You're on a high speed mission in enemy water
There's no turning back
You aboard the G.I.Joe Devilfish
When you run into a Cobra attack
Cobra's got a new Hydro-sled
Cobra's an evil foe
And Cobra's new Hydro-sled
Is going to get G.I. Joe
G.I. Joe -- a real American hero!
Apparently, some odd shenanigans regarding the long-running yojoe.com fansite have also impacted their Youtube channel...at least I think the YoJoe! Youtube channel I was linking to was connected to the yojoe.com site. Regardless, those high-quality versions of the old comic commercials I was posting are gone now, nuked with the rest of that channel. (The original poster stopped by here to reveal his higher quality versions had been discovered at Amblin Entertainment's archives...I'd still like to know how Steven Spielberg ended up with them, and if we'll ever see them again). That, coupled with my irritation with Blogger's new layout (I had to Google the HTML necessary to insert a page break! It used to be a button!), means fewer of these Joe commercial posts than I would've liked.
But, it's a 2021 miracle, because I'm back with a new entry. We're relying now on a VHS copy, archived by the fantastic 3D Joes channel.
The ad for G. I. Joe #47 is one of the best yet, as it turns out. Some truly gorgeous colors, taking advantage of the water setting to create unique lighting effects on the vehicles and secret underwater Cobra base. The animation is also top notch, as we've come to expect in most of these commercials. Fast, fluid movement, flashy explosions, and consistent character designs worthy of the great Russ Heath. The show never quite looked this good, though we were teased with its potential with the movie and some scenes in the big five-part storylines.
We're still in a classic era for the comic, and franchise overall. Mike Zeck remains the comic's cover artist, his work slapped on to the final frame of the animation (working as a smoother transition this time.) Larry Hama has indicated recently that he drew the layouts for these covers early in the development of the commercials, presumably so that the scenes leading up to the concluding image could match the cover slipped into the ad's final moments. Previously, Hasbro had an issue with Roadblock firing away at unseen opponents on a cover, requesting less "violent" images in the future. Perhaps that edict had yet to go into place, because Zeck's cover work this time is arguably just as intense.
The stars of the ad are Wet Suit, Beach Head, and General Hawk, three of the leading figures of the 1986 line. The show's still months away from debuting the 1986 cast, so once again, it's a little odd to see characters appearing so early. Hawk, of course, goes back to the earliest Real American Hero days, but he's been redesigned and promoted for the 1986 line. The character had already fallen out of favor with Hasbro and essentially been replaced by Duke by the time the 1983 miniseries aired, but Hama never dropped Hawk out of the comic.
Whether or not this inspired Hasbro to revive him a few years later as "the leader" is unknown. He is, however, visually quite different now. The comics will embrace his new uniform and that stylish jacket, but refuse to go along with his new dark hair (presumably Hasbro's call to distinguish him Duke). The Hawk of the comics stubbornly sticks to his blond flat-top for years. (Though I do believe someone relented and gave him dark hair towards the end of Joe's Marvel run.)
Hawk's companions on that Devilfish, however, never received much love in the comics. Internal memos from Hama (reproduced in Mark Bellomo's Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994) indicate he was already exhausted by all of the new characters by 1985, and suggesting Hasbro use these new designs on existing figures. For example, instead of a new guy named Footloose, give this design to Grunt and explain he's undergone new training.
If Hama didn't have time for Bazooka, Quick Kick, and Alpine, it's not a surprise Beach Head, Wetsuit, Leatherneck, and all the rest also found themselves lacking screentime. Many of the 1986 characters debut in this story arc -- along with that straggler from 1985, Shipwreck -- but they're not contributing much. What fans will always remember this arc for is Snake Eyes fighting off a shark attack, Storm Shadow rejoining his sword brother, and Baroness apparently killing him in retaliation. Not to mention some memorable scenes with Ripcord, the Crimson Guard, Major Bludd, and Zartan. Basically, cool stuff involving the previous years' toys.