Sorry, G.I. Joe fans, I hate to be the one who breaks it to you, but G.I. Joe is not based on the real US military. I know, I know, you should probably sit down and let that sink in. The military doesn’t use laser-powered side arms, doesn’t promote use of neon-colored uniforms, and doesn’t fight robots all that often.
It also doesn’t hire ninjas, although that would be incredibly awesome, and they totally should. In the government’s defense, you can’t just post an ad on Craigslist asking for ninjas — hell, if someone came up to you and said, “I’m a ninja, hire me,” it’s almost certain he’s not a ninja, or at least not a very good one. Ninja don’t advertise. Thank goodness the Joes and Cobras have managed to have more than their share of ninjas on their payroll – and here’s the 10 best!
10) Black Dragon Ninja
In the Joe universe, there are Black Dragon Ninjas and Red Ninja Vipers. If I felt like making this an 11 item list, the Red Ninjas would be 11th, but far after the Black Dragons. Why? Because the Black Dragons are all about espionage, just like the real ninjas in Japan and the Red Ninjas are just foot soldiers in pajamas. Ninja skills are best used for subterfuge and assassination, not charging up at guys with laser guns.
9) Ninja Viper
Well, if you’re going to start a naming system for your troops that’s basically [badass adjective]Viper, Ninja Viper is a must-have. And these guys are pretty badass. They’re used sparingly, not like cannon fodder, and they’re studying new martial arts moves all the time to enhance their skills. Sure, turquoise is a lousy color, but they probably do some awesome work against colorblind foes.
8) Shadow Strike
How badass is this guy? He once infiltrated the elite Arashikage ninja clan just so he could fuck with it! It’s like going to college just to party. His goal was to bring down the whole clan, not for any personal reason other than Cobra Commander asking him if he would. Sadly, he’s only had one figure and isn’t much of a name in the G.I. Joe world, possibly because he has freakishly long thighs.
7) Tiger Claw
This guy oozes the “don’t fuck with me” vibe, from his tiger paw print gi to his big belt, which is essentially saying, “My dong is monstrous, and if you fuck with me or the rest of the Joes, I will beat you to death with it, then take my black dong power home to your woman, where she will be satisfied in ways you can’t even imagine, even if you had read a book about nasty sex. And we’ll do it in front of your wedding picture, which she will then tilt downwards so the picture of you two isn’t visible.”
Yeah, it’s kind of silly, but I like the name. Yep, they named him after the knife that can slice a can, then slice a tomato. What that proves is beyond me, since you can slice a tomato with almost anything. A piece of paper can slice a tomato. Anyway, he’s one of G.I. Joe’s resident ninjas, who drives the battering ram/gun the Pile Driver. How awesome would it be to see this massive hunk of machine coming down on you and the driver is a fuckin’ ninja? It’s like going into battle and seeing your opponent is Dracula wielding the Sword of Omens while riding a shark with The Undertaker’s face.
Slice has had six different versions of his figure made, and only one is not totally embarrassing. The first two were about 90% cool, with the red color scheme and the fencing mask (don’t underestimate how intimidating a fencing mask can be), but with a stupid leopard print on his pants. The later versions were even worse, dropping the mask and red and making him covered in padding and with little sunglasses that look like he’s going tanning. Still, he bases his martial arts on the movements of scorpions, which ups him a couple places in my rankings.
Cobra, for all its internal problems, has never had an issue with hiring women. If you want to do evil, and don’t mind the occasional rally where you stand at attention and listen to a man dressed as a snake yell, you can do pretty well. Vypra is employed by Cobra, but also, according to one of her filecards, is also the protector of a forge where ninja swords are made. Despite her martial arts skills, Cobra has her driving a jeep. Really.
?Aside from Snake Eyes, Jinx is the only ninja on this list to appear in the current IDW G.I. Joe series. She died in it, but hey, an appearance is an appearance. Hot female ninja were a rarity in ancient Japan (although they did exist), but Jinx fit in well on the Joe team. She made cartoon appearances, comic appearances, and had three action figures that were a must-have for kids in the ’80s. Hot ninja girls…ah, that sounds like a Cinemax film I can get into.
2) Storm Shadow
?He’s been voted the #1 Cobra villain by the old Action Force Weekly, one of the few G.I. Joe fan magazines that didn’t try to hire out soldiers of fortune in their classified page. He’s got so much backstory that it would take hours to go through it all, but let’s just say he’s more than a ninja in white pajamas. Those white pajamas take balls to wear, since you can see them coming from miles away, which just shows how confident he is in his ninja skills. You might see him coming, BUT IT WON’T SAVE YOU.
1) Snake Eyes
The US military took a big risk in hiring a ninja who doesn’t talk, doesn’t show his face, doesn’t follow orders, often goes off on his own without telling anyone what he’s doing, and has a shadowy history with dozens of now-criminals. He’s still the most popular member of the team, with lips or without, and brings shadowy ninja expertise with him on every mission. But he’s more than just a strong, silent master of the katana blade: as the above clip shows, he’s also a breakdancer. Man, that show was weird sometimes.