pair of random names from my winged helmet and explores their shared Comic Book History. 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

NOTE: Be sure to check out my new book – Autumn Dawn: A Glen Haven Tale.  Available in Paperback, on Kindle, and Audiobook.

About Odinson

I am a lifelong comics fan and pop culture enthusiast. Comic books, novels, games, television, movies, I love it all. From fantasy to science fiction, drama to comedy, as long as the writing and execution are interesting, I love it, and I want to talk about it.

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