Somewhere in the Middle East (Trucial Abysmia?), Stalker, Leatherneck and Slip-Stream are sitting in front of a restaurant with a jetfighter mercenary named Deke.
He’s a veteran American pilot who was shot down and spent several years as a POW. After returning to the States he no longer could find a piloting job. The local despot, Colonel Sharif, is generously paying foreign pilots, so Deke signed up. Deke is giving the Joes a map with all of the SAM sites, as well as location of an aircraft storage and the maintenance crew housing. In return, Deke gets a stack of money. Leatherneck warns Deke to stay away from the air base tonight.
One of the locals hears them talking and rats them out to the authorities. In Colonel Sharif’s office, Captain Habib reports that someone had informed him that Deke had met with the Americans. The Captain’s orders are to have Deke detained, questioned and shot. And to find the Joes.
Back at the garage the Joes are using as their base, Crank-Case is modifying a van for the assault on the airbase.
Meanwhile at police HQ, Captain Habib is beating Deke to learn the location of the Joes. Deke refuses to give up any information even when a Sergeant Abdul continues to beat him.
Finally, Captain Habib threatens to poke out his eyes which gives Deke the incentive to tell him the location of the Joe’s temporary base of operations. Being the administrative bureaucrats that most totalitarians are, they want Deke to sign a written confession. As Sharif unties Deke, he tells him that there is a secret SAM site and calls him a coward. Deke stabs Sharif with the pen, kicks him to the ground and smashes a chair over the head of the guard and escapes.
At the garage, the Joes are applying the finishing touches to the van, while Stalker is giving Ace the SAM coordinates over the radio. At that moment, Colonel Sharif’s men show up outside the garage. Busting out, Leatherneck shoots a grenade into an APC that was blocking the road. A car chase with other APC’s takes them back into town. The Joes get some help from the Royalists as they destroy the APC’s in pursuit.
After his escape, Deke has made his way to a fighter jet. He is determined to help the Joes escape. Captain Habib, having shot the mercenary pilots for refusing to fly, sees the Joes taking off and takes command of the secret SAM site at the end of the main runway. Deke having gotten in an unarmed MIG flies up next to the Joes and then circles back to crash kamikaze style into the SAM site and Captain Habib, giving his life to save the Joe team.
These Special Missions are truly stand alone stories, although later some of them do tie in to the main story line. In this one, we visit Colonel Sharif for a second time. His first appearance was in the ARAH #1 mini-story, Hot Potato. We’ll cross paths with him a few times more in the future. Deke we only get to meet here in this story, given the fact that he seeks redemption for selling out his soul to fight for Colonel Sharif. The first shot we get of him, shows him drinking beer and smoking. Remember this is 1987, but still, it’s a comic book, aimed at kids, teens and adolescents. I don’t think you’d get away with something in this day and age. And to be honest, maybe that’s for the best. Deke was a POW and when he finally got released and returned home, nobody would hire him to fly. A man needs to make a living, so he got tempted by the money Colonel Sharif was offering… The Colonel’s own pilots can’t land at night… Quality staff right there. It must be hard to have to come home to a country that you almost died to protect and not being recognized for the sacrifice you made. I’m not saying Deke chose the right path, but you can certainly understand why he chose to work for Sharif. In the end, he feels responsible for the Joes, who are his team mates in this operation after all. And he gives his life to protect and save them, redeeming himself without even knowing what it was all about. A powerful story. And one that we will revisit in these Special Mission…
That it for this time. I’ll try and post the next one a bit sooner and more regularly than I have been posting. Life has been busy and I haven’t had the time to write on a regular basis as much as I would have loved to. I’m starting a new tradition here, half-New Year resolutions. Or something like that. Write more. It’s as simple as that and I really want to keep it up. So, keep coming back for more Joe. Next time, make sure you bring an offering for the River Spirits. Or if you want to sponsor me rather than them, let me know and I’ll send you my PayPal 🙂