The Old Switcheroo

It’s that time again kids. Time to switch things up. We’re taking a look at the Impel Trading Card #89 featuring the cover art for the Special Missions comic book #7, The old switcheroo.

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The story begins with a bang when a group of Menshevikistans drive a Cerberus Security truck into the lobby of the Cobra Consulate building in New York City. Another team of insurgents is entering the building through the service entry, pretending to be from a pest control company. The attack catches the Cobra’s off guard and the Sierra-Gordo counter revolutionaries are able to kill several Vipers on their way to the boiler room in the basement of the building. The leaders demand Cobra to pull all it’s armed forces from Sierra Gordo and support their group as new government or they will blow up the Consulate.

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Inside the Cobra Consulate building, The Baroness and Zarana are using the CCTV camera’s to keep track of the intruders. They see them drilling holes in the support columns and putting explosive charges into them. Dr. Mindbender, who is also in the Consulate, has been checking the blueprints and noticed that the revolutionaries could bring down the entire building with half of the explosives they are placing. The Baroness uses the rooftop satellite comms system to apprise Serpentor of the situation. He does not want to be bothered with this trifle matter as he placed The Baroness in charge of the New York operation. She needs to take charge.

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Across the street, Chuckles, Dial-Tone, Psych-Out and Lady Jaye are monitoring the Consulate Building. Listening in on the conversations between the Cobra top members, Psych-Out concludes that The Baroness will perform according to the projected scenario and the Joes can proceed with their own operation.

In the lobby, The Baroness orders an assault on the boiler room. The revolutionaries are able to shoot down the pack of Vipers and as a warning that they do mean business, they blow up the truck that was still in the Consulate’s lobby. The Baroness concludes that they really are dealing with suicidal terrorists and she orders a complete evacuation of the building. Zarana criticizes her decision and both ladies start a discussion which Dr. Mindbender soon puts to an end as the evacuation alarm is sounding. The personal security detail of The Baroness are to stay in the building and she recalls the members that were patrolling on the roof. At that point, Chuckles gives the order to Breaker and Tunnelrat to cut the power to the Consulate from down in the sewer system. The entire building goes dark, both sides inside thinking the other is responsible.

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Using the cover of darkness, the Joes cross the street via powered hang-gliders and land on the roof of the Consulate building. Dial-Tone taps into the main communication line. Meanwhile in the lobby, The Baroness and Zarana are fighting again and downstairs, the Menshevikistans are arguing about actually blowing up the building. Psych-out, who remained across the street, gives the go to proceed with the next phase of the plan, which involves Lady Jaye, a long black wig and glassed… Down in the sewer, Breaker and Tunnelrat fix the power, so the revolutionaries in the boiler room can see a message from The Baroness (or is it?) on the TV telling the Sierra Gordoians are amateurs and calls their bluff.

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In the basement Evita takes the detonator and pushes down the button as upstairs Zarana and The Baroness get into a physical fight. Instead of an explosion that levels the building, riot gas is escaping from the tubes the revolutionaries placed. The gas is blinding both the Cobra’s and the Sierra Gordo Menshevikistans. The Joes can just walk out through the door as they are wearing gas masks. Chuckles and Pshych-out planned out the entire scenario and foresaw every move both sides would make. It was all an elaborate plan to plant a bug in the Cobra Communications System.

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First, let’s get the official stuff out of the way. The script for this story is by Larry Hama, art by Herb Trimpe, letters and coloring by Phil Felix and Bob Sharen.

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Now, let’s get stuck in the story itself. It’s a fun little stand-alone story that planning really is very important. The Joes studied their rivals and came up with a plan that may seem elaborate, but they got the job done without firing a single bullet. It also gives some depth to the rivalry between The Baroness and Zarana. As I said, it’s a small stand-alone story, so it’s quite forgettable, if not for a few highlights. The cover art really is beautiful. The hang-gliders are being used, although they are powered here – and then dumped into the river, cause it was acceptable in the 80’s to just dump your trash in the river, right? Give this story an update to 2020 with some cyber IT stuff and you could get an entertaining action flick out of it.

