This comic by Larry Hama seems to be more iconic than the actual series. It is visually stunning and there are no words. But there is a story.
If you don’t own this issue, you should find it and buy it.
If you are a G.I. Joe fan, a ninja fan, or a comic connoisseur, you must see this issue.
That being said, I’m going to limit the pictures in this review. Find this issue, open it up, and follow along!
On to the issue.
On the title page we are greeted by the good news that Larry Hama is back with the script/story telling. We see a Castle in the mountains. Judging from the architecture, it is safe to say that a strong Cobra affiliation is in play.
This facility is known by several names but usually is referred to as the Silent Castle or Destro’s Castle. As comic readers, this is our first visit to the venue.
It appears it would be challenging to arrive by driving on a narrow road with steep precipices on either side.
A new character dressed all in white approaches in a Cobra C.L.A.W. powered ultra-light glider. He is carrying what appears to be a bag of garbage, or a coroner’s body bag.
He lands and we see he is a ninja. He stands before Cobra Commander, draws his sword and cuts through the bag and the ropes that were tied around it. Scarlett has been captured by this new character.
The Commander is pleased.
Scarlett is taken to a lower level of the Castle, which has a steel floor hatch. It looks like a man-hole cover, but we see it is a vertical door to a dungeon beneath.
In the moonlight, a plane is silhouetted.
We will return to G.I. Joe after these messages –
Okay, who is this ninja clad in white? How did he capture Scarlett, one of the toughest Joes? Are the Joes just going to leave her there? Do they even know she has been kidnapped?
Eventually we will discover the ninja is Storm Shadow, aka Tommy Arashikage. But this is the first we have seen of him, and there is no verbal dialogue to provide us any clues at this point. But we will get an Easter egg on the last page.
Now Back to G.I. Joe –
We find the answer to at least one question. The Joes know Scarlett was taken, and they are in pursuit in a C-130. It seems to be a starry night, but the rear cargo ramp opens, and we see Snake-Eyes geared up in his airborne ranger gear. He jumps out of the aircraft at a fairly high level.
He is coming to the rescue, if he can get there in time.
The ninja is visiting Scarlett down in the dungeon and she is shackled to an iron ring that is fused into a concrete base. It appears like he brushes her hair briefly with his hand.
She bites him on the hand.
He begins to draw his sword, but puts it back.
And with one leap he clears the vertical entrance as if he could fly!
Destro is in his office in the Castle in quiet reflection. He is interrupted by a radar alert threat assessment for an unidentified aircraft over their airspace. The computer indicates the chance of a successful airborne insertion with the current lack of light and high wind-speed is exceedingly low.
But what he doesn’t know is…
…Snake-Eyes is coming.
Snake-Eyes carefully navigates the wind, but a sheer gust catches him toward the end, and he has to quickly release his chute and descend the Cobra themed architecture.
Meanwhile, Scarlett is not moping and waiting to be rescued. Scarlett is shrouded in darkness, but begins feeling in her hair. She withdraws a bobby pin, and begins working on the lock to her shackles.
Back in his office, Destro is looking at Joe and Cobra related pieces on a chess board. He is still mourning the Baroness, whom he believes was killed back in Issue 16. He lays the pieces corresponding to the dead off to the side. Among them, General Flagg, Scar-Face, Kwinn, and his precious Baroness. (This is very somber, but maybe a hint that readers should check their stores for a Baroness action figure soon to arrive!)
Storm Shadow appears to have returned for more interaction with Scarlett. I assumed the Commander instructed him to try to get information out of her, otherwise why would he return after she had bitten him. Maybe he wants to gloat. Who knows, maybe they are just short on females over at Cobra and he finds her attractive.
As he opens the hatch to visit her again, he is given an unpleasant surprise.
Scarlett is free and swings her chain around his neck and flings him to the ground!! This probably would have concussed or killed most enemies, but he is grabbing her ankles as she tries to climb out of the holding cell.
A clunk to his head with the man-hole cover puts an end to that. At least temporarily.
Snake-Eyes encounters Cobra guards, he has to act quickly. One is already down, when two more arrive on scene. He throws a knife at one and brushes away the AK-47 of the other one all in a single blur of his right hand. The one without the gun tries to pull at Snake-Eyes mask while he reaches for his Uzi. Snake-Eyes grabs his wrists and throws him off the parapet.
