BARREL ROLL v1
Barrel Roll is another new character that was introduced into the G.I. Joe mythos during the “new sculpt” period of the early 2000s. Though the figures of those years were often mis-proportioned and over all not fondly remembered by fans there were definitely a few diamonds in the rough. One area in which the Joe line shined during those years was the creation of new characters. Not all of them were instant classics but new faces like Switch Gears, Kamakura, and Agent Faces were welcome. I think of the many new characters that were introduced during that time Barrel Roll is one of the most intriguing. But by himself he’s not all that interesting. A high altitude sniper in a boring blue outfit with a fairly generic looking young face. This figure does include a Cobra Trooper disguise which is pretty cool. The reason for this is it was released as part of the spy-troops line like the aforementioned Switch Gears. Switch Gears was clearly supposed to be disguised as Overkill. But Barrel Roll’s Cobra disguise doesn’t resemble any Cobra trooper that I’m familiar with so I’m not sure how effective a disguise it would be. The costume consists of a helmet, breast plate and gauntlets. Though it doesn’t look like any known Cobra troops it does still look pretty cool and makes for pretty neat armor for Barrel Roll to wear even when he’s not out spying.
What makes this character so interesting is that the same year that this figure was released (2003) a Cobra trooper named Black Out was also released. Black Out’s file card reveals that he is Barrel Roll’s brother. Black Out tried out for the Joe team but didn’t make it in due to a failed psyche evaluation. Cobra scooped up the disgruntled soldier and now for the first time ever we had siblings on opposite sides of the Joe/Cobra war. It was a very interesting concept that unfortunately never got explored to it’s full potential in the comic books because the company that was publishing the Joe books at the time, Devil’s Due lost the license. When IDW took over the property and launched their own Joe book they started completely from scratch. A new version of Black Out has appeared in the IDW books so maybe Barrel Roll won’t be far behind.
To make this story of sibling rivalry even more interesting, in 2005 another new character was introduced, Bombstrike, Barrel Roll and Black Out’s little sister. Bombstrike only ever appeared in one panel of the comic book in a montage type of sequence showing Joes in battle in various locations around the globe. I really would’ve liked to have seen her character explored further. The interaction between these three characters had the potential to make for a riveting story line and could’ve made all of them into A-list Joes and Cobras instead of the almost forgotten D-listers that they are now.
These interesting character elements help to elevate this would be average figure into a must have for Joe fans. Here’s hoping we get a modern era Barrel Roll figure before too long and that his tale gets revisited in the IDW comics. 6 out of 10.