The Transformers movie franchise has long been a massive box-office draw, while it’s toyline and cartoon cousin, G.I. Joe, hasn’t had the same luck. There was a time in the 1980s when G.I. Joe had the superior toyline and franchise compared to the Transformers, so when Marvel Comics obtained the publishing license for both, all three came together to produce G.I. Joe and the Transformers, a four-issue crossover that ran in original Marvel Comics Transformers series, from issue #23 to #27.
When Hasbro’s most popular properties of the 1980s, Transformers and G.I. Joe combined universes, it was an occasion that got people to sit up and notice. The plot itself was straightforward – The G.I. Joe and Autobots would join forces to stop the Cobra and the Deceptions from taking over the world. It’s a tale as old as time and the series has been collected as a trade paperback in two volumes. But having these properties come together in one place was unheralded back in the day.
The series continued on with the following, though it should be noted that all three series are only loosely connected and don’t always match up in terms of continuity:
- G.I. Joe Starring Snake-Eyes and the Transformers (1993)
- G.I. Joe and the Transformers Generation 2 (1993 – 1994), which featured Megatron’s G2 Tank form
With the benefit of nostalgia goggles, the art of the series certainly has aged differently and it might be a bit rough for new fans of the franchise to get into.
Thankfully, subsequent license owners took Marvel’s guidance, and produced more G.I. Joe and Transformers crossover comics, with better art and more updated storylines which everyone should check out.
During the turbulent late 1930s, with the world on the verge of conflict, Cobra stumbles upon the Matrix, which they employ to revive the Decepticons. Consequently, the Decepticons wreak havoc across Europe, prompting the United States to mobilize a fresh special operations unit, G.I. Joe, in an effort to halt the destructive rampage of the villains in the Transformers’ world. But the Joes have help in the form of the Autobots and it’s a good take on an alternate reality if the World War was fought with the help of giant robots.
The comics showcase art with a distinct style that would greatly appeal to fans of military aesthetics. The artwork often portrays a gritty and powerful atmosphere, although some frames may be challenging to interpret. The entire narrative takes place during the evening or nighttime, within a world immersed in dust, smoke, and shadows with liberal use of negative space.
This is one of the most grounded updates to the series but audiences have been unable to see more, due to the eventual bankruptcy proceedings of Dreamwave comics.
As the most updated entry to the Transformers / G.I. Joe crossover comic, the IDW interpretation of this shared universe, looks the most retro. While there have been a few outlets publishing Transformers comic books up to this point, IDW was able to gain control of both licenses eventually.
The result is a continuity that exists independently and is not connected to either of the primary universes that the company has created for the Transformers and G.I. Joe comic book series?.
Led by Megatron, the Transformers’ home planet enters the Earth’s solar system. Decepticon emissaries are dispatched to negotiate the surrender of Earth’s representatives, the G.I. Joe team, who are engaged in clearing up the remaining threats posed by the Cobra terrorist organization after the apparent demise of Cobra Commander. Naturally, the Joes respond with resistance towards the hostile actions of the extraterrestrial beings, leading to a full-blown war between the two worlds.
The artwork draws significant inspiration from the renowned comic book icon Jack Kirby, effectively capturing the aesthetic and atmosphere of the Silver Age of Comic Books. The cast consists of larger-than-life characters reminiscent of the bombastic nature of the Silver Age, accompanied by exaggerated dialogue. The storylines consistently feature a barrage of wild and imaginative cosmic science fiction concepts, akin to Kirby’s style, presented in a fast-paced and densely packed manner, with the potential for numerous characters appearing on a single page.
Battling with Dreamwave at the time, Devil’s Due Press published their own line of G.I. Joe and Transformers crossover comics together with Image Comics. Unlike the rest of the pack, the focus here was much more fun and bordered on the nonsensical.
The story begins with Cobra stumbling upon the hidden Ark and the dormant Transformers contained within it. Cobra proceeds to reprogram both Autobots and Decepticons, transforming them into conventional war machines aligned with the Cobra faction and subjects them to the commands of Cobra Commander. However, when the Transformers manage to liberate themselves from Cobra’s influence, chaos ensues, and the situation spirals out of control.
Ultimately, this series was not taken very seriously which led to the universe taking liberal strokes such as killing off key characters.
The fourth of the series in the Devil’s Due universe, G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers: Black Horizon focused on more obscure characters within both the Transformers and G.I. Joe Universe.
Centering around the arrival of Unicron, something we’ve come to get familiar with as fans time and time again. The planet eater appears in ancient times, but a powerful underground realm known as Cobra-La brokers a deal: they would retreat underground, permitting human civilization to flourish, and Unicron would revisit Earth at a later time. The idea here was for Unicron to consume the planet once humanity had advanced technologically and probably to have a much more fulfilling meal.
While it might be a stretch for some, Transformers / G.I. Joe crossovers have had a long history and it wasn’t too long ago that we even had a reissue of the G.I. Joe Mash-Up Megatron H.I.S.S. Tank & Baroness.
Gerald currently straddles between his love of video games and board gaming. There’s nothing that interests him more than trying out the newest and fanciest gadget in town as well. He dreams of publishing a board game sometime in the future!