Reviewing G.I. Joe #13-24

Posted on Posted in Comic Books, Reviews/Commentary

The issues covered mirror what was included in IDW’s “G.I. Joe: The Complete Collection” Volume 2. It reprints material from the Marvel Comics “G.I. Joe” series from the 1980s and early 1990s that was largely written by Larry Hama. This article is part of a larger series of reviews on Larry Hama’s “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.”

Sierra Gordo & Attacking the Pit (Continued)

This grouping of issues picked up on the cliff-hanger that ended issue #12.  It continued a story arc that would run until issue #19 and feature an epilogue in issue #22.

#13 – ” Last Plane from Rio Lindo “

July 1983 ~ **

Writer: Larry Hama | Penciller: Mike Vosburg

Characters –

Heroes: Breaker, Doc, Gung Ho, Grunt, Hawk, Rock ‘N Roll, Scarlett, Stalker, Torpedo

Villains: Baroness, Cobra Commander

Locations – Sierra Gordo, The Pit, Cobra Headquarters

The Joe team, still believing that Snake Eyes had died during events in issue #12, took steps to get out of Sierra Gordo. Along the way, the group intercepted a pouch containing documents with a mysterious micro-dot. The micro-dot was potentially related to a trick though, as readers learned that Cobra Commander was hatching a plan with the Baroness. The issue ended with a dramatic escape from Sierra Gordo via a C-130 cargo plane.

It became apparently throughout the issue that a number of double-crosses were afoot within Cobra Command. Not only was Scar-Face seemingly a pawn in Cobra Commander’s plan for Joe misdirection, but another plot appeared to be afoot that wouldn’t be revealed until the next issue.

 

#14 – “Destro Attacks”

August 1983 ~ ***

Writer: Larry Hama | Penciller: Mike Vosburg

Characters –

Heroes: Ace, Breaker, Clutch, Doc, General Flagg, Gung Ho, Grunt, Hawk, Rock ‘N Roll, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Stalker, Wild Bill, Zap

Villains: Baroness, Cobra Commander, Destro, Dr. Venom, Scar-Face

Civilians: Kwinn

Locations – Springfield (a town in Vermont unrelated to Cobra’s town of Springfield), The Pit, Cobra Headquarters, Sierra Gordo

The issue opened with confirmation that Snake-Eyes, Kwinn, and Dr. Venom were all trapped in the Sierra Gordo Cobra bunker introduced in issue #12. Readers learned that Cobra had been given a fake plague toxin by Dr. Venom, a fact that only complicated the web of double-crosses going on within Cobra’s plans. The trio managed to escape the bunker, but in doing so Dr. Venom secretly knocked out Kwinn. Snake-Eyes and Dr. Venom were then captured by Cobra troops who had helped the Joes escape Sierra Gordo with misleading information in the prior issue.

Although Destro had been hired by Cobra Commander, he wasn’t necessarily loyal to Cobra. Destro apparently had his own plan afoot to overthrow Cobra Commander. This issue also contained the revelation that Destro and the Baroness had a relationship, a fact that threw off Destro’s plan to have the Joe team ambush Cobra Commander in the town of Springfield, Vermont. Destro then had to thwart the Joe team in order to save the Baroness after she inadvertently accompanied Cobra Commander into the ambush.

This issue contained what was technically Destro’s first full appearance, with him featured prominently on the cover. The Joe Sky-Striker pilot Ace also first appeared in this issue.

 

#15 – “Red-Eye to Miami!”

September 1983 ~ **

Writer: Larry Hama | Penciller: Mike Vosburg

Characters –

Heroes: Breaker, Grunt, Hawk, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Stalker

Villains: Baroness, Cobra Commander, Destro, Dr. Venom, Major Bludd

Civilians: Kwinn

Locations – Miami, The Pit, Cobra Headquarters, Sierra Gordo

Most of this issue focused on Snake Eyes, Dr. Venom, and the still-alive Kwinn making a harrowing escape from Sierra Gordo. The trio banded together with their own self-interests in mind to steal a British Avro Lancaster bomber from the same airfield that the Joe team escaped from in issue #13. They ended up crash landing in Miami and were arrested. Dr. Venom got out of jail with help from a lawyer loyal to Cobra, but Snake Eyes and Kwinn remained stuck in ‘the clink.’

Elsewhere, Cobra Commander added Major Bludd to his core team during this issue. As though Cobra was not dysfunctional enough, Major Bludd was given the secret task of killing Destro.

 

#16 – “Night Attack!”

