G.I. Joe Team

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G.I. Joe is the code name of an elite covert special mission unit operating under the control of the United States Military in the fictional G.I. Joe universe.[1]

They are sometimes referred to as the G.I. Joe Team, the Joe Team or simply the Joes. The G.I. Joe Team was first introduced in the 1982 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toy line from Hasbro. Subsequently, comic books and television cartoons based on the revamped toy line were also released. Prior to this, G.I. Joe was the name of the military and later adventure character that appeared throughout the 1960s and 1970s. From 1982 and on, the name tends to refer to the group rather than the classic character.

Their battle cry is "Yo Joe!"

A Real American Hero[edit]

G.I. Joe
GI Joe A Real American Hero 1 cover.jpg
Cover to G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #1. Art by Herb Trimpe. (clockwise from bottom to top: Stalker, Flash, Grunt, Steeler, Zap and Scarlett.)
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance G.I. Joe #1 (Marvel Comics)
Created by Larry Hama
In-story information
Type of organization Military unit
Base(s) G.I. Joe Headquarters
Leader(s) Executive Officer: General Joseph Colton
Commander: Hawk
First Sergeant: Duke
USS Flagg commander: Keel-Haul
Agent(s) Field leader: Stalker
Counterintelligence: Scarlett
Commando: Snake Eyes
Warrant Officer: Flint
Covert operations: Lady Jaye
See: List of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero characters

The G.I. Joe team is composed primarily of US Army personnel but is supplemented by representatives from other branches of the United States Armed Forces, namely the Marine Corps, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Coast Guard. Additionally, a small number of G.I. Joe members come from foreign military services such as the British Army and Australian Army. Members are called from the best of their recruits. Each member brings to the team their own specialty.[2]

Marvel Comics[edit]

In the first issue of the G.I. Joe comics published by Marvel Comics, it is revealed that the team’s official code name is Special Counter-Terrorist Unit Delta.[3] G.I. Joe was merely a nickname that became their official moniker. The original members of the Joe team were Hawk, Stalker, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Breaker, Clutch, Rock ‘n Roll, Steeler, Grand Slam, Flash, Short-Fuze, Grunt and Zap. Later on, the team roster grew as more members are added.

The team is one of the United States' many Special Operations Forces or Special Mission Units; a Mossad agent, for example, states that the Joe team members he meets are "too scruffy to be Delta [Force], and not weird enough to be SOG".[4] The team is portrayed as a covert group with access to sophisticated military equipment. Much like Delta Force, the existence of the Joe team is slowly revealed to the world as later stories involved the group in high-profile missions such as the Cobra Civil War and the liberation of Benzheen.

Devil's Due[edit]

In the comics series by Devil’s Due Publishing, the Joe team is a group recognized by the public in the same way as other Special Operations Forces. While the world knows that such a group as G.I. Joe exists, the team’s missions remain classified. When a new enemy the Red Shadows surfaced, the Joe team is reduced to a skeleton crew. Despite this, they were eventually victorious but were still disbanded.

The disbandment, however, was just a ruse. The team is reformed with a core team while the former members are reserves. In the G.I. Joe: America’s Elite series, it is revealed that the Joe team has reformed, this time as the covert unit as they originally were.


In the comics series created by IDW Publishing the G.I. Joe team is a secret team operating under the United States Military that handles threats too great for the conventional military. People of exceptional skill in their fields are offered membership in the Joes. In order to join they are required to fake their own death and leave their previous life behind. The Joes operate out of a previously abandoned military base in the Nevada desert known as the Pit.

Animated series[edit]

The animated series and animated movie featuring G.I. Joe took many liberties when it came to the portrayal of a military unit. Many of the team members are trained to operate in multiple environments. They are also capable of piloting a wide variety of vehicles, such that even infantrymen such as Duke and Flint can pilot the Skystriker and Conquest X-30 jet fighters. Even function is not an issue as sailors like Shipwreck are often seen in non-naval adventures. In contrast to the Marvel comic series, which ran at the same time as the Real American Hero cartoon, the team is not the covert organization of the comics but is well known to the public, being featured on documentary talk shows in the episode "20 Questions", and being greeted excitedly by a group of children in "The MacGuffin Device", implying a certain celebrity status.

