Red Shadows

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The Red Shadows are the fictional fighting force opposed to Action Force as depicted in the UK Battle Action Force comic books. They were also portrayed in action figures by Palitoy as a European version of the G. I. Joe range. Later US G.I. Joe storylines have revived the Red Shadows as an additional enemy faction in the G.I. Joe universe.



Action Force

Baron Ironblood and Red Shadows

Baron Ironblood gives his men a good workout.

The Red Shadows are led by Baron Ironblood and are believed to be fanatical in their devotion to their leader and cause, as described in their comic strip portrayal:

"An Evil genius threatens the world. His name is Baron Ironblood and his twisted criminal brain dreams of only one domination. Using powerful and sophisticated weaponry, Ironblood's ruthless followers would gladly die for their master. Baron Ironblood has vowed to destroy Action Force"[1]

The Red Shadows were an enemy force created to face a second generation of Action Force characters following the evolution of the Action Force range (see the History of Action Force).


Major Characters
Rank and File
  • Red Shadows[2][3] - Infantry troops of the Red Shadows. Majority of them are brainwashed to serve the organisation as fanatical soldiers.
  • Muton Robotic soldiers of the Red Shadows. Mainly invincible against most small arms.
Weaponry and Vehicles

The Red Shadows weapons, vehicles and armoury consisted of:

Transition to Cobra

In later editions of the Battle Action Force series[4], Ironblood betrays the Red Shadows, leaking information about their bases and intentions to the United Nations. As the Shadows are under attack, Ironblood goes into hiding and constructs a new identity for himself, becoming Cobra Commander, and creating Cobra as a new enemy force.

The continuity of the storyline was maintained as the Black Major (a former traitor from Action Force), Red Laser and Red Vulture re-grouped the Red Shadows and sought revenge against Cobra Commander and the newly-amalgamated 'AF' whilst prominent Red Shadow character Red Jackal was given his own storyline, transforming to Destro and joining Cobra. Additional storylines saw the Red Shadows fighting alongside the Nazis against both Cobra and Action Force. In Showdown for the Shadows[5], the Shadows make their final appearance.

Devil's Due

Towards the end of the original Devil's Due G.I. Joe comic series, the Red Shadows were officially incorporated into the U.S. G.I. Joe canon.[6][7]

The Devil's Due incarnation of the Red Shadows organisation bares little resemblance to the Red Shadows organisation that fought the UK Action Force. The organisation is portrayed as an independent organisation that has no ties to Cobra.

Led by Wilder Vaughn, the group attempted to destroy both Cobra and G.I. Joe, ultimately killing G.I. Joe member Lady Jaye in the process of their attempt to wipe out both sides by way of eliminating key members of both organisations.


Major Characters

Fun Publishing

As part of the 2010 International G.I.Joe Convention (Providence, RI) exclusive Vacation in the Shadows box set from the Official G.I. Joe Collectors' Club, a comic titled Mind Games! was included. Black Major had created a mind controlling gas that he wants to sell to Cobra. In order to prove it works he captures Flint and test it on him. But fellow Action Force and GI Joe members help rescue Flint after he escapes. This comic's continuity is connected to the original A Real American Hero/Devil's Due story line that are now called the "disavowed" continuity.


Major Characters
Rank and File

It is speculated that the mysterious Cobra agent Interrogator is actually Baron Ironblood, as the Interrogator figure's has white hair, and a similar face.

Red Shadows and Nazis

The standard Red Shadows Troopers were controversially depicted in the comic books and annuals of the mid 1980s in quasi-German military uniform from the World War II era. Their red clothing was similar in style to the WWII German military wear including long black boots, black gloves and 'Jerry' style helmets, albeit extended to cover the face.[3] In addition, the weapons they carried also included German-style stick grenades and bazookas. This was due to the Red Shadow figure being made from a modestly altered (by adding the face plate) WWII German soldier figure from the first generation figure release.[2][3] The skull-and-crossbones icons have been removed from the German release, do to German toy laws regarding any imagery relating to Germany's troubled past.

Additional characters and vehicles also had strong associations with the German military in the WWII era - The Black Major for example (Baron Ironblood's deputy) was dressed in a similar style to a Allgemeine SS officer[8] and the Shadowtrak armoured vehicle had a German-influenced design. Indeed one of the final storylines involving the Red Shadows had them operating alongside the Nazis in South America, including a re-animated Adolf Hitler[9] (despite ostensibly being set in the present day).

Red Shadows might be an offshoot of the ODESSA network. This is a real life organisation formed by former SS (schutzstaffel) officers, to escape war crimes at the end of WWII. This is a matter of fan speculation, but would be interesting if established canon.


  1. Red Shadow toy range Palitoy promotional material from Blood for the Baron!
  2. 2.0 2.1 Carded Red Shadow figure, part of the collection at Leicestershire County Council Museum
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Loose Red Shadow figure, part of the collection at Leicestershire County Council Museum
  4. World Enemy No. 1 storyline courtesy of Blood for the Baron!
  5. Showdown for the Shadows! storyline courtesy of Blood for the Baron!
  6. Dawn of the Red Shadows - Part 1 and Part 2 from the G.I. Joe comic book archive at
  7. Union of the Snake - Part 6 from the G.I. Joe comic book archive at
  8. Black Major figure, part of the collection at Leicestershire County Council Museum
  9. Death in South America storyline courtesy of Blood for the Baron!

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