This issue is another stand-alone issue. Steven Grant is credited with the script for this issue. Larry Hama’s name is not attached in the credits. The issue contains plot twists, a diplomat unwillingly under Joe team protection, multiple assassination attempts, car chases, helicopter chases, Cobra Frogmen, and a Hologram (Holographic?) Cobra Commander.
On to the issue. We are hopped right into the action. Stalker and Breaker are bursting into a Cobra safe-house where a Cobra is trying to monitor activities outside and delete all the files they have at the same time. As Stalker mops up the remaining troops, Breaker gets what he can off the computer. Then a holographic image of Cobra Commander and greets Breaker, bidding him goodbye. Breaker realizes the safe-house it rigged to self-destruct, because, that is how bad guys roll. He gets Stalker and some of the computer information out just in time.
Using the literary technique of indicating the aforementioned panels were from the recent past days, we see other Joes at a briefing. Clutch and Scarlett are tasked with protecting Brian Hassell, a State department diplomat whose name was mentioned in the garbled computer information Breaker was able to recover. He is scheduled to meet with a Middle Eastern country’s leader for peace talks. The Joes need to protect him, as Hawk is worried Cobra plans to take out Hassell in order to stall the peace talks.
Scarlett reluctantly agrees, as they are going undercover, and she would prefer literally any other Joe instead of Clutch to work with.
We see Hassell, Scarlett, and Clutch on a beach along the French Riviera. Scarlett is trying to convince Hassell he need protection while everyone is trying to blend in on the beach. On a side note, ginger haired people generally have fair skin which burns in about 10 minutes at the beach. So hopefully Scarlett packed the some SPF 80.
Hassell tells her he doubts Cobra even exists. Almost on cue, Cobra Frogmen pop out of the water and attack. (This was before E.E.L.S., but they were paving the way.)
Clutch was buried in the sand with just his head sticking out. He makes a comment about Scarlett not being able to hide her signature crossbow in her bikini. He pops out of the sand and opens up with fully auto. Magically, no sand interfered with his sub machine gun’s operation. The Cobra’s fled, but more attacks were yet to come.
They went back to the hotel, and Scarlett is now wearing her bath-robe as they try to make more plans. Cobra locks their room from the outside, and she has to use her crossbow to shoot their way out, since there is a ticking indicating a bomb in the room. They zip-line across on her crossbow and drop down to street level where Clutch picks them up.
Then there was a car chase, as Cobra chased the three around.
Meanwhile, in London – Stalker and Snake-Eyes pop in and threaten the life of Derek Sutherland, a munitions manufacturer.
He hand writes a note that his office is bugged and gives them a tip to Amsterdam. They leave, and Sutherland contacts Cobra Commander indicating he has passed along the message as instructed. Cobra Commander thanks him, and then suddenly, he is electrocuted right through his Cobra computer.
They have quite the retirement program at this Cobra place. Sounds like they are hiring!! Back in France, Scarlett, Clutch and Hassell are almost to the airport while getting shot at by Cobras in a car trailing them. Scarlett can’t get a bead on them, so she tosses a grenade back to them and blows their vehicle up. Again, Cobra has positions opening, apply at your local recruitment center!
They drive their yellow car right up onto a jet. Soon after it takes off, Scarlett realizes they are going the wrong way. She points it out to the pilot, who pulls a gun on her, and makes the tragic mistake of referring to her as “Babe.” D’oh.
They scuffle, the gun goes off. She knocks him out, and the plane is in a death spiral.
Somehow Clutch lands the plane on a mountain road.
They get in the car and drive off, mentioning they hope to complete the mission before the pilot wakes up and walks down the mountain road. But then of course, the plane slips over the edge and is destroyed. Help wanted: Undercover Cobra Pilot. Bi-lingual in French is a positive. Ask about our sign on bonus!
With the time/space continuum completely turned off, Snake-Eyes and Stalker ride through a magic time tunnel to Amsterdam. Seriously, no time constraints at all in this story. The address is a very classy hotel. A heavily made-up and portly woman smokes as Stalker and Snake-Eyes arrive. Although she tries to call ahead, Snake-Eyes prevents it. Stalker goes into the dark hotel room and comes face to face with: Hologram Cobra Commander. He tells of the plan as gas is released and Snake-Eyes comes to the rescue, just in time.
Now, Scarlett, Clutch and Hassell are racing though the Italian portion of the Alps Mountains. A helicopter joins the pursuit. Because Cobra has unlimited resources and knew exactly where the plane would crash, that the Joes would escape, and where to find them. Just suspend any critical thinking whatsoever, and try to keep up with the action, faithful reader!
The helicopter drops poison gas canisters a la some Bond villain like situation. They can’t see, crash off a bridge, hit the water, and the car goes under. Ugh. Looks like the Joes are hiring now.
The Cobra copter circles just to make sure.
Scarlett reaches up, and grabs the skid and pulls herself out of the water. They escape drowning, but get captured. They discover what Stalker already knows: Hassell is a deep cover agent working for Cobra. Hassell tells them he plans to assassinate the representative from Al-Alawi, and kill them to blame them as co-conspirators. He leaves, Scarlett and Clutch escape, and she skis down a mountain hill and crashes through the window of the lodge where Hassell is just about to shoot the man from the Mid-East.
But she is too late and Hassell shoots him!
He drops the gun and blames Scarlett when other authorities burst in. Thankfully the man from Al-Alawi wore a heavy bulletproof vest under his garments. Hassell is carried away. Later, when the Commander hears the outcome, he is nonchalant in dismissing that this was only a game.
This didn’t do anything to build on the longer term plot-line, but it was impressive in the twists within this standalone issue. Anyone want to guess if the Commander had an “accident” planned for Hassell once he was in a holding cell, before he could give a statement?
I liked the dual threads showing the Joes working on two fronts to solve this mystery. But the European nation hopping like you or I would cross parts of our own town was a bit contrived. It was a tad convenient that Snake-Eyes and Stalker could get from London to Amsterdam in a few panels. And then from Amsterdam to Italy to meet up with Clutch and Scarlett. In light of those, having Clutch land a plane on a mountain road seems altogether believable. But this is all for entertainment, so we suspend our judgment and enjoy the fun!
Now You Know – a little more about “The Diplomat.” Next week will be Issue 10, “A Nice Little Town Like Ours.” Feel free to leave a comment or give your thoughts below.