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No surprise on the back of the card to see Chuckles there. Ok, so it could also have been Psych-Out. We got Chuckles in a floral shirt, not his blue one I might add. In total there have been 5 figure releases for Chuckles since his first appearance in 1987. It took 20 years to get to a second figure, and all he lost were his sleeves, as this figure was part of the Collector’s Club Operation Flaming M.O.T.H. (set 3 out of 4), shipped with Shipwreck. Version 3 came 2 years later as part of the Assault on Cobra Island box set and the sleeves came back. v4 appeared in 2013 and gave him a subdued color scheme, fitting for a member of the Night Force (again a Collector’s Club limited set), packed with Freestyle – a female fighter pilot. Finally, in 2015, Chuckles got another release as part of the 50th anniversary Desert Duel set, sold originally a the Entertainment Earth booth during SDCC. His floral shirt is still dark, but with red highlights now.

I’ll be brief about it, read Cobra – The Last Laugh (Amazon). The. Best. Chuckles. Nuff said. Get to it.

Next time we’ll take on card #90 (out of 200, so we’re nearly halfway) where we will put the spotlight on Low-Light!

A deceptive act

The title of this story is the same as that of an ugly French MPV, it can also refer to techniques to by-pass network security devices or to avoid government mandate through specious means. Here though, it’s one Joe that is showing off his survival skills, his evasive skills and his cunning. It’s time to tackle the Impel Trading Card #88, featuring the cover art for the Special Missions story #6.

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The story starts in the middle of a story really and shows us an injured Snow-Job with Quick Kick and Stalker, all cornered in a Borovian alley. The Borovian military, under the leadership of Colonel Ratnikov, soon realize that there was a 4th man on the team and that he isn’t accounted for. Outback has slipped in the sewer – ordered by Stalker to seek help and report back to the Joes what really happened while the other Joes are sent to rot in a gulag prison.

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Outback is able to make it to the edge of town by using a compass and a Michelin guide. Luckily, some intersections have name plates. Meanwhile the colonel has deduced that Outback must have escaped through the sewers and he orders a truckload of fuel to be dumped into the sewers. Outback is sort of warned by a plague of rats screeching past him, but because of the stench in the sewer, he can’t smell the fuel. After it’s been lit, he realizes what is going on and is able to escape through a manhole, clinging to the bottom of a passing streetcar.

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He makes it to a local market and steals some clothes to disguise himself. He cuts a deal with a chicken farmer to buy his truck and sets off for the border.

Colonel Ratnikov has closed off the border and is still looking for Outback. They too come across the market and are able to convince the farmer to help find Outback. On his way to the border, Outback passes a hitchhiker and he thinks that it might be better to have a companion since the military will be looking for him, traveling as a duo might be a good camouflage. The guy soon pulls a gun on Outback, but Outback outsmarts him and unarms him.

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Colonel Ratnikov is still giving pursuit from a helicopter, bringing along the chicken farmer. They spot the crashed truck and set down. The man in the cabin is still alive, but they conclude that it isn’t Outback. One of the soldiers discovers a trail of blood, leading to a figure laying face down in the snow. As they get close, they discover that it’s just clothes, filled with snow and the dead chicken Outback bought from the farmer. Outback jumps out from hiding and catches them off guard. He takes Ratnikov’s uniform and instructs the pilot to fly on his orders after destroying the onboard radio and compass. Before he jumps  out, he orders them to turn around and stay above the clouds. Colonel Ratnikov orders the pilot to take the helicopter down through the clouds and find themselves on the wrong side of the border and get shot to pieces in no time. The border guards capture Outback and he seems relieved and asks to speak to the American Consul.

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Great story, that’s my short review. My longer review is that I didn’t get it at first. The first time I read this story was in a Dutch Special Missions Omnibus (TPB) that collected several Special Missions. Sure, the banner on top of the splash page did say that the story was a continuation of what happened in Marvel issue #61, but we didn’t get those over here and this was in a time before eBay and before I even got internet. How was I to know what had happened and more importantly, what was going to happen with Snow-Job, Quick Kick and Stalker. It took years before I finally got my hands on the complete run of Marvel comics and I could read the whole story. Talk about a frustrating time. All I could do in the meantime, was search for more comics (all they had around here were the Dutch translations of the Special Missions) and re-read them over and over again without getting the full story.

 

SM_06_troopersLet’s get back to the card. It shows the cover of the story, I presume drawn by Herb Trimpe. The rest of the creative team is also the same as before, with Larry Hama on script. The scene on the cover does not really show what happens in the book, but it’s a cool looking scene. Outback hiding, partially covered in snow, under a ledge where Col. Ratnikov, flanked by some very mean looking soldiers, is looking for him.

SM_06_eyesThe eyes of the first soldier especially are terrifying.

