The Joes have to deal with a group of terrorists holding a family hostage in a farmhouse, but how do they know who is who?
At a farm house in Iowa the Bronksy family have been taken captive by three terrorists. In the kitchen Bill and Mary, "a couple that look like they answered a casting call for an apple pie commercial", sit at a table whilst Laszlo, a tough looking man with a seemingly permanent grin, berates them. A tough woman called Fatima is standing, chain smoking and she tells Laszlo to calm down, to which he agrees. On the kitchen counter behind Laszlo is appears to be an M-16 rifle. All this is observed by a team of Joes consisting of Chuckles, Lady Jaye, Hit & Run and Shockwave. They pass the house in a van used by the local "Moran - Plumbing and Heating" company. They confirm the details of the terrorist hit at the airport and then spot Erich, the third terrorist. He is upstairs in the bedroom of young Mikey Bronsky watching the road outside. After seeing the van he interrogates Mikey, who says the family have only just moved to the area and he doesn't know the local businesses. Erich walks Mikey to the stairs and shouts to the kitchen about the van going too slow and that it may have been undertaking surveillance.
The van reaches a nearby wood where Saxon has assembled a large number of federal agents. Despite Chuckles informing him that they don't have sufficient information to plan a raid and that there is no cover for reaching the farm house, Saxon explains that they have to move in the next twenty minutes before the press discover the operation. He takes the Joes into a mobile crime fighting van, explaining that information about the Bronsky family is also limited. In the van he plays a silent videotape of the terrorists' attack on a Chicago airport that was recovered from the scene and pierced together. It was filmed by Willis Mulvaney who, together with his wife, was meeting his son and daughter in law when the terrorists attack. The footage shows the terrorists, albeit only masked, as they kill many civilians, including the Mulvaney family, and then fire into the video camera. One of the male terrorists grins as he shoots Willis, and Shockwave recognises the grin from the surveillance. As the tape ends Saxon explains that the terrorists escaped the airport and no group has so far claimed responsibility. There is no information about the identities, organisation or aims of the terrorists, or if they have been joined by others. Similarly there is no information about the appearances or numbers of the Bronksy family. Hit & Run asks "Then how are we going to know who to shoot when we raid that house?" Shockwave comments that he would recognise the grin from the video if he saw it again...
At the farm house Mikey declares that his father will deal with the terrorists as he was a marine in the Vietnam War, but Erich is unimpressed, saying that anyone can deal with "poorly armed farmers", but his colleagues are incredibly dangerous, "especially the woman". Downstairs Bill holds up an ash tray with the United States Marine Corps arms on it, and comments that he dislikes Laszlo's kind and wants to see him and Fatima dead, a comment that Laszlo sarcastically shrugs off. In the woods Saxon announces that the entire chain of command wants the terrorists dealt with immediately and explains his men have surrounded the house from a distance so if the Joes are going to do anything they must move now. Chuckles asks for an unmarked car. Later Lady Jaye drives the car to the house, with Hit & Run clinging to the car's blind side, whilst Shockwave uses a barn as cover to make it near the house. Hit & Run jumps clear by a drainage pipe and uses it to reach the house. The arrival of the car distracts Erich as Shockwave rushes across the open ground towards the house, with Mikey not giving him away. Lady Jaye approaches the house, posing as the local Afton Lady, selling cosmetics door to door. Mary sees this from the window and notes that it will be a problem if the door isn't answered. Meanwhile Hit & Run emerges from the other end of the drainage pipe and Shockwave climbs up the side of the house. Mary answers the door to Lady Jaye, whilst in the kitchen Laszlo sweats profusely and looks at the M-16, asking Bill about picking it up "would that make your day?" Saxon observes Lady Jaye entering from afar as an agent arrives with Ida Lee Hough, a neighbour who knows the Bronsky family. She states that the Bronskys are a couple with one son who look average but Mr Bronsky was wounded in Vietnam and has a rictus.
At the house Lady Jaye passes a card to Mary that states "Play along with me. We are hear to rescue you." But suddenly Mary pulls out a gun and fires - she is one of the terrorists! Shockwave bursts through Mikey's bedroom window and immediately shoots dead Erich, whilst Chuckles jumps out of the car boot and fires at Mary, who withdraws to the house. In the kitchen Bill tells Laszlo it's time to pick up the M-16 as "everybody is fooled by appearances". In the bedroom Shockwave sees a photo of Mikey with his parents - Laszlo and Fatima. At the front of the house Chuckles and a wounded Lady Jaye take cover behind the car as Mary fires fiercely. Upstairs Mikey realises the Joes thought his father was a terrorist and panics because "my M-16 water gun is in the kitchen." Shockwave advances to the stairs only to be spotted by Mary who pins him down, whilst Hit & Run bursts through the back door. Mikey races downstairs. In the kitchen Hit & Run confronts Laszlo when Mikey suddenly charges in, worried his father will be shot. Mary grabs Mikey to the horror of Laszlo and Fatima whilst Bill raises a pistol. Hit & Run fires, killing Bill. But Mary drags Mikey outside, declaring that if anyone comes close she will kill him. Meanwhile a small plane flies towards the field to pick up the terrorists. As they drive to meet it, Hough tells Saxon that Laszlo had a facial nerve wounded by shrapnel which gave him a permanent grin called a rictus.
Mary reaches the field, with Mikey telling her his dad will get her, but she doubts it. Saxon and his agents arrive as Hit & Run confirms he cannot get a clear shot without endangering Mikey. Laszlo is horrified as he knows that once in the air Mary will no longer need Mikey. He grabs one of the agents' rifles and raises it, to the surprise of Shockwave who cannot believe a father would take a chance with his own son's life but Laszlo replies he isn't taking a chance. He shouts to Mary to release Mikey if she wants to live. Mary shouts back that he is bluffing and wouldn't be crazy enough to risk his son's life. But Mikey tells her Laszlo isn't bluffing - "He wasn't just any ordinary marine, he was Chief Instructor at the Marine Sniper School." Laszlo shoots Mary dead in the head. The Bronskys are reunited at the plane's pilot is captured.
Items of note
- The "Afton Lady" is clearly based on the real world Avon Lady.
- In the United Kingdom the story was reprinted in The Incredible Hulk Presents #4, #5 & #6.
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