Issue 42 was filled with dialogue and a few threads of different interwoven stories. The search for the truth of the Hard Master’s killer on multiple fronts. Candy trying to escape from Buzzer and almost killing him. Two of the original Joes in peril at the hand of one of their presumed fallen friends. It leaves us on a cliffhanger, wondering what will happen next!! Feel free to check out the review of Issue 42 in case you missed it. (You can catch up on other “Now You Know With YorktownJoe” reviews there as well.)
On to the issue
This issue picks up immediately after the end of the last issue with an enemy pointing a silenced pistol at Snake-Eyes and Stalker. They were surprised when visiting the Vietnam Memorial in a light rainstorm. One of their deceased army brothers was not listed in the directory. Because he wasn’t dead…
The scene flashes back to their last mission in Vietnam. Larry Hama paints a picture of the feel and smells of the jungle. This is because he experienced these things first hand. It is a rich tapestry, and I encourage you to pick up this issue. The cover is a bit disconcerting for a book designed to sell action figures. But the metaphors of the spectre of Death are rich in this issue.
We meet the squad of Long Range Recon Patrol whose stories are interwoven. It might be good to reference issues 26 and 27 for clarification.
Dickie Saperstein had the rear or drag position. He had a grenade launcher and was covering their 6 o’clock.
Storm Shadow was next, although he would have been going by Tommy Arashikage at this point.
Snake-Eyes was near the middle with an M-60 machine gun and his boonie hat shadowing his face.
Stalker was team leader and had a fancy Starlight scope on his M-16.
Ramon Escobedo had the radio.
Wade Collins had the point – he was in front on this mission.
Someone had made a noise and Wade turned to whisper them back to silence. But he stumbled into a camp of North Vietnamese Regular army. There were a lot of them.
For those unfamiliar with the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese were part of the Communist regime who were systemically butchering people in South Vietnam. US Forces were supporting the South. The Hmong people greatly assisted US forces at their own peril. After US forces departed, several Hmong communities relocated and found asylum in the US in the 1970’s. The violence of the North Vietnamese continued with regional brutality against the Hmong and neighboring Laotian and Thai people.
The opposite of a quiet recon broke out. A firefight began.
Wade got shot in the chest. Everyone believed he was dead.
From Wade’s description, getting shot doesn’t sound like much fun.
He heard Snake-Eyes, Stalker and Storm Shadow’s weapons getting farther away as they fought their way toward an extraction site. He laid there and could do nothing.
Dickie had been vaporized by a land mine. Ramon had also been riddled by bullets All three were presumed dead.
But the Vietnamese stopped for Wade and took him prisoner. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t have just finished him. But for the sake of the story, he became a P.O.W. (Prisoner of War). Utmost respect for anyone who has endured such horror for serving their country.
Wade’s words to Stalker and Snake-Eyes are that if they were really his friends, they would have at least put him out of his misery before fleeing. His life was terrible and filled with suffering.
In the last issue, Candy had fled from Buzzer the Dreadnok after nearly shooting him with a shotgun. She took the pickup that Buzzer had stolen in the previous issue and left him to walk. The pickup broke down, so Candy began hitch-hiking. It appears she is wearing the same clothes from when the Joes picked her up at the end of a firefight at her home (Issue 38). I’m not sure how much time would have allegedly past by this point. I don’t know anyone whose antiperspirant and underclothes can last 5 issues.
But she does not have any struggles getting picked up hitch-hiking while wearing her short mini-skirt.
Meanwhile Buzzer is seen hopping off a freight train. He had stowed away after Candy left him to walk.
Buzzer is wondering where everyone in Springfield is. Just then, Scrap-Iron and Firefly pull up on a Ferret ATV 4 wheeler to pick him up. They might be pushing the weight limit on that ride.
Wade continues to tell the story of his woes after Vietnam and how Cobra gave him a fresh start. They did touch on the facial plastic surgery to make him look like the Fred series of Crimson Guards. But Wade/Fred II looks pretty much the same in every picture, including the flashbacks. So he must have already had a similar face, and Dr. Hundtkinder didn’t need to do too much.
At the Springfield Police Station…
Previously, the Soft Master beat up a bunch of Cobras serving as Springfield’s Police force. He had politely asked to use their computer to access some records. But that went over as well in the 80’s as it would today. When he tried to force his way in, they resisted, and it all turned into a brouhaha. But now the Soft Master has accessed their computers.
