While Storm Shadow may have started out as a Cobra villain, Snake Eyes’ rival joined the heroes of G.I. Joe for a surprising reason.
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Larry Hama made Storm Shadow a hero because he didn’t like that the only Asian character in the series was a villain.
The relationship between Larry Hama and “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” was a fascinating one, because Hama had a lot of freedom in how he developed the personalities of the characters that Hasbro was creating for its hit line of action figures.
In the end, all he was REALLY restricted by was the names of the character and the design of the character.
As it turned out, Hama wasn’t even necessarily restricted by how the characters were designed, in terms of being good guys and bad guys.
You see, in 1984, Hasbro introduced the “Cobra Ninja” action figure…
As it turned out, that was the very first Asian character that the toy line had introduced, and Hama was disappointed that their very first Asian character also happened to be a villain. He introduced Storm Shadow into the “G.I. Joe” comic book series with the classic G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #21 (the famous “Silent Issue,” which was written AND drawn by Larry Hama, with Steve Leialoha doing finishes over Hama’s art)
Since Hama had a good deal of freedom with the continuity of the comic, though, he decided that he was going to make their only Asian character one of the good guys. He discussed this in a recent issue of the comic book series (which has continued at IDW)…
So he slowly developed Storm Shadow’s background (and his connection to Snake Eyes) and eventually, he ended up joining the G.I. Joe team…
This even led to the toy company making Storm Shadow a good guy in a new version of the toy! How cool is that?
Of course, eventually, Storm Shadow had to go back to being part of Cobra, but by this time, there had been a number of Asian hero characters added to the series, so it wasn’t as big of a deal. Very cool by Hama! Thanks to Larry Hama (who also confirmed to me via e-mail that this is why Storm Shadow became a good guy).
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