The 80s was a real Golden Age for a specific type of Saturday morning cartoon. If you’re my age (or thereabouts), you’ll be very familiar with the genre of cartoon that can be summed up as ‘good guys vs bad guys, supported by an extensive – and potentially expensive – toy line’. He-Man was arguably the pioneer in this area, but there was also the delights of Transformers, Thundercats, M.A.S.K. and many more also-rans that never quite caught on (yep, I’m singling you out here, Centurions).

GI Joe fits that mould perfectly of course, with its enormous, diverse cast of heroes and villains – all available in action figure form, kids; not to mention the much more expensive, elaborate and sizable vehicles they used (including the ridiculous USS Flagg – a 7′ 6″ aircraft carrier that cost $110 in the mid-80s – and is worth more than $3,000 these days).

In the UK, GI Joe was renamed to the less US-centric ‘Action Force’, but the toy line remained pretty much untouched aside from the new moniker. The cartoon was lesser known over here (and knowing is half the battle, right kids?), but it was still something that kids could keep up with, thanks to the UK-published, weekly Action Force comic from Marvel’s then-thriving British comics arm.

Though IDW have been publishing GI Joe comics since 2008 – and a large, continued continuity and numerous crossovers have arisen from their acclaimed and successful run – the content generally skews older in terms of the age range it’s aimed at. Readers of the latest comics are most likely to have grown up watching the original cartoons and reading Marvel’s well-received GI Joe comics from the 80s, so it follows that they’re now a bit more sophisticated and contemporary in style and content.

So it’s cool to see them take a different approach with the Saturday Morning Adventures spin-off mini series, which attempts to go back to the style of the silly, OTT action of the 80s cartoon and not even bother trying to bring it up to date. This is a comic which sees the evil COBRA getting their hands on the actual lamp – and Genie – from Aladdin, getting the wish granted to have super-sized Battle Action Troopers (BATs in GI Joe terminology) in order to take over the world.

It’s a stylistic triumph, with the art perfectly mimicking the cheap looking animation and stiff characters from the original cartoons – to an uncanny degree. Dan Schoening’s art does a lot of the heavy lifting in this regard, but Luis Antonia Delgado’s contribution with the bold colouring, aping those classic colour schemes, is also a vital piece of the puzzle. Erik Burnham’s script also goes the extra mile to imitate the melodramatic dialogue of those Saturday morning cartoons too; it’s ridiculously fun and genuinely, very impressive. It’s clearly heartfelt too; through its adherence to the daftness of those old toons, it’s not a story to be taken seriously – but it never strays from its target in terms of providing us with a new ‘classic’ adventure.

Sticking with that impressive attention to detail, there’s even a post-cliffhanger moral message section – a fan favourite, often unintentionally hilarious segment of the cartoon that imparted a very obvious lesson to kids in the most heavy-handed way imaginable. It’s brilliant.

If you grew up watching these cartoons, this comic will be an absolute delight for you – a welcome, warmly nostalgic throwback to a simpler time, where cartoons were basically extended toy adverts, but still essential viewing for kids. If you didn’t, you might well wonder what it is I’m making such a fuss about – but you will at least have fun with this kooky faux-relic of a bygone era.

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