In our last issue, Cobra had played the Joe team against their Russian special forces counterparts. While the Oktober Guard and Joes were entangled, Cobra forces set up an ambush and captured them. Near the very end, Cobra Commander instructed a trooper to line them along the ravine. And shoot them! Again, this is a heavy, somber topic for a comic book.
Following in a long line of evil masterminds who can’t be bothered by the trivialities of taking two minutes to eliminate the only threat to their plans, Cobra Commander leaves the jobs to two “specialists.” After killing the Joes and the OG, they are instructed to position their weapons convincingly. This way, the investigation would make it appear the teams killed each other. And Cobra would not be implicated. Meanwhile, they would get away with the Russian experimental plane.
On a side note, Cobra Commander’s opening monologue lasted long enough for his troops to have killed both teams, buried them in the mountains, policed all the brass casings, and raked the desert like a carefully groomed sand trap guarding a green on a country club’s elegant back nine. But killing off main characters in Issue 7 would be a bit abrupt, since Hasbro was still selling action figures of Stalker, Flash, Clutch, Breaker, Steeler, and Scarlett. Not to mention over the top for a comic of this era.
The Cobras refer to each other as “Rattler” and “Copperhead.” This is not to be confused with Copperhead who eventually became Cobra’s Water Moccasin pilot. And the other trooper Rattler is not the same as Cobra’s VTOL Fighter/Bomber by the same name, of course.
Clutch begins whispering to Breaker. In the background the twin machine guns mounted on the V.A.M.P. begin to swivel…without anyone manning them! Clutch and Breaker continue their witty repartee as the Cobras speak aloud their villainous desires to violently injure the prisoners before killing them.
The Cobras are mowed down in a hail of gunfire. Evidently the Comics code had no reservations about blowing away masked terrorists. Especially as they had just been discussing shooting the prisoners in the knees and “working their way up.”
Now that the imminent threat was neutralized, the Joes congratulated each other on narrowly escaping death. Clutch bragged about using the remote control in his pocket to remotely trigger the guns and finish off the below average Cobra “specialists.” But during this time, Col. Brekhov and the Oktober Guard have reclaimed their weapons and are preparing to resume fighting with the Joes. Stalker points out the obvious that they should not bother fighting since the plane parts were gone and they had nothing to fight over.
They went back and forth for a few panels and agreed to a tentative truce. It was clearly indicated that as soon as the plane was recovered, they would begin fighting again. Stalker and Brekhov shook on it.
On their way to the Cobra base, they accidentally stumble upon an Iranian border patrol. Between the Russians and the Joes, they eliminate the Iranian border patrol. Someone makes a snide comment about “There goes diplomatic relations with the Iranians.” This is only mildly or darkly humorous, since the tension between Iran and America were severely strained in the early 80’s. After the fall of the Shah in the 1970’s, the kidnapping and hostage taking of citizens from the American Embassy by the radical Iranians brought diplomacy to an all-time low. There was some hostage negotiation and the people were freed as Reagan took office, but relations remained icy. Things have never really improved, as evidenced by Iran’s persistent push toward nuclear weapons. At any rate, “CSI-Iran” was not going to investigate to see whether Russian or American forces had killed their border patrol, or if it was random Afghani rebels. Or if they killed each other after a poppy-induced hallucination.
They approached the Cobra base and scouted out entry points using JUMP Jet Packs. They agreed on a plan where a mixture of troops from the two teams would mingle and attack from different vantage points. Stormavik, Schrage, and Steeler got to the roof. It had an odd pattern, and Cobra Commander ended up electrocuting them. How they lived and got captured, I have no idea. I will guess Cobra Commander’s roof electrical grid had only enough juice to stun them. While unconscious, they were hauled down into the fortress? (Feel free to comment your thoughts below.)
Stalker, Scarlett and Flash proceed through a number of traps: spikes, a crashing cement wall, and even a King Cobra (actual snake) impede their progress. Flash blasts the Cobra with his laser rifle and makes a joke about whether they enjoyed it “well done.” G.I. Joe has never been concerned about the public opinion of PETA. They keep the world safe, and crack wise while doing so.
