Everything You Need to Know About G.I. Joe Enemy- The Headman.
In someways you can't blame Hasbro and the G.I. Joe franchise too much for trying to regain some degree of relevancy in 1992. The heyday of G.I. Joe was over by this point and the franchise had begun to depend heavily on neon colors and ninja's. This was the era of "Just Say No To Drugs" and everybody hates a drug dealer right?
So, introduced into the G.I. Joe mythos was The Headman, a heavy handed, over the top, mega-stereotypical drug dealer. G.I. Joe would spin off a sub-team that would fight drugs (D.E.F.- Drug Elemination Force) and their arch-rival would be the drug dealing kingpin The Headman. It never worked.
The Headman was introduced in 1992 in the Marvel Comics G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic book issue #123. From the start the drug dealing Headman was portrayed as so heinous that neither G.I. Joe nor Cobra liked him and his introduction actually involved him getting one of the Fred series Crimson Guardsman's son hooked on drugs.
One of the problems with The Headman character was that it was so heavy handed. The United States, during the Ronald Reagan years and into the George Bush Presidency, was full throttle into the war on drugs campaign. In pro wrestling terminology, introducing a drug dealer character into a waning franchise reeked of "cheap heat" (a short cut to making a character hated without real legitimate character work such as dispariging a local sports team.)
After being introduced in a single panel in issue 123 of Marvel Comics G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, The Headman shares the cover of issue 124 with Cesspool and Cobra Ninja Slice, a triple threat of unpopular G.I. Joe ideas.
The next glimpse of The Headman we get is that of a G.I. Joe D.E.F. team kicking in his door. The Headman looks like a cheesy cartoon villain on this page, reminiscent of Snidely Whiplash.
The Headman espoused cliched drug dealer jargon as well. He is drawn slightly more menacing in this panel as he wounds a G.I. Joe team member.
The Headman's Headhunters had a really cool design and their action figures are very popular on the secondary market.
It seems the G.I. Joe writing team had done all with The Headman they intended to do with issue 127, as he only appears on three pages to wrap up his storyline, never to be seen again in the Marvel G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero run. I don't know if The Headman was ever intended to be a long term character and failed miserably or if he was simply mandated by Hasbro and Larry Hama did all he could with him before ditching the character and moving on. Whatever the cast, it's hard to characterize him as anything other than a failure.
After the end of the Marvel Comics run of G.I. Joe the Devil's Due Publishing (DDP) company got the G.I. Joe comic book license for a few years. They brought back The Headman character for a one-shot called G.I. Joe: Special Missions: Brazil. The art and characterization treated The Headman a little more seriously this time.
The final in-story appearance by The Headman in G.I. Joe comics saw him carted away into custody. A biography data desk file appeared for him at the end of the issue. The Headman was seen once more in the final days of G.I. Joe: America's Elite when wrapping up the status of various Cobra and independent operatives with the designation that he was "in custody". To date, the character has not appeared in the IDW comic book era of G.I. Joe.
The G.I. Joe data-file goes to great lengths to remind you that nobody likes The Headman.
Outside of the comic book continuities, The Headman appeared in the DIC cartoon series in a few episodes. His outfit was slightly changed but generally appeared the same.
The Headman mint on card from 1992 with card art shows a salivating, vicious Headman.
The early 2000's Headman action figure differed in several ways from the 1992 version. Besides the obvious change of the suit colors, The Headman also had a change of hair color from blonde to black. Also, he got a serious upgrade in a weapon.
There is something about the action figure which just did not translate to either comic book or cartoon. The figure likely would have been exceptionally cooler had they not painted on the bandit style mask. The suited bodies make great custom fodder and were even used at one point in the early 1990's for updates to Tomax and Xamot.
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