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A Joe in the Sights: Clutch

Clutch was made of motor oil and sparkplugs. Clutch breathed exhaust and made vroom vroom noises when he walked. Clutch was the guy who drove the VAMP.

Clutch wasn’t content just driving the VAMP, though. Clutch also drove the VAMP II. That is dedication to a theme. Clutch as a figure came with no weapons, because his weapon was wrapped around him. His weapon was a big military jeep that made the vroom vroom noises that Clutch didn’t make.

He also came with a helmet, because safety first, mothertruckers.

Clutch had a thick black beard that you know smelled like lubricant and gas. Clutch’s file card even made him sound dirty. Clutch is the guy you find in the garage (motor pool), and when he’s not in the garage (motor pool) he’s thinking abut being in the garage. When Clutch makes love he’s thinking about a carburetor. Clutch will fake an orgasm just to get back to the garage. “Was it good for you?” He’ll ask, and the woman is about to answer before realizing that Clutch is already gone and that he was talking to the VAMP. Something something lube job and so forth.

When the VAMP II was released, Clutch traded in his Original 13 greens for a sandy colored variation of the same thing. Most Joes got some kind of wardrobe upgrade when they were rereleased, but not Clutch. Clutch just kind of shifted sideways while keeping the beard and overall garage aesthetic. And you kind of get he feeling that Clutch’s old clothes had to be burned off of him.

They probably exploded.

Being one of the Original 13 Joes, Clutch had a pretty sizable presence in the earlier Marvel comics. In his spare time he spent any free second that he wasn’t underneath the VAMP hitting on Cover Girl and Scarlett. They were not impressed. Never shown was the day that Jinx joined the Joes. It probably didn’t end well. Ninja ladies probably don’t respond well when some grease monkey asks if they can check under their hood.

Clutch made a lot of appearances in the early days of the cartoon as well, because the VAMP was always there and they needed someone to drive it. Clutch was one of three Joes that stayed behind on an alternate Earth where Cobra had won, mainly because the Joe cartoon was written by sentient opium and shit got nuts up in there.

The great tragedy of this write-up is that I never had Clutch. Neither version 1 nor version 2. Which means of course that I never had either of the VAMP versions. The A.W.E. Striker was my first Joe war jeep and Crankcase ably took over Clutch’s role.

I’m not sure how either VAMP managed to pass me by, other than the fact that I don’t ever remember seeing it on the shelves, and if I did then I was otherwise entranced by some other shiny new vehicles and the experience didn’t cement itself into my brain.

Regardless of whether or not I had him, Clutch retains a special place in the hall of the Original 13, and can never truly be replaced. Even if he does smell like a diesel engine.