G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #5
Date: November, 1982
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Series: G.I. Joe A Real American Hero

GI Joe issue #5 is titled "Tanks for the Memories."

Writer: Larry Hama
Pencils: Don Perlin
Inks: Jon D'Agostino & JMike Esposito
Coloring: Stan Goldberg
Letters: Jim Novak
Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor in Chief: Jim Shooter

Review written by Mark Bussler

Let’s kick it way back to November 1982 for one of my favorite super-old-school issues of G.I. Joe A Real American Hero, “Tanks for the Memories!”

Get it? Tanks… thanks… tanks! G.I. Joe made a funny. And it is funny. But tanks aren’t funny (Unless you crush Ewoks with them. Then they’re hilarious!)

Issue 5 explodes off the shelf with an exciting action scene on the cover featuring the G.I. Joe MOBAT running over Cobra soldiers in Central Park. What’s not to love? Cobra is fleeing like the cowards they are, G.I. Joe is firing depleted uranium rounds into upper Manhattan, and I think that’s the bridge from Highlander in the background.

The second panel in the book drops a tank right into the reader's lap, literally! Look at that thing. I want one. I had one. I think I blew it up. The G.I. Joe MOBAT tank was awesome. It would drive around with a little motor, had real tank treads, weighed a lot, and could totally crush Destro’s skull.

Hama gives us some character building as Steeler yuks it up with a couple of other Joes and makes fun of Scarlet having a hot date (which she probably does.) She basically calls them pussies who obsess over the tank’s mechanical qualities instead of its actual military functionality. This is why we love Scarlet. She’s tougher than all the Joes (except Snake Eyes) and looks great in her 1970s superhero costume with the ninja stars on the sleeve.

Breaker and Clutch try to woo an aloof Scarlet with a bunch of techno-babble about the tank (because Hasbro wants you to buy one.) It all sounds pretty awesome, but we all know the only way to Scarlet’s heart is through chaos and mass murder. She even manages to drop a Pac-Man joke in the cockpit and disses disco in front of Steeler. Cold Scarlet, cold.

The reason for this scene is to show off the Joe’s state-of-the-art tank that they’re about to drive through New York City in a parade! It’s top secret weaponry and surveillance equipment are so secret that they’re proving a point about its secrecy or something to the generals. It doesn’t make much sense, but it doesn’t matter, because we know this thing is going to start blowing shit up in the middle of New York and that’s why we’re reading G.I. Joe in the first place.

Cobra, of course, is up to no good and manages to scan a briefcase with the MOBAT’s technical schematics and runs it through the best room-filling 1980s computer terminals that money can buy.

After watching Cobra Commander machine gun cardboard cutouts of Stalker and Scarlet, the parade begins. Steeler steals the show (get it?) by saying “Are they [the band] that bad? I hadn’t noticed. They do have some nifty majorettes though!” while using the MOBAT’s telephoto lens array to ogle one of the majorettes in short shorts in front of him. He claims to be “keeping abreast of the rear-guard situation!” Har, har!

The jokes is on you, Steeler! The drum band and majorettes are not what they appear to be… they’re COBRAAA!!! As quickly as you can say “Let’s bust some Deceptichops”, the marching band surrounds the tank with banners in an attempt to swallow it hole into another float. The Joes wise up and accelerate down the street, nearly crushing cars and squashing civilians in the process. Breaker uses the tank’s ultra-loud loudspeaker to clear the way.

After successfully evading the Cobra troopers, the three Joes in the MOBAT concoct an outrageous plan to capture Cobra soldiers even though the tank is unarmed and carrying no ammo (save for the loudspeaker.) Somehow, they sneak into Central Park, hide in a lake, and hold up a platoon of Cobra soldiers by making explodey sounds with their mouths into the tank’s microphone! “Boom!” I should point out that the tank on the cover IS carrying live ammo.

The Joes discover that Cobra Commander is giving orders from a secret base beneath the parade grandstand. Clutch crashes the tank into it, which leads to a short gunfight, and a life lesson about not murdering murderers when they’re surrounded by Girl Scouts. And now you know…. And knowing is half the battle!

G.I. Joe issue #5 is great for all the right reasons. The story is fun and exciting, the art is good, and it gives each Joe a chance to show off their character and personality. Before there were like 100 Joes, there was only a handful and frankly, most of them looked the same. This issue helps to differentiate between Breaker, Clutch, and Steeler, all of whom look like any unshaven 20-something white dudes who just rolled off a week-long bender at the Jersey Shore.

After this issue, you can easily spot them in a crowd. Clutch looks confused. Breaker chews gum. Steeler is from Pittsburgh, so he probably smells like cigarettes and I.C. Light.

Perlin’s storyboarding is good and there’s plenty of detail in the artwork to spend time admiring. I particularly enjoy the period clothing and hairstyles on the parade bystanders, which seem to have more of a mid-1960s quality than 1982. The classic designs of Cobra Commander and The Baroness are priceless.

There’s even ads for Dungeons & Dragons, Lock ‘n Chase, and Star Wars Jedi Arena! G.I. Joe #5 is a must own.