The Trojan Gambit
Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Herb Trimpe (artist), Jack Abel and Jon D'Agostino (inkers), Diana Albers (letterer), George Roussos (colorist), Tom DeFalco (editor)
Feature Characters: Breaker, Clutch, Flash, Grand Slam, Grunt, Hawk, Rock ‘N Roll, Scarlett, Short-Fuze, Snake Eyes, Stalker, Steeler, Zap
Supporting Characters: General Flagg
Villains: Cobra Commander (last seen in the first story of G.I. Joe #1, appears next in G.I. Joe #5), Cobra troops (some last seen in the first story of G.I. Joe #1, some appear next in G.I. Joe #5), Cobra Battle-Robot (first appearance, destroyed in this story)
Character Notes: Grand Slam, Grunt, and Rock ‘N Roll only appear on the splash page of this story. Short-Fuze and Zap appear only briefly.
Story: After successfully assaulting a United States Cobra stronghold, the G.I. Joe team takes a battle-robot found on the premises back to "The Pit" for analysis. Once inside their headquarters, the robot self-activates and wreaks havoc while attempting to escape. During all of this, Cobra waits for the robot to reveal the location of G.I. Joe headquarters.
Reagan-era Goodness: There's a bit of discussion about how "The Pit" is designed to survive a small tactical "nuke."
Review: This is pretty much your standard "bottle" conflict—where the heroes face some kind of peril within their own headquarters. It's not a bad story by any means, but it doesn't exactly scream "Classic" either.
This is the first story where G.I. Joe headquarters is referred to as "The Pit" in dialogue. Issue #1 provided a diagram of "The Pit," which more or less corresponds to what we're shown in this story. Also, this is the first time we're told that "The Pit" is underneath the motor pool at Fort Wadsworth. What's interesting here is that the actual Fort Wadsworth, while located on Staten Island, became a US Naval installation in 1979—three years before this story takes place. Larry Hama was unaware of this at the time and based Fort Wadsworth on his memories from the mid 1970s. Currently, the installation is home to the Coast Guard.
Given that "The Pit" is located on Staten Island and that the Cobra stronghold was within driving distance, the stronghold was probably somewhere in New Jersey. I guess with Cobra having a headquarters on an island and bankrolling a Middle Eastern dictator, sinking time and money into the development of a battle-robot shouldn't be too much of a stretch. However, it's the sort of sci-fi element that would be more common in the cartoon instead of the comic.