Tuesday, February 5, 2008

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #4 (October 1982)

Operation: Wingfield!

Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Herb Trimpe (co-writer and 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 (Breaker, Clutch, Scarlett, and Steeler appear next in G.I. Joe #5, then all appear next in G.I. Joe #6)

Supporting Characters: General Flagg (behind the scenes)

Villains (first appearance for all): Vance Wingfield (appears next in G.I. Joe: America's Elite #0), Carruthers (dies in this story), Shary Wingfield (appears next in G.I. Joe: Frontline #14), members of Strike First

Other Characters: Tyler Wingfield (no appearance, strictly behind the scenes in this story as revealed in flashback in G.I. Joe: Frontline #14, first actual appearance in G.I. Joe: Frontline #13)

Character Notes: Although the entire team appears at various points in this story, only Breaker, Grunt, Hawk, Snake Eyes, Stalker, and Zap figure significantly.

Story: A small G.I. Joe team is assigned to investigate the extent of Cobra's involvement with the militia group Strike First, led by the fanatical Vance Wingfield. Knowing his group is under suspicion, Wingfield attempts to bomb Russia in order to start World War III. Once the bombing raid fails, Wingfield activates the nuclear device underneath the compound. The timely arrival of the rest of the G.I. Joe team leads to the disarming of the nuclear device and the capture of Strike First.

Reagan-era Goodness: Wingfield's entire doomsday scenario relies on Cold War strike-counterstrike protocols established by both the US and the then USSR.

Review: While I liked this story well enough as a kid, it reads a lot better as an adult. The very idea that Cobra was lending aid to militia groups really sets Cobra up as an adversary to be taken seriously. Militia groups getting their hands on nuclear weapons is a scenario I really don't want to think about, but I'm sure there's some wingnut out there who would jump at the chance.

The aircraft in Strike First's inventory is a bit strange, even for 1982. For starters, they have a B-29 which was in very short supply at the time having been replaced by the B-52 in the 1950s (and still flying high today). You would think that Cobra might have provided them with something a little more modern (they did, after all, supply top-of-the-line Soviet tanks). Ditto the F-86 Sabres.

The final panel baffled me as a kid and still baffles me as an adult. If anyone can make some kind of sense about this, please feel free to use the comments section to enlighten me.


smacky said...

I can only figure that while military bases tend to be good for the local economy, the businesses that receive the most financial windfall are bars, whorehouses, and the police (via speed traps).

Hama seems to be saying that while these folks are indeed "real American heroes," they're also men, and as such occasionally need a cold beer, a hot woman, and to do 60 in a school zone. And Scarlet was right there with 'em! She was the glamorous bisexual years before Angelina Jolie came along.

Ahem. Got off-topic there.

De said...

You know, that makes a lot of sense. That's why you're the smart guy and I'm the court jester :-)

G. Kendall said...

The joke is the Joes think the locals should be glad to have them there, but the locals see the Joes for the rowdy bad boys Smacky describes.