Here are the covers that, in my opinion, best captured the spaces and places where G.I. Joe and Cobra met. Have other ideas? Leave a comment below.
One of my favorite covers in the entire series, it would be higher on this list if the Washington D.C. skyline was given a more faithful representation. As it is, the buildings could be any U.S. city. But it's the thought that counts, and the storyline setting was the actual streets of D.C. Plus, you can't beat that spineless Cobra Commander pointing his gun at Hawk's back.
In somewhat of a theme for this list, this cover offers a rare glimpse from high ground of the landscape around the legendary Silent Castle. Trans-Carpathia, according to literature, sits east of Borovia, roughly in the area we know as Romania. The castle and its surrounding landscape conjure images of Dracula as much or more as they do Destro.
This issue published in September 1984, back when graffiti was still ubiquitous on New York City subways. This cover captures the Spanish Harlem vista, where the trains emerge from underneath the streets on to elevated tracks as they head north. It's such a realistic drawing, you can almost smell the plantains frying in Soft Master's Cuban-Chinese restaurant.
Rarely did the G.I. Joe team appear as victimized as they did at this Borovian train depot, where they were escorted to the gulag at gunpoint. Many covers included Borovian images, but none captured the fictional, harsh military state than this. The initial Borovian storyline predated the devastating Balkan conflict that marked the late 1980s and much of the '90s.
One of the most iconic and beautiful covers in the Marvel series is also one of its most geographic. In an effort to sneak away from a vacationing Flint and Lady Jaye and go on a mission, Snake Eyes and Scarlett stroll through an abandoned marsh that was still dotted with land mines left there during the early 1980s Grenada conflict.
Dozens of buses leave Chinatown in Washington D.C. each day, offering deeply discounted fares to Penn Station in New York. Imagine if Major Bludd was one of the passengers. That actually happened early in the Marvel comic run. I bet he could have really used a snack at the Vince Lombardi Service Area. Or at least a potty break.
The Chrysler Building is one of the most iconic skyscrapers in the world, and it had multiple cameos in the Marvel run. Never, however, did it appear as majestic as it did in Issue 127, with Duke hovering over its beautifully lit facade.
If Google Maps existed in 1984, perhaps it would be the backdrop of this cover, not John Byrne's artwork. No other cover offers a truly planimetric aerial view like this one of Clutch falling from the sky to the streets of Asbury Park, N.J., below.
I wonder, if you were on a walk through New York's Central Park in the late summer of 1982, you would have come upon cover artist Don Perlin seated on the grass of the Great Lawn, sketching the vista before him for the November issue of A Real American Hero. This cover, and the entire issue for that matter, has a great sense of place.
Cobra was a mysterious terrorist organization, but this first look at Springfield revealed just how nefarious and deceptive it could be. This cover told a great story in a small space and set up many storylines to come. Bonus 1980s cred points go to Larry Hama for giving the town's video arcade a prominent role. Cobra Commander couldn't have come up with a more shrewd tool for signing up new recruits. And the expression on Scarlett's face makes me think she really does find it to be "a nice little town".