NOW YOU KNOW WITH YORKTOWNJOE – G.I.JOE MARVEL ISSUE #31 REVIEWED!

Background

In Issue 30, there has been a brief battle at McGuire Air Force Base. Cobra Commander narrowly escaped. He had one of his first Crimson Guards Fred Broca beginning surveillance on Fort Wadsworth, but then cancelling that order and recalling him right before the Joe team drove past the front window of his house. At the very end, Firefly and Destro conspire to pretend to be casual with Cobra Commander to put him at ease so they could plot revenge for being left behind in the Everglades in Issue 28.
Knowing that Firefly and Destro are “playing nice” for Cobra Commander and the on again/off again surveillance of Fort Wadsworth is critical to this issue. 

On to the issue

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The Joes return to Fort Wadsworth after fighting with Cobra at McGuire Air Force Base. They wave to kids in the neighborhood as they roll through the front gates.

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But one minute earlier, the phone rings and Fred misses the Joes rolling past his front window AGAIN, while on a call from Cobra Commander checking on the reinstated surveillance. He gives Fred orders to help some men on a special assignment. But they miss out on spotting the Joes since the MOBAT and other Joe vehicles must be super quiet driving on concrete or blacktop streets.

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Cobra Commander is busy on the phone as Zartan gives him information that he placed a radio beacon on the G.I. Joe C-130 cargo plane before leaving McGuire. He offers the code to Cobra Commander for a price.

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Hawk calls a training flight, and that very C-130 is flying out West over the High Sierra mountains. Snake-Eyes is taking some leave, so they took a training flight, and he “decided to jump out” while they “happened to be flying over his cabin.” 
After he jumps, Airborne and Spririt emerge from the cargo area and prepare to jump as well.

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Spirit spots the radio beacon left by Zartan and destroys it before jumping out. Evidently, Hawk wants them to keep an eye on him.

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Like many people, Snake-Eyes enjoys playing fetch with his canine friend. But most people have dogs, not wolves. Snake-Eyes spots Spirit hidden in a tree many miles away. This frustrates Airborne and Spirit.

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Destro, Firefly and Fred ask for directions. Fred pretends to be looking for an old army buddy and the gas station attendant mentions they might be looking “for that werewolf fella.”

People were a lot more judgmental of silent introverts with pet wolves who just wanted to watch the sunset over the mountains.

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Elsewhere, Major Bludd and the Baroness are conspiring with a teen named Billy. They caught him snooping in file cabinets during the last issue. Now they want Billy to march in a parade and shoot Cobra Commander with a .357 Magnum hidden in a bouquet of flowers.

It brings up a question: if terrorists are trying to assassinate one of their own, do they look for a patsy to become “a lone gunman” so they are not implicated? 

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Fred parks by Snake-Eyes’ cabin and shouts he is lost and needs directions. Evidently, Snake-Eyes doesn’t like to try to write to explain to strangers he can’t speak due to a service-related injury. He finds wearing his full commando black uniform with a mask and shades deters most solicitors. And Destro greets him with an opening volley from his Mauser looking machine pistol.

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Snake-Eyes is very serious about his trespassing enforcement. Especially when he is being shot at in his home.

A full burst of automatic fire from his Uzi pushes the evil trio behind the car. I think Fred is going to need to fill out a form with the ARBCO rental car office, unless that was a fleet vehicle. Either way, he is going to need to check a box about whether there was damage to the vehicle while it was checked out to him.

He asks Destro if they should rush Snake-Eyes? The bullets were still riddling the side of his car into Swiss cheese when he asks.

Destro tries to soften up Snake-Eyes by launching a wrist rocket at the side of his cabin.

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Snake-Eyes responds by lowering his fire and aiming for the gas tank. Which explodes.

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The trio recover quickly and decide to rush him, hoping he is distracted by the blaze. Or maybe they can catch him in the middle of a clip change or a barrel overheating.

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Destro, Fred, and Firefly rush the cabin, all firing fully-auto. When they get close, Destro utters words no one wants to hear: “Frag him, Firefly!”

This means throw a grenade at, to summarily execute with an explosion. 

Snake-Eyes might need that terrorist indemnity rider on his home-owner’s policy reviewed with an agent.

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Snake-Eyes shoots Destro at the window and Destro shoots him too. All the while, he is reaching for a grenade nearby without taking his eyes off Destro.