Destro notices the body dropping past his window. (That’s going to leave a mark.)
Destro gathers a small Cobra security team and they charge up the stairs to deal with the intruder.
They approach a Cobra sentry who appears injured. We can’t make out his face, as it appears he has night vision goggles on. He points up, indicating the intruder went that way.
But in the next panel we see the real Cobra sentry dangling over the side of the castle wall on a rope by his ankles in just his boxers and undershirt. Snake-Eyes swiped his uniform!
Snake-Eyes makes his way down, as Destro and the security forces continue running up.
Elsewhere, we discover Storm Shadow has recovered and summons 3 Red Ninjas to help him recapture Scarlett. He must also be aware that an intruder is loose in the Castle. We see each ninja has different weapons as they drop from the shadows of the rafters.
Scarlett is on the loose with her chain. She finds two Cobra troopers walking to put the C.L.A.W. somewhere. We assume it has been refueled and they are putting it back into storage for a future mission. She spins the chain around BOTH troopers necks and clunks their heads together. She has now upgraded to the C.L.A.W. and starts to run with it.
Snake-Eyes has arrived at the dungeon and finds it empty. A red ninja with a sword swoops down, narrowly missing Snake-Eyes. Snake-Eyes lifts the man-hole cover and smacks him in the head on his second pass. He falls and Snake-Eyes smashes the lid over him. He might still be alive, but we never see him again this issue.
Next, we see a 2nd red ninja reflecting in Snake-Eyes’ visor. He has the high ground and a pair of sais. And then we find out why the original action figure of Snake-Eyes has that one grenade on his web gear.
This almost seems like an Indiana Jones homage. In this case, Frag Grenade – 1, Red Ninja – 0.
Snake-Eyes continues up the stairwell and may or may not be able to hear after the grenade blast. If he can, it explains how he catches the morning star spinning on the chain held by the 3rd Red Ninja. He adeptly swings the chain around the back of the ninja’s head while holding the ninja’s left wrist to avoid a short-handled sickle or scythe. The ninja in white moves in with his sword.
Snake-Eyes pivots and pirouettes and forces the red ninja between him and the white ninja. The red ninja is run throw, although the little sickle appears to cut Snake-Eyes.
The white ninja withdraws his sword from his fallen friend, but Snake-Eyes stomps him in the head with both boots and makes a break for the door.
Just outside Scarlett is flying in on the C.L.A.W.
She smiles broadly as he signals it is him.
But then she sees the white ninja in the doorway, sword in hand!!
She descends the C.L.A.W. rapidly just as Storm Shadow throws his sword toward poor Snake-Eyes, who is standing precariously near the edge of a wall.
We see a close-up of Storm Shadow’s face.
Scarlett closes her eyes and winces expecting to die to save Snake-Eyes.
But he reaches all the way around her, claps his hands to the blade and flings it over the side of the wall!!
Scarlett takes off in the C.L.A.W. smiling with Snake-Eyes holding on. We catch a glimpse of an interesting red tattoo through a tear in Snake-Eyes uniform in his right forearm.
It appears his uniform tore when engaged with the 3rd red ninja as he pivoted the poor man into a “meat shield” between him and the ninja we will come to know as Storm Shadow.
The interesting Easter egg is that Storm Shadow’s forearm wraps are unraveled partially. And we see the same tattoo on HIS forearm.
This gave fans and readers the opportunity to speculate on how these two are linked. Larry Hama gives us a glimpse of something yet to be revealed. And Joe fans were eager to find out more.
The incomparable Larry Hama told a great story, using only pictures. He introduced Storm Shadow and the Red Ninjas. He showed multiple parts of Destro’s personality (tactician and mourning human). He even made the C.L.A.W. flying wing as a cool option for an entry level vehicle.
And we are still admiring his work decades later.
This was one of the best issues of the Marvel run, and even transcended G.I. Joe. Comic fans who enjoy a good story frequently list this issue among the greatest and most iconic Marvel comics ever, not just of the Joe line.
Now You Know – a little more about “Silent Interlude.” Feel free to let me know what you thought of this issue in the comments AFTER THE JUMP. -YorktownJoe