It’s G.I. JOE’s Kung-Fu Grip Vs. Steve Austin’s Bionic Eye In IDW’s New Crossover Series

by Brendan M. Allen

The greatest American heroes go face-to-face with the most dangerous living weapon… Steve Austin! Hacked by COBRA, the Six Million Dollar Man has the G.I. JOEs in his bionic targets as the fate of world peace hangs by a thread and Cobra Commander holds the world’s infrastructure in his venomous clutches! A crossover like no other, where 80’s nostalgia meets modern-day mayhem! Kung-Fu Grip or a bionic eye?! Now, you can have both!

I’m just a little too young to remember when Colonel Steve Austin was in his heyday, but I definitely remember the reruns, and the made-for-tv movies that rolled around in the late eighties. GI JOE, though? Crazy, over-the-top characters in self-contained little story nuggets every Saturday morning? Moral lessons that I barely understood? Explosions and patriotism? Yes! That was my show.
A lot of people don’t realize the influence The Six Million Dollar Man on GI JOE. Back when GI JOE was just a toy line (with mini comic books included in the packages), there was actually a bid by Hasbro in 1975 to buy the toy rights to The Six Million Dollar Man. When Kenner got the contract instead, Hasbro added their own bionic soldier to the lineup, Atomic Man Mike Power (complete with atomic flashing eye). Atomic Man teamed up with Bullet Man and Eagle Eye Joe to form The Adventure Team, which was pretty much the origin of GI JOE as we know it.

So, yeah, back to this book. The first thing I look for in crossovers is adherence to the source material. In the opening sequence of GI JOE: A Real American Hero vs. The Six Million Dollar Man #1, Colonel Steve Austin drops into Siberia. In the snow. Winter Wonderland. Dangit. In the series, Austin’s implants malfunction in extreme cold. Ah, but then Austin makes a comment about how well his UPGRADED implants are holding up to the cold. I see what you did there, Ryan Ferrier. Reference the ‘74 series, while fixing a major limitation that the JOES would easily exploit.
On the JOES’ side, the lineup is mostly from the original ‘82 series, with a couple from ‘84-’85 thrown in, and one from the ‘88 team, because, y’know Ghost Rider. GHOST RIDER. Dr. Mindbender (‘86 series) is the key to Steve Austin’s heel turn, complete with his original purple spandex tights, metal codpiece, suspenders, cape, and Rollie Fingers moustache.

SL Gallant does a fantastic job with the likenesses and action sequences. There are some fun details and sly nods. I did mention the metal codpiece, yes? There’s also a spot where Steve Austin executes a perfect belly to back suplex. You see, there was a professional wrestler in the nineties who used the ring name Steve Austin. If that was unintentional, it only makes it cooler.
GI JOE: A Real American Hero vs. The Six Million Dollar Man is a fun, action-packed trip down memory lane. This series is aimed straight at my generation, but it’s set up well enough that folks with even a casual knowledge of the two franchises can find their way around and have a good time.

GI JOE: A Real American Hero vs. The Six Million Dollar Man #1, published by IDW publishing, released 28 Feb 2018. Written by Ryan Ferrier, art by SL Gallant, ink by Brian Shearer, color by James Brown, letters by Robbie Robbins, covers by John Cassaday, SL Gallant, Michael Adams, and Jerry Ordway.

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