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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 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
  • Baron Ironblood - Commander of the Red Shadows.
  • The Black Major - Second-in-command of the Red Shadows. Also the right-hand man to the baron.
  • Red Vulture - Vehicle expert.
  • Red Laser - Chief Red Shadows scientist.
  • Red Wolf - Red Shadows astronaut specialist.
  • Red Jackal - Ex-Action Force soldier turned Red Shadows officer.
  • Kraken - Reptilian soldiers serving under the Red Shadows.
  • Skeletron - Android pilot built for the Red Shadows.
Rank and File
  • Red Shadows[2][3] - Infantry troops of the Red Shadows. Majority of them are brainwashed to serve the organization as fanatical soldiers.
  • Muton - Robotic soldiers of the Red Shadows. Mainly invincible against the weakest of fire 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 by leaking information about their headquaters 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 while seeking revenge against Cobra Commander along with the newly-amalgamated Action Force. Later, a prominent Red Shadow character, Red Jackal, was given his own storyline, transforming into 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], these 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 organization bares little resemblance to the Red Shadows organization that fought the UK Action Force. This version is portrayed as an independent organization that has no ties to Cobra.

Led by Wilder Vaughn, this 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 organizations.


Major Characters
  • Wilder Vaughn - Commander of the Red Shadows.
  • Artur Kulik - Red Shadows fields agent.
  • Dela Eden - Red Shadows covert agent.

Fun Publications

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 wanted to sell to Cobra. In order to prove it worked, he captures Flint and tested it on him. But fellow Action Force and G.I. 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
  • Red Shadows - Infantry troops of the Red Shadows.
  • Red Torches - Red Shadows Pyro-Troopers

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, most of 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 were removed from the German releases, due 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 (Baron Ironblood's deputy) for example was dressed in a similar style to an SS officer[8] and the Shadowtrak armoured vehicle had a German-influenced design. One of the final storylines involving the Red Shadows had them operating alongside the Nazis, including a re-animated Adolf Hitler, in South America.[9]


  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!

External links