?Most crime fighting organizations have limited membership due to having a number in their name (Fantastic Four), a strict charter (the Avengers) or a genetic requirement (the X-Men), but not G.I. Joe. They let anyone with a snappy code name or animal sidekick fight for freedom wherever there’s trouble. Green Berets, Navy S.E.A.L.S., ninja commandos and Native American trackers fought side-by-side against Cobra during the franchise’s heyday from the early ’80s to mid-’90s.
Thanks to an all-inclusive cast of over a hundred, there are numerous Joes that specialize in various types of missions. Feeling under the weather? Both Doc and Lifeline can fill your prescription. Have a mission set inexplicably set in Antarctica? Snow Job, Frostbite and Iceberg are ready to roll! Need a pilot? You can pick from Ace, Wild Bill, Lift-Ticket or Slip-Stream. Need someone to jump out of an aircraft piloted by Ace, Wild Bill, Lift-Ticket or Slip-Stream? Airborne, Ripcord and Crazylegs have their parachutes packed. Even if you have a mission that needs a human/canine tag team, you can pick from Mutt and Junkyard or Law and Order. With all of the specialized areas in the Joe camp, there are definitely some areas that do not require a G.I. Joe representative. These are the Joes whose fields of expertise are weird and unnecessary, so they definitely spend more time hanging out at Joe HQ than on the battlefield.
?Picking on Bazooka is like someone picking on your perpetually unemployed, sweet mannered, man-child of a cousin (he may be a doofball, but he’s YOUR doofball!), but come on. The guy’s sole weapon is a bazooka. Now, a bazooka is pretty useful on the battlefield — G.I. Joe-Cobra battlefields in particular — but how many guys on the Joe team can’t fire a bazooka? And other Joes have the advantage of being able to fire guns in addition to bazookas, while Bazooka refuses to carry any other weapon. I think Joe would prefer its soldiers to be able to fight for more than the first three minutes of a battle.
?Hardball’s weapon of choice is the hand grenade. Hardball’s incredible skill? Throwing a hand grenade really fast. While that might sound potentially useful, recall there are things called grenade launchers, which perform the same function while neither requiring a paycheck or being irritatingly baseball-themed. Honestly, it’s more likely for the Cubs to win the World Series than for G.I. Joe to go on a mission where Hardball’s baseball-specific expertise comes in useful.
?Being a trained samurai is actually pretty useful in the world of Joe, and Budo might even be up there with definitive badasses Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes. But the obvious difference between Budo and his more popular peers is also his downfall: going into a modern day bulletstorm of a battlefield to fight techno-maniacal terrorists while wearing ancestral samurai armor is a bad, bad idea. This Joe is only useful if the team actually goes back to feudal Japan, and while the G.I. Joe cartoon got pretty crazy, it never got that crazy.
?Scoop is like the dad that just got a video camera and wants to document everything. Quick Kick’s first ambush, General Hawk’s big debriefing, the big annual raid on Cobra Island, Scoop’s caught them all on tape. Because we all know how much the military loves to record its covert special ops, so that everyone can check ’em out later! But to give the guy some credit, he did lug around bulky tech equipment from 1989 on the battlefield (he wears binoculars AND a camera around his neck!). Let’s just hope he got all of those VHS tapes transferred to digital.
?Not only is Tollbooth’s bridge-building talent uselessly specific, but his vehicle is equally so. Need to cross a chasm 20-feet long? Tollbridge is there! Need to cross a chasm 22-feet long? Well, sorry about that. What’s that? G.I. Joe is stocked with planes and jetpacks that can fly over to the other side? And 99% of most of your battles take place in big open expanses anyways, with opposing sides charging at each other at full speed while firing wildly? Tell you what, Tollbooth, why don’t you sit this one out.
?Taurus was a member of Sgt. Slaughter’s Renegades and a former circus acrobat. Taurus never received any military training and according to his filecard, can open bottles with his nostrils. I don’t know which is the least useful: a Joe who can only fight if it involves a trapeze-like structure nearby or a Joe whose main selling point is doing drunk frat boy tricks. Luckily I don’t have to decide because both describe this guy.
4) Captain Grid-Iron
?There is never a time when football metaphors on the battlefield are welcome, and you know that a quarterback-turned-Joe who calls himself Captain Grid-Iron is full of them. He even wears a modified football helmet into battle. Here’s the best part — Grid-Iron doesn’t even have a specialty, he’s just a guy who likes football a lot. So unless Cobra brainwashes the Indianapolis Colts and the Joes desperately need someone to infiltrate their ranks disguised as Peyton Manning, Captain Grid-Iron is going to keep the bench warm.
?If there’s one thing that can easily stop the country’s premiere freedom fighting force, it’s really tall grass. Like, really tall grass. Like up to your waist tall. Like rural West Virginia, covering up an El Camino and a discarded high chair tall. Pathfinder can cut through it with his lawnmower blade mounted on a really long pole. You could call him a glorified lawn mower, but he prefers the title Jungle Assault Specialist. Don’t pity his super specific profession because plenty of housewives cheat on their husbands with their jungle assault specialists.
?Most of these useless Joes’ filecards throw in a caveat about them being super tough or a trained marksman or addicted to heavy metal, but not Clean-Sweep. Nope, he’s the toxic sludge clean up guy, through and through, who maintains perimeter security after setting his clean-up tools on autopilot. He doesn’t even do the cleaning himself; he sets his “sludge detector-analyzer computer” on autopilot! And then he keeps watch! He’s the G.I. Joe equivalent of the guy that follows horses in a parade.
?Bullhorn is named such because he uses a bullhorn in his capacity as the Joe’s intervention specialist. Because when a snake-obsessed international terrorist group with ties to an ancient race of Himalayan python people plant explosives on the Statue of Liberty for reasons that can be summed up with the phrase “jus’ cause,” what you really want to do to disarm the situation is talk it out. I have a feeling Bullhorn doesn’t use his namesake on the battlefield as much as he uses it to impersonate Darth Vader.