Wednesday, February 13, 2008

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #6 (December 1982)

To Fail is to Conquer... to Succeed is to Die!

Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Herb Trimpe (co-writer/artist), Jack Abel (inker), Jim Novak (letterer), Christie Scheele (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 (behind the scenes, appears next in G.I. Joe #11)

Guest Appearances (first appearance for all): Colonel Brekhov, Horrorshow, Schrage, Stormavik (real names never revealed), Daina (Daina L. Janack, full name revealed in G.I. Joe Volume 2 #28, with the others as the Oktober Guard)

Villains: Cobra Commander, Cobra troops

Other Characters (first appearance for all): Ahmed (leader of an Afghan rebel tribe), a CIA agent (liaison between the G.I. Joe team and the Afghan rebels; both appear next in G.I. Joe Special Missions #9)

Character Notes: Although the entire team appears at various points in this story, only Breaker, Clutch, Flash, Hawk, Scarlett, Stalker, and Steeler figure significantly.

During Hawk's briefing, Grand Slam is specifically named as part of the mission team. However, Flash is named later. The next issue makes it clear that this is indeed Flash and not Grand Slam.

Story: A G.I. Joe team is sent to retrieve a top-secret Soviet aircraft that crash-landed in Afghanistan. However, the Soviet Union has sent their special operations unit, the Oktober Guard, to retrieve the aircraft as well. The two teams battle briefly before they are captured by Cobra.

Reagan-era Goodness: Most of this story takes place in Afghanistan after the Soviet Union illegally annexed it.

Review: Where to begin on this one? For starters, Larry Hama and Herb Trimpe throw the standard "go get it" mission into the political hotbed that was Afghanistan. Also included are a tribe of Afghan rebels (they certainly weren't the Taliban since they tolerated Scarlett's presence) and a CIA liaison. For folks not around at the time, the CIA was helping the locals wage war against the Soviets with hopes of knocking the Communist influence back over the Iron Curtain.

The invention of the Oktober Guard only makes sense though I'm curious as to why the team remained so small over the years. Still, the Soviet equivalent of G.I. Joe is a neat thing to see and would recur every so often. Originally, the team was to be named the Pravda Patrol and were to appear in issue #3. You can learn more about this here.

At the time the issue came out, there was a bit of controversy regarding Hawk's secret communication with Cobra. The good colonel reveals just what was going on at the end of the next issue.

This was a reasonably strong beginning to one of G.I. Joe's first multi-part stories. I remember being blown away by the second part, but we'll tackle that next time.

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