Friday, February 1, 2008

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #2 (August 1982)

Panic at the North Pole!

Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Don Perlin (artist), Jack Abel (inker), Jim Novak (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist), Tom DeFalco (editor)

Feature Characters: Breaker, Stalker, Scarlett, Snake Eyes

Supporting Characters: General Flagg, General Austin (appears next in G.I. Joe #5)

Villains: Kwinn (first appearance, appears next in G.I. Joe #12), two Soviet agents (first and only appearance)

Story: After a US Arctic research station is discovered destroyed, a small G.I. Joe team is sent to investigate. During their mission, they encounter Kwinn, an eskimo mercenary currently employed by the Soviet Union who reveals that a failed experiment to induce "fear waves" was responsible.

Reagan-era Goodness: This issue pretty much relies on the heightened tensions of the Cold War. And since G.I. Joe is "a real American hero," the Soviets are responsible.

Review: Reading this again, I liked this issue a lot better than the first one. The use of a small team helps to move the story along without attempting to keep track of a dozen characters. Speaking of characters, we get a neat look into what a few members of the G.I. Joe team do when they're not part of the ultimate weapon of democracy: Stalker photographs wildlife, Breaker plays with computers at MIT, Scarlett fights in a martial arts tournament, and Snake Eyes chills out in a sensory deprivation tank.

While we learned Snake Eyes couldn't talk last issue, his disfigurement (hence why he wears a mask) is revealed here. We'll eventually learn how the damage to his face happened during "Snake Eyes: The Origin" in issues #26-27.

Although Cobra was built up to be the nemesis of G.I. Joe, Kwinn is an interesting adversary of his own right. He comes to respect the G.I. Joe team (particularly Snake Eyes) but cannot side with them due to his personal code of honor not allowing for breaches of contract. However, he does arrange for the team to win the day in a somewhat roundabout way (the issue concludes with the G.I. Joe team marching toward the Soviets' location).

Lastly, the device responsible for the "fear waves," the low frequency modulator, makes a return appearance of sorts in issue #68. Oddly enough, that story also takes place in a cold environment.

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