Sunday, July 20, 2008

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #18 (December 1983)

"Destro Returns!"

Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Mike Vosburg (artist), Jon D'Agostino (inker), Edward Norton (letterer), George Roussos (colorist), Denny O'Neil (editor)

Feature Characters: Ace, Airborne (last seen in issue #16), Clutch, Flash, Grunt, Hawk, Rock 'N Roll, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Stalker, Torpedo, Wild Bill

Supporting Characters: Kwinn

Villains: Cobra Commander, Cobra troops (including the pilot seen last issue), Destro, Dr. Venom, Scar-Face

Reagan-era Goodness: Destro and Scar-Face hijack an airliner to Libya. Libya was considered a sponsor of terrorism almost on par with Iran during the early 1980s. However, proof would not show itself until 1986 after a disco in Berlin was bombed.

Story: The G.I. Joe team, Kwinn, and Snake Eyes converge on Coney Island to find Destro already there also looking for the fugitive courier. Destro and Scar-Face escape to Libya, but are followed by the G.I. Joe team. Scar-Face is captured, but Destro doesn't appear too concerned.

Review: Again Larry Hama writes this issue to quickly move the plot along, building up to the climax of next issue. Most of the plot threads set in motion as far back as issue #12 are moved along fairly quickly here.

Everybody arriving at Coney Island more or less simultaneously was a bit convenient. I could buy the Joes and Destro arriving the same day, but all three was a bit much. Kwinn and Snake Eyes wouldn't have had access to any intelligence of Scar-Face being there. They just happened to luck into finding him.

This story makes no apology for Destro and Scar-Face being terrorists. They hijack an airliner to make their escape to Libya. Presumably, they release the plane and its passengers unharmed afterward. Cobra is considered a "fighter in the cause" of the "freedom loving peoples of Libya." Like Cobra being welcomed in Iran back in issue #7, this allows for a bit of globe-trotting by the G.I. Joe team. However, the exact nature of the relationship isn't made clear. Over time, we'll see less and less of Cobra interacting with real-world terrorist nations in favor of countries created for the comic like Sierra Gordo.

In Libya, Dr. Venom finally gets his chance to inject Scar-Face with his toxin. Cobra's plan is finally spelled out: get rid of the G.I. Joe team by inserting Scar-Face into their headquarters. The plan works out perfectly when the Joes follow Scar-Face to Libya. Also working out is Hawk's exit strategy for leaving Libya by having his air power secure their escape route. I'm not entirely sure where they boarded the submarine back to the US though.

The tag line for the next issue claims Joe triumphs but a Joe dies. See you next issue.

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