Points of Articulation
The Untold History of the Pravda Patrol
Since this month was October, it only made sense that we'd use our weekly Joe Friday spot to review the various Oktober Guard comicpacks. If you haven't read them, take a look:
And in the course of the reviews
you learned all sorts of interesting new facts about the team, including why "Oktober" is really spelt with a K, and why fan-favorite Horrorshow seems to have an English name. All the sorts of goodies that make OAFEnet your #1 source for toy reviews. But in our final installment, there was one piece of information we didn't have the room to get in-depth with, and that's the Oktober Guard's connection to the Pravda Patrol.
The Pravda Patrol - Captain Yuri, Big Bear, Stryker, The Mouse, and Sachi - were created by Tom DeFalco and Herb Trimpe for a story in Bizarre Adventures #31, with an April 1982 cover date. It was just a five-pager, but here's their first appearance:
Needing material to fill the pages of Marvel's new licensed book, GI Joe, artist Herb Trimpe created a two-part story using the characters he'd worked on not too long before. It was a logical choice: after all, their first appearance decribed the Patrol as "an elite ... counter-terrorist task force" - exactly the same words used to describe GI Joe! And hey, if America had a group like this they were sending on special missions all around the globe, wouldn't it make sense for our enemies to do the same? It's just a small step in logic to consider that eventually, both teams would be sent on missions with the same goal - even if they were coming at it from opposite sides.
Apparently Hasbro liked the story, but there was a problem: Trimpe hadn't been cleared to use the Pravda Patrol in the book. All outside works featuring Hasbro's properties had to go through an approvals process,
which meant that someone in Pawtucket looked over and okayed every issue of GI Joe before it went out the door.
Bizarre Adventures was different from the average Marvel comic, in that creators retained the rights to any new characters they came up with for the book. Usually as a work-for-hire creator, anything you create belongs to the company. If you get a job writing Spider-Man, and you create a new villain for him to fight, that guy belongs 100% to Marvel to use as they see fit. That's why David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane don't see a dime from Venom showing up in Spider-Man 3.
DeFalco and Trimpe actually held the copyright on the Pravda Patrol. The first version of GI Joe #3 submitted to Hasbro for approval even included a note in the legal text on the bottom of the first page that the characters belonged to the pair and all were used with permission. Needless to say, Hasbro shot down the appearance, but wanted to keep the story: that meant all the names had to be changed, and all the art had to be redrawn. That's why what was originally going to be #3 eventually saw release as #6. Here's how the personnel changes break down:
|| ≈ Captain Yuri
|| ≈ Sachi
|| ≈ Striker
|| ≈ Big Bear
|| ≈ The Mouse
You can even see where some of the new names were almost too big for the existing word balloons!
If you're a big GI Joe fan, it's definitely worth tracking down a copy of Bizarre Adventures #31. Not only do you get some nice proto-Joe action, but there's also a pair of stories written by Larry Hama - including one that's all about military action. Can't beat that, eh?
It's interesting to see where the Oktober Guard really first appeared, even if history would eventually pass them by.