“Tanks” for the Memories…”
Quote: “Let’s just say that I’m fulfilling the obligation of a military commander—to keep abreast of the rear-guard situation! --Steeler
Writer: Larry Hama
Pencils: Don Perlin
On the heavy equipment level of the Pit, the G. I. Joe command center located under Fort Wadsworth, Breaker, Clutch, and Steeler are attempting to give Scarlett a lesson in the finer points of tank maintenance. The male Joes are in the process of cleaning up the MOBAT (Multi-Ordinance Battle Tank) for its appearance in the Armed Forces Day parade, a task which Scarlett questions the necessity for, since a tank is just a big tool. The comment results in the boys giving her a lesson in how the MOBAT is not just any ordinary tank, but a state of the art piece of equipment housed in the shell of a normal tank. The MOBAT is designed to have fewer moving parts, more horsepower, and to make less noise than a normal tank. The commander’s position is surrounded with computer equipment that allows the commander to have all information accessible at a glance. Waterproof seals and retractable snorkels give MOBAT the ability to be operated underwater for up to an hour. There is even a microphone and amplifier hooked up to external speakers that allow for radio-less communication with troops outside of the tank. Even though MOBAT looks like any other normal tank, it is clearly not. In fact, MOBAT is so sophisticated that the Joint Chiefs of staff are nervous about the MOBAT being used on sensitive missions, which is why it is being used in the Armed Forces Day parade. General Flagg, in a plot to show the Joint Chiefs just how ordinary MOBAT looks, is planning on rolling the tank right past them in the parade so they can see for themselves that it looks like any other tank out there. Other than the Joes driving the tank and Flagg, the only other person who will know about the plan is General Austin, whom is receiving a memo about it from Flagg via an army courier, because Flagg does not trust secure phones or army telex.
Meanwhile at LaGuardia Airport, the army courier carrying Flagg’s message is passing through the gate for the New York to Washington shuttle. After the courier passes through the X-ray scanning device at the terminal, the woman operating the device discreetly passes a roll of x-ray film to a nearby luggage attendant. The attendant makes his way outside and passes the roll of film to a taxi driver sitting outside the terminal in a cab. After a short drive into the city, the cabby hands the roll of film to the doorman at a fancy apartment building. The doorman, named Hollis, takes the roll of film in to one of the residents, a female by the name of Mrs. Hood. Mrs. Hood opens a door in her apartment, and walks into a secret Cobra monitoring station filled with Cobra agents. The agents run the X-ray film through a processing machine, and are able to print off a copy of Flagg’s message, which they send to Cobra Headquarters via a Cobra courier. In an unknown sewer system, the courier eventually reaches a Cobra base, which houses the throne of Cobra Commander. Cobra Commander, accompanied by the Baroness, is currently practicing his automatic pistol skills by shooting at some targets designed to look like the G. I. Joe team. When the Commander learns that the MOBAT will be present in the Armed Forces Day parade, he makes plans for Cobra to be there as well!
The Armed Forces Day parade is making its way down New York City’s 5 th Avenue and General Flagg is in the reviewing stand with the Joint Chiefs, waiting for the MOBAT to pass by. Ten minutes away from the reviewing box, the MOBAT is proceeding down the street in front of the Navy’s “Nautilus at the North Pole float (a large iceberg float with a submarine coming out of the top) and behind the Springfield Drum and Bugle Corps. Although Breaker and Clutch notice that the marching band is quite untalented, Steeler fails to notice: he is to busy using his electronic weapon sights to check out the majorettes in front of him! As the MOBAT is approaching an intersection, a traffic cop comes out in the road and stops the parade to allow traffic through. While the MOBAT is stuck in place, a few of the Springfield majorettes take large banners and use them to hide the MOBAT from the view of the spectators, who believe they are viewing a magic trick! The Nautilus tank behind the MOBAT keeps moving forward, however, and a door opens on the front of the float, large enough to swallow a tank!
Steeler realizes that the setup is a trap, and the MOBAT takes off down the busy cross street. The Springfield Drum and Bugle Corps begin taking apart their instruments, revealing a number of weapons, including anti-tank rockets. While the MOBAT is stuck in traffic, the Springfield Corps is able to catch up to them. The Joes try to call for help, but a nearby jamming device is clogging up all frequencies, leaving them with only one option: taking to the sidewalks! Breaker uses the MOBAT’s loudspeaker to clear the sidewalks, allowing them to escape from the Springfield Corp, who are actually Cobra agents in direct contact with Cobra Commander himself!
