Saturday, August 4, 2012

G.I. Joe's Canadian Real American Hero

It was shortly after creating a Twitter account for TSOG that I became aware of the Canadian G.I. Joe convention, first taking place in 2002 and next taking place in Toronto on August 10th and 11th.  That event's account was recommended as a "follow" option, which was a nice change from Todd McFarlane and Justin Bieber.

I can't say that I'm a huge Joe fan.  I did buy the Marvel series as a kid for a while, but as more and more two-dimensional toy advertisements were shoehorned into the stories, I lost interest.  If I recall correctly, the breaking point was some guy who's "thing" was that he ate bizarre sandwiches (like peanut butter/tomato).  Pretty thin characterization there.

A tweet from the convention account that highlighted a convention-exclusive action figure perked my ears, however.  Get a load of Joe Canuck.

Pretty bad ass, eh?

Now Joe Canuck isn't an official character as such, but he did prompt the question as to whether G.I. Joe actually has a Canadian member.  As unlikely as it seemed, it turned up that the team does have at least one Canadian (born) member named Back-Stop.  A cropped version of his bio from Wikipedia is included under his picture below (which I've lifted from an ebay auction).

Back-Stop is the G.I. Joe Team's Persuader tank driver. His real name is Robert A. Levin. Back-Stop was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was first released as an action figure in 1987, packaged with the "Persuader" high-speed tank.

Back-Stop's primary military specialty is armor, and his secondary military specialty is mechanized infantry. As a youth playing in junior league hockey in Canada, he injured so many opposing players that his family had to move to the United States to escape angry parents. He grew up in Detroit, where he boxed in the Golden Gloves under (sic...should that be "until"? TSOG) he was barred from competing; he also spent two years as his high school's undefeated wrestling champion when no one would challenge him. After a short demolition derby career, he found his true calling in the Army and eventually the G.I. Joe Team.

In the Marvel Comics G.I. Joe series, he first appeared in issue #64 (October 1987). He joins the team when they are in their Utah Quonset hut base...He appears in issue #68 as part of a security team sent in to support Battleforce 2000, who are operating in the fictional country of Frusenland....

The 2009 Canadian G.I. Joe convention had a limited edition box set that included a 25th Anniversary-style figure of Back-Stop. The set also included a comic book, 110 copies, produced for attendees. Part of the story featured Back-Stop fighting Cobra allies in Canada.
It should probably be pointed out that the Canadian version of the toys in the 80's included Canadian birthplaces on the bio card.  Nice marketing touch, but not something particularly logical for a team of "Real American Heroes" so we won't give it much weight.  Back-Stop, however, to the best of my knowledge has a consistent background.

Back to Joe Canuck, their site includes a wiki which provides details about the various characters that have emerged from this gathering of Joe fans.  Some items related to those characters (cards and comics, primarily) are available for pre-order from this page of the convention site.

I might just need to snatch the comics for myself.  I don't know if the story that appears in this newsletter from December 2010 is included, but it should provide a suitable preview.  I found it linked on the Sketchkrieg blog.

Pretty cool, eh? Here's wishing the Joe Canuck bunch a great time next weekend.

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