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.”