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The back of the card depicts Outback the way he appears in the comic book, disguised with a cap and pipe. This leads me to another thing, I only knew Outback from the Tiger Force figure we got here in Belgium, the only version I have of Outback to this day. He had white hair and a white beard. My thoughts were that the colorist made an error, but it remained constant throughout the story, so I didn’t know what was what. I later learned that Outback got 10 figure releases (not including the Tiger Force one we got), and all of them were ginger – safe for the 2016 Collector’s Club homage to the Tiger Force figure. Thank you internet 🙂 Some versions were a little strange though, the 1993 Eco-Warriors line has him wearing a cap and the 2014 head sculpt had a beanie and headphones. Slow down hipster. Read more about Outback on the post I wrote a while ago when we were discussing the Impel Trading Card #69 dedicated to him.

That’s it for this week. I’m going to go through my boxes and try and find that damned little flashlight. Next time we will look at card #89, unless I pull the old switcheroo…

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Jealous Hulk steals G.I.Joe title (*)

Jealous of Sgt. Slaughter landing a job with the Joes, Hulk Hogan stars in a movie with this exact same title as a G.I. Joe story in 1989. That is 2 years after this story was released. On another note, today we will be having absolutely no limits or restrictions as far as the levels and nature of the hostilities and offense. We’ll be taking to an especially ruthless or vicious manner. Time to get into the story told in Special Missions #4, featuring on the Impel Trading Card #86, No Holds Barred.

(*) Uncomfirmed, but if it’s on the internet, it’s true, so there you have it. Alternate facts 2.0.

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Wild Bill is piloting a PBY transport plane somewhere over the South China Sea. The rest of the team are Leatherneck, Roadblock and Lifeline. The cargo is a captured Cobra Firebat. The plane is under attack by a Hind helicopter of the Oktober Guard. Roadblock and Leatherneck trade shots with the Guard.

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Lifeline insists he is a non-combatant medic and he’s trying to extract the Firebat’s black boxes. The fact that Lifeline doesn’t want to shoot at the Oktober Guard and he is currently failing to extract the black boxes by needing to bypass several anti-tamper devices, is causing Leatherneck to give him a hard time. The plane’s engines get shot and Wild Bill orders everyone to bail out. Leatherneck has a Stinger Missile launcher with him, but couldn’t fire it from within the PBY so once in the air – freefalling – he fires one at the Hind and knocks out the tail rotor, sending it crashing down too.

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The Joes touch down in the middle of the jungle. They find Lifeline caught up in a tree with his parachute. After they cut him down, they move out in the direction of the PBY’s crash site to recover the black boxes. The Oktober Guard – having crash-landed themselves, take off with the same goal in mind. The jungle proves to be treacherous and the Joes need to overcome leeches and get past a tiger. The Oktober Guard have found a trail and use a bend in the path to lay an ambush. The Joes are heading down the same trail when Leatherneck notices the same curve and points out that it would be perfect for an ambush. He catches the smell of the Russian tobacco from Brekhov’s cigarette and the Joes scatter in defense. Both sides exchange fire and Leatherneck gets wounded. Wild Bill and Roadblock keep the Oktober Guard pinned down while Lifeline drags Leatherneck to safety. Lifeline refuses to use Leatherneck’s grenade launcher which leads to more insults by Leatherneck. Wild Bill gets shot too and Roadblock and Lifeline carry the 2 wounded Joes away (including Wild Bill’s hat). Stormavik and Schrage have also been wounded but Brekhov orders them to continue to the crash site as he knows the Joes won’t stop either.

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The Oktober Guard reach the crash site first and Daina climbs on board, her being the lightest. She extracts the black boxes with ease – Lifeline had done all the difficult work before the PBY went down – when the Joes arrive. Another heated exchange is cut short when both teams come under fire from river pirates. The pirates’ leader, Sarawak Sally, keeps them locked up their boat.

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The pirates are forcing other prisoners to fight for their entertainment. The loser of the latest fight is shot by Sarawak Sally. The Joes and the Oktober Guard are then brought up to the deck. Each side will have to draw straws to see who gets to fight for their teams freedom. Horrorshow makes a nasty comment and Sally wants to make sure that he gets the shortest straw.