He manages to get hold of the grenade and throw it towards the window, but Destro shoot him in the leg at that same time. 

This throws his balance off.

The grenade bounces off the window frame.

And back into the cabin.

It doesn’t look good for our masked friend.

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But let’s not count him out just yet. He flips a heavy oak table that had been deflecting or slowing bullets. The table doesn’t smother the blast, but it redirects some of the blast away from him. So instead of being reduced to small pieces of fish bait, he is tossed around like a rag doll inside of his cabin.

He is burned, shot, and most likely concussed. I would think he would be temporarily deafened as well.

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But Spirit and Airborne have been running the 10 miles from their surveillance site to the cabin. And they arrive to provide some cover fire. Larry Hama provides some humor as Airborne yells the Cavalry is here. In old cowboy Westerns the blue clad Cavalry would often arrive in the nick of time to save some settlers from bands of less friendly Indians. There would often be a bugle signaling a charge and the Cavalry would chase away the Indians and save the settlers. Larry Hama added some funny dialogue between Airborne and Spirit, as they wouldn’t yell the Indians are here, even though both characters were tribal members. Airborne is Navajo, and his parents were “oil-rich” according to his file-card. Spirit is Taos Pueblo, and his family was poorer than poor. Both worked hard and made the choice to serve in the armed forces and eventually became Joes.

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Although Spirit and Airborne have engaged Fred and Firefly outside, Destro has entered the burning cabin to make sure Snake-Eyes was dead. Destro is clearly bleeding from where Snake-Eyes wounded him in the arm.

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Destro grows as times goes on, but in these panels, he suffers from elitist bad guy syndrome where he keeps on talking although flames are consuming the building around him. Witty banter with a concussed, temporarily deaf, ninja commando inside a burning cabin must have been on his to do list that day. I don’t imagine Snake-Eyes heard him.

But Timber did.

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Timber, the loyal wolf ran into a burning cabin to protect his master Snake-Eyes. Destro is very fortunate he was not eviscerated, killed by a wolf attack. But Timber did break Destro’s concentration just as his finger was about to squeeze the trigger.

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Outside, Firefly is up on the rooftop and working on dropping a happy little surprise down the chimney. Airborne spots him and boldly makes a move to shoot him when he reaches up to throw it down. Spirit warns Airborne there is another shooter on the ground. I will contest that Airborne had to know that and Spirit should have popped up at the same time and shot at Fred. But sometimes tactics and planning go out the window when trying to save a friend and team-mate. 

Airborne shoots Firefly as he tries to drop his dynamite down the chimney.

Fred shoots Airborne who gave up his position to try to save Snake-Eyes if he was still alive inside the cabin.

Spirit shoots Fred who gave up his position to shoot Airborne.

Firefly barely drops the charge down the chimney and rolls off the roof.

Destro struggles with Timber, and Snake-Eyes is trying to get his bearings back, propped up against the wall of his burning cabin.

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As Destro sees the bomb drop in and hears Firefly give him a final warning, he punches Timber away and makes a break for it.

As he flees the burning cabin he is met by Spirit and they exchange gunfire at very, very close range.

All the while, the bomb timer is tick-tick-ticking…

…and then, the final page:

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We don’t even get a “to be continued,” or a teaser for the next issue.

Just a gigantic explosion.

The cabin is gone.

As a young reader, I remember spending significant mental energy trying to imagine how Marvel was going to get out of this jam! I loved Snake-Eyes and Airborne, Destro and Firefly. I thought Spirit and Fred were cool characters, but I didn’t have them as figures at the time.

My thought was that Timber might have bounced up from being punched by Destro and dragged Snake-Eyes out the door at the last moment.

But from the size of the explosion and how many gunshots everyone had sustained, I was indeed worried that the title “ALL FALL DOWN” was literal, and not exaggeration.

And we had to wait 30 days before the next issue to find out…

This was an action packed issue with intrigue as well as shoot ‘em up 80’s action. There was humor interlaced, but it was a pretty dark issue overall in mood and tone. Larry Hama made no pretense that any of these would get out of the jam unhurt. 

But one thing he did better than all of that: he left readers wanting more…

Tune in soon for Issue 32.

Now You Know – a little more about: ”ALL FALL DOWN.” Feel free to let me know what you thought of this issue in the comments AFTER THE JUMP

-YorktownJoe

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