Evidently, it must have been important to electronically write down a secret like the identity of a killer that Cobra Commander had hired to kill Snake-Eyes. And that the killer had failed, and ended up killing the Hard Master by mistake. Not sure why Cobra Commander would have blogged about that… But hey, it moved the story forward, so we’ll roll with it.
More police arrived, so the Soft Master lit out of there in a blur… Buzzer points him out and Scrap-Iron starts following him.
Outside of Springfield, Billy is finishing a ride with two nuns who gave him a ride.
He continues hitch-hiking, and things are moving toward a “Crossroads.”
As Scrap-Iron moves closer on the Ferret ATV, the Soft Master floors the pedal on the police cruiser he has “liberated” from the Cobra/Springfield Police force.
He actually drives “under” a semi trailer as Scrap-Iron or Firefly shoots a missile from the Ferret at him. The top of his police cruiser gets sheered off. The missile hits the semi trailer full of frozen turkeys. The frozen turkeys flew further in this exploding debris field than they had ever flown during their lives!!
The very same drunk driver who had given the Soft Master a ride previously, is now providing transportation for Candy and Billy. They are trying to get back to return to Springfield to give the Soft Master his suitcase back. He left it in the backseat in the previous issue.
Candy criticizes the drunk driver who scoffs at her. Billy has a premonition of fire and death.
The Soft Master continues to elude Buzzer, Firefly, and Scrap-Iron despite his badly damaged car. He careens over the train crossing in the middle of the road, narrowly dodging the train. The drunk driver is coming the other way and has to swerve out of the way to avoid the head-on collision. But he crashes them into the railroad crossing sign.
The Soft Master is home free since the trio of Cobras are stuck on the other side of the tracks. But he feels to need to return and help the people in the car crash.
As Soft Master is trying desperately to rescue Billy, Candy, and the driver from the burning car, Scrap-Iron climbs the telephone pole nearby for a better vantage point.
He sights in on the Soft Master, who realizes the other 3 will be killed with him if the missile hits the burning car.
Nobly, he jumps in front of the missile and absorbs the explosion to save the 3 people trapped in the car.
Scrap-Iron asks what to do about the burning car and potential witnesses. Even though they all appear to be unconscious, burning alive in a car wreck. Firefly give a thumbs down signal and Scrap-Iron fires his 2nd missile into the vehicle, obliterating it completely.
Buzzer jokes that Soft Master’s sacrifice was a total waste. Firefly criticizes Buzzer for relishing in the loss of life. Firefly gets no moral high ground point here. He JUST ordered the missile strike less than 15 seconds before this!!!!
As far as grisly death Cobra scoreboards go, it appears Scrap-Iron pulls into the lead. He has taken out a grand ninja master of the Arashikage, the Soft Master. He has also apparently dispatched Storm Shadow’s ninja apprentice, Billy. No bonus points for a drunk driver or Ripcord’s girlfriend/Bongo the Balloon Bear/daughter of the Crimson Guard/also known as Candy.
But wow! He may have exponentially added the number of people who would want revenge on him. Scrap-Iron is not likely to need to worry about a retirement pension fund…
Wade continues talking through his sorrow with Stalker and they end up pulling up to his house just outside of Fort Wadsworth.
Wade apologizes to his fake Cobra family and plans to go his way. But the family wants a new start with him.
This is the same family who beat up Spirit at the mall and blew up a VAMP with a grenade. But it is possible that anyone can grow. Wade and the family drive off into the sunset. Stalker murmurs to Snake-Eyes that they probably could have debriefed Wade to acquire inside knowledge for their fight against Cobra. But then they agree that Wade would not have had as bad of a life if they had hauled him out of the jungle all those years ago.
Issue 43 was filled with lots of background flashbacks as well as current stories. The Soft Master worked his life trying to find out the Hard Master’s killer. But it appears he has gone to his grave after discovering this secret. There was a little comic relief with the exploding semi truck full of turkeys. Hitch-hiking with a drunk driver proves deadly for many people in this issue. The redemption of Wade Collins is a bit of a stretch, but it adds a positive conclusion to a book with the angel of Death on the cover.
Hope you enjoyed this review!
Tune in soon for Issue 44.
Now You Know – a little more about: ”CROSSROADS” Feel free to let me know what you thought of this issue AFTER THE JUMP.