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Having just escaped from the Pit, Buzzer has kidnapped Rip Cord's girlfriend Candy and heads to Springfield. General Austin has a heart attack and Hawk goes to visit him with Snake-Eyes and Stalker. The Soft Master breaks in the Cobra computer data banks at a police station in Springfield. Storm Shadow continues to train Billy, who abruptly leaves to confront his father, Cobra Commander. Fred II makes a startling revelation about himself.
At McGuire airfield the Joes who fought on Cobra Island have now returned. Hawk informs Ripcord that Buzzer has escaped, taking Candy with him. Suddenly a transmission comes in from General Austin who tells Hawk he is being blamed for the Cobra Island debacle and is privately reading the riot act to the Joe commander. Suddenly Austin collapses with a heart attack.
On the road between the Pit and Springfield Candy pleads with Buzzer to release her and warns him about getting ideas. Buzzer tells her to sit back as he pulls the military bus up at a diner, searching for a less conspicuous vehicle. In New York Storm Shadow continues to train Billy, teaching him to use his senses other than his eyes to stop a sword.
At the Broca home Mrs Broca has called in a doctor as Fred II has sustained a fever since he fell off the ferry. The doctor prescribes staying in bed and taking liquid to avoid pneumonia, but Fred refuses as he has things to do. After the doctor leaves Fred and Mrs Broca argue, with Fred reminding her that he isn't her husband, who died on a mountain, but just another Crimson Guardsman who was given a new face and "a made-to-order family!" This upsets both Mrs Broca and her eavesdropping children.
At the Pit Hawk tells Duke, Stalker and Snake-Eyes that Austin is in an intensive care unit in Washington DC and that he must get there to be by him. Explaining he wants to enter the city quietly he orders Stalker and Snake-Eyes to drive him in the V.A.M.P. All three go to change to their dress uniforms. In the Pit's medical bay Ripcord is told he will get a Purple Heart for his wounds but he is depressed about Candy.
On the outskirts of Springfield the Soft Master is hitch-hiking when he is picked up by a driver who drinks a lot of coffee laced with French Brandy. The car heads into town, driven very badly. At the diner Buzzer has stolen a pick-up truck but Candy shouts she is being kidnapped. The truck's owner charges outside, only to be hit by his own truck. Candy starts to run but Buzzer drives after her and grabs her. In New York Storm Shadow teaches Billy about resisting fear, including slashing his sword down to just above Billy's head. The boy does not flinch.
On the road to Washington DC Hawk thinks he hears something hit the fender but Stalker doesn't. The latter notes a car has been following them for three turns but Hawk dismisses it as a coincidence when it turns off into a side street. In the car Fred II activates a tracking device he has just placed on the V.A.M.P. and listens in as Stalker and Snake-Eyes decide to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to pay their respects.
The Soft Master has reached the center of Springfield and gets out of the car, but leaves his suitcase behind. He then enters the police station. Less than a hundred miles away Candy tries to jump out of the pick-up truck but is stopped by Buzzer, who also tells her the guns on the back rack are unloaded. In Washington DC Hawk emerges from the hospital to tell Stalker and Snake-Eyes that Austin won't be able to see visitors for hours but he must wait around in case anything is said. He tells the to go and visit the memorial and meet back at nine. They drive off, pursued by Fred II who hopes to capture them in a secluded location. He finds Stalker is familiar but can't remember why, as his fever gets worse.
In the Springfield police station the Soft Master tells the desk sergeant he wants to access the station computer and that he knows how to do it. The sergeant tells him the files are confidential but this does not deter, so he orders three police officers to show the Soft Master how they treat rude strangers. The Soft Master warns them not to.
The pick-up truck crosses a bumpy road and suddenly the glove compartment opens, revealing the ammunition for the guns. Candy grabs a shot gun and struggles with Buzzer, smashing one of his spectacle lenses, then loads the shot gun and fires through the window.
At the Memorial Stalker and Snake-Eyes are stunned by its size and the number of names on it. Another soldier tells them there is a directory at one end to help them locate their fallen comrades. In Springfield the Soft Master has subdued all the police officers and ow dodges the sergeant's gun. Taking the gun he tells him to start looking up information about the Hard Master.
In the pick-up truck Candy kicks out Buzzer and threatens him at gun point. He starts pleading but she drives off and he immediately recovers his composure. At the memorial Snake-Eyes and Stalker look up their comrades Ramon Escobedo, Dickie Saperstein and Wade Collins, who perished in a fierce attack. Snake-Eyes draws Stalker's attention and they realise Collins isn't listed. Stalker wonders if this means Collins is alive. Fred II steps forward and declares "Wade Collins isn't dead at all! Cobra gave him a new face, a new name and a new life!
In New York Storm Shadow returns to his hideaway to find Billy has gone, leaving a note thanking him and explaining he is returning home to confront both his own past and a part of Storm Shadow's.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Featured Vehicles & Equipment
Soft Master: Tsk, tsk, tsk... violence only brings violence back on itself. I've broken a fingernail...
- When Buzzer steals the pickup truck the diner is described as "on the other side of Springfield", but later he and Candy are over 100 miles from the town.
Items of note
- First appearance: V.A.M.P. Mark II
- Last appearance: Snake-Eyes' 1982 figure's commando suit
- Fred II's license plate is "FRED II"? That doesn't seem very inconspicuous.
- We start to hear more about Stalker and Snake-Eyes' shared experience in 'Nam, first discussed in Snakes' "origin story" in issues 26 and 27. It is revealed that the other three members of Stalker's and Snake-Eyes' LRRP were named Ramon Escobedo, Dickie Saperstein and Wade Collins, followed immediately by the revelation that Collins is still alive and is the same person as Fred II.
- Of the seven fan letters printed on this issue's "Postbox: The Pit!" page, three were from female readers, one was from an active duty Vietnam vet, and another was from the son of a career Army Officer. Despite over 200 tries, no one won a No-Prize for explaining the errors in issue 38.
- This issue was reprinted in the G.I. Joe vol. 5 and G.I. Joe: The Best of Storm Shadow trade paperbacks.
- In the United Kingdom the bulk of the story was reprinted in Action Force #39 & #40 and #41. Changes made were as follows:
- The page of Fred II seeing the V.A.M.P. leave, going into pursuit and planting the homing device and the page of Candy trying to leap out of the pick-up truck and learning the guns are not loaded were both excised.
- The pages involving Storm Shadow & Billy were not reprinted until issue #41 where they were combined with material from "Judgments" and "Walk Through the Jungle", under the umbrella title of "Shadows of Death!"
- The Springfield Police officers names are Huey, Louie and Dewey, after Donald Duck's nephews.
Footnotes and References