Comic History: Rocky Balboa Was a G.I. Joe?!

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Who knows what was on Larry Hama's mind when he wrote Rocky Balboa (Code Name: Rocky) into the January, 1987 G.I. Joe Order of Battle #2? It had been a year since the November, 1985 release of Rocky IV (remember that comics are written and drawn about two to three months ahead of their release date), and about a year-and-a-half since the May, 1985 release of First Blood Part II. That's new enough that people were still buzzing about the movies, and they were probably out on VHS at that point, so maybe he was just obsessed with Stallone in those two movies.

I mean in one, Stallone is a Vietnam vet on a covert mission back to Vietnam, and in the other he's a boxer representing America in a fight against the Russian fighter Drago. After having Rocky IV pull at your patriotic strings, what could be more American than making Rocky a G.I. Joe? When you factor in First Blood Part II, and seeing Stallone as a soldier, it had to seem natural.

Whatever the case, outside of an intercompany crossover, Rocky as a Joe is about as close as we're ever likely to come to fan-fiction making it into a comic! I'd quote the text for you, but I'd rather just post the picture. Have a look:

"Yo Adrian?" Try "Yo Joe!"

How awesome is that?! Doesn't it make you just want to marathon the Rocky movies right now? I love it! However, someone got their knickers in a twist over this, and Marvel was forced to print a retraction in G.I. Joe Order of Battle #3. Just so they don't get all sweaty and hyperventilate about it, here's that too, from the last page:

Marvel actually ran this blurb right smack in the middle of an empty page, but I figured you probably wouldn't want to look at all of that empty yellow space.

I like G.I. Joe and Rocky, but I'm not a die-hard nut about them. Still, I think this is one of the coolest things in the history of comics. Much like the epic way Erik Larsen helped Steve Gerber "take back" Howard the Duck from Marvel, whether they acknowledge it or not, I still count it. So for one glorious month in 1987, Rocky Balboa was a G.I. Joe.

As always, thanks for stopping in, and thanks for reading. -cb

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Posted by cbishop

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Edited by cbishop

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