Captivating Cover: Into Zartan’s Lair

Continuing the new feature in which I judge a GI Joe book by its cover, here’s another Captivating Cover. This time, we’ve got a coloring book released by Marvel in 1984. Marvel covered a variety of action figure properties with coloring and storybooks in the 1980s, from heavy hitter toy lines like GI Joe and Transformers, to lesser knowns and also-rans like Crystar.

Duke has apparently been dropped off in the swamp, along with a similarly attired greenshirt cohort, presumably to locate the Cobra master of disguise, Zartan. Duke’s traipsing through the muck, completely unaware that his quarry is RIGHT BEHIND HIM! Oh well, maybe Zartan just emerged from camouflage at that instant. Don’t sweat it; this is a coloring book, after all. I do however have to question the use of red titles over green grass. My eyes!


  • I love that the character behind him looks like a recolored Duke.

  • I miss the old Marvel Books imprint.

    I thought that was Grunt behind Duke for a moment but it really does look like his clone with helmet on rather than any of the original Joes or a Sunbow green shirt.

    They did blow it with that red on green. How can a kid ever read those? Time for new glasses, Timmy!

  • They have Stoner prototypes rifles, first version of M-16s with wood parts…interesting thing…

  • Maybe Grunt has borrowed Dukes bandolier

  • I think you can make an easy custom of that soldier:
    -Ace or Flash head
    -Tiger Force Duke torso
    -Clutch arms
    -Zap waist and legs (swivel-arm version)

  • Duke clone except for the pouches on the thighs and the lack of knife on the left boot. If he’d appeared in the Marvel comic fans would created a mini-cult around him until he was revealed to be some missing member of the team in some silly retcon.

    Odd they drew Duke’s binoculars so distinctly but made his rifle so odd looking. If the Dragonfly dropped them off, where was the second man riding, on the skids?

  • I prefer to think that Duke is running from Zartan, as Duke’s rifle appears to be missing a clip.

  • Re: lesser-knowns and also rans. Marvel actually owns Crystar, and created him in an attempt to reverse the G.I. Joe and Transformers dynamic, so that, even though it’s a toy comic, they own the character and the toy is the license. They tried again with a thing called Brute Force, but they couldn’t get a toy company to bite.

  • @Captainswift
    I found an issue of Brute force in a stack of comics i picked up. I was convinced it was a toy commercial comic until i discovered it had no toys.
    I also heard Crystars toys are notoriously frail and next to impossible to keep in good condition

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