Action Figure Overview: G.I. Joe - Shockwave (Hasbro, 1988)


G.I. Joe S.W.A.T. Specialist: Shockwave (Hasbro, 1988)

I loved the 3 3/4" GI Joe figures from the moment that I first saw them!  I thought the comic books were amazing!  As a kid, I enjoyed acting out adventures with these awesome action figures for many years.  My favorite figures on the Joe team were typically the ones that looked more least what I thought was realistic at the time.  By the time wave 7 came out in 1988, I had already begun to expect there to be too many silly looking members of the Joe team and in general, that was the case with this wave.  However, there were still a few cool figures like Repeater and Hit & Run who looked like they could actually be in the military.

Repeater and Hit & Run compared to Shockwave

GI Joe's resident S.W.A.T. Specialist, Shockwave, was a little different than the others to me.  I thought of the GI Joe Team as an elite military group - brought together to deal with the most dangerous situations and the most ruthless villains. I thought of them as the best of the best from the four branches of service (even though more than 80% of the GI Joe Team was in the Army).  But Shockwave really didn't seem like a military man.  According to his file card, Shockwave was a member of the Detroit Police Department.  Even though he was the youngest member of the city's S.W.A.T. team and he was the first guy through the door on a mission, being good at being a cop didn't make him a military guy to me.  I thought GI Joe wasn't very likely to pull someone from the Police Department into the Joe Team.  You could argue that Shockwave had left the S.W.A.T. Team to join the army, but if that were the case, he wouldn't be dressed in his S.W.A.T. uniform.  That led me to believe that Shockwave was a cop who was recruited to be part of the G.I. Joe team for specific missions.  Still, the figure looked cool so I picked him up...although I honestly don't know if I played with him even one single time!

Shockwave with all of his accessories!

When I didn't think of Shockwave as a member of the Joe team, I didn't mind the outfit.  He wore a light blue shirt with a dark blue & yellow pseudo-camouflage pattern with matching pants and cap.  I don't know why they added the yellow, but I didn't mind it too much.  The rest of his gear was dark blue; which I liked a lot.  The dark blue ski mask, Bulletproof vest, Gloves, Belt, holsters, pistols, and boots definitely fit the "Police" theme that Shockwave had going on.  Even though having a knife on his chest, another on his boot, and a removable knife on his backpack seemed like too many knives, that didn't bother me.  Having two hand guns on his belt, and the accessory of a third handgun that he could hold along with his sub-machine gun accessory actually seemed like a good idea considering how often the guys I'd see on TV and in comics were running out of ammo or having to re-load in the middle of a firefight.  His dark blue backpack matched the dark blue parts of Shockwave's uniform (as well as his pistol and machine gun). I always was a sucker for backpacks that had a removable knife!

Shockwave trying to blend in on a jungle mission.

It seemed like Shockwave was well prepared for a mission in the city...but when you had a bunch of Joes quietly moving through the Jungle - sneaking up on Cobra - a guy in a blue S.W.A.T. uniform just didn't really fit in to me.

Shockwave in the GI Joe comics.

Shockwave first appeared in Comic Book form in the January 1989: G.I. Joe: Special Missions #17.  The issue told the story of Stalker leading a team of Joes to rescue a group of hostages being held by Cobra.  Although when I re-read it recently, it was pretty obvious that the comic was written to introduce a few characters from the new wave of GI Joe figures, it was still a pretty good story; despite a couple of these Joes clearly not being the right guys for this particular job.  With that said, Shockwave was probably the most appropriate character for the mission.  Shortly after, Shockwave had a decent role in the 25th anniversary issue #86 and he was even one of the Joes pictured on the cover.  Although there were some cool images of him in the story, he could have been replaced here by any number of other Joes. The best use of Shockwave in the comics was definitely in Special Missions #22.  This issue's cover featured one of the most memorable images of Shockwave! He's seen busting through a window and, presumably, rescuing a kid from a bad guy.  This was a well written story about a situation that, if it had happened in reality, might have actually resulted in calling in the S.W.A.T. team.  The story was essentially a hostage situation that utilized Shockwave in the most realistic way possible given the overall story line of GI Joe.  Plus the art was great!

GI Joe's S.W.A.T Specialist - Shockwave (Hasbro, 1988)

Beyond these few stories, Shockwave only appeared in a handful of other issues at the time, but none that really made use of his S.W.A.T. skills.  In fact, in most cases, there were other Joes who would have been better choices for those roles.  Still, Shockwave did better in the comics than in the cartoon!  The well-received and fondly remembered GI Joe cartoon created by Sunbow ended in 1987 with GI Joe: The Movie, so the 1988 / wave 7 characters never had a chance to appear in that series.  A new GI Joe cartoon produced by Dic started up in 1989 promoting characters from subsequent waves, so the original version of Shockwave never appeared on either cartoon.  The 90s version of Shockwave did appear in a couple of episodes of the Dic cartoon, but by the time the Sunbow cartoon had ended and the 90s had arrived, I was no longer following the exploits of these Real American Heroes.

The Dic GI Joe cartoon featured the 2nd version of Shockwave.

Shockwave ended up being one of the last GI Joe figures I got as a kid.  I liked him on his own, but he never fit in with my idea of what the G.I. Joe team should be.  What about you?  I'm curious to hear what YOU think about Shockwave?  Did you have the Shockwave action figure when you were a kid?  Was he one of your favorites or did he just hang out in the toy box waiting for a hostage situation to arise?  Tell me in the comments below! 

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