The unarmed Joes pilot the MOBAT through the streets of New York, eventually taking refuge behind a crane in a construction lot. While in hiding, Clutch shares that over the radio he is intercepting some transmissions from the short range backpack radio of one of the Cobra agents. The Joes deduce that Cobra Commander is somewhere nearby that has a clear view of the parade route. The team decides to attempt to capture Cobra Commander himself, beginning by capturing some Cobra agents. The MOBAT is unarmed, but Steeler has an idea, and it involves taking the MOBAT to Central Park. The Cobra agents learn of the MOBAT’s location, and make their way to Central Park. As they stand perplexed near the pond where their tracking equipment tells them the MOBAT should be, they are ambushed! The MOBAT rolls out from under the water and fires a loud shot over the heads of the Cobra agents, who quickly surrender to the Joes.
Meanwhile at the reviewing stand, the Join Chiefs are growing impatient General Flagg is growing concerned at the failure of the MOBAT to show up. They soon receive a surprise, however, as the muddy MOBAT comes rolling up the street driven by armed Joes and escorting a group of Cobra prisoners, still dressed in their marching band outfits. As the MOBAT approaches the reviewing stand, Clutch begins to pick up heavy electronic activity coming from underneath the reviewing stand! Deciding that the reviewing stand is hiding Cobra Commander, Clutch orders his teammates to leap off the tank as he pilots the tank into the makeshift Cobra base. Not fully understanding the situation, General Flagg pulls out his .45 pistol and attempts to stop Clutch, but he too soon notices the Cobra agents pouring out of the demolished reviewing stand. Clutch is trapped in the tank underneath the rubble of the reviewing stand, leaving General Flagg to take off after Cobra Commander and the Baroness alone. He finally catches up to Cobra Commander and the Baroness, but the dastardly duo are standing amongst a girl scout troop, knowing that Flagg will not risk injuring the girls scouts. From the cover provided by the children, Cobra Commander fires a shot from his pistol, which grazes General Flagg in the head. As the Cobra agents are fleeing, Clutch finally escapes from the crashed MOBAT and questions why General Flagg, who used to be Captain of the Army pistol team, neglected to take a shot at Cobra Commander. Looking at the girl scouts standing around which Cobra Commander had used for cover, Flagg holsters his weapon and says “Yeah, well, that’s why were the good guys!”
Back at the Pit, Scarlett is bandaging up General Flagg’s minor head wound while Breaker, Clutch, and Steeler are retelling Flagg about how they captured the Cobra operatives with an unarmed tank. The trick, Clutch explains, was using the power of suggestion. The Joe team had cranked up the MOBAT’s external loudspeakers to full volume, and then used the popping sounds from one of Breaker’s bubble gum bubbles to simulate the firing of a tank shell.
Issue #5 is another fun G. I. Joe adventure that features a smaller cast of Joes in one of their early run ins with Cobra. It is also the first issue to mention a little place called Springfield, a name that will soon be all too familiar to the G. I. Joe team. The issue is definitely not one of the more serious issues of G. I. Joe, but it does have some great character defining moments. This issue really gives readers a better understanding of the characters of both General Flagg and Cobra Commander, as well as a better understanding of how Cobra operates.
The tank battle in this issue is great fun and lasts for most of the issue. Not only are we treated to a full explanation of the MOBAT’s capabilities at the beginning of the issue, we actually get to see most of them used in the battlefield. The issue nicely builds up tension by intertwining three separate groups of characters; the Joes driving the MOBAT in the parade, the Cobra agents plotting to steal the tank, and General Flagg and the Joint Chiefs who are waiting to review the tank. Eventually, these three separate groups crash together in one stunning finale that depicts clearly the differences between G. I. Joe and Cobra. The showdown between Flagg and Cobra Commander is not only one of the most defining points of this issue to me, but also one of the most defining parts of G. I. Joe. We are told that Flagg is an expert at target shooting, so when Flagg finally confronts Cobra Commander and refuses to shoot at him because he might accidentally injure a civilian, we really are given a peak into the kind of man Flagg is. He is a “good guy,” pure and simple, as opposed to Cobra Commander, who will even stoop so low as to use a child as a human shield. Although Cobra has not been fully fleshed out in this issue, we are stating to learn what kind of organization Cobra is. It seems that at this point in time Cobra has not developed into the military power that they will become. Their tactics are mostly comprised of quick cloak and dagger hits from numerous secret locations that allow the group to remain relatively anonymous.
Overall, this is a fun issue that while containing some great scenes and some good lines is not truly vital to the overall Joe story. It is a good standalone story, however, so if you’re looking for an issue to just read, this is a worthwhile on to pick up. Overall, I give it:
3.5 Yo-Joe Colas/ out of 5 Yo-Joe Colas