"To Fail is to Conquer…To Succeed is to Die" (Ancient Afghan Proverb)
Written by Larry Hama
Plot & Art by Herb Trimpe
McGuire Air Force base, New Jersey – The G.I.Joe team is riding home in a transport plane escorted by the Tactical Air Support in two jet after a rough mission.
Fifteen Minutes later – The G.I.Joe team arrives back to their base in Fort Wadsworth
In the Pit – The G.I.Joe team is joking among themselves when Hawk arrives.
Hawk has another mission for the G.I.Joe team. He has just received word from General Flagg who wants this particular mission to be on a strict all volunteer basis. Scarlett jokes saying that the G.I.Joe team is an all-volunteer army.
In the briefing room – Hawk shows the G.I.Joe team images of a top secret Russian spy craft that crash-landed in the Hindu Kush mountain range of Afghanistan two days ago. The plane and pilot are now in the hands of Afghani Rebel hill Tribesmen. The American intelligence has known for some time that the Russians are testing all sorts of new hardware in Afghanistan. It seems that they were using this prototype ant-gravity device to ferret out rebel bases. The rebels have it now and they are willing to let the Americans take it f0or the right price. There is a CIA Liaison team there right now getting the plane ready to go but the Russians are closing in fast and they have a reason to believe that Cobra Command, the worldwide terrorist organization is in on the hunt. The G.I.Joe team’s job is to beat both the Russians and Cobra to it.
There are no landing fields or paved roads in those mountains, so the plane will have to be taken overland by Rough Terrain Vehicle (RTV). The RTV components will be dropped in by chute and will be assembled on the spot. By following old Smugglers trail, the populated areas can be bypassed and hopefully the Russians and the Cobra’s can be avoided. Final destination will be Karachi, Pakistan where the team will rendezvous with a transport ship flying neutral colors. Hawk needs six volunteers for this mission. The whole G.I.Joe team raises their hands. Hawk assumed this would happen and so he took the liberty of pre-choosing the mission members. He wants Steeler to drive the RTV. Clutch would ride point in the Vamp jeep.
One hour later the six-member G.I.Joe team are in a transport plane on their way to Afghanistan. Clutch flirts with Scarlett who brushes him off.
Meanwhile in the communications bunker of the G.I.Joe command Center – A soldier is trying to establish contact with Cobra Central. He gives the code word Chameleon and is asked to proceed. He gives the details of the current mission that the G.I.Joe team is on. The Cobra Central calls the soldier “songbird”. This soldier who has just betrayed the G.I.Joe team is Hawk himself.
Hours later, high above the towering Hindu Kush Mountains in Northern Afghanistan – The G.I.Joe team has almost arrived at the drop off point. The pilot asks them to check their equipment. The G.I.Joe team with their equipment parachutes down but they don’t see anyone around. They assume that they missed the drop zone by a country mile. Just then hidden Afghani rebels surround the team and ask them for the password. The G.I.Joe team gives the password “Quick snatch” and asks for the counter password. They get the reply “Giant Killer”. The Chief of the rebel tribe introduces himself as Ahmed and apologizes for being too cautious but he had a valid reason. The Russians are very tricky. He introduces the American CIA agent Liaison. Liaison taunts Stalker about the rebels catching the team off guard. He adds that if it had been the October guard, the top Russian assault team instead of the rebels, they would be dead. Stalker, bugged at him asks him to mind his own business and if he ants to be helpful, he could give them a hand with the crates and if that is not exciting for him, he could just grab a Machine gun and join their team.
The Afghan rebel tells Stalker not to worry about their CIA man because when he arrived, the rebels scared him so bad that he even forgot the password and dropped his gun and surrendered. He then goes ahead and shows Stalker the cargo which was hidden in a deep mountain cave. The Russian plane is already packed in a crate that the CIA man brought. The rebels have worked hard to bring the plane there. They carried it by hand, the motivation being to hurt the Russians. The Russians have planes and tanks while the rebels just have rifles and knives. They have lost many men. The rebel leader doesn’t want Stalker to forget them when they go back to America. He wants them to send the rebels a few thousand Anti-tank guns and maybe some ground to air missiles. Stalker jokes saying if the rebels would settle for a couple of AWACs planes.
Later the G.I.Joe team begins assembling their Rough Terrain Vehicle. Each component is light enough to be dropped by chute and can be easily lifted by six people. There is hardly any steel in it, mostly plastic, aluminum and foam composite, low in weight but high in structural strength. Ahmed is highly impressed.
After twenty-three minutes the G.I.Joe team has assembled their RTV. They get the cargo loaded with the help of the RTV’s crane.