Chain of Command[edit]

Most commonly, the G.I. Joe chain-of-command has Hawk (later General Hawk) as the team's commanding officer (CO), while Duke is the senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) and second-in-command. However, a number of differences exist between the comics, cartoon and even the toyline.

The original comic book series takes a more or less realistic approach with the military command hierarchy. In the early issues of the comic, overall command of the G.I. Joe team fell to BG/O-7 Lawrence J. Flagg, until his death in issue 19 of the series. Flagg's main role was administrative and dealing with The Pentagon, while Hawk (a COL/O-6) was the field leader with Stalker (a SGT/E-5) the senior NCO and de facto second-in-command. Note that this ignored the only other commissioned officer Steeler's grade of 2LT/O-1, although in practice it is not uncommon for inexperienced officers to defer to experienced NCOs. Hawk was eventually promoted to Brigadier General in Flagg's place, but still retained a prominent role in the field rather than being a desk-jockey. Unlike in the Sunbow cartoon series, Hawk is prominently featured from the very beginning. Corresponding with his release as an action figure, Duke is introduced later on and takes over as second-in-command. As a First Sergeant (MSG/E-8), Duke outranks the team's enlisted ranks and NCOs which make up the majority of the team, and his seniority and experience are respected even by his superior officers such as Lt. Falcon and Captain Grid-Iron. Vice Admiral Keel-Haul is introduced in issue 36, and with a grade of VADM/O-9 technically outranks even Hawk. However other non-canonical sources suggest that Keel-Haul was only an honorary Joe team member, and thus the existing internal chain-of-command is preserved. The original G.I. Joe, General Joseph Colton (a character modeled after the original 12" G.I. Joe toy) makes several appearances in the 86th, 127th, and 152nd issues of the series, but is not an official member of the team.

In the comic series by Devil’s Due Publishing, when Hawk becomes incapacitated, a new character, General Philip Rey, was introduced and given command. When the Joe team is disbanded and reformed once more, the original G.I. Joe, General Joseph Colton takes control with Duke as field commander.

The Sunbow animated series has a more liberal take as the first episode was aired a while after the first run of G.I. Joe action figures were released in 1982. As a result, the focus on much of the cartoon's first season was on newer characters rather than the originals (with the notable exception of Snake Eyes and Scarlett). This resulted in the first season of the series featuring Duke as the leader of the team, with Flint taking an active leadership role in later episodes as well. In the second season (to coincide with the release of his new action figure), Hawk was finally established as the overall commanding officer. In the first episode of the second season, Flint explains to Beach Head, “First comes Hawk, then Duke, then me, and finally you,” clearly stating the overall chain of command up to that point. Later episodes gave Sgt. Slaughter a prominent leadership role as well.

In the early years, the toyline mostly held off on identifying the one character that served as the team's leader. The first run of the toy line featured Hawk as the highest-ranking team member; however though his file card makes specific mention of his abilities as a leader, it falls short of explicitly naming him as the team’s commander.[5] Duke, who appeared the following year, is not specifically mentioned as either the team's commander or second-in-command, but his file card extols his ability to command by winning respect and mentions his current assignment as acting First Sergeant of the team.[6] Any question of the team's commanding officer ended in 1986 when Hawk's second action figure version was released[7] and the character was officially billeted as the team's overall rather than field commander.

Extreme series[edit]

G.I. Joe
Publication information
Publisher Dark Horse Comics
First appearance G.I. Joe #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
Created by Hasbro
In-story information
Type of organization Military unit
Base(s) G.I. Joe Headquarters
Leader(s) Chief Commander: Mr. Clancy
Field Commander: Lt. Stone
Infantry Commander: Sgt. Savage
Agent(s) Pilot: Mayday
Counterintelligence: Quickstrike
Demolitions: Freight
Commando: Black Dragon
Marksman: Ballistic/Eagle Eye
Communications: Metalhead
Nautical ops.: Harpoon

The team from the G.I. Joe Extreme series is apparently the only Joe team not to be fully composed of US Army personnel from the beginning. The team is led by the mysterious Mr. Clancy. The comic series posits that the team was formed originally in the 1960s as a response to the rising threat of SKAR (Soldiers of Khaos, Anarchy and Ruin), the real continuity related to the characters is described as 2006 in the cartoon and 2009 in the comic. The Joe team is a much smaller elite unit, a far cry from their A Real American Hero incarnation.

