Issue 10 “A Nice Little Town Like Ours”
This issue sets the foundation for a significant insight into the background of the Cobra organization. Larry Hama is back writing and he introduces a few key points and characters. The issue contains Joes getting captured, brainwashing through hallucinogenic drugs, a Nice Little Town of Springfield, and help from an unlikely fellow prisoner: a little boy named Billy.
On to the issue.
A three pronged assault on a Cobra facility in Manhattan goes terribly wrong as the roof team of Scarlett, Zap, and Snake-Eyes fall when the roof is revealed to be a giant trapdoor. The Baroness is informed there are intruders, but interrupts the messenger so they can both Hail, Cobra. The uniform even has a subtle tinge of a Hydra influence.
The Joes are stunned at first, then captured and knocked out. Their cell has an odd shape, and then it takes off. It appears the Joes are trapped in a mysterious Cobra flying vehicle.
When they awake, they are locked in a cell, but at least on the ground. Then they are gassed to get knocked out again, and Snake-Eyes is taken out. Scarlett and Zap are hallucinating due to the gas.
They are offered stale bread and “crisp, cool water.” They are super thirsty and disoriented, but warned by a fellow prisoner not to drink the water. He indicates there are even more drugs in the water. He shows them how to make the water safe to drink by holding it under the heat of a small light bulb. The heat breaks the drugs down. They are able to drink the water and then have a conversation with their fellow prisoner. He turns out to be a young boy. His name is Billy.
Billy references that things were great in the town of Springfield until the “soap people” came to town. This is only a thinly veiled reference which would tie the early development of Cobra to a similar multi-level marketing system like Amway.
The anagram of Cobra is A.R.B.C.O., which appears often as a cover for Cobra (Just rearrange the letters). People in Springfield were drawn into the ARBCO soap and vitamin selling plan and kept getting everyone in town involved. By the time the town was saturated, it was too late. When people realized Cobra was actually bent on future takeover operations, with the more militant blue-clad troops that show up at political rallies (err, sales and marketing meetings).
Meanwhile, an evil scientist in a white lab coat named Dr. Venom is conducting experiments on poor Snake-Eyes.
He is strapped into a terrible device known as the brainwave scanner. It allows Dr. Venom to read the memories of the subjects. Snake-Eyes is temporarily defeating the scanner by focusing on random memories. He has to think of more painful memories as he goes along to keep from focusing on what Dr. Venom is after: the location of the secret Joe headquarters.
Scarlett, Zap and Billy try to get to the video arcade, where Billy thinks they may be keeping Snake-Eyes.
Once inside, the teenagers all turn on Billy, Scarlett, and Zap. One ride turns out to be a laser cannon. An intruder alert goes off, just as Snake-Eyes is focusing on a ninja temple, somewhere near Mt. Fuji in Japan. Dr. Venom and a Cobra Officer run off, and miss seeing Snake-Eyes focusing on ninja training. A teacher is sharing the secrets of the Inner Anvil. This technique allows one to slow his heart rate and breathing to feign death.
When Venom and the Officer realize the teens have the situation handled, they hurry back to Snake-Eyes, who has applied the Inner Anvil technique. They think he is dead, and have plans to strap in the next Joe after they dispose of Snake-Eyes.
They think they are unstrapping a corpse. But as soon as he is free, he knocked out both the Officer and Venom and swiped his rifle. He ran out into the arcade and shot holes into the electrical box, disabling the laser.
They swipe a vehicle and drive to where the weird flying vehicle is parked.
Billy says this is his home, for better or worse, and he plans to stay, and continue his resistance. The Joes indicate they will fly to safety and try to bring back help. They take out a few Cobras and climb aboard.
Snake-Eyes sits next to the pilot and they take-off. They can’t see very well in a storm, and the Cobra pilot slides his pistol from the side of his helmet away from Snake-Eyes’ view. He makes a terrible decision to try to shoot Snake-Eyes, at point blank range, while trying to fly the vehicle.
Snake-Eyes is known for poor over-estimates when setting up explosives. He SERIOUSLY over-reacts and riddles the pilot, the instrument panel, and pretty much anything that was to the left of him. To be fair, I did not just survive knock-out gas, hallucinogenic drugs, a trip through the brainwave scanner reliving my worst memories, slow my metabolism to fake death, then nearly get shot from 3 feet away. So Snake-Eyes had a rough day. I guess we can give him a pass on blowing the Cobra pilot into Swiss cheese.
Somehow, Zap AGAIN saves the day, flying them through a storm and back to safety. He is a bazooka soldier, explosives expert, and evidently working on a pilot’s license every 2 or 3 issues.
The Joes end up parachuting into a premiere of a Hulk movie. The movie-goers assume Marvel had them drop in as part of the pre-movie entertainment. They slink away and get on a bus.
I liked the introduction of the Cobra Dr. Venom, a “scientist” of pure evil. The use of the brainwave scanner became perhaps over-used during the Marvel run toward the end, but this was a first glimpse of it. It was awesome!! Snake-Eyes can’t talk, but this was a way for Larry Hama to give us a brief insight into his background. We see some of his early years, a helicopter crash that disfigured him, and a mystical ninja training dojo with mountains in the background. Snake-Eyes is more than simply a commando.
The scenes where Scarlett and Zap are suffering from drugs are pretty out there. There are claws, turtles, gargoyles, snakes, desert quicksand, and bats. They are able to recover their wits about them pretty quickly and they try to rescue Snake-Eyes. He ends up rescuing them, but the diversion was necessary to allow him time to set up his own escape. If only Snake-Eyes had used a knife or a few shots on Dr. Venom and the Cobra Officer, the events of the next several issues might have been different. But I don’t blame a guy for knocking them out with a rifle stock. If there had been other guards, shots would have drawn attention, and he needed to get away. But he ended up shooting up the arcade on their way out. Alas, Dr. Venom will be bringing us more mayhem in the coming weeks.
Now You Know – a little more about “A Nice Little Town Like Ours.” Next week will be Issue 11, “The Pipeline Ploy.” Feel free to leave a comment or give your thoughts AFTER THE JUMP.