For the Joes, Lifeline drew the short straw. He argues that he is a non-combattant, but Horrorshow starts attacking. Lifeline deflects him every time, until Horrorshow crashes into a mast and remains unconscious. Wild Bill explains that Lifeline is a black belt in Aikido – “a Zen martial art with no offensive moves. The purpose is to redirect violent energy away from oneself…”

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Sarawak Sally congratulates Lifeline and wants to execute Horrorshow. Lifeline steps in and refuses to let her kill him. She calls him greedy, asking for not only his own life, but that of his team and the lives of the Oktober Guard. She asks if he wants the black boxes as well. He replies that they are not worth more bloodshed. He tells her the boxes contain Cobra secrets and that they would be rewarded if the pirates bring the boxes back to the Cobra embassy, much to the outrage of Leatherneck. Lifeline stands his ground and responds that if he didn’t tell Sally the truth, the Oktober Guard’s blood would be on his hands. Sarawak Sally laughs and tells them they are all free to go because one of them has the courage of his convictions. She drops the boxes in the river as an offering to the river spirits and the ships sail away.

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I have to admit, I find this a bit of an odd story. The plot and the battle scenes are great, but the River pirates are a bit too much. I get that you’d need a third party involved to show respect for Lifeline’s beliefs as a medic, but they’re just that little bit over the top. Also, for the fourth time in a row, we don’t really get any Cobras. Sure, it’s their Firebat and secrets the plot runs with, but they don’t seem to be chasing the Joes. Also, black boxes aren’t really black and they are designed to survive plane crashes on land and water, so the Joes or the Guard could just return to the river later and search for the boxes. They also send out a signal, so locating them in the river should be fairly easy. As Special Missions go, this one doesn’t do it justice. There are other stories that are far more compelling and – well – just better.

I do have to point out that I also share Lifeline’s conviction of non-combat. I do believe that violence is never the answer and there are always better solutions to be found. Compromise is underrated. I don’t approve of the pointless bickering and discussing in politics, but I do believe that true solutions can only be found by analyzing the issue, taking account of all the viewpoints and finding a solution that can be agreed on by all involved parties. The survival of the fittest has been turned around to the survival of the best armed and that is never a good thing. A few weeks ago, a new war was avoided by not attacking Iran. I hope this sets a tone for the international politics going forward because the only people getting hurt by war and terrorism are the men, women and children like us. The people living their lives, working, paying taxes, enjoying the arts, playing games, … It’s never the politicians or the rich, they only profit from it. All I am saying, is give peace a chance. I get it, strange to come from someone who writes about a toy line, comic book series and all things related, that is focused on war, terrorism and conflict. Don’t get me wrong, I love G.I.Joe and I like watching action movies and reading war stories and so on, but think about it. Stories were once told by professional storytellers to give the illiterate people a chance to learn about something. The stories would have morals and meaning and would educate or inform the listeners. If we take this concept into the modern world, shouldn’t we consider all these war stories and violence on tv, in books and movies as a warning about how ugly conflict is? Imagine there is no war, we wouldn’t need to spend billions on weapons and defenses. The money saved would enable the hungry to be fed, the homeless to get sheltered, we – the human race that is – would become better, focusing on ourselves as humans rather than on gods, kings or countries. Bettering ourselves rather than finding new ways to kill the planet and other people. Maybe it’s utopian, maybe it’s visionary, maybe it’s hope. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but let me have this dream. Now, I may have used quite a lot of references in this little rant, but let me end with a quote of a man with a vision.

The strength of a civilization is not measured by its ability to fight wars, but rather by its ability to prevent them. — G. Roddenberry

Right, now, let’s get back into it with the character spotlight on this card, Lifeline. As a kid, I was part of the Red Cross Youth and so it’s no big surprise that the Joe’s medic would be one of my favorites. At the time I got my Lifeline figure, I didn’t know that there had been another medic (Doc) and seeing that he came with a lot of accessories made him an instant draft whenever I went into battle against Cobra in another backyard battle. There have been 8 figure releases of Lifeline over the years, starting with the v1 in 1986. Now, immediately upon looking at the figure and his accessories, you’ll notice something strange. He has a molded gun on his left leg and he came with a silver gun – supposedly this one came from the holster on his chest. WTF Hasbro!? Seriously, Mr. Hama goes to the trouble of creating file cards and character depth and the toy manufacturer just adds some guns for fun. Maybe it’s supposed to be a BB-gun or a flare gun. Or it’s one of those novelty lighters… but then again, smoking kills so that would also send a wrong message.

Anyway, the same mold has been used to create the Tiger Force version in 1988 and the v3 in 1991 (mail-in offer with the original colors but different legs because Kellogg’s didn’t want guns on the figure).