Dark Horse Comics[edit]

Two 4-issue mini series of G.I. Joe Extreme were printed by Dark Horse, depicting the battles between the new Joe team and 2 new enemy groups, SKAR (a terrorist group bent for complete world domination, here led at the beginning by the Duchess of Mklavia) and Red Scream (an anti-globalist organization). References to the I.R.O.N. Army were made in the last issue published when the comic line was cancelled.

Two Joe members exclusive to this comic line were Short Fuze and Tall Sally, both died at the end of the first mini-series.

Animated series[edit]

A cartoon series was produced by Gunther-Wahl Productions and distributed by Claster Television. It lasted 2 seasons and enjoyed certain acceptance amongst the fans. There were also exclusive characters included like Red McKnox, Tracker and Steel Raven.

Sigma 6[edit]

G.I. Joe Sigma 6
Publication information
Created by Hasbro
In-story information
Type of organization Military unit
Leader(s) Commander: General Hawk
Agent(s) Duke
Snake Eyes
Heavy Duty
Tunnel Rat
Spirit Iron-Knife
Lt. Stone
Long Range
Main article: G.I. Joe: Sigma 6

In the G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 series, the Joe team is reduced to a smaller group, reflecting the Extreme team but using characters from the A Real American Hero series. Unlike the original A Real American Hero animated series, new characters are slowly reintroduced rather than featured en masse.

The story established by the Sigma 6 animated series has the Joes take on a new code name, after Cobra destroyed their base of operations.[8]

The Rise of Cobra and Retaliation[edit]

G.I. Joe
G.I Joe Movie insignia.jpg
Insignia of the G.I. Joe Team from the Rise of Cobra movie
Publication information
First appearance G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Created by Hasbro
In-story information
Type of organization Military unit
Base(s) G.I. Joe Headquarters
Leader(s) Commander: Hawk
Agent(s) Duke
Snake Eyes
Heavy Duty
Rip Cord
Cover Girl
Lady Jaye
G.I. Joe

Unlike the previous version, G.I. Joe is an acronym for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment. It's composed of not only the best of the United States Armed Forces, but also from various other Elite Armed Forces around the world. General Hawk states, 23 nations around the world have joined G.I. Joe including United States, United Kingdom, Morocco, Japan, Philippines and possibly Egypt; the Pit is based in Egypt. The Joes also seem to have authority to operate freely worldwide and well funded due to its global backing.[9]


Main article: G.I. Joe: Renegades

The team in this series, dubbed the Renegades, is an ad hoc squad put together by Lieutenant O'Hara (Scarlett) and her ninja sensei Snake Eyes, consisting of Sergeant Hauser (Duke), Corporal Hinton (Roadblock), Private Lee (Tunnel Rat), and Private Weems (Rip Cord). Their purpose is to expose Cobra Industries for its illegal transgressions, but end up being framed for terrorism and extortion following the destruction of Cobra Pharmaceuticals (which was a crime that they didn't commit). In addition to exposing Cobra, their new goal is to clear their names while evading the Falcons (a military group led by Flint and consisting of Lady Jaye, some unnamed soldiers, and later additions Wild Bill, Lift-Ticket, Heavy Duty) and encountering new allies along the way. The group succeeds around the end of "Revelations" Pt. 2.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fletcher, Dan (2009-08-07). "A BRIEF HISTORY OF G.I. Joe". Time. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  2. ^ Truitt, Brian (2010-04-14). "Larry Hama relaunches his '80s 'G.I. Joe 'series". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-09-03. 
  3. ^ Hama, Larry. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, vol. 1, issue no. 1, Cover date: June 1982. Marvel Comics. 
  4. ^ "Words of Honor", G.I. Joe Special Missions #2 (December 1986).
  5. ^ "Hawk's v1 filecard". Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Duke's v1 filecard". Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Hawk's v2 filecard". Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  8. ^ "G.I. JOE: SIGMA 6 #1". Pop Matters. Retrieved 2010-09-03. 
  9. ^ "G.I. Joe to Become Global Task Force in Movie". Fox News. 2007-09-07. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 

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