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. We learned more about Wade Collins, an old army buddy of Snake-Eyes and Stalker. And some characters died. Feel free to check out the review of Issue 43 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 begins to be truth in advertising. Improvisation on a theme is the title of the issue, but it also appears to be what is happening in the storytelling. This issue is a “one-off” in the sense that it is a single story to introduce new characters, begin to develop them, move some merchandise for Hasbro, and wrap up cleanly without a cliff-hanger at the end. And this issue begins almost EXACTLY like Issue 16. I could cite example after example, but pull out your copy of Issue 16 and 44, and open them and flip through the first few pages.
Both issues begin with a few new vehicles and new Joes going through a training course to complete their full membership on the team. But like a musical improvisation on a theme, the story changes as it moves along.
Lady Jaye is leading some new Joes through the training course where they are expected to deal with obstacles, and “Cobra” vehicles. This is very similar to issue 16.
Bazooka (a Joe wearing a red football jersey) and Crankcase (the driver of the A.W.E. Striker) are poking fun of Airtight for being a geek after he captured some scorpions and put them in a Band-Aid box. Some readers may recall the 1980’s Band-Aid boxes used to be metal tins with a hinged lid that could be used to store other items once you had used up all the bandages. (Probably wouldn’t want to try that with chip board boxes today.) Their attention abruptly turns to “joggers” coming down the road toward them.
The joggers were actually android troopers with canisters of spores and gas and ran directly into the Joe vehicles with kamikaze speed.
The spores grew vines that incapacitated the vehicles, then spread gas that knocked the Joes out.
Right after this, Destro, the Baroness, and a new Cobra with a mustache and a monocle are in a vehicle together. Several Cobra troopers wearing gas mask helmets exited a truck and started working at the scene.
Destro calls the new Cobra “Dr. Brainwave” but we later discover this is Dr. Mindbender. Throughout the issue, he is called by both names. There are rumors that Hasbro was trying to decide which name to use, and back then there was not a MS-Word program to Search/Replace all. But this is not important to the issue. We all know this is Dr. Mindbender now.
They are testing out the spores and gas and Dr. Mindbender indicates they could incapacitate entire cities if they had enough spores. And it’s all natural! Not sure if the non-GMO folks would agree with that assessment. But to the extent it was not radioactive or explosive where people would be killed or buildings damaged, he make a valid point.
The Joes awaken in a junkyard.
They are still in their vehicles, but they have no weapons or ammunition. But they still have their ingenious brains. Albeit with hangover headaches from the knockout gas.
Soon they are dealing with additional B.A.T.s (Battle Android Troopers – a creation of Dr. Mindbender for use by Cobra).
And some of them have driver training programmed in. And a human enjoyment of giant fuzzy dice on their rear view mirrors.
Since there are no weapons there are a lot of crashes to smash the B.A.T.s. Some very cool scenes unfold with androids being destroyed and more spores being deployed.
This scene with a B.A.T. driving a Stinger 4WD with one hand while hanging out the side shooting with the other is a fantastic work of art.
Bazooka and Crankcase continue to evade the B.A.T.s as they navigate through the junkyard. Bazooka pops the recoil-less rifle (cannon?) off the top of the A.W.E. Striker and hurls it at the B.A.T. pursuing them in the Stinger.
It smashes the android driver in the head, knocking his block off. The Stinger crashes. Crankcase compliments Bazooka on his aim, and he replies back that he was aiming at the radiator. Funny stuff. Either way, they resolved that one!!
The Baroness decides to take matters into her own hands, as she sees the scene taking a turn for the worse.
She hovers overhead in a F.A.N.G. gyro-copter while making conversation. It is great these are in speech bubbles in the comic, since none of us would be able to hear what she is saying over the sounds of her rotor blades.
Meanwhile, a HISS tank is chasing the Joes, and they cleverly pass through a car crusher. When the HISS tanks gets to the right spot…
The HISS is compacted into an itty bitty box of metal.
Lady Jaye uses an overhead electro-magnetic crane to lift a semi-truck full of spore canisters into the air.
The rest of the Joes approach Destro and Dr. Mindbender parked alongside another truck of spores. They have a special present strapped on the turret of the Mauler MBT battle tank. They flip the turret really fast and the present smashes through the truck window.
Then Airtight throws his Band-Aid box full of scorpions into the hole in the window. Destro and Dr. Mindbender are forced to flee as their cabin is full of scorpions.
The Baroness comes to the rescue.
Although Destro and Dr. Mindbender are forced to hang from the landing skids since there is no room for them in the little copter.
Lady Jaye lets Heavy Metal, Crankcase, Bazooka, and Airtight know they passed their final exams to become full Joe team members.
Issue 44 was filled with lots of action and explosions and wrapped up without a cliffhanger to keep readers on edge until the next issue. It introduced new Joes: Crankcase, Heavy Metal, Bazooka, and Airtight. The Mauler MBT battle tank, the A.W.E. Striker jeep, and the Silver Mirage motorcycle all get some exposure as well. It was a fun issue, but there was very little intrigue. What we see is what we get. And some of it seemed recycled from Issue 16. It is good to know the Joes have a rigorous training and screening program to weed out potential members who might not be up to the challenge of fighting Cobra.
Hope you enjoyed this review!
Tune in soon for Issue 45.
Now You Know – a little more about: ”IMPROVISATION ON A THEME” Feel free to let me know what you thought of this issue in the comments AFTER THE JUMP!