I don’t know about you but I have a pretty hard time naming my “favorite” anything. I’ve got my default answers for many of the obvious “what’s your favorite…” questions that pop up on a regular basis but they’re not really 100% accurate. For example I usually say that the Smashing Pumpkins are my favorite band of all time but truth be told I feel they’ve released more bad material than good over the years. I find other bands that I really enjoy like Weezer, Placebo, and Alkaline Trio to be more consistent. I always say The Crow is my favorite movie but depending on my mood sometimes Anchorman feels like my favorite. Then there’s the classics like Star Wars and Indiana Jones that seem too obvious to name as favorites yet I’ve watched them dozens of times.
I like lots of G.I. Joe characters for a variety of reasons but if you asked me who my absolute favorite is I’ll tell you it’s Shockwave.
Shockwave has never been a character that received a whole lot of “media attention”. I don’t recall ever seeing him in the cartoon and he only played a significant role in 2 or 3 issues of the comic book. My love of Shockwave stems almost entirely from the action figure itself which was released in 1988. By the time I got Shockwave I already owned plenty of Joe figures who had years to endear themselves to me but as soon as I got Shockwave he shot right to the top of my favorites list. I had always preferred the look of the Cobra characters and that was due to the fact that they almost all wore masks. A fully face masked guy always seemed so much cooler to me than some dude with a moustache and a helmet. Other than Snake-Eyes there were very few Joes who benefitted from that fully masked cool-factor. I had a Snake-Eyes and I loved the guy but the fact that he was mute did tend to make him less fun to play with. I grew up watching wrestling so the ability to trash talk your opponent seemed an essential part of kicking ass. The next fully masked guy that comes to mind is Beachhead but Doug had him. Then there was Wetsuit and Torpedo, who were both cool but there’s nothing like flippers to diminish your intimidation factor. To me, Shockwave was like having a wicked cool Cobra figure fighting for the good guys, and that was awesome. As much as I loved Wild Wesel and the HISS Driver they could never win in the end. Finally I had a masked tough guy that could kick ass, take names, and come out on top. And kick ass he did.
I got so carried away with Shockwave’s cool factor that I made him unnaturally strong, able to stop a tank in its tracks like he was Superman. I don’t know how many times Shockwave took down my entire Cobra forces singled handed but it was a lot. I characterized him as rather cold, more of a force of nature than a man. He was kind of like my Joe team’s Wolverine. His only real friend was Charbroil. Charbroil was the Joe team’s new flamethrower trooper, also released in 1988. Doug got Charbroil the same time that I got Shockwave and Doug characterized Charbroil the same way, a one man wrecking crew. I almost feel bad for Doug in that regard because I’m quite sure Charbroil probably isn’t even in his top 10 favorite Joes. If I hadn’t got Shockwave at that same time and made him such a total badass than I think Charbroil would’ve ended up just another Joe in Doug’s collection. I’m sure Doug would have rather had Beachead or Dusty be his Joe teams secret weapon but their personalities had already been established in our “Joe-verse” by this time. So since my new recruit was a goddamn super soldier, Doug’s was too.
Not that Charbroil wasn’t cool but he was nowhere near as cool as Shockwave. Shockwave was a SWAT trooper, dressed in a cool blue urban camo; Charbroil had auburn long johns. Shockwave had a full face mask with a cap, a Joe first; Charbroil had a silver bug-like helmet. It’s biggest flaw being that it was removable, revealing one of the ugliest Joe muggs of all time. Charbroil was a long faced ginger under that helmet while Shockwave remained mysterious. Charbroil had some clunky silver accessories while Shockwave had some great gear: a handgun, a hunting knife, a backpack and a gnarly submachine gun. I definitely won out over Doug in this case.
That same year Doug and I both got some cool new Cobra vehicles whose drivers would become Cobra’s answer to Shockwave and Charbroil. I got the Cobra Wolf with Ice Viper and Doug got the Maggot with Worms. These were two of the coolest Cobra vehicles ever released and their drivers were awesome; way to be cool to just be generic troopers. In our Joe-verse Ice-Viper and Worms were individual characters and like Shockwave and Charbroil they had the strength of 20 men when pushed to the limit. So many of our Joe battles came down to these four men on the battlefield.
Now that many years have passed, is Shockwave still my favorite G.I. Joe? Honestly I don’t know. This original figure is still pretty cool but it’s not without its flaws. For instance he has an almost unforgivably big melon. And they did eventually release a version of Shockwave without his mask so his mystery factor is gone. And as much as I like the look of the modern era Shockwave figure, it lacks the charm of the original. When I look at Shockwave I can’t help but recall the ridiculous super-hero swagger I infused him with back in the day. I’d love to see Shockwave appear in the modern day comics, animation or even movie so that I could see him portrayed more realistically.
Shockwave is a must-have for any vintage Joe collector. 9 out of 10.