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|“||Why did Mainframe go AWOL in the first place and vanish to where the Joes could never find him? Get the whole backstory on what's going on with the G.I. with the I.Q. while his adventure with Snake Eyes is going on the pages of the current issue of G.I. Joe's monthly series (both tales written by Chuck Dixon, to boot!)||”|
—The description as originally solicited by IDW Publishing.
Near the Black Sea, a team of Joes is headed for the beach after successfully retrieving Ichkerian Mafia computer files. The newest field operative, Mainframe, falls on the sand, but Grand Slam stops to help him up. For his trouble, Grand Slam catches an enemy bullet in the head, and Duke orders Rock 'n Roll to carry the body to the extraction point. As the team makes it onto the boat, the mafia fires RPGs at them.
Two weeks later, Mainframe wakes up in the hospital back at The Pit. Scarlett congratulates him on a job well done, telling him he succeeded in getting all the intel. Over the next few weeks he's taken off life support, visited by his comrades, and eventually bored out of his mind. Scarlett brings him a laptop so he can work from from bed.
Seven weeks after his accident, Mainframe calls Scarlett to tell her he's found something: a subtext that keeps popping up in the background chatter, with the codename Cobra. Scarlett dismisses him and tells him to get some sleep.
Mainframe starts connecting the dots between random events.
- A Canadian Agriculture Minister speaks out against lowering tariffs on rice and granting favored nation status to a small African nation.
- That minister is shamed when millions are found in a secret account placed there by a multinational food conglomerate. As the minister is speaking to the press, the Baroness can be seen in the background directly behind him.
- The small African nation now has the cash to builds up its army and challenge its neighbor.
- An arms race begins. In order to fund it, the neighboring nation is forced to sell off its mineral rights.
- The Chinese take out a 99 year contract for the port, so oil supertankers can dock.
- A French company builds a road into the interior so a German company can mine chromium & bauxite.
He tries to tell Scarlett again, but she says he's looking for a villain where none exists.
Another week passes, and Mainframe is in rehab. He tells Snake-Eyes all his theories. He's worried about turning into a paranoid loon, but feels that if he sees a pattern and ignores it, he's running from the fight. As he leaves, he thanks Snake-Eyes for the good talk.
Later, Mainframe gives a full briefing to Scarlett, Duke and Hawk about what he's found. He shows them graphs, charts and the long and crazy connections that Cobra has stuck its fingers into. It is a world wide conspiracy and Hawk just thinks Mainframe has gone crazy. He dismisses Mainframe and everything he is talking about. Scarlett is sympathetic. He just can't stop finding the connections and talking about them to his teammates. He keeps rambling in his bunk at night, until Snake-Eyes, his roomie, glowers at him to be quiet.
Three months after the accident, Mainframe is almost entirely recovered. He's been falling behind on his assignments, as his obsession with Cobra continues. He tells Scarlett he's listening to speed metal on his headphones, but is actually tapped into a phonecall in Myanmar. Part of the conversion he hears is regarding the size and power of Cobra and that this organization must be respected. He tracks the person Pyang was talking to a cell phone in Rangoon.
In the Pit's surveillance center, several cameras and sensors go down briefly. Diagnostics aren't scheduled for two weeks, and the areas where the blackout occurred form a path. Outside, Mainframe is walking away into the night, having cut the feeds to cover his desertion. He uses his PDA to turn the systems back on once he's clear, stopping only when Snake-Eyes puts his sword against the back of his neck. Mainframe explains that he's not deserting, that if he ignores what he knows, he's letting everyone down. He can't obey his orders when they threaten the world. As he talks, Snake-Eyes disappears, tacitly giving him permission to go.
Eight weeks later, Scarlett is in communication with Stalker and his team as they track Mainframe to his hideout in Miami's South Beach. They kick open the door, but the room is empty, save for a laptop with a note saying "Better Luck Next Time" on the screen. The rest of the team, covering the alleyway, the lobby and the roof, report all-clear, as well.
Mainframe's voice breaks into Scarlett's headset. She tells him he's wasting Joe resources, and he promises her he's still a Joe, even if he's the only one who believes it. He tells her to stop wasting time chasing him, and leaves them one last message: Beware Rangoon.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
- None yet.
- The US flag patches on the surveillance techs' right shoulders face the wrong way.
- Hawk's hair is colored much lighter in this issue than in other IDW comics - nearly blonde.
- When Stalker reports what he found in Mainframe's room, he's colored white.
Items of note
- First appearance: Grand Slam, Sneak Peek.
- Death of Grand Slam.
- This issue shipped with two covers in a 50:50 ratio. Cover A featured art by Tom Feister, while Cover B was done by interior artist Alex Cal.
- Mainframe mentions Star Trek's "Kobayashi Maru," the famous unwinnable test.
Footnotes and References