Missile Commander (Code Name: Hawk)
Every team of heroes needs a leader, and Hawk fulfilled that role capably in the Marvel comic and many latter episodes of the Sunbow cartoon. Looking at the initial action figure version however you’d have to read his file card in order to tell he’s the commanding officer. I suppose his silver straps and pockets might be a tip-off in a toy logic sense, but they’re definitely not US Army accurate. I wonder how many kids who didn’t read the Marvel comic knew the Joes had a colonel in their midst. He really didn’t have the “hey kids, this is the head honcho” presentation that Duke later received, but I imagine that sort of thing wasn’t foremost in the marketing plan for the initial assortment.
Let’s talk a bit about the age-old Hawk/Duke situation. Since Hawk was the field commander for much of the early Marvel comics run, some collectors see him as the de facto team leader. Others who dig the Sunbow cartoon may see Duke as the main man. Some folks may think of Duke as a Johnny-come-lately and wonder why Hawk wasn’t the animated series’ leader. I’ve wondered this myself, however I can appreciate the three distinct versions of GI Joe as presented in the file cards, comic and cartoon. My philosophy towards the mythos brings to mind a line from Egg Shen in Big Trouble in Little China: “we take what we want and leave the rest…like your salad bar.”
I didn’t have Hawk. My older brother did. So while I read the comic and knew Hawk was the leader, toy wise when Duke came along (via mail in) he was the leader of my small team of Joes. Before that it was Steeler and Stalker, I guess.
Hasbro wanted a face leader for the line. Duke was originally going to be a colonel until Hama talked them out of it, seeing as the Joes were a small unit that had a colonel already. Still, the fan club newsletter said Duke was in charge, regardless of rank, and Hawk took a desk job at the pentagon or something. Not that many kids even saw that vintage newsletter, though. For some reason making the Duke figure a new version of Hawk didn’t cross Hasbro’s minds.
”Hawk came out in many different versions, especially the 1986 General Hawk.The 1982 version came with the same anti-aircraft missle system(M.M.S.), that bears the name, HAWK Missle System.”
With out any rank designation in this guys name, hes just the missile specialist to me at this point. Later on he would become a General and Make Duke the field leader. Thats how I always thought it worked. I mean they were all supposed to be the best of the best, so why bother with rank in the beginning? kinda like spartans in Halo until they grew in numbers so much they split into squads etc.