PoP! Top 6-Pack SPECIAL EDITION: The Worst Joes

The PoP! Stars narrow it down to the cream of the crop in categories ranging from (but not limited to) Comics, Movies, Toys and Geek Culture in general. This is the PoP! Top 6-Pack.

GI Joe is the codename for America’s daring, highly-trained special missions force. They’re the best of the best. But with a new film tearing up box office receipts, what better time to take a look at six (or s0) Joes whose place on the team is HIGHLY dubious?


UghGrunt’s inclusion on the team always confounded me. On a team of military specialists, Robert Graves (no, not THAT Robert Graves) had absolutely no discernible skills. He was the equivalent of a career Red Shirt, except without the dying. Grunt was the dumb kid you keep around so everyone else feels smart. I imagine Rock N Roll polishing his machine guns while Stalker fluffs his beret, the two talking about how badass they are, and Grunt all the while stands idly by, indistinguishable from the Greenshirts who serve as the Joes’ cannonfodder. Hell, you could have at LEAST made him their field commander or something. And come on… his codename was Grunt. It’s like they weren’t even trying. At least he stayed behind in that alternate reality with Steeler and…


I'm a driver. I'm driving.Barely better than Grunt, Lance Steinberg at least had a military specialty other than “being there.” Of course, it was driving, so… Look, I don’t think anything I do in my day-to-day life should ever qualify as a sport, so I sure as hell don’t understand how it warrants “military specialty.” Later in the years, as different Joe vehicles were introduced, and each had their own specific wrangler, this sort of specialization would make some degree of sense. Driving the Rolling Thunder would be a fair sight different from operating the Bridgelayer, for example, so having Joes assigned to these specific vehicles only seems natural. But 9 times out of 10, Clutch was driving a jeep. Yes, a jeep with a laser turret, but a jeep nonetheless. Most soccer mom’s could’ve handled this one. Way to reach for the stars, Lance.


Freeeeee... free falllllllin!Alright, everyone whose military specialty is cooler than driving, step forward – not so fast, Airborne. Franklin Talltree’s single greatest accomplishment in life is being able to fall out of things well. Paired with a secondary military specialty of “helicopter gunship gunner,” one wonders how you best deploy this man. Is he the guy who mans the guns until the chopper’s shot down, then jumps for it? Or do you focus on his primary specialty and have him jump first, after which point his secondary specialty is all but useless? The Joes already had a paratrooper in the form of Ripcord, and HIS secondary specialty was demolitions. That’s cool. And useful. Airborne here seems best suited to riding bitch with Wild Bill, playing Tonto to his Lone Ranger. What’s wrong… is Grunt afraid of heights?


I wish they'd gotten Hector RamirezLenny here is a disaster from top to bottom. His “primary military specialty” is “journalist.” Is that even a thing in the military? Isn’t this why CNN has war correspondents? Because the military doesn’t? Nevermind the fact that in every continuity BUT the TV series, the Joes were a clandestine team made up of soldiers who’d abandoned their identities and let the world believe them dead. Why, then, would you have a JOURNALIST on your team!? Oh, that’s right, because Scoop pretty much only existed in the cartoon universe, WHERE HE WASN’T EVEN AN ACTIVE DUTY SOLDIER!!! Nope, he was JUST a journalist who happened to save a couple of Joes’ lives, prompting Sgt. Slaughter to offer him a spot on the team. This is what you get for putting a professional wrestler in charge of your international operations.


Five, four, three, two, one, one half, one third, one fourth...Speaking of international operations… nothing says “highly trained special missions force” like space shuttles. And, hey, if you’re going to have a space shuttle, you’re going to need an astronaut. Meet David Dubosky. Look, I get that Cobra has a pretty solid track record of deploying weapons into space and hijacking shuttles/space stations, but aren’t you better off training the Joes you have to fight in space than simply having a single Joe who’s really really good at it? It’s the Snow Job argument taken to the Nth degree… when any Joe can put on a parka and a pair of skis, why do you need one Joe who never takes them off? Except one would think that missions in arctic/winter conditions are a LITTLE more common than jaunts into outer space. I like to picture Countdown sitting in his bunk, staring at his gear, waiting… always waiting…

Ice Cream Soldier

I just... don't have words...The Ice Cream Soldier almost doesn’t belong on this list… almost. Tom-Henry Ragan would’ve made a fine addition to the Joe team – about two or three years prior. At the time he was introduced, however, GI Joe was reaching market saturation and things were starting to get silly. Being a “fire operations expert” was a proud tradition with the GI Joe team. Like Blowtorch and Charbroil before him, Tom-Henry wielded a flamethrower; badass! But unlike them, his secondary military specialty was “barbecue chef” and his codename was “Ice Cream Soldier.” The rationale behind such a stupid name? It would lull Cobra into a false sense of self-confidence. Yeah… ONCE! Ugh. You should’ve just repainted Blowtorch and given him a new helmet, because this was one GI Joe even I refused to buy.

These guys needed to be benched!Captain Gridiron, Big Lob, Hardball, and the Fridge

Honorable mention goes to the sports themed Joes; of which only Captain Gridiron ever made it to television (unless you count Big Lob’s appearance in the movie, which would run as a five-part special). I don’t care how much you like sports, running into combat in a baseball jersey and fitted cap is too ri-goddamned-diculous for words. We get it, you’re athletes, and that offers you a modicum of precision with thrown explosive devices – ie grenades – and a bit of an edge in hand to hand combat (theoretically). That’s great. But you look like some sort of Willy Loman-esque charicature, clinging to your bygone glory days and hoping the pretty girl will go with you to the Joe prom. Even Sgt. Slaughter’s laughing at you.




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Jason Kerouac is a co-founder of Panelsonpages.com. He spends roughly half of his waking life in servitude to the Giraffe. Raised in a town in New Hampshire you've never heard of, he now lives in Indianapolis, IN and is pretty sure that's a step in the right direction.

Comments (6)

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  1. Ben Gilbert says:

    Honorable mention goes to Rocky Balboa, who was THIS close to getting his own G.I. Joe figure. "He punches really hard…let's put him on the team."

  2. Denim says:

    I would of left Grunt off the list for the basic fact that he had an awesome mini arc in the Marvel run where he retired and then came back when they needed his help.

    I also would of left Clutch off the list because he was a lot of fun in those early Marvel issues as well, issue 3 and 5 being some major highlights.

  3. Matt (shark) says:

    I see these joes having their own little corner of HQ where they sit and complain about everyone else.

  4. But Hardball had a monstrous gun! And Big Lob would call his own play-by-play action! And if you would have put half the Joes on this list if you go by their outfit. Gung Ho, Shipwreck, Spirit, dressed liked the Village People. Bazooka and Red Dog both wore a football Jersey. Chuckles dressed liked Don Ho. Deep Six looked like Buzz Lightyear.

  5. jaydee74 says:

    Great list and when you write it out like that, makes a ton of sense.

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