One of the more recognizable Comic Arcs in the Marvel Comics run, was the Battle of Benzheen. A cash-in on the first Gulf War, with a bit of a morality tone to it, where they killed some Joes to let the reader know “War isn’t cool, man“. It was the go go 90s, and I’m sure it never hurts to have a controversial story arc, especially ones dealing with death, to help sales!
Now one of the things that’s always been interesting to me was the choice of characters to randomly show up and die. Heavy Metal for example hadn’t been seen since the Cobra Civil War, so it’s not like he was all that recognizable. Quick Kick hadn’t been a regular appearance character since the comic for around FORTY issues. I always knew they chose relatively unpopular or seldom seen characters, because it wouldn’t affect what was on sale on the shelves too much. I mean Dodger had a brand new figure in 1990, and he miraculously escaped a massive oil storage explosion unscathed.
One of those things that never dawned on me, until recently when I bought a Quick Kick that seemed “off”. Turns out he was the Mail-In version, which was produced in Brazil. I didn’t really know about that variant of Quick Kick, so it was something neat to learn about. When I noticed that Quick Kick’s mail in was available in right around the new decade, it dawned on me as to why, for example, he might’ve been chosen to be KIA’d. A recognizable character (since G.I. Joe was in re-runs at this point), that was also a figure kids possibly had in their toy collection.
I did some looking, and noticed that of the Joes killed by the S.A.W. Viper, the following were available for mail-in around 89-90.
Heavy Metal (as Rampage)
Quick Kick (Martial Arts Unit with Jinx)
Thunder (Special Missions Drivers & Vehicle Driver 6 Pack)
Crank Case (Vehicle Driver 6 Pack)
Considering that’s over half of the casualties in issue 108, that’s kind of impressive. I’ve always wondered on the amount of editorial control Hasbro had on the comic book, because these figures and characters being chosen for casualties, are awfully convenient for the “I chose characters they didn’t plan on making new toys for”, reasoning. Doc and Breaker were long term characters that I can see the no plans for, plus even after people stopped with the toys, they stuck with the comic. Also, if there were any figures that would survive from an older sibling’s toys as hand me downs, Doc and Breaker (guys without guns) were probably going to be them! Crazylegs is a wildcard, the 87 figures were produced in huge numbers, and odds of being either a good seller or a bad one, are pretty high, either way he was a figure that likely was around enough to be in most people’s collections, and therefore an identifiable KIA.
Another thing that I hadn’t clued in on, and wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for looking at the Joes, was the fact that the Crimson Twins, Tomax and Xamot were the COBRAs in charge, and they were also available as mail ins at that time. I guess if you had some Flag Points, you could’ve waited 8-12 weeks to re-create this adventure!