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GI Joe Comics Reading Order, A Real American Hero!

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At the time I’m writing this article, it was recently announced that IDW will stop publishing GI Joe Comics. For now, there’s already a lot of reading to do, especially if you go back to the beginning at Marvel. As a licensed property by Hasbro, G.I. Joe comics have been released from 1967 to today (except between 1977 and 1981, and between 1997 and 2000), but it was not anything of note before the launch of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero in 1982.

“’G.I. Joe’ is the code name for America’s daring, highly trained special mission force. Its purpose: to defend human freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.”

Hasbro relaunched the toy line and needed some promotion to go with it (there’s an episode of The Toys that Made Us on Netflix about that). At that time, the move to go with a comic book tie-in series was not a sure thing, but Larry Hama who wrote most of the series made it a success (with art by Herb Trimpe at first). He created a solid and realistic military universe with great mythology to go with it and interesting characters.

With 155 issues and several spin-offs, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was a hit for a long time at Marvel. It ended in 1994. A second and a third series were published by Devil’s Due Productions from 2001 to 2008 (80 issues and some spin-offs), then it was revived by IDW Publishing (like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers) with issue 155 ½ written by Larry Hama who picked up the story where he had left it at Marvel. From there, a lot of GI Joe Comics was published. A Lot.

GI Joe Comics Reading Order:

I. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: The Marvel Years (1982-1994)

As I wrote in the introduction of the article, this got serious in the comics world of the Joes with the 1982 relaunch: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Larry Hama at Marvel. The 155-issue series has been collected by IDW in TPB, with other series too. Yes, we are skipping all of the pre-Marvel stuff, hard to find and not that interesting.

Then, G.I. Joe: Special Missions was launched. It’s a collection of short stories.

Interlude – G.I. Joe: The Non-Canonical Years

These are the years of G.I. Joe comics you can skip. In fact, a lot of people have already forgotten them, but I decided to list them here for the curious readers and for those of you who just put your hands on some of those comics and want to know what it is about.

So, After Marvel, we entered what we are calling here the non-canonical years, stories that don’t fit in the continuity of Larry Hama’s work. First, there was Blackthorne Publishing that released a six-issue G.I. Joe series in 3-D and one annual, then in 1996 the G.I. Joe toy line was relaunched with the G.I. Joe Extreme series and Dark Horse Comics published the companion series.

G.I. Joe: Disavowed

Devil’s Due acquired the rights to G.I. Joe and released G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (also known as G.I. Joe vol. 2) through Image Comics from 2001 to 2005. Based on Hasbro, Inc.’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero line of military-themed toys, the series picks up seven years after the end of the Marvel Comics series also used elements from the animated TV series.

G.I. Joe: Frontline Vol. 1 – The Mission That Never Was (Collects G.I. Joe: Frontline #1-4) is a four-part series written by Larry Hama set one month after the events of the Marvel series’ issue #155.

Devil’s Due eventually broke off from Image to become their own company, the series was relaunched under the title G.I. Joe: America’s Elite. It started with a “zero” issue and picked up the story one year after the events of the last issue of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (vol. 2). 

II.  G.I. Joe: The IDW Years (2008-2022)

After Devil’s Due lost the G.I. Joe comics license in 2008, IDW Publishing became the official home of the Joe series. There are multiple series and spin-offs in what is now called the IDW Continuity, but there’s also the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series by Larry Hama that is not in the same continuity. Hamma picked up the series where he left it at Marvel. We are beginning with that, then we are going to take a look at the rest.

a. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Larry Hama

b. G.I. Joe: The IDW Continuity

It’s another reality, continuity… as you want, but it’s not Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. A new entry point in the G.I. Joe Universe.

Infestation! The first-ever IDW event! A dimensions-spanning zombie outbreak of epic proportions, which threatens to tear many of IDW’s biggest realities asunder! 

Cobra Civil War is the first G.I Joe comics crossover at IDW.

With issue #13, The “Snake Eyes” series changed its title and became “Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.”

Revolution! A Hasbro crossover event. Explosions rip across the Earth―and all signs of blame point to Optimus Prime and the Transformers! G.I. Joe refuses to go quietly―and they assemble heroes big enough to stop the invaders!

  • Revolution (Hasbro crossover event)
    Collects Revolution: Prelude & Revolution #1–5.

After the events of “Revolution“, the G.I. Joe team returns to the fray and their mission has become a global one–leading the charge against invading Transformers and other aliens.

Last Updated on September 2, 2022.

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