As all the sub-teams converge, it appears Cobra has them trapped again. Just then a Cobra trooper whacks Cobra Commander on the head and points a .45 Colt 1911 pistol at him. We see it is actually Clutch in a Cobra uniform, and he holds the Commander hostage.
As the Oktober Guard and Joes jockey for position, it becomes evident the Joes plan to take the Russian plane and skedaddle away with the V.A.M.P. and the RTV. Col. Brekhov refuses to let the Joes win, even if it means they all die.
He shoots the unarmed Cobra Commander in the chest right in front of Clutch who had him captive. As they both topple to the ground, Clutch realizes it was a double wearing a loud-speaker. As a young reader, I always assumed this was an early prototype android trooper. But as an adult, I am more inclined to believe that one of Cobra Commander’s bodyguards dressed in his spare uniform with a speaker under his uniform. Then the Commander spoke from a secure location leaving the bodyguard to literally take a bullet for him. Earlier in the issue, the author Larry Hama fore-shadowed something when an Officer consulted with the Commander. They referenced implementing Operation Doppelganger. A doppelganger is a German word for a double, or look-alike.
With the hostage now dead (or the android deactivated), Cobra forces, the Oktober Guard, and the Joes were shooting and fleeing again.
As Stalker and Clutch take the lead in the V.A.M.P., the female Russian sniper Daina exclaims “Wait, take us with you!” Stalker shoves her in the face unceremoniously as they speed away. In ever enriching diplomatic tones, he retorts “Shove off sister, this bus is full. Besides you’re our rear guard diversion.” Clutch grins as they drive away and jibes Stalker about having such a way with the ladies. If Clutch (arguably the worst chauvinist of the Joe team) is critiquing the interpersonal actions of another male Joe team member: it really had to be a questionable move. Or he was just happy to have company on the bottom rung of the social standings.
After they are clear, Clutch regales them of noticing a Cobra sneaking up behind him while checking his side mirror. He beaned him in the face with his radio, took his uniform and walked right in.
Epilogue: They arrive back at Joe HQ and Hawk commends them on a job well done. Then he mentions they were the decoy, and just had to make the effort look good so Cobra would not be aware the real plane was moved secretly away. They had risked their lives for a box filled with scrap metal and no deposit soda bottles and cans. Stalker clenches his face and his fist as Hawk walks away.
How does this make you feel about Hawk? He set up his team as decoys, AND CALLED COBRA TO GIVE THEIR POSITION AWAY in the last issue. So we thought he was a traitor. But does it turn out he was not a traitor, but simply a terrible human being? I remember thinking that was kind of funny that they had to do all that work to cover for the real mission, but I was a kid at the time. Something similar happened in the cartoon in the episode “The Spy Who Rooked Me.” But really, the Joes cheated death at least 6 times as a decoy. In retrospect, Hawk is not necessarily the inspiring leader he is alleged to be. But the Joes survived another one. Knowing Hawk, if they had all been killed, he would have spoken eloquently of their bravery and valor at a military funeral, and then asked General Flagg to find him some more recruits to fill out the roster. What a great guy!
I enjoyed the political intrigue of this issue, but in looking back at it, I can’t imagine why Cobra Commander would not have simply blown the Joes and Oktober Guard clean away personally? He is clearly evil, spends a lot of time thinking and fantasizing about killing them, and has resources to create intricate Spielberg-like traps for intruders. He has time to prattle on for several panels about his clever evil plans, but when a lackey asks about depressing the trigger, “Oh, my, look at the time…we all need to go except for these two.”
Now You Know…a little more about the “Walls of Death,” the Oktober Guard, and Cobras evil plans in Afghanistan. Good job Joes! Hope the Oktober Guard made it out alive, and “Boo, hiss, boo” to Hawk. Join in the conversation AFTER THE JUMP!