In this issue some of Snakes-Eyes's past is revealed.
At Zartan's lair in the Florida Everglades Destro prevents Zartan from killing Junkyard as he believes the dog can be useful. Outside Mutt, Torpedo and Tripwire watch as Junkyard seems to be pointing at them. Mutt is outraged at what his dog is doing but Torpedo suspects the dog is up to something.
Meanwhile in Spanish Harlem a man goes into a tea shop and pulls a gun on old man behind the counter. But the old man is not at all scared and calmly points out the robber's limited knowledge of guns as he disarms it. The old man offers to buy the gun and points out that the other customer behind the newspaper is pointing a Uzi at the robber. The robber takes the money and goes. The old man puts the gun in a draw full of guns purchased from robbers and closes the shop as he turn to his customer - his old friend Snake-Eyes.
At the Pit Scarlett and Hawk are researching the tattoo worn by both Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow but can draw no leads. Then Stalker comes in and tells them he knows how it links them together:
- Ten years ago Stalker was part of a Long-Range Recon Patrol in the Vietnam War. The six man patrol walked into a valley where they encountered a large force of regular Viet Cong and only three of the patrol walked out. The three were Stalker, Tommy - "a Japanese-American kid out of Fresno... unpronounceable last name" - and Snake-Eyes, even then a mystery. Suddenly Snake-Eyes spotted a lone Viet Cong soldier up ahead. Stalker would have shot him but Tommy stopped him and killed the solider with a bow and steel-tipped arrow. He reminded Stalker that a suppressor muffles a rifle discharge blast but not the sonic boom of the bullet. The three crawled clear of the valley to await their pick-up. Tommy was talking heavily to Snake-Eyes - the two had been through an entire tour together and were close, whilst Stalker felt like an outsider even though he'd been with them for six months. Tommy talked of his uncle's business in Japan that he would join after the war and was hinting there was a place for Snake-Eyes. His friend hardly listened and just stared at a battered picture of his twin sister - this was his good luck charm and he believed no harm could come to him whilst the photo was safe.
- A pick-up helicopter came in and Stalker boarded when suddenly they came under fire. Snake-Eyes went down and a bullet tore a hole in the picture. The helicopter was vulnerable and Stalker, believing Snake-Eyes to be dead, ordered Tommy to leave him. But Tommy ran through the crossfire whilst the pilots gave him covering fire. Tommy carried Snake-Eyes across the line of fire, amazingly dodging the bullets. Later in the air Tommy used his wrist bands to bind Snake-Eyes's wounds. Stalker then saw Tommy's forearm for the first time, with the tattoo on it.
Stalker has just called the records division at Leonard Wood and learnt that Tommy's surname translates directly as "Storm Shadow".
In Florida, Torpedo, Mutt and Tripwire see Junkyard leading Cobra Commander, Destro, the Baroness and Zartan forward from the hut, and so the Joes withdraw to pick up their prisoners Firefly and Wild Weasel. But when they reach the tree they find the two Cobra agents have escaped.
In Spanish Harlem the old man produces a box full of Snake-Eyes's personal belongings that he left behind when he left the old man's family house. The old man has travelled widely since then but knew that Snake-Eyes would find him. Amongst the possessions are a medal for gallantry and the photo of Snake-Eyes's sister which the old man's nephew retrieved in the jungle.
At the Pit Hawk now continues the story:
- Snake-Eyes was part of a group of soldiers who came home. At the home airport all the others met their families but no-one came to meet Snake-Eyes. Four hours later Hawk arrived late to find him sitting there. When he got there Snake-Eyes saw the look on his face and knew. The car his family was in was smashed up on the highway by a car driven by a stoned-out veteran.
In Spanish Harlem the old man produces an arrow and recounts further:
- Snake-Eyes travelled to Japan to take up Tommy's offer of a place with the family firm. He was accepted by the company board - the old man, the Vice President (Finance) known as the "Soft Master"; his brother, the President & Chairman of the Board, known as the "Hard Master"; and their nephew, Tommy, a junior partner known as the "Young Master". They were all ninjas. Snake-Eyes entered into a rigorous life of training and concentration. Snake-Eyes proved even better than Tommy, but sometimes let Tommy save face in fights. However Tommy was always better at the bow, able to hear so well beyond the line of sight. But the only way to refine the skill was to kill and Snake-Eyes disagreed with this. Snake-Eyes was growing in the favour of the Hard Master and one evening the latter taught him "Darkened Room" techniques known as "Blind Sword" when Snake-Eyes heard a third person in the courtyard. But the Hard Master didn't believe there was any danger and went behind a screen to continue the training, imitating someone and challenging Snake-Eyes to identify the impression. Suddenly an arrow came through the screen and killed him. The Soft Master rushed into the courtyard to see Tommy rushing away with a bow and assumed he was chasing the intruder. But the arrow was one of Tommy's and only he had the skill to aim by sound and force to fire it. However the dying Hard Master denied Tommy's guilt. Tommy never returned and the family business disbanded. Later they learnt that Tommy had become a Cobra agent using the family name "Storm Shadow". The Soft Master has always believed it was Tommy who killed the Hard Master, but had really been targeting Snake-Eyes.
In the Everglades Wild Weasel and Firefly flee through the Everglades, followed by the Joes. Meanwhile the other four Cobra members follow Junkyard through a puddle - only to discover the dog has led them into quicksand!
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
|G.I. Joe||Cobra||Civilians||Arashikage Clan||Misc|
(Locations from flashbacks in italics)
"No amount of legislation will deter men from constructing bigger and better engines of destruction."
- --Soft Master is critical of attempts to control weapons by legislation
- Terri and Snake-Eyes are meant to be twins, but she looks to be in her early teens in this issue.
- Last issue, Mutt was wearing his helmet. In this issue, he's wearing a hat, like Gung-Ho.
- Granted, Zartan can be any colour he wants, but the bizarre purple look he sports on the splash page abuses the privilege.
- Stalker repeatedly describes the future Storm Shadow's last name as "unpronounceable". "Arashikage" doesn't roll off North American tongues easily, but it's far from unpronounceable.
Items of note
- First Appearances: Hard Master and Soft Master.
- Introduction of the backstory to both Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow that would be revisited many times in later issues.
- Only three members - Stalker, Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes - of the six member Long-Range Recon Patrol are shown in this issue, but the various fates of the other three will be shown in later issues.
- In a survey of readers of the Action Force weekly comic, "Snake-Eyes: The Origin" Part I & Part II was voted "Favourite story" by a landslide.
- This issue was reprinted in the G.I. Joe vol. 3, G.I. Joe: The Best of Larry Hama and G.I. Joe: The Best of Snake Eyes trade paperbacks.
- In the United Kingdom the story was reprinted in Action Force #11 & #12.
- How awesome is it that Junkyard starts to bury the Cobras after he tricks them into the quicksand?
- In Stalker's flashback, the helicopter is piloted by Stan Lee. (I feel like I should know who the other guy in the chopper is too - his nametag reads "Hogan" if that helps anyone fill this in.)
- The reference to "donning the chameleon's mantle" is a very subtle hint at the truth about the Hard Master's death, which is not revealed until significantly later in the series.
- No references.
Footnotes and References