Shortly, The G.I.Joe team is ready to depart. Ahmed wishes the grace of Allah with the G.I.Joe team. Stalker informs Ahmed that he won’t be able to promise him anything but he would try his best to see that the rebels get their anti tank guns and ground to air missiles. The CIA agent warns Ahmed that Stalker is just a regular line infantryman and he can’t promise anything. Ahmed knows that Stalker is a fighting man and that the CIA agent would never understand that.
Many miles later – The RTV is handling good except that it is a little sluggish on the accelerator but that is not a concern. Steeler at the driver’s seat of the RTV starts the regular communications check. All channels are open and clear in the communications panel where Breaker is stationed. Flash at the weapons control center has all turrets locked and loaded. Scarlett at Navigation Console reports that all directional beams are functioning and map readouts holding true. Stalker and Clutch who are riding point in the VAMP see nothing ahead but rocks.
In the distance the October Guard team has the G.I.Joe convoy in their sights and they decide to proceed to their pre-designated position.
One hour later – Steeler informs Clutch to slow down, as there is a deep rut up ahead. There is a big gap caused because of it and there is no chance of going around it because it goes on for miles. Scarlett is confused because a ravine this size is a major geographical feature and it is not on their map. Clutch jokes about Scarlett being just like a woman because she is trying to get them across Afghanistan with a girl scout trail map.
Just then a shot whizzes past Clutch’s head who thinks Scarlett shot at him out of anger because of his previous comment. A few more shots are fired at the G.I.Joe team and Stalker recognizes the shots as a Russian Ak-47 assault rifle. Flash picks up muzzle fire on the AFT scanner and lays down fire suppression with the top turrets of the RTV.
The October guard team warns the Americans to lay down their arms because they are pinned down and cannot escape. Stalker orders Steeler to get the RTV in action. Steeler apologizes for not being able to help without exposing their cargo to their fire but he has an idea to draw them out in the open. Steeler asks Clutch and Stalker to hop aboard the Vamp and hang on while he raises the Vamp with the RTV’s crane and tries to cross the ravine. Schrage of the October guard informs Colonel Brekhov that the G.I.Joe team is escaping across the ravine. Colonel Brekhov orders Shrage to bring out their vehicle and move out.
The October team members, Colonel Brekhov, Schrage, Diana, Horrorshow and Stormavik move out after the G.I.Joe team. They jump the ravine after the Joe’s hoping that the balloon tires on their land vehicle would absorb the shock. Scarlett shots the front tire of the October Guard’s land vehicle with her crossbow.
The October guard’s vehicle was equipped with self-seal tires against bullets but not arrows because of which their vehicle crashes upon landing. The October guard team takes cover and continues firing at the Joes while the G.I.Joe team fights back. The October guard is the Russian answer to the G.I.Joe team. Scarlett covers the left to try and prevent the October Guard team from outflanking them.
Steeler who has had enough of whatever has been happening asks Flash to stand by all gun turret controls. Steeler knows that the advantage in any battle is always with the side that holds high ground. Steeler raises the turret of the RTV while Flash fires at the October guard team, pinning them down.
Colonel Brekhov orders his men to do what they were trained to do, what his father did at Stalingrad, what is grandfather did at the eastern front and that is to attack. The October guard moves out towards the G.I.Joe team and a hand-to-hand battle ensues.
The hand-to-hand battle continues with the G.I.Joe team having an upper hand when suddenly a huge group of Cobra soldiers arrive on the scene led by Cobra Commander.
The Cobra soldiers warn the October guard as well as the G.I.Joe team to throw down their weapons and resistance is futile. They are all prisoners of Cobra Command. Both the G.I.Joe team and the October guard team know that the Cobra’s have a reinforced regiment and that discretion is the better part of valor and give up. Cobra Commander orders his sergeant to collect the weapons of the G.I.Joe team and line them up by the ravine and kill them.
This is the first time that the October guard is introduced in the comics. Also, this is the first multi-issue story arc. This issue is action packed and definitely raises a lot of questions. Why has Hawk betrayed the G.I.Joe team? What will happen with the G.I.Joe team and the October guard team members in the next issue? The assembling of the RTV in twenty-three minutes, which is a monstrous vehicle by just using manpower, seemed a little far-fetched.
Clutch to Scarlett while riding in the transport plane on the way to Afghanistan:
Clutch: “Hey Scarlett, I hear you are going to be riding shotgun on the RTV.”
Scarlett: “What of it Clutch?”
Clutch: “ Well if you get tired of staring at Steeler’s ugly mug maybe you can ride with me and we could uh, run out of gas somewhere.”
Scarlett: “Frankly Clutch, I’d sooner have a date with Clint Eastwood’s baboon.”