“Operation: Lady Doomsday” and “…Hot Potato!”
Quote: “We’re soldiers. Our job is to follow orders; to do the impossible and make it look easy.
Larry Hama (both stories)
Pencils: Herb Trimpe (O:LD); Don Perlin (HP)
This is it: G. I. Joe #1 from Marvel comics. Beginning with this issue the series would last through 155 regular issues, 28 Special Missions, 4 yearbooks, and even a run in with the Transformers. Want to know the complete saga of G. I. Joe? Well, the adventure starts here!
Operation: Lady Doomsday:
Dr. Adele Burkhart is the nations top nuclear physicist and one of the minds behind the Doomsday Project, a retaliatory weapons system with the capability of annihilating all life on earth. She is currently on her way to Washington D.C. to appear in front of a congressional committee to testify that she was unaware of the nature of the Doomsday Project while she was working on it. Before Dr. Burkhart can reach Washington her train is attacked by Cobra forces! Cobra troops on gliders swarm the outside of the train, while on the inside Cobra agents, lead by the Baroness and disguised as reporters, capture Dr. Burkhart and escape via a Cobra helicopter.
At the Pentagon, the proverbial crap has hit the fan. The kidnapping of Dr. Burkhart by Cobra puts the United States in a bind and the decision is made to call in Special Counter-terrorist Group Delta, code named G. I. Joe, a 13 man team lead by Colonel Clayton M. Abernathy, code name: Hawk.
The team is quickly briefed at the Pit, a top secret armored underground command center deep beneath the Army Chaplains Assistant School at Fort Wadsworth. Despite negative sentiments towards Dr. Burkhart, the team plans a rescue mission to an island in the Caribbean where Cobra has set up a base amongst the indigenous island population. A team consisting of Short-Fuse, Snake Eyes, Breaker, Stalker, Grunt, Scarlett, and Flash attacks the north coast of Cobra Island while Rock ‘N Roll, Clutch, Grand Slam, Steeler, Zap, and Hawk lead a vehicular assault using the RAM, the VAMP, and the MOBAT. The Team manages to find Dr. Burkhart, who is being held at gunpoint by Cobra Commander. Dr. Burkhart attempts to subdue Cobra Commander, but she is shot in the process, giving Scarlett the opportunity to wound Cobra Commander with a throwing star. Dr. Burkhart is rescued, but Cobra Commander and the Baroness manage to escape in an airplane, heading back to their true headquarters.
Somewhere in the Middle East, Snake Eyes has been sent in with Scarlett and Rock ‘N Roll to secure a tape that involves information regarding Colonel Sharif, a warlord who is being funded by Cobra. While Clutch, Stalker, and Hawk are standing by to secure extraction of the tape, Snake Eyes’ team is being pursued by Colonel Sharif and his fanatical followers. Scarlett has been injured and is unable to walk. To complete the mission, she forces Rock ‘N Roll and Snake Eyes to escape with the tape, leaving her to slow down the pursuers. Rock N’ Roll reluctantly leaves, but Snake Eyes stays behind. After dropping off the take, Rock ‘N Roll returns on a motorcycle to save his teammates who are about to be captured by Sharif’s forces, but they are quickly back in danger when they are pursued by an attack aircraft. The aircraft prepares to make a strafing run on the escaping Joes, but before it can attack, it is shot down. The rescuer is Colonel Hawk driving a VAMP and bringing news that Stalker has escaped with the tape, which everyone is calling the hot potato.
Lots of first appearances in this issue: Dr. Adele Burkhart, the Baroness, General Austin, General Flagg, Hawk, Zap, Grand Slam, Scarlett, Short-Fuse, Steeler, Flash, Clutch, Grunt, Stalker, Breaker, Snake Eyes, Rock ‘N Roll, Cobra Commander, and Colonel Sharif.
This is an excellent issue, both as entertaining reading and a great introduction to the G. I. Joe team. The tales are relatively simple adventures, but they give the reader a great opportunity to learn about the core team members. One of the most compelling parts of the first issue is Dr. Adele Burkhart, an academic who although valuable to the government, does not agree with the way the government operates, especially the military. Dr. Burkhart’s views are in stark contrast to the views of the G. I. Joe team, many of who initially view Dr. Burkhart as a traitor to the country. Of course, as Hawk reminds his team, their mission is to uphold the Constitution, which guarantees every citizen the right to express their grievances with the government. He also reminds his team that the Joes are the good guys. They’ll do the right thing and rescue Dr. Burkhart.
I think the conflict in this issue really stresses that aspect of the Joe team: they are the good guys. Over and over throughout the series, readers will see variations on this same line. The G. I. Joe team is not only the best military unit there is, they also are good people. They recognize that they don’t fight for their own personal views, but for the belief that all people are entitled to their own view. When the team finally rescues Dr. Burkhart, she comes to respect what they have done for her.
The story Hot Potato further reinforces the character of the G. I. Joe team, in their willingness to sacrifice themselves for both the mission and each other. To ensure the security of the information the team is trying to extract from the Middle Eastern country they are fighting in, a wounded Scarlet is willing to stay behind and slow down the enemy forces while Rock ‘N Roll and Snake Eyes escape. Of course, Snake Eyes will not leave Scarlet by herself (hinting at the relationship between the two that will be more fully explored in later issues) and Rock ‘N Roll returns for both of his comrades to help them escape.
Consider this review not just my review of the specifics of an issue (which I will definitely with later issues) but as my overall review of the G. I. Joe team. This issue presents a group of men and women who earn respect. They believe in everyone’s freedom, not just those who agree with them, and they do something about it. Without the strength and integrity of the G. I. Joe team, its highly unlikely that G. I. Joe would have ever become what it is day. Fortunately for us, this is a group of characters that we can look up to.
Rating: 5 Yo-Joe colas/ 5