October 1983 ~ ***

Writer: Larry Hama | Penciller: Mike Vosburg

Characters –

Heroes: Airborne, Breaker, Clutch, Cover Girl, Doc, Flash, General Flagg, Grand Slam, Grunt, Gung Ho, Hawk, Rock ‘N Roll, Scarlett, Short-Fuze, Stalker, Steeler, Torpedo, Tripwire, Wild Bill, Zap

Villains: Baroness, Cobra Commander, Cobra troops, Destro, Dr. Venom, Major Bludd, Scar-Face

Locations – The Pit, Washington, D.C.

An amusing sequence at the beginning of this issue recapped all of the various agendas of Cobra’s leadership for readers. Rather than focusing on killing Destro, Major Bludd ended up in a rivalry with Scar-Face, who was secretly planning on siding with Destro against Cobra Commander.

Ink found during the Springfield, Vermont attack in the prior issue led the Joe team to suspect a Cobra plot against the United States Treasury. General Flagg overrode that theory, suggesting that the attack would instead be on the United States Capital building. Of course, the Joe team was correct and ended up foiling Cobra’s plan a little later than expected. The Cobra leadership got away, but not before the Baroness seemed to die and Hawk was severely injured.

Several new Joes appeared in this issue. One of note was Cover Girl, the model/tank driver who tooled around in the new Wolverine missile-firing tank. Also appearing was explosives expert Tripwire, a character who was known for his ironic clumsiness. There was one significant factual error in the issue, in that money should have been shown as being printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, not the United States Treasury Building.

 

#17 – “Loose Ends”

November 1983 ~ **

Writer: Larry Hama | Penciller: Mike Vosburg

Characters –

Heroes: Ace, Breaker, Clutch, Cover Girl, Doc, Flash, Grand Slam, Grunt, Gung Ho, Hawk, Rock ‘N Roll, Scarlett, Short-Fuze, Snake Eyes, Stalker, Steeler, Torpedo, Tripwire, Wild Bill, Zap

Villains: Baroness, Cobra Commander, Destro, Dr. Venom, Major Bludd, Scar-Face

Civilians: Kwinn

Locations – Springfield, Miami, Washington, D.C., Bethesda Naval Hospital

A good soldier, Hawk was wearing bullet-proof armor and was taken to the same hospital as the badly-burned Baroness. That hospital later ended up taking on Major Bludd as a patient after he’s captured during the continued Cobra escape. Meanwhile, Snake Eyes and Kwinn escaped from their jail cell in Miami and have made their way up to New Jersey. They tracked Scar-Face to his Coney Island hideout.

Unfortunately, the storyline became a bit muddled. It was not entirely clear why Snake-Eyes didn’t seek the assistance of his teammates while pursing Scar-Face, although events in the next issue would suggest that he was simply in a hurry to find Scar-Face. By this point in the storyline, Scar-Face was simply trying to hide and leave Cobra, having gotten mixed up in a variety of the competing leadership schemes.

Unfortunately for Scar-Face, he had a number of different interested parties trying to track him down. The Joe team suspected that Scar-Face knew about Cobra’s master plan.  Destro wanted to find him in order to have him carry out his earlier plans to bring down Cobra and was blackmailing him by threatening to release details about his past.  Finally, Kwinn and Snake-Eyes expected Scar-Face to help them locate Dr. Venom.  This was all a bit over-the-top and overly coincidental, but it did lead to an amusingly entertaining situation.

I was taken aback by how hard Destro was shown to take the death of the Baroness. Cobra Commander’s suggestion that Major Bludd was potentially trying to kill Destro due to also being in love with the Baroness was crafty. Particularly so, since readers knew that Cobra Commander had was merely covering up his prior orders to Bludd.

 

#18 – “Destro Returns”

December 1983 ~ ***

Writer: Larry Hama | Penciller: Mike Vosburg & Jon D’Agostino

Characters –

Heroes: Ace, Airborne, Clutch, Flash, Grunt, Hawk, Rock ‘N Roll, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Stalker, Torpedo, Wild Bill

Villains: Cobra Commander, Destro, Dr. Venom, Scar-Face

Civilians: Kwinn

Locations – Coney Island, Tripoli (Libya)

Snake-Eyes sent a letter to the Joe team indicating the need for them to meet at Scar-Face’s Coney Island hideout. He and Kwinn ended up there first to capture Scar-Face, who told Kwinn the whereabouts of Dr. Venom. Destro and the Joes arrived in Coney Island in time for a crazy car chase whereupon Scar-Face was captured by Destro and taken to Libya. Scar-Face was then injected with Dr. Venom’s plague toxin and essentially given up to the Joe team amid a faked battle, with the assumption that he would be taken to the Pit. Once in the Pit, the plague inside Scar-Face would kill off the Joe team’s members.

The plan to use Scar-Face as a mole was ill-conceived, being a mistake on Cobra’s part that would play out further in the next issue. It was a sign of the times that Cobra would have close ties to Libya, a country that the United States considered to be terrorist-friendly. The Destro’s flight to Libya even involved an airliner hijacking, something that was relatively common amongst terrorists in the 1980s.

