G.I.Joe and Transformers have had many crossovers over the years that I’m sure if it were a loyalty card for a coffee shop, they’d be due for a free coffee or perhaps a free muffin. So what started it all then, and why are the two franchises forever linked together like Batman and the Joker or Spider-Man and the Green Goblin? My guess is that one day back in the 80’s when both licenses were owned by Marvel comics, a memo flew into the office by way of carrier pigeon requesting that the franchises have a crossover, no matter how awkward that might be. I say awkward because there isn’t really a way to shoe horn a 30 foot tall robot that can transform into a car in a story where a crack unit of the U.S. military fights a snake themed cult, but I digress. Unless that is you set it outside of established universes.
The series which was a four issue limited series saw the introduction of an energy creation device that the Autobots thought was a Transformer. Spoilers for a 30 year old comic book, but Bumblebee gets destroyed, Cobra teams up with the Decepticons for about a cup of coffee before turning on them and offering to help the Autobots who then team up with the Joes to destroy the device that had been stolen by the Decepticons who were going to destroy the Earth with it for power.
As far as crossovers go, it’s fairly tame. There isn’t any major changes, except for Bumblebee’s new body that is, and it was completely ignored in the G.I.Joe and Transformers titles after it finished. The series did reference things that happened in it’s parents books, such as the death of Optimus Prime but that’s about it. The next time the transformers show up is G.I.joe 138 when Megatron gets his new Generation 2 body by way of Cobra, and after taken over the town of Millivile the Autobots show up to stop him. These issues end up dividing fans the most because there is no escaping the influecne here. Some accept it for what it is, an effort to shoe horn in an ad for Generation 2 comics, while the others, who wanted a realistic take on G.I.Joe hated it because, well 30 foot transforming robots. I myself didn’t mind it, but then again I liked Serpentor, and when you accept a clone that is a mix of the 10 most influential leaders, plus the ninja Storm Shadow you can generally accept anything.
After that the franchises ended up with Devils Due Publishing and Dreamwave comics who embarked on their own “else-world” type crossovers. Dreamwave’s first story was set during WW2, and featured murky artwork and a semi coherent story. Their second act, lasted only one issue before Dreamwave closed it’s doors forever. Devils Due had a total for four outings, the first of them had the Transformers as Cobra vehicles, such as Prime as a HISS tank, or Star Scream as a Night Raven jet which was pretty cool, but the story written by Josh Baylock felt rushed in places.
Devils Due’s second act suffered from Dreamwave closing it’s doors, and so a 6 issue series was then crammed into 4 issues. The series was uneven in tone, and set around the idea of Transformers being trapped in time and the Joes having to go find them. The second issue had them going back to the 1970’s in what was mostly a comedic tale, then the third comes around and it’s set in an apocalyptic future where the Decepticons rule and Ratchet was the last Autbot standing, which I’m sure we can agree is a bit jarring. While the ending is rushed, it did serve to tie up some loose ends surrounding some of the Transformers who had been stuck on Earth.
The third series by Devils Due, subtitled “The Art of War” introduces Serpentor as an organic robot which gains sentience and escapes to Cybertron and unites the warring Decepticon factions for an all out war on the Autobots. As it stands, it was my favourite of the DDP era Joe Vs. Transformers tales. The fourth and final outing is perhaps the strangest of all, featuring the Pretenders and Cobra La, and was generally regarded as the dying gasp from a franchise that surprised everyone lasting as long as it did.
The final outing is the Transformers Vs. G.I.Joe by John Barber and Tom Scioli currently on offer from IDW Publishing and it is a treat to read. They’ve basically taken the basic concept, and created their own spin on both franchises. If you go in with any preconceived notions of what to expect, you’ll be disappointed because it’s not how you remember them. Snake Eye talks in this, Metroplex is really just a crawling starfish etc, but the ideas and the story that flow through it are amazing. It feels like an imaginative story and fresh, unlike almost anything else that’s currently out on the market, and worth your time if you like both Transformers and G.I.Joe.
There was talk of the movie franchises crossing over at some point, but honestly, I don’t think that should happen. They should be kept as far removed as possible, because when you read the Transformers Vs. G.I.Joe comic then nothing they do on screen could match the frenzied work that has been produced already. Still if they did crossover, I’d rather it be in the toys. Think about how awesome it would be to have the Combaticons turn into Cobra Vehicles? Now that is some thing I can get behind.