At the end of Issue 29, Firefly and Destro exit the battle scene in Florida, and begin their journey back to Cobra headquarters in Springfield.
The Master of Disguise Zartan and his insidious (but sometimes incompetent) Dreadnoks had headed North as well.
On to the issue
The issue begins with Zartan and the Dreadnoks outside the perimeter fence of McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. They notice a Dragonfly helicopter flying in and speculate why.
Zartan decides to get a better look inside to gather intelligence about Joe activities.
He transforms into Hawk’s likeness in full dress green uniform!
The sentry guards respect his rank, but we find out quickly that the top secret G.I. Joe team’s existence is somewhat less of a secret.
The guards are whispering about Hawk, and even seem to have inside details that he passed up a general’s star to stay with the unit as a Colonel (pronounced Ker-nel).
Zartan is spot on with Hawk’s appearance and mannerisms. But he forgot to memorize all of his G.I. Joe filecards and code-names. He calls Wild Bill “uhhh, Trooper.”
At least he could have given him a friendly “Well done, pardner.” Wild Bill would have laughed at that one.
Zartan sends his information on to Cobra Commander, who suspects there may be more going on at McGuire Air Force Base. He wants them to continue observing.
That weird chamber Zartan is coming out of is a telephone booth. (Back in the day, cell phones didn’t exist, so people often had to use pay phones to make calls. Sometimes these were enclosed in booths to block out background noise and provide slight privacy.)
But ironically, Cobra Commander had video phones to communicate with his forces in the field. Ahead of his time.
Back on Staten Island, an early Crimson Guard and his family are setting up surveillance on Fort Wadsworth. Evidently, the battle there in Issue 19 did not erase all thoughts of it from Cobra Commander’s mind.
“Fred” Broca (anagram for COBRA) is planning to work all day to get equipment set up.
Or he could have simply looked out his living room front window.
Ambulances bringing wounded Joes are coming down the street, appearing to have flashers and sirens on. Way to keep it on the down low guys. I suppose it is possible that ambulances would drive in super-fast into a Chaplain’s Assistant’s school. Since, it is so dangerous there. Well, I suppose people have heart attacks all the time, and they may have needed two ambulances driving into the Fort. But when they never drove out, wouldn’t that raise some eyebrows?
As Wild Bill and Doc exit the ambulance, they meet the actual Hawk, in a different uniform at the Pit.
Obviously, something is not right.
Meanwhile, Cobra Commander has decided that McGuire Air Force Base is the new location of Joe headquarters. He signals Zartan that he plans to attack. He wants the Dreadnoks to cut a hole in the perimeter fence so Cobra forces can enter and attack before security alerts the Joe’s to their presence.
Asking the Dreadnoks to be subtle. What could possibly go wrong?
Elsewhere, Major Bludd and the Baroness surprise a boy who is rifling through Cobra records in a file cabinet. It is revealed that the boy is Billy, who helped the Joe’s escape back in Issue 10. The Baroness wants Billy to help in a plot they are developing.
Zartan gives the Dreadnoks strict instructions to tear open a section of the fence at McGuire so Cobra can gain a tactical advantage. But he leaves them alone briefly and they get bored so they enter the airfield.
Zartan had made a comment not to do anything distracting since Cobra Commander is a stickler for detail. Buzzer tries to make a joke that he has de-tailed the plane by removing the tail with his diamond tooth chainsaw.
Buzzer missed his career opportunity for stand-up pun telling.
Right next door to Fort Wadsworth, “Fred” and his family are recalled back to Springfield after spending all day setting up surveillance equipment. He and his wife destroy the equipment in a temper tantrum so loud that they somehow don’t notice a VAMP, RAM, MOBAT, and APC all drive past their front door.
We will return to G.I. Joe after these messages –
Separating fact from fiction:
Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island – In the G.I. Joe comics run, the Joes have a secret underground base located at Fort Wadsworth. Here is some info to learn more about the historical Fort Wadworth.
McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey – In this issue and a few others, McGuire Air Force Base (A.F.B.) is a staging area for the Joe special missions force. It would be difficult to build an airstrip for Skystrikers on a Chaplain’s Assistant’s School without being asked a few questions. So the Joes would ride to McGuire in a VAMP or APC, and fly out from there. This also helped if they needed to fly out in a C-130 Hercules or a C-5A Galaxy for longer range missions. Here is some info to learn more about the actual McGuire Air Force Base.
Now Back to G.I. Joe –
Cobra Commander is getting the forces in order for the attack. The panel references HISS tanks and SNAP helicopters. I’m not sure if this was a typo or something else. FANG stood for Fully Armed Negator Gyrocopter. Maybe SNAP stands for Serpents Need Aerial Power?
Let’s call it a typo, it’s easier.
Cobra Commander indicates that they will be smart and quiet for this attack.
Once again, he is relying on Dreadnoks for two qualities they are least known for: being smart and quiet.
Cobras work on putting mines near the breach in the perimeter fence left by the Dreadnoks. That way after they attack and flee, they can blow up any pursuers for a clean getaway. But just as the quiet part seems to be working, Buzzer cuts through a landing gear strut and a Skystriker crashes and explodes.
So much for the quiet. The tower signals the Joe’s of the attack.
Cobra Commander is angry that the Dreadnoks have ruined their element of surprise, but he pushes forward with the attack.
The Dreadnoks go past the Cobra insertion force in the opposite direction. Cobra Commander wants them to be left alone and attack the tower first. He plans to deal with the Dreadnoks later.
The Joes arrive and attack the Dreadnoks, who are nearly wiped out.
But Hawk gets a message from the tower that the main Cobra force is attacking them near the center of the airfield. So Hawk also decides to let the Dreadnoks go.
The tower tries to buy time by shining spotlights on the HISS tanks. But the FANG choppers circle in for the kill.
Just when the tower is being bracketed for a kill shot…
…G.I. Joe arrives and Clutch shoots down a FANG. Hawk is driving, Scarlett is riding shotgun, and Clutch is working the twin guns on the rear of the VAMP.
But Cobra Commander’s HISS shoots the VAMP!
Then Steeler swats the HISS and the Commander is thrown clear of the burning heap that was once his tank. The second FANG has circled back to pick up Cobra Commander. He is injured, but grabs the skids and flies away.
Just then, the remaining burning vehicles explode.
Hawk consoles Ace that he will get a new Skystriker.
And just as Issue 29 ended, Issue 30 ends with Destro and Firefly still working their way back to Cobra headquarters to plot their revenge on Cobra Commander.
And the story is continued for the next issue.
Issue 30 further developed the Dreadnoks and Zartan as sometimes coordinating with Cobra and sometimes pursuing their own agendas. Even if their agenda is only near-sighted mischief, mayhem, and wanton destruction.
Cobra Commander has a few near misses with destiny. He recalls Fred and his family from the doorsteps of Fort Wadsworth right before the Joes ride past their front yard. And Cobra Commander is nearly killed in a HISS tank explosion. He is barely saved by one brave Cobra swooping in for the rescue in a FANG helicopter.
Ace lost another Skystriker, and in the final panels, Firefly and Destro continue their path toward vengeance. I hope you enjoyed “DARKNESS.”
Tune in soon for Issue 31.
Now You Know – a little more about: ”DARKNESS.” Feel free to let me know what you thought of this issue AFTER THE JUMP!