This issue presented the rare scenario in which Cobra actually seemed to ‘win’ at the end. Of course, that victory would not last, certainly not until the end of the next issue.

 

#19 – “Joe Triumphs!”

January 1984 ~ ****

Writer: Larry Hama | Penciller: Mike Vosburg & Jon D’Agostino

Characters –

Heroes: Ace, Doc, Clutch, Breaker, Cover Girl, Flash, General Flagg, Grand Slam, Gung-Ho, Hawk, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Scarlett, Short-Fuse, Snake Eyes, Stalker, Snow Job, Steeler, Torpedo, Wild Bill, Zap

Villains: Cobra Commander, Baroness, Destro, Major Bludd, Dr. Venom, Scarface

Civilians: Kwinn

Locations – The Pit, Cobra Headquarters, Brooklyn

After learning that Scar-Face was a mole, the Joe team fortified the Pit with a fake battle fortress above the main facility. When Cobra attacked, they destroyed the fortress, believing it to be the real G.I. Joe headquarters. Although Cobra was pushed back, they did manage to rescue the Major Bludd and Baroness, while also killing General Flagg. Kwinn and Dr. Venom also died at the end of this issue.

Death has often been a temporary occurrence in comic books, but that wasn’t the case with those killed in this issue. Flagg, in particular, had a shocking demise and the leadership void would be somewhat addressed in issue #23.

One notable tie-in between the comic book and the toy line was the use of the Joe team’s ‘fortress.’ It had much the same look as the toy line’s headquarters base. Also notable from the toy line were the first appearances of the Cobra S.N.A.K.E. battle armor and the G.I. Joe P.A.C./R.A.T.S.

 

Aftermath

 

#20 – “Home Is Where the War Is”

February 1984 ~ ***

Writer: Steven Grant | Penciller: Geof Isherwood

Characters –

Heroes: Airborne, Breaker, Clutch, Doc, Flash, Gung-Ho, Hawk, Scarlett, Stalker, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Wild Bill

Villains: Billy Kline

Locations – New Jersey

I was not excited to discover Steven Grant returning in this issue as writer. Pleasantly, the result was not a bad issue.

The story’s focus was on Clutch, who took a vacation back to his home town in New Jersey. Clutch met up with an old high school friend named Billy Kline who was later revealed to be providing a secret jet pack weapon to Cobra. Clutch brought in the Joe team to shut down the operation, while also saving Billy’s family. Billy wasn’t apparently a bad person, as Cobra was holding his family hostage in order to get him to meet their demands.

I would not have minded reading more of these character-centric issues, but the increasing size of the toy line meant an ever-enlarging cast that made such spotlight issues rare. Readers should note that the impressive cover was by John Byrne.

 

#21 – “Silent Interlude”

March 1984 ~ ****

Writer: Larry Hama | Penciller: Larry Hama & Steve Leialoha

Characters –

Heroes: Snake Eyes, Scarlett

Villains: Destro, Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow

Locations – Silent Castle (Destro’s Fortress)

Many Joe fans consider this to be the best-ever comic book story featuring the team. It was notable for being silently presented without dialogue. Larry Hama both wrote and drew this issue.

The issue began in what seemed to be mid-story. The new Cobra ninja, Storm Shadow, arrived at Destro’s castle fortress with Scarlett as a prisoner. Soon thereafter, Snake-Eyes parachutes into an unlikely landing at the castle. At the same time, Scarlett used a hair pin to begin her escape. She eventually met up with Snake-Eyes to flee after together thwarting Storm Shadow and his group of additional ninja’s. The issue’s most dramatic scene occurred at the climax when Snake-Eyes caught a sword that Storm Shadow had thrown at Scarlett.

Besides its signature silent presentation, this issue was also notable for featuring the first appearance of Storm Shadow. A brief glimpse of both Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes having similar tattoos suggested a link between the characters that would become more significant within future stories.

In many ways, this was Snake-Eyes’ ‘coming out’ party, with him being portrayed as a world-class hero who could single-handedly infiltrate a dangerous Cobra stronghold. As much as the issue has been identified with Snake-Eyes though, it also provided a bright spotlight on Scarlett and her own capabilities. One could argue that she could have escaped from the fortress without the help of Snake-Eyes, although he did provide a certain amount of distraction cover.

