Issue 50 continued the story of Serpentor with the Battle for Springfield. There was also a bonus sneak peak of the new Special Missions series included as a bonus in that oversized milestone issue. Feel free to check out the review of Issue 50 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 where the previous issue left off. Storm Shadow and the Dreadnoks have returned to a service station that serves as Zartan’s lair in New Jersey. But they have encountered a flamboyant female claiming to be Zarana, Zartan’s younger sister.
Inside, Buzzer tries to sit down, but awkwardly sits on a young man who has blended into the furniture. It is our first introduction to Zandar, Zartan’s younger brother. He complains that nobody notices him. It is a little unusual, but fits the persona of Zandar and reflects information in the action figure’s filecard.
They transition to the garage service area and are introduced to Thrasher, a colorful cross between a punk rocker and a Mad Max post-apocalyptic type character. He is the driver of the vehicle mentioned in the title: the Thunder Machine!
It has twin gatling guns, heavy armor and a lot of other customizations. There is also a Swampfire: a cross between a swamp fanboat and a small helicopter.
Zarana inquires of the Dreadnoks where Zartan is. They explain he is captured and being held at G.I.Joe headquarters in nearby Staten Island. Conveniently, Zarana has stolen file intel on G.I.Joe personnel. The dossiers she holds in her hands look remarkably similar to the filecards that were packaged with the action figures and vehicles.
Zandar and Zarana roll up to the front gate in the Swampfire vehicle with a G.I.Joe decal on the side. Zandar is wearing officer dress greens, while Zarana is dressed like Lady Jaye. The guard waves them on in without paperwork because he has seen enough weird vehicles coming in and out of the Fort Wadsworth Motor Pool. And he says he reconizes her. Yeah, he does.
They encounter Sergeant Slaughter who lets them know they don’t need a “specialist” to interrogate Zartan. They just need to let him have a few minutes alone with the shape-shifter. They exchange banter about how their techniques are more civilized and legal. And Sarge sends them down the vehicle elevator lift.
As they descend, Storm Shadow was not part of this mission, but we see he stowed away in the under-body of the Swampfire. He sneaks out on the elevator/hydraulic lift ride down. (That will tie into the next issue.)
Zartan is removed from his super secure cell, but is still handcuffed with secure locks that completely encase his hands. He won’t pick his way out of those like Storm Shadow did during his escape from Alcatraz. But it really looks like the Joes are turning custody over to Zarana and Zandar!!
Thunder and Sgt. Slaughter hear an alarm and realize something is wrong. They can’t describe the guy because he just seemed ordinary. But Zartan and his family are changing disguises on the fly.
The family encounters Cross-Country, driver of the HAVOC on their way out of the motor pool. He knows Zarana isn’t Scarlett because he just saw Scarlett returning with the wounded from the Battle of Springfield. He tries to stop them, but they transform the Swampfire into helicopter mode and fly away!
The joes noticed they made off with a secure communications link so they could monitor radio calls among the Joes chasing them. Hawk makes a decision to change over to an alternate frequency and use the comm link to track Zartan and the other intruders.
Zarana, Zandar, and Zartan meet up with the other Dreadnoks outside with the Thunder Machine. They decide to take separate routes for their escape to minimize the chance of all of them getting caught.
Sgt. Slughter has gunned up with a machine gun and a few ammo belts. He sprints out and joins Cross-Country on the HAVOC to pursue the Zartan family and Dreadnoks.
Little do they know, but the Joes have set up an amush for them. Roadblock, Flint, Shipwreck are set up with an A.W.E. Striker and a Mauler tank and open fire. Will the Dreadnoks survive?
The Joes take out the Swamfire and temporarily capture Zandar and Zarana for a few panels. But Zartan and Thrasher come charging in with the Thunder Machine.
Thrasher destroys the front of the Mauler and bumps the A.W.E. Striker out of the way as they zoom by to rescue the siblings.
Flint radios Cross-Country with an update of where they are headed and that the ambush team is out of commission. Cross-Country and Thrasher go head to head with both vehicles blasting full auto as they converge. They are playing chicken on a low road with swamp on both sides.
Thrasher tilts them toward the passenger side, and passes while up on two wheels. He knocks off Sgt. Slaughter’s hat, narrowly missing decapitating him.
The chase continues through an oil refinery or distribution center. Larry Hama points out that both vehicles only have forward facing armaments so they can only exchange fire with personal weapons as they drive parallel. But then…there is a train.
Thrasher shoots though a boxcar and crashes through to the other side. Sgt. Slaughter gets into the HAVOC’s mini surveillance flying drone sled to chase them, but has lost them temporarily.
Sgt. Slaughter pulls up to the Dreadnok service center secret lair and asks “the attendant” if he had seen someone come through. After a little banter about whether the vehicle was made in America or not, Zandar points him off to the distance saying the bunch of punk rockers went that way. Ironically, the action figures and vehicles were being made in Hong Kong and China at the time. I’m not sure if this was a subtle wink by Larry Hama, or if I’m just reading into it too much there. Either way, I found it humorous.
They fooled Sgt. Slaughter and seem to have gotten away clean. And worse: they ALL know the secret location of G.I.Joe’s HQ – the PIT.
And what about Storm Shadow who is currently sneaking around the PIT?
Many of these story-lines will be continued in Issue 52!
Issue 51 was a transition issue that carries the main story along, but moves the reader from the Battle of Springfield to what is coming up next in the story between Cobra and G.I.Joe. This issue did not have a lot of Cobra, and focused mainly on the Dreadnoks and Zartan’s siblings: Zandar and Zarana. We see a few new characters and vehicles and it sets up the action for the upcoming issues.
Hope you enjoyed this review!
Tune in soon for Issue 52.
Now You Know – a little more about: ”THUNDER MACHINE” Feel free to let me know what you thought of this issue AFTER THE JUMP!