Credits: Steven Grant (writer), Mike Vosburg (artist), Chic Stone (inker), Janice Chiang (letterer), Andy Yanchus (colorist), Denny O’Neil (editor)
Feature Characters: Breaker, Clutch, Grunt, Hawk, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Stalker
Supporting Characters: None
Villains: Cobra Commander, Cobra troops, Cobra frogmen (first and only appearance, not to be confused with the Cobra frogmen code named Eels that first appear in G.I. Joe #47), Cobra operatives (an airline pilot and a hotel desk clerk, first and only appearance for both), Derek Sutherland (an arms dealer, first appearance, killed in this story), Brian Hassell (first and only appearance, an undercover Cobra agent working as a State Department diplomat)
Other Characters: Ambassador of Al-Awali (first and only appearance)
Story: After learning of a Cobra assassination attempt on US ambassador Brian Hassell, the G.I. Joe team is assigned to protect the ambassador and gather more intelligence on Cobra's plans. Clutch and Scarlett escort Hassell to peace talks with the nation of Al-Alawi while Stalker and Snake Eyes follow a trail of clues to learn that Hassell is actually a deep cover Cobra agent with plans to assassinate the Al-Alawi ambassador and destroy US credibility in the Middle East.
Review: This is the second issue in a row that Larry Hama doesn't write. However, Hama will write the next ten issues before taking another break. Beginning this issue, Mike Vosburg handles the artwork and will continue to do so until issue #20. Vosburg's artwork has a bit of a cartoony, simplistic feel to it but still manages to tell the story well. Speaking of the story, this issue's narrative is fun, rather fast-paced, and akin to an action film which isn't a genre out of place when dealing with a counter-terrorist group.
I liked Cobra Commander's plan of essentially screwing with the G.I. Joe team with the likely possibility of scoring an assassination and its ensuing chaos. He apparently knew that Hassell might fail and doesn't care. The unpredictability of the Commander makes him pretty damn dangerous, which is something we'll see quite often as the series progresses.
This issue establishes that Cobra placed an operative in the US State Department. If there's an operative there, where else could Cobra possibly be hiding within the US government? FBI? CIA? Congress? That's a rather scary prospect and one that later issues would only touch on for the most part. To me, Cobra is a much more fearsome adversary working from within. However, Hasbro wouldn't have been able to sell very many toys of guys in business suits.
James McFadden brings up a really good point in his review. He puts forth that the death of Derek Sutherland creates the vacuum that Destro will fill later on as Cobra's arms supplier. That's an interesting take on the situation -- one definitely worthy of a No Prize (a non-award given out by Marvel for explaining continuity errors in their comics).