|G.I. Joe #59|
Billy starts to remember his past life with his father, and Cobra Commander tries to wipe out a few Joes by himself.
Within his secret Denver workshop, Fred VII is making the finishing touches to Billy's new prosthetic leg. In his child-like enthusiasm to try out the new limb, Billy trips but corrects his fall by somersaulting into a martial arts stance. Both Fred and Cobra Commander are impressed by the move, but Billy is unable to provide an answer as to where he learnt it.
Meanwhile, in the Utah deserts, Crankcase and Dusty sneak up on an artillery emplacement, manned by Thunder, Steeler and an unhappy Grand Slam, in an AWE Striker. Their smugness at catching the testing team unaware is quickly broken when Tunnel Rat emerges from a hidden vantage point and informs them that he'd sighted their vehicle before it ever broke the dune crest. Crankcase informs the Joes that Hawk has ordered them all to gather up the testing equipment and form a convoy over the mountains to Fort Carson.
Cobra Commander, still in his hippy shades and fake facial hair, is less than impressed when he's introduced to Raptor, Fred VII's accountant who happens to dress as a falcon. Fred assures Cobra Commander that Raptor is a first rate accountant and Raptor is keen to impress with talk of his falcons, but Cobra Commander remains completely sceptical.
In the convey, the Joes are looking forward to a good time when they reach Fort Carson, except Grand Slam. All the moving around the unit has endured since becoming homeless means he hasn't been paid properly in weeks. Tunnel Rat happily offers to sub him some money, proudly showing off the army credit card he's been issued with. He explains that his pay is being forwarded from his last base and that 'the paperwork will catch up with my files at Fort Leonard Wood.' Coincidentally, in an effort to prove his worth to Cobra Commander, Raptor claims he can locate any GI Joe unit at any time. He does this by hacking into Fort Leonard Wood's payroll information.
The convoy stops on Hawk's order near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. He explains to Cross Country that they're due to meet up with the team's new survivalist member Outback, who's been roughing it for a month to test some new equipment. Outback signals the convoy via morse code to remain where it is. He explains to Hawk when he reaches them that the planned route over the mountain is impassable due to avalanche danger. He's proved right as an avalanche begins almost immediately. As Outback settles down to sleep Hawk asks him if he completed reports on the equipment. Outback responds by saying that the food was terrible and the tools all broke, so he lived off the land for the month.
On the other side of the mountain, Cobra Commander has a convoy of his own. He is riding with Fred, who is towing a trailer with unknown cargo, while Raptor tails behind in his own car. Cobra Commander is still far from convinced by Raptor's plans, claiming that the pay information they have for 'Nicky Lee' could be for any soldier. Fred explains that as Lee was assigned to the Fort Wadsworth Motor Pool shortly before the fall of the Pit and has no mechanical skills whatsoever, it's a fair bet. He also believes that because Lee claimed vouchers in Jerkwater Flats, Utah, where large amounts of army vouchers were used to purchase diesel, and his details are now being forwarded to Fort Carson, that a GI Joe convoy is likely moving to Fort Carson.
Billy is still in Denver and left to his own devices has stumbled upon a martial arts dojo. Discreetly observing the practice of the students causes his memories of Storm Shadow to return. The avalanche meanwhile has blocked Fred and Cobra Commander's route. A state trooper informs them that there are three alternate routes they can follow. Raptor takes this opportunity to show off his falcons' skill. He splits them into three groups and shows them a model Joe APC. Each group takes a different route in search of the vehicle. Fred takes the opportunity to unveil the vehicle on his trailer...
Billy infiltrates the dojo as its students are leaving, but is instantly spotted by the sensei, who sits meditating with his eyes seemingly closed. He tells Billy to enter and be at peace. The Joe convoy is surprised when it's set upon by a flock of falcons, which snatch some camouflage from the APC. They return to Raptor and Cobra Commander, who claims he could recognise that camouflage anywhere. Fred claims that the Pogo Assault Pod he's brought along will easily be able to follow and attack the Joes, which Cobra Commander quickly agrees with as he darts inside it and takes off, Fred having demonstrated the controls (unseen) previously.
The Pogo catches the convoy, who promptly start shooting at it. The Pogo's speed and manoeuvrability gives it the upper hand however. Outback leaps from Hawk's HAVOC to the APC, as its towing the new anti-aircraft artillery unit - the SLAM. Cobra Commander has thought of this and keeps Outback from mounting it with machine gun fire. The APC drives through a tunnel in the mountain, but the POGO is able to easily vault it and arrive at the other side before the APC. Clutch attempts to turn the APC so Outback can get a shot at the POGO with the SLAM, but there isn't enough room to turn. Due to the narrow width of the tunnel, the POGO and the APC are about to crash. Cobra Commander is unable to stop the POGO's momentum, but Clutch somehow gets the APC to ride on the walls of the tunnel and the two vehicles pass.
Back at the dojo, Billy asks the sensei if he's a ninja master. The sensei says no, he is only an adept and claims that Billy is the 'one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind.' He claims that Billy must pass a test to meet a master. A female ninja enters and claims that they knew of Fred and who he made the battle armour for. Billy assumes that they want him to lead them to his father and asks what the test is. The female ninja swings a Billy's head, but he catches it easily between his hands. He then announces that he's faced that test before. Grabbing the woman, he pulls back her sleeve to reveal the Hexagram of the Arishikage clan.
At the Rockies, Cobra Commander crash lands the POGO, claiming it failed at a critical moment. He has come around to believing in Raptor's methods for locating the Joes though and declares that it requires more consideration back at Fred's workshop...
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Featured Vehicles & Equipment
"This birdbrain is crazier than Dr. Mindbender! I'm sick and tired of wackos in funny suits! What do you sleep in? A nest?"
- --Cobra Commander doesn't have much to look forward to in the '90s then.
"I assure you that my genetically improved falcons will turn the tide of Cobra history! Invincible feathered squadrons swooping down from on high with razor talons and--"
- --Ever the optimist, that Raptor.
"I got the new army plastic. The card with the magnetic strip that's replacing the dog-tags."
- --Tunnel Rat doing himself out of a side-career in credit card infomericals.
"Maybe he got himself losted, General Hawk, sir."
- --Cross Country's suggestion as to where Outback's hiding.
- On the penultimate page, the Blind Master is miscolored white.
- Tunnel Rat's explanation of how he gets his pay seems massively complicated. Apparently the US Army wasn't big on direct deposit in the mid-80s.
Items of note
- First appearance: Outback, Tunnel Rat, Raptor, Blind Master, Jinx.
- Billy gets his new leg.
- The dojo's sensei is the Blind Master, so his claims of only being an adept are either lies or his title's a bit unearned.
- It's not explicitly stated that the Blind Master, here unnamed, is actually blind. A student mentions it as a joke rebuff to friend's boasts about the sensei complimenting his form and the Blind Master himself makes the cryptic remark of Billy being the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind, but given that he's sitting down meditating with his eyes shut, it's a bit of leap to assume he's actually blind.
- Tunnel Rat's credit card comes complete with G.I. Joe logo. An abandoned merchandising tie-in perhaps?
- The female ninja is, of course, Jinx, though she is unnamed here.
- Raptor's car has a "Caution: Baby Hawks On Board" sign in the rear window.
- In the United Kingdom the story was reprinted in Transformers #220, #221, #222, #223 & #224.
- Raptor has a sign in his window reminiscent of the "Baby On Board" signs popular in the late '80s.
Footnotes and References