 

#22 – “Like Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust…”

April 1984 ~ ****

Writer: Larry Hama | Penciller: Mike Vosburg & Jon D’Agostino

Characters –

Heroes: Airbourne, Breaker, Clutch, Cover Girl, Duke, Grunt, Gung-Ho, Hawk, Flash, Roadblock, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Scarlett, Short-Fuse, Snake-Eyes, Snow Job, Stalker, Tripwire, Torpedo, Wild Bill, Zap

Villains: Baroness, Cobra Commander, Destro, Major Bludd

Locations – The Pit, Cobra Headquarters, Arlington National Cemetery, The Bern Institute of Reconstructive Surgery (Switzerland), Montauk Point (New York)

This was the direct continuation of issue #19, although it did contain references to issue #21. In particular, the entire plot of “Silent Interlude” was explained in the space of a couple of panels. In doing so, Storm Shadow was mentioned by name for the first time.

Other loose ends addressed included Kwinn’s funeral via being launched into the ocean at Montauk Point by Snake-Eyes and Wild Bill. Major Bludd took the burn-injured Baroness to receive cosmetic surgery at the aptly-named Bern Institute of Reconstructive Surgery.

The issue’s main action took place during a lone Cobra plane attack at General Flagg’s funeral. That attack was dramatically thwarted by Duke and Roadblock. Finally, the issue wrapped up with Dr. Venom being apparently buried in a mass grave.

Besides tying up loose ends from the lengthy prior storyline, this issue also introduced longtime fan favorites Duke and Roadblock. The letters page contained a clarification that General Flagg was not being replaced anytime soon and that Duke would become team commander. Technically, Duke was still reporting to General Hawk, but much like in the cartoon series, Duke would go on to become the visible leader of the team.

From a vehicles standpoint, this issue contained a fantastic diagram of the new Pit that was being constructed via renovations on the old one. Notable for Cobra in this issue was the debut of their trusty plane the Rattler, which was referenced as a tank-killer, echoing its A-10 Warthog roots.

 

Capturing the Commander

 

#23 – “Cobra Commander Captured at Last!”

May 1984 ~***

Writer: Larry Hama | Penciller: Mike Vosburg & Jon D’Agostino

Characters –

Heroes: Breaker, Clutch, Cover Girl, Duke, Gung-Ho, Hawk, Roadblock, Snow Job

Villains: Baroness, Cobra Commander, Destro, Major Bludd, Storm Shadow

Locations – The Bern Institute of Reconstructive Surgery, Switzerland, Italy

This issue had a very ‘Mission: Impossible’ feel to it, with Duke and Roadblock coordinating the tracking of Major Blood in hopes of capturing him and the Baroness.  The Baroness had recovered from her prior burn injuries in Switzerland and ended up escaping into Italy with Major Bludd.  In re-introducing the Baroness, she was given a new black leather outfit and began being portrayed in more of a seductive manner than in the past.

Besides rescuing the Baroness, Major Bludd also spent much of the issue blackmailing Cobra Commander into personally paying him US $2 million (oddly enough, in a Gucci-brand suitcase) in order to keep quiet about the Commander’s earlier plot to kill Destro.  Cobra Commander agreed, but complicated the ensuing exchange in Italy by bringing Storm Shadow along to nullify the deal.  The issue ended with a zany mountain car chase, during the town of Lucca Italy’s annual costume contest.  The double-dealing and craziness ended with Cobra Commander seemingly captured.

At one point while planning to travel, Cobra Commander made an odd reference to a television commercial involving Gorillas that was a reference to a series of American Tourister luggage ads from the era.  Also on a lighter note, Roadblock had several moments during the course of events where he was critiquing the quality of food in various restaurants.  The culinary aspect of his character being one of the title’s more amusing character touches.

 

#24 – “The Commander Escapes”

June 1984 ~ **

Writer: Larry Hama | Penciller: Russ Heath

Characters –

Heroes: Ace, Airborne, Duke, Gung-Ho, Roadblock, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Wild Bill

Villains: Baroness, Cobra Commander, Destro, Firefly, Major Bludd, Storm Shadow, Wild Weasel, Zartan

Locations – Rocky Mountains (United States), Chokoloskee (Florida)

Despite working out a plan to keep Cobra Commander captive inside a temporary battle fortress high in the Rocky Mountains, Cobra didn’t waste much time trying to get him back.  Storm Shadow was able to track the Commander’s location and used a glider to snatch him back.  Despite the Joe team eventually capturing Storm Shadow and having the new Sky Hawk vehicle at their disposal, Cobra Commander did successfully escape.

Zartan made a single panel appearance at the bottom of the issue’s final page.  He, along with his Dreadnoks, Wild Weasel, Firefly, and the Cobra Water Moccasin swamp cruiser all made first appearances in this issue, but they would figure more significantly into the next issue.

The Joe team’s plan for keeping Cobra Commander secure was interesting, but I wasn’t entirely convinced of its long-term viability.  It seemed that they could realistically only keep him atop a mountain for a limited amount of time.  Eventually, Cobra would have an opportunity to free him from a different location.

The art for this single issue by comic book legend Russ Heath was serviceable.  While slightly better than Mike Vosburg’s work, it was not entirely notable.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *