Words of Honor

True to my word, today we’ll be taking a look at the Impel Trading Card #84, which is featuring the Special Missions #2. Now this probably does not come as a surprise to you, but now you know, so that’s half the battle done.


This story is one of – if not THE – best story from the ARAH comic books. Perhaps it’s because I’m living in Europe and in close proximity to several monuments and memorials for the victims of WWII, but that part of history has a special place in our culture. Lest we forget! We shall never forget, and our national television station will keep it that way with new documentaries every week, sometimes twice a week. And don’t get me started on the amount of books that are still being published on the subject. It was a dark time for mankind, but all too often we forget that while we live in peace here now for 70+ years (we’ll have to see what the Brexit brings :-)), too many places around the world are still living in war and fear and death. And for what? King and Country? Religion? These things may play a part, but what it all comes down to is money. Every single war has to do with money. And it also plays a big part in the story here.


Our story begins with Hawk giving a briefing to Alpine, Snow Job, Airtight and Breaker. Their mission will take them to Greenland where a German WWII Condor bomber has been discovered hanging from a melting glacier.


The discovery caused a Nazi doctor, Otto Von Totenschadel, to contact the authorities claiming that the bomber contained a strong airborne nerve toxin. Luckily, he – and he alone – can deactivate it. As it turns out, he has been hiding in South America with fellow Nazis for all these years and wants out. He wants to trade information in exchange for protection against the Jews and in the course, leaving his fellow fascists behind.

Profetic words…

In Brazil, another Joe team is already on the move through the jungle. Clutch, Roadblock, Dial-Tone and Recondo are watching the farm where the doctor is residing. The place has been turned into a secure base with fences, search towers, patrols and turrets. It appears they will have to get past all these obstacles undetected to get to the doctor. Then a new group enters the scene and Recondo recognizes them as the Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Agency. Their leader, Ibrahim, orders the Joes to drop their weapons and Recondo starts talking about the deal they made with Totenschadel. Roadblock knocks him out cold, so he couldn’t tell them any more. When it looks like it will start to rain, they cover Recondo with a poncho. A little weird? Maybe, but it helps the story.


Cut to Greenland as Lift Ticket is dropping the team on the top of the glacier. Alpine and Airtight will repel down to the plane while Breaker and Snow Job stay on top. Just when they set foot on the bomber, a HISS tank appears with Firefly and a bunch of Vipers.


Meanwhile back in the jungle in Brazil, Ibrahim explains that Doctor Otto was in charge of the poison gas chambers in different concentration camps and that he created Sarin-plus, a new aggressive nerve toxin that could excruciatingly kill a man in mere seconds. The Mossad has been after him for years and he should be triad and prosecuted (read: killed) for his crimes. The Joes tell Ibrahim about the bomber and the gas inside and the deal they have with Otto to neutralize it. Whilst Clutch and Ibrahim were talking in the rain, Recondo slipped away from under the poncho and was able to sneak (that is snake spelled backwards) past the guards and into the room of Dr. Otto.


He ever so silently comes crashing through the window… surely those paranoid Nazi’s won’t notice that. Anyway, the doctor nearly got captured by Ibrahim several years ago in Argentina and so he had to go into hiding with the Sons of Nazis at the jungle compound in Brazil. Been there, done that. He wants out. The deal he wants is for the Joes to protect him from the Jews so he can retire in comfort and in exchange he’ll divulge the procedure to disarm the nerve toxin.


Back in Greenland, Snow Job and Breaker are fighting Firefly while Alpine and Airtight are in the bomber. With a grenade (and some luck), the HISS tank is stopped and it slides over the edge of the glacier. The driver just makes it out, but is hanging somewhere half way down. Inside the plane, Alpine is reading the flight logs as Airtight is disarming the arming system. The HISS driver, soon to fall to his death, starts shooting at the plane and hits one of the tanks. Luckily, the toxin is a binary agent, so both gasses need to mix before they become lethal. It is highly flammable tough and so they decide to vent it out into the wind and leave the bomber. Meanwhile, Cobra troopers are repelling down to the plane, as one of them reaches the plane, his steel boots creates sparks on the wing and the plane explodes.


In Brazil, the Joes have joined Ibrahim’s forces and assault the farm. They clear the defenses and meet up with Recondo and the doctor. Dial Tone receives a message from Alpine telling the true story of the downed bomber and it’s pilot. One filled with gold, the other with toxin. Doc Ott (Spidey reference here), lands the plane with the toxin claiming he has a hydraulic failure. The other plane lands to help them and Otto shoots both crews. He takes the plane with the gold and sets of to Buenos Aires where he led a life of luxury. That is until Ibrahim tracked him down and he was forced to accept the help from Hans and his fellow Nazis. They believed he was living in poverty and helped him out of the goodness in their hearts.


The Joes honor their part of the deal and they march the Israeli’s out the door, leaving Otto behind with his “friends”. As they walk out the compound, shots inside are fired. The story ends with Clutch looking straight at us. One powerful look that says a lot…

What. A. Story. And this is a comic book, meant for children. I’m careful not to get a mob of angry Millenials’ knickers in a twist, but these stories are a lot more deep and dark than what they get nowadays. I must have read this one in particular dozens of times. It strikes a nerve every time. I’ve started writing this commentary about as much as I’ve read it. Words can’t seem to do it justice and each time I start, I get stuck again and keep on thinking about this dilemma over and over again. This story was told in the 1980’s, and today, still, the subject is relevant. Our countries here still bear the marks of the war, just last week, half a town on the coast got evacuated because they had dug up an old aircraft bomb (whilst building another one of those monstrosities they call apartment buildings – but that’s another discussion). I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it. No country, no king, no god is worth killing or dying for. We have one world and we need to share it with everybody on it.

Now let’s get technical. The cover for this issue was drawn by Mike Zeck and Dennis Janke. The script is of course by Larry Hama and art by Herbe Trimpe. What can I say? It’s a dream team. I’m not much of an art critic, I read the comics for the story mostly. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the drawings, but if they ever make a full blown novel series of these stories, I’d be first in line to get them. I also don’t pay as much attention to the artwork as perhaps some other people do, but as I said, that doesn’t mean I don’t like what I see. Since I’m on the subject, as I’m writing this, next Saturday will be Free Comic Book day. A nice initiative to get to know new series and support your local Comic Book Shoppe. Here in Belgium lately, people in the industry have been talking that the medium of Comic Books (strips as we call them) on paper as they are now, are no longer profitable and so they are talking about digital comics with a more interactive and immersive way of reading. Things like adding sound effects, image effects, … I can see the appeal it has, but leave some room for imagination. That’s part of the charm and keeps people engaged in their own way. You’d be getting some sort of stop-motion cartoons instead of comics and I don’t think that would be a step forward.

The character spotlight on the back of this card is on Clutch. Click the link to see the post we did a while back on him and the rest of the original 13.

To come back to the story and the ultimate question it poses. It is a question  of morals and ethics. Would you leave a man, guilty of some of the most horrific acts, behind among his peers knowing he’ll get killed? The look in Clutch’s eyes says it all… So that’s what I’m ending with too. Think about it for yourself and then rethink and rethink and …


Next time we will meet and defeat Colonel Sharif.


Until then, Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

My final Club order

Over the years, I have purchased several items through the official Collector’s Club Shop. My G.I.JOE playing cards, some of the Flaming M.O.T.H. sets, a few of the older Club Exclusives. Last month, I browsed the ‘discounted’ offers again and decided to make a final purchase… Well, final until they maybe drop the prices quite considerably. Have you seen the prices they’re asking for the old con promo materials? It’s insane. But I keep looking, maybe they’ll drop prices near the end… Sad, but we have to face reality. And that includes me saving my money for a trip to Disneyland with my daughters 😊

I’ve always liked the SHARC vehicle, and I saw the Cobra Wave Crusher at a nice discount price. It was just $22! Me being me, I also added a pair of Military Green YoJoe! sunglasses and some extra weapons. My complete order totalled at $37. Then came the painful part of seeing the shipping costs, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised to see it would only be $26. Grand total coming to $63. I was happy to spend that amount.

My package arrived reasonably fast, but the postal services charged me a hefty $40 to clear it from Customs. I know I’ve probably been bringing this to your attention a lot. But it really bothers me. I don’t mind paying taxes and the import duties, but the postal service charged $25 for “formalities”. When asked what they entail, they can’t give a clear answer. There is no competition, I can’t select another service and so I have no choice but to pay and moan about it here.

To recuperate some of the expenses, I’m selling the rest of my SkyStriker Patches. If you’re interested, let me know and we can make a deal.

I’ll get back to discussing the Impel Trading Cards in the next post. Let me leave you with a picture of my new shades.

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Quick update

Hi all, I’ve been MIA for almost a month and so I’ve decided to post a quick update on how things are going.

First off, the blog is still receiving some visitors, even tough it has been a month since I’ve posted something. I’ve been off Social Media for a while as well. I do have some new Joe items for the collection and I will get posts out on those soon. Work has been keeping me very busy and at home I’ve been working some more as well. With the living room now done, it’s time to start planning work for the attic… And yes, that means getting all my Joes from storage and onto the attic.

That brings me to a less happy part… We’re having a leak in the garage where I’ve stored all my stuff. Some boxes against one wall were collapsing due to the water damage. I think I’ve found the cause. Our neighbor has some ivy planted against our garage wall facing their garden. I get it, a plain wall is not very nice to look at, but it’s at the corner of their garden and they can’t even see it from their house or terrace. Anyway, the old folks that own the house have passed away, the garden being neglected and the ivy has grown exponentially over the garage, blocking the drains. We’re trying to contact the relatives, but haven’t been able to get in touch with them. I’ve been moving boxes and examining everything in them. So far, the damage isn’t that serious. The boxes are made of sturdy cardboard and have soaked up most of the water. Some books are damaged and several of my vinyl record sleeves have gotten affected by the water as well. Still a few boxes to go, but I’m hopeful and positive that there will be no serious issues. What a relief.

I also got a new phone. The old one was getting really slow and unresponsive and the battery didn’t last over 12h. So I’ve bought a Xiaomi Mi A2. So far I have to say I’m impressed with it. The screen is very sharp, touch is precise, the battery lasts well over a day and the speed is… well, fast. I’m not someone that’s using his phone for hours a day, mostly as GPS in the car and for Spotify or podcasts. At home or the office to make some calls and emails and then some Social Media of course. I didn’t want to spend over half my paycheck on a phone, so for €200, this phone really is bang for buck.

I guess that’s it for now. I have written a bit the past month, both on my story idea and for the blog, so expect something new soon. This quick update has turned out a bit longer than expected. Thanks for sticking around and be sure to keep coming back for more Joe.

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Comic books are art!

Convince me otherwise. You can’t. I know. Don’t sweat it. Give in to it and become an art collector as well.

In preparation of the previous blog post on the Marvel ARAH Special Missions #1, I came across the website of artist Mike Zeck, who did the cover art for that issue. As it happens, he is selling some Joe prints in his shop and naturally I placed an order. Below you can see the prints I got. They were shipped in very sturdy packaging and very fast considering they had to travel halfway across the globe to get here.

Anyway, check out his site and shop for yourself and order some of these gorgeous prints for your mancave, study, living room or art wall. Visit the site on https://www.mikezeck.com/shop.


IMG_20190226_124832_745This is just iconic! Check out the last post where I go into more detail about this Special Mission.

IMG_20190226_124832_746Spot Roadblock?

IMG_20190226_124832_751Snake and Scars… A better couple than Kim & Kanye if you ask me.IMG_20190226_124832_743New comic book, still great cover art!

Let me end by saying that this post is not sponsored in any way. I’m doing this all for the love of Joe (boy, that doesn’t sound as good as I thought it would) and my love for fine art! Support your local comic book shops and the artists bringing you joy and fun every Wednesday!

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

That Sinking Feeling.

We’re entering a new phase. The cards no longer focus on just one character, well, they still do, but only on the back. The front of the next cards each display a cover from the Marvel Special Missions, and the character on the back plays a (big) part in the featured comic. We’ll discuss each story and take a look at the character that was placed in the spotlight.
The Special Missions series ran from 1986 through 1989 and consisted of 28 issues. The stories could be read separately, but they were connected to the main ARAH continuity. What better way to start this mini-series with #1 of the Special Missions? I have to admit, starting with any other issue would be rather foolish. Anyway, this is Impel Trading Card #83, featuring Special Missions #1, That Sinking Feeling.



The cover for this issues is also used as the cover for the TPB of the Special Missions. As a kid (I must have been 12-13), I found my first G.I.Joe comic book in a bargain bin during our local Comic Book Festival. Now, don’t confuse/compare this with/to a Comic Con, first of Belgian comics (a.k.a. strips) != comics and the Festival is more of an expo with cardboard cutouts of comic book figures and then a sales room and an artist alley. All-in-all, nothing spectacular, but they always did get the most well known Belgian & French artists over to sign/draw. I used to go there every year and on one of my visits I browsed through the comic books bargain bin. I had a few comics back then, some single issues of ALF and TMNT – both in Dutch – from when I was a kid. Just a few issues, non-sequential and so I never got to find out the rest of the story or how it all started. That was the reason I looked through them that day. I didn’t find any of those comics, but I did find the G.I. Joe Special Missions TPB #5. At that time, I was still playing with my Joes. I had some of the cartoons on VHS (also in Dutch), but had absolutely no idea there was a comic book series (don’t judge me, this was before the internet). Needless to say, it was an instant buy for me. Quite a bargain too, I believe I paid about 100 Belgian Franks (about $3). I guess you could say that this was the start of my collector’s life.
The Festival was organized by the Comic Book Library/Store in my home town. Yes, a library foremost. And you needed to be a paid member to lend the comic books. They had mostly Belgian strips, but they also had a few comic book racks… all in Dutch. After the Festival, I went over there and found out they only had the TPB #4 in stock. And only for lending, it was not for sale :-(. I registered as a paid member and lend the TPB a few times so I’d have some more comics to read. The next year, they sold it off in the bargain bin on the Festival. So, now I had 2 TPBs. It took me a few years and a lot of searching online (hooray for the internet!), but I finally managed to track down the other TPB’s and even the single issue comics that got released/translated as well. We got 19 issues in the series, and not all covers are the same as the original series. For more details, check out YoJoe.com.By this time, I had already discovered that the Special Missions were a spin-off of the Marvel ARAH run and started buying those as well. Then there were the DDP issues and … well, let’s just say that I have a pretty complete G.I.Joe comic book collection. And it’s still growing.
Wow, that was quite the sidetrack. Let’s get back to the cover at hand.
The cover art for issue #1 is done by Mike Zeck and John R. Beatty, the story by Larry Hama and the art is by Herb Trimpe.Browsing the interwebs, I came across Mike Zeck’s webpage and found out that he is selling art prints of some of his Joe covers. It didn’t take me too long to place an order and I hope to write a post about them soon (Spoiler. One of them is this cover!).
The story begins in the Baltic Sea where we see a Swedish fisher’s boat being investigated by the October Guard. Apparently the Russians have detailed dossiers on the Joes and Colonel Brekhov, aboard the Hind piloted by Daina, is able to recognize some of the undercover Joes. The Joe team consists of Shipwreck, Cutter, Deep Six, Torpedo and Wet Suit, all posing as Swedish fishermen. As the Hind takes another pass, 3 Cobra FANGs approach. The Baroness, escorted by two Cobra Troopers (a.k.a. cannon fodder), is assaulting the October Guard’s helicopter. Both support FANGs are destroyed and the Hind is crippled, but both them and the Baroness escape the fight.
After the shooting, Deep Six takes out the SHARC with a live video connection to the surface. Meanwhile, Daina and Brekhov crash/land the Hind on the Russian Navy frigate, Udaloy. The Baroness crashes into the ocean near a Cobra hydrofoil with Firefly and a group of Eels. Both sides conclude that the Joes’ presence is proof that there is disabled submarine on the bottom of the sea. They both decide to engage the Joes. The Russian’s Captain Bulgakov asks the Joes to surrender, but in the mean time, Horrorshow and Daina are diving towards the SHARC to tap into the video feed. Daina then goes on to attack Cobra and Horrorshow dives deeper down to locate the submarine. Meanwhile, the Baroness send 2 Eels to board the Udaloy, the Russian frigate. On board, they overhear Schrage and Bulgakov discussing the video feed and they confirm the finding to the Baroness.
On the deck of the Udaloy, the fighting starts. Daina fights the Baroness on the Hydrofoil and Horrorshow gets knocked out by Deep Six when he discovers the SHARC’s video tape recorder. The Hydrofoil crashes into the Udaloy after Daina got kicked into the water. Firefly and the Baroness to join the Eels in the fight with Brekhov, Stormavik and Schrage. Daina made her way back to the aft deck of the frigate and takes out the Eels with her sniper rifle. During the fight, Torpedo and Wet-Suit climb aboard on the other side of the ship and walk up to Bulgakov on the bridge.
The Baroness and Firefly are losing the fight and Colonel Brekhov asks them to surrender. Then a Cobra submarine surfaces and Destro appears. He explains that there is no American submarine stranded on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. It was all a hoax set up by the Joes to enable a defector to cross over. On the top of the bridge, Captain Bulgakov is standing by wearing a STABO harness and while he explains his motives, Wild Bill and Hawk are flying over in a C-130 to pick him up. Destro’s troops try to shoot at Bulgakov as the Joes sweep him off the ship, but to no avail, they were already to far away.
The fighting stops and the Joes throw Horrorshow back into the water as the October Guard kick the Baroness and Firefly off their ship. The Joes have accomplished their mission without firing a single shot.
Normally, I’d be finding some cryptic way of teasing what the next post is going to be about, but you can probably guess it. Anyway, did I mention before that these Special Missions are some of my favorite stories? Probably a few times already. But let’s face it, they are great stories. I can’t wait to get back to reading the next issues and write about them. Especially the next one… I might have mentioned this one before a while back. (see #48 – Clutch).
See you later! Happy Collecting and YoJoe!