“The Trojan Gambit”
Quote: “Tell me, Colonel: How do soldiers assigned to a chaplain’s motor pool manage to acquire such an impressive array of decorations?”
“Well, M’am, when we’re not driving the Padre to chapel, we’re out hunting down international terrorists”
--Colonel Clayton Abernathy
Writer: Larry Hama
Pencils: Herb Trimpe
Issue 3 features an exciting plot featuring one of the first absolutely insane plans that Cobra Commander would later become known for!
The G. I. Joe team has just finished securing a Cobra stronghold that contained a special Cobra weapon: a mysterious Cobra battle-robot! Steeler and Clutch work to dismantle the robot so that it can be transported back to the Pit for preliminary analysis. While the Joe team is preparing the robot, Cobra prisoners, and wounded combatants for transport, Cobra Commander and his agents monitor the action from an unknown location. A Cobra operative comments to the Commander, “Phase one of our plan has been completed!”
Clutch, Breaker, and Steeler transport the robot back to Fort Wadsworth, the location of the Pit, in an army transport disguised as a mail truck. At the motor pool garage, which serves as the disguised location of the entrance of the Pit, the truck and its occupants are lowered down to the computer level by elevator. On the trip down Steeler explains to Clutch about the structure of the Pit and how that in the event of a nuclear attack the bottom two levels of the five level structure would still be safe and able to house the Joe team.
Later in a special computer lab on level 5, Breaker, Clutch, and Steeler begin the process of scanning the dismantled robot for any hidden Cobra booby traps or tracking devices. After hours of work the trio is interrupted by Hawk and Scarlett, who inform them that a Chaplain’s assistants social is going to be held in the motor pool 5 stories above the Pit. While Hawk and Scarlett are planning on attending the social, Clutch, Steeler, and Breaker plan on grabbing some breakfast.
One hour later in the motor pool, the chaplain’s assistants social tea is taking place. Clearly Scarlett and Hawk are there to try and overcome any suspicions the other chaplain’s assistants might have about the real function of the motor pool and its colorful occupants. But while Hawk and Scarlett are socializing, Clutch, Breaker, and Steeler are cooking, and Flash, Stalker, and Snake-Eyes are cleaning weapons, something more sinister is afoot: a chemical timer in the right hand of the dismantled Cobra robot has reactivated part of the robot! Due to the depth of the Pit, Cobra is unable to control or communicate with the robot. If it can make it’s way outside, however, it will disclose the location of the Pit to Cobra! The robotic hand finds a way to seal off the blast doors of all occupied rooms in the Pit, trapping the Joes inside them and giving the robot, who has begun to put itself back together, free roam of the complex!
In the canteen (kitchen) Clutch, Breaker, and Steeler find a way to open the sealed blast door, while in the armory, Flash uses his laser rifle to attempt to cut through the locking mechanism. If the plan does not work, however, the laser could eat up all of the oxygen in the room, leaving Flash, Stalker, and Snake-Eyes to suffocate.
Having escaped from the canteen, Breaker, Clutch, and Steeler head downstairs to the computer level and find the Cobra robot, fully assembled and heavily armed. The robot blocks the team’s route to the armory, but Clutch has another idea: ducking into a bathroom, he pours a few bottles P.X. after shave into a bucket. Clutch then finds the Cobra robot and douses him with the alcohol-based substance. Add one lighter, and the robot goes up in flames! Of course, the smell of not just the current electrical fire, but also the earlier smell of cooking bacon and eggs, has certain guests at the chaplain’s assistants’ social tea curious? Hawk and Scarlett are nervous, but must dispel any suspicion from the guests.
Meanwhile downstairs, the still burning Cobra robot has escaped to the training level to submerge itself in the swimming pool. Clutch, Breaker, and Steeler try to escape via elevator to another level of the Pit higher up, but the robot comes after them by climbing the elevator cables. Once the three Joes reach their destination, they send the elevator back down the shaft, but it does little to thwart the robot. The robot exits the elevator, continuing its march to the surface so that it can reveal the location of the Pit to Cobra. Back on the garage level the team once again faces the metal menace, this time by throwing a can of silver paint onto the robot to impair its visual receptors, forcing it to use its radar. As the robot uses its radar to find the team, it walks across a large sheet of aluminum foil, which its sensors tell it is a solid floor. It actually is a hydraulic well. The Cobra robot falls six stories and shatters to pieces with a sound that is heard in the motor pool. Standing by with a fleet of Cobra helicopters Cobra Commander waits for the Pit’s location to be revealed, but due to fuel supply, he can only afford to wait ten more minutes.
Just as Breaker, Steeler, and Clutch reach the fallen robot, Stalker, Snake-Eyes and Flash escape from the armory and regroup with their teammates. They all reach the shattered robot just in time to notice the robot’s head sprout tentacles and attempt to escape up the hydraulic well. With a well-placed shot, Flash destroys the head, only to find that it ejects a dozen miniature mechanical bugs outfitted with homing devices. The team begins the process of destroying all of the bugs, eventually destroying eleven of them: one is crawling through a shaft up towards the motor pool! Just before the bug can reach the surface and reveal the location of the Pit, it is stopped by Scarlett. A guest at the social cries out at the sight of the bug, and Scarlett crushes it beneath her green high heel. Cobra never receives the location of the Pit, and is forced to return to Cobra Central to launch another plan to destroy G. I. Joe.
I’ll have to come out and say that the early issues of G. I. Joe are all really something special. Even though the series had not yet begin to introduce the vast mythology that the G. I. Joe universe would later become and the many outrageous characters that would grow to become icons, the early issues are still excellent. They tell simple and exciting stories that feature some great characters. Yes, every character might dress almost alike in the early issues, but their characterizations really stand out without being over the top.
Later in the series, Larry Hama would have to deal with the pressure from Hasbro of having to work every character and vehicle into the story that was being pushed at the time. This resulted in lots of characters that would just appear once or twice and have some outrageous quirk to make them stand out. They’re tremendous fun, but not as much fun as the original team. The characterization in these early issues is amazing, and perhaps is really what can be attributed to the staying power of G. I. Joe. Just thought I should mention that.
Onto this issue specifically, it is a lot of fun involving a big robot. Unlike the Cobra vanity projects that would occur later on, this one almost worked. There’s a real sense of urgency in this issue, and we experience it mainly through a great group of characters, including my two favorite members of the original team, Clutch and Breaker. Partnered with Steeler, these guys deal with a big threat and have a lot of fun doing it, making bad jokes all around.
Besides the robot problems, there is also the problem of keeping the Pit a secret not just from Cobra, but from the general military folk hanging around the base at Fort Wadsworth. Watching Scarlett and Hawk mingle with the base regulars and answer their questions is a real treat. There is lots of humor, especially when Hawk is trying to create plausible explanations for the variety of smells and sounds coming from the pit.
The art is quite good in this issue for early G. I. Joe art. The bulky robot is of a very retro design, and looks great strolling through the halls and corridors of the Pit. It definitely has a nice sci-fi vibe to it without going to over the top. Although there is no enormous robot battle inside like the cover suggests, there are still plenty of cool skirmishes between the Joes and the robot.
As are almost all of the early issues this is a great issue to pick up. With the earliest issues of G. I. Joe, you really do not have to be familiar with the characters or have access to other issues as with the later issues. This story is just a great issue to pick up and read for some great robot action!
4 Yo Joe Colas/ 5 Yo Joe Colas