The Joes rescue Dr. Adele Burkhart in the jungles of Sierra Gordo, with help from a native tribe called the Tucaros. Storm Shadow begins to give Billy training as a ninja.
In the jungle of Sierra Gordo a Joe team consisting of Stalker, Ripcord, Recondo, Roadblock and Gung-Ho descend a cliff to reach a bunker and free Dr Adele Burkhart from a rebel stronghold in an ex-Cobra bunker. The rebels are not expecting an attack from the cliff and so they soon overpower the roof guards whilst three Tucaro Indian allies of Recondo haul up the ropes. The Joes then send Recondo inside disguised as a sergeant. Inside Adele Burkhart is being interrogated by rebels who accuse her of being an American CIA agent, citing her previous rescue by the Joe team as evidence. She protests that she is investigating alleged human rights abuses. The interrogator is about to administer sodium amytal, when Recondo subdues him and the guards. But then the Joes have to find a way out.
Elsewhere Storm Shadow is training Billy in the key ninja skills in a hideout in an old water tower in New York. They then switch to civilian clothes and go for a walk. In Sierra Gordo the Joes attempt to pass themselves off as the changing guard but in a guard tower it is spotted that the team has more "guards" than normal and fire fight breaks out. The three Tucaro Indians provide covering fire from the top of the cliff but are soon all killed. Roadblock and Gung-Ho launch shells and bring down the tower, then the Joes flee.
In Cobra Headquarters in Springfield, Cobra Commander receives a report from Destro and the Baroness that both Billy and Storm Shadow are still missing. However Tomax and Xamot have escaped from Staten Island with a Crimson Guardsman who is instrumental to operations in New Orleans. Cobra Commander decides to personally supervise the operation with Zartan accompanying him.
In Sierra Gordo the rebels at the bunker slowly recover and the interrogator orders the others to bring back Burkhart alive and kill the Joes. One of the other rebels agrees but first shoots the interrogator dead. Hours later the Joes reach a river and Recondo explains they will erect a two strand rope bridge to cross. He explains that when he previously crossed, the Tucaros erected an amulet stick to the river spirits to thank them and that if any of the Tucaros had survived they would make another offering. Stalker is unimpressed with this and orders Recondo to backtrack and cover the others while they cross. Ripcord swims across the river with a string line and then hauls the rope over whilst Roadblock erects a structure to support it.
In New York Billy and Storm Shadow are confronted by a street gang who demand money. Storm Shadow whispers that this is a test but Billy just stares at them and the gang decide to move on. Storm Shadow tells Billy he has past the test - "the more skill you acquire, the less you have to use it. The only rational purpose for mastering violence is to abolish it." In Sierra Gordo the Joes are crossing the river when Recondo returns, carrying two of the rebels' sniper rifles. As he crosses the river he drops the rifles in as an offering. Burkhart wonders what happened to the snipers but Roadblock tells her not to ask.
At the Pit Lady Jaye and Duke are interrogating Candy about her father's connections to Cobra, showing he images of the equipment and propaganda they found in the house, but she denies all knowledge. Lady Jaye believes her but Duke is skeptical and asks why her father has coast guard charts of the Gulf of Mexico coast, army survey maps of New Orleans and tidal wave maps for the entire Gulf. Candy still does not know.
In Sierra Gordo Stalker's team reaches a friendly airfield as Ripcord ad Burkhart exchange opinions about the latter's political opinions before Stalker tells them they are fighting for people's freedom to have such views. They board the plane and Stalker prepares to work out the connections for getting back to Staten Island when the pilot and stewardess reveal themselves to be Wild Bill and Cover Girl respectively, and that the plane is a charter flying direct to New Orleans.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Get this through your head! We're not fighting to have everybody think the way we do, we're fighting so that people can think whatever they want! Even if they don't agree with us!"
- --Stalker lays out what makes America great.
- Rod Whigham is credited as "Rod Whigam."
- Footloose appears on the cover, even though he is not in the issue.
Items of note
- Billy begins his ninja training with Storm Shadow.
- The Joes learn of a Cobra operation in the Gulf of Mexico.
- The Gregor in this issue that is helping to hold Dr. Burkhart captive looks similar to the Gregor that helped kidnap Dr. Burkhart in issue #1, but without a mustache. Dimitri has the same color hair as the nameless guy who helped kidnap Burkhart in issue #1. Coincidence?
- This issue was reprinted in the G.I. Joe vol. 4 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 #35 & #36 and #41.
- Inspired by two short stories from Savage Tales, Jim Shooter had a cover mocked up by Danny Crespi to help pitch The 'Nam ongoing comic book to Larry Hama. That pitch used the cover of this issue with a new logo pasted on top.
- In an interview with ToyFare magazine, Larry Hama cited as one of his influences for writing G.I. Joe a story from Walt Disney Comics and Stories #181 in which Donald Duck's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie enter a bridge-building competition. This issue, in which the Joes build a bridge over an impassable river, owes a lot to that story.
Footnotes and References