G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero
“Twenty Questions,” Season 1, Episode 23, 1985
They didn’t have powers, but in the 1980s, when cartoons were merely vehicles to sell … well, vehicles … the men and women of America’s elite paramilitary strike force were my superheroes. Some of my earliest comics were the Larry Hama Joe books from the 1980s, and of course Hama wrote the file cards that came with the action figures.
“Twenty Questions” finds the Joes pestered by a TV news crew led by Geraldo Rivera analog Hector Ramirez, who appeared in multiple Sunbow Productions cartoons, including Transformers, Inhumanoids and, Jem and the Holograms (See, shared universes were totally a thing even then!). Ramirez’s crew includes a producer who swears Cobra is a made-up organization fabricated by the Joes to waste taxpayer dollars. For being aimed at the Y7 crowd, this episode is extremely concerned with government spending and the U.S. military’s Base Realignment and Closure program.
Duke’s off base, so the job of taking Ramirez and his crew on tour goes to Shipwreck, the snarkiest Joe. The sailor takes the news team up in a helicopter (like sailors do), only to get shot down by a surface-to-air missile over the Rockies, where it turns out Cobra is drilling underground to access a military gas-storage base.
Cobra kidnaps Shipwreck and the news team, and it turns out the producer was the Baroness in disguise, on a mission to discredit the Joes via the media. A search party including Scarlet, Gung-Ho, Spirit and Alpine finds Cobra’s cave base, everyone shoots lasers at each other and at some point the cave is flooded with laughing gas. The last two to three minutes of the cartoon is just footage of Joe, Cobra and journalist alike bent over laughing, while struggling to point out that if they don’t flee the cave, they will be crushed and killed. Six-year-old me didn’t understand what BRAC was, but he sure as heck understood that near-fatal laughing gas attacks were hilarious!
Ramirez would go on to be featured in several more episodes of the Joe cartoon and, according to writer Buzz Dixon, almost made it into a My Little Pony feature in a sequence that also would have included Optimus Prime and Shipwreck. Alas, such a wonder never came to be.