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A Joe in the Sights: Flint

When you’re a kid and you’re selecting the Joes you want to go up against Cobra, you have two options. You can either put together a well-balanced team or you can put together a specialty team. Sometimes I wanted to front-load my little groups with the big guns, or the explosive ordinance guys, or ninja/karate types, so I assigned Joes accordingly. But other times I pulled out a decent mixture of Joes from various fields. I tried to mix it up so I didn’t have the same team each time.

But regardless of the randomness of my playtime, if it was post-1985, nine times out of ten, Flint was there.

From the moment Flint took his place among the ’85 Joes, he just stood out. Flint had presence. Flint just looked like the kind of guy that would take absolutely no shit from anyone and could out-punch any Cobra that came his way. Duke and Hawk both had their merits, but Flint just oozed cool. If Han Solo and James Bond had a kid that joined the military, it would be Flint.

It’s impossible to put into words just how excellent the character design was during G.I. Joe’s heyday. One of the reasons I’ve always though that modernizing G.I. Joe designs for a contemporary audience is a fool’s errand is because the brilliantly iconic designs don’t need updating or complicating. There’s nothing that can be added or shifted that, to me, would make the characters any better than those original designs. Flint is a perfect example of this. There’s nothing you can do to Flint that would make him “more.” Flint is a perfect design. He looks rugged. His sleeves are rolled up and he’s wearing a pair of gloves for no reason other than he doesn’t want to skin his knuckles on your face. His jaunty beret is only there to dare you into thinking you can punch it off of his head. But you can’t. You can try, but he will absolutely punch you first, and much harder than you could ever punch him. That’s a foregone conclusion. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a standard-issue Viper helmet, a bulletproof faceplate or a mask made of beryllium steel. Flint’s fists are magnetically attracted to the faces of the bad guys, and he’s powerless to resist the all-consuming urge to punch them.

Flint is a punching machine in the shape of a humanoid male. I can’t tell you how many Cobras he punched on my living room floor. It was a shocking display of knuckle prowess.

A lot of Joes came loaded with big guns, but Flint only came with a shotgun. There were no .50 caliber machine guns, no bazookas, no shoulder-mounted psychotic surface-to-air monstrosities. It was just a shotgun. It wasn’t overtly impressive. But Flint was Flint, and there was just something angry about that thing. Flint seemed like he was telling the world, “You can keep your MOBATs; I’ve got fists and a shotgun.”

One thing you have to appreciate about Flint is that his swagger transcended media. See, it’s a well known fact that Scarlett and Duke were an item in the cartoon, but Scarlett and Snake Eyes were a thing in the comic. But Flint isn’t the type to share. Comic? Lady Jaye. Cartoon? Lady Jaye. Flint want Lady Jaye, Flint get Lady Jaye. Flint didn’t care if he was a static image or if he was flickering past at 24 frames per second. Flint was there to shoot Cobra with his shotgun, punch the Cobras in their faces and make sweet sweet love to Lady Jaye. Such singularity of purpose is why his codename was “Flint” and not “Wet Noodle.”

Flint received a Tiger Force-style repaint, and then he got neon green update for the Eco-Warriors. After that, there were a handful of attempts at updating him, but none of them stuck. It always goes back to the same basic look. The only major difference in his portrayals at the height of his popularity was a black shirt for his figure and a green one for his cartoon appearance.

Well, except for that unfortunate sweater-vest incident.

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