In 1994 and 2002 we get different versions altogether. As part of the Battle Force, Lifeline got a new design with a red bomber jack and white pants and helmet with red details. His accessories were bright neon yellow. That would stick out in a crowd. No guns this time except for a flare gun (they got their act together now). He also got a knife, flashlight, case and grappling hook. The 2002 figure is a repaint of the v4 with a new head, no helmet this time, unshaven and with black accessories.

Then in 2004 we get Sgt. Lifeline (I’m beginning to see a pattern here, Hasbro really should hire someone to take care of their trademarks.) The Anti-Venom Task Force was a Toys ‘R US exclusive set that also featured Barricade, Charbroil, Duke, Mutt and Roadblock. Lifeline here is a repaint of Stretcher (that other medic the Joes got in 1990). He even comes with that flashy looking sled contraption. The filecard does depict him as we know him with the red helmet and green glasses.

From 2010, we get Edwin ‘Lifeline’ Steen. This figure was part of the Z-Force 3-pack alongside Calvin ‘Jammer’ Mondale and Rico ‘Gaucho’ Gonzalles, made for the 2010 International G.I.Joe Convention of the Official Collector’s Club. It was -again- a repaint of the v4 including the head. He did finally inherit Doc’s stretcher though.

The next year the v7 of Lifeline is an homage to the original figure, taking back to the red & white color scheme. Accessories galore, including an IV drip, a new stretcher, shock pads, removable helmet, medic pack, syringe,  … It did come with a pistol (could still be a flare gun), but also came with a rifle. That one is just unexplainable.

Finally in 2015, we get a new version of the Tiger Force Lifeline as part of the

Tiger Force vs. Iron Grenadiers 2015 Joecon Exclusive boxset. The Springfield edition. The set also included Sgt. Stalker, Dial-Tone, Big Brawler, Wreckage, Recondo, General Mayhem, Metal-Head, Undertow Officer, three Iron Anvils and three Undertow figures. Mostly a repaint of the 2010 version, but without the assault rifle.

My absolute favorite will always be the v1, the only one I have in my collection and my only medic…

The story we looked at today, SM#4 No holds barred, is the introduction of the character of Lifeline. He later is part of the team that meddles in the Cobra Civil War and in another Special Mission (#25), we’ll see him again as part of the Tiger Force when they fight the Lower Darklonian Separatist Front in New York.

As I said before, Lifeline was my first medic and having spent some of my childhood as part of the Red Cross Youth, I held him in high regard as part of my team. I never knew the comics as a kid, but when I played with Lifeline, he was a pacifist. Do no harm!

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Since the next few cards will keep on showing (awesome) covers of the Special Missions, it’s no great mystery as to what we’ll be discussing next time. Still, I hope to see you then when we look at an epic battle with a clear difference between good and evil. A bit too clear perhaps, but still a hell of a fight. So, see you later. Keep afloat!

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Burn-out

The state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress that occurs when one feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands… Or the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion. Actually, both explanations are appropriate for today’s story. Nice work on the pun people. We have arrived at the Impel Trading Card #85, spotlighting the Marvel Special Mission #3, Burn-Out.

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Impel Trading Card #85 – Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3

Impel Trading Card #85 - Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 - Featuring Slip-Stream
Impel Trading Card #85 – Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 – Featuring Slip-Stream

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.

Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 - Deke.
Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 – 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.

Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 - Sgt. Abdul at work
Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 – Sgt. Abdul at work

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.

Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 - The enemy of my enemy.
Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 – The enemy of my enemy.

The Joe team crashes the gates of the airfield but then the van’s engine dies, so they have to go on foot. The mission was to get Slip-Stream to a new Russian YAK-36, the equivalent of the Harrier VTOL jet. A new problem arises when they notice the hydraulics where pulled for repair. So Slip-Stream comes up with the idea of loading the fighter in one of the large cargo aircraft. As the Air Force is dropping bombs on the airfield, the cargo plane is able to take off with all aboard.
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.

Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 - Going out with a BANG.
Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 – Going out with a BANG.

Did you notice? No Cobra in this one. Still a good story though. But let’s start with the statistics stuff. The cover is done by Herb Trimpe, story by Larry Hama, coloring by Bob Sharen, letters by Phil Felix, editing was done by Bob Harras and the Editor in chief was Jim Shooter. Dated on February 3, 1987 with a cover price of $.75 (can you believe it?). 

Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 - Burn-out!
Marvel G.I.Joe Special Missions #3 – Burn-out!

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 🙂

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.

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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!).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!