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#109- "Death in the Desert"
Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: John Statema

Summary:
In Trucial Abysmia, Tomax and Xamot take turns beating the crap out of Duke (yes)! They radio Cobra Commander in NYC to report in on the captured Joe squadron. Fresh from shitting his pants over Snake-Eyes' visit, CC orders the Twins to simply "get rid of them"! Misunderstanding the orders, the Twins order the Joes to be executed.

A SAW-Viper guns down several of the Joes, killing Doc, Heavy Metal, Crankcase and Thunder. The remaining Joes try escaping on a Cobra Rage, but are soon blown away by a Cobra Maggot barrage. Breaker, Crazylegs and Quick Kick buy it. Only Duke, Lt. Falcon and Cross Country survive.

Breaker was able to get a signal to the PIt, where Hawk scrambles the Defiant. Clutch, Rock n' Roll & Wild Card attempt a sub-orbital drop in Trucial Abysmia in the new Mobile Battle Bunker.

Notes:

  • CC is complying with Snake-Eyes' request, 100%. He is, in fact, packing up and leaving NYC for Cobra Island, and wants nothing to do with the Joes.
  • The long-running call for "realism" is adressed by killing 7 Joes. Doc and Breaker were surprising choices, but the rest were dead weight.
  • The Joes escape the SAW-Viper's initial attack by flinging a knife into his chest. He survives, with a full mad-on for the Joes. He'll stick around for the next few years (groan.. did I just make a "Commando" joke with "stick around"?)
  • The Defiant looks like it's supposed to when it launches. But when it's shown in space, it looks like an ordinary Space Shuttle.
  • The Cobra Rage appears much bigger than its toy counterpart. It was basically an upgraded Cobra Jeep, like the Stinger or STUN. Yet it's rendered like a huge tank in this issue.
  • The deaths are advertised, heavily. The cover blurb says: "Body Count: 7 and Climbing!"
  • A lot of casual and former fans picked this book up because of the DEATHS. The constant helicopter ejections and lack of injuries on the cartoon show had become a huge joke among kids. I was in high school when this came out and I remember a lot of classmates gabbing: "WOW! Pick up GI Joe this month! People finally DIE!! It's awesome"
  • This issue is full of those worthless deaths that bug me (see: my old rant about "Transformers: The Movie"). After surviving countless battles for years, guys suddenly stop dropping like flies, with no real meaning.
  • While the SAW-Vipers were another of the Cobra legions (Cobra Heavy Machine Gunners), this particular SAW-Viper is the only one who gets the spotlight. So for the next few issues he's just "THE SAW-Viper". Similar to the Star Viper (or even the Strato-Viper from SM #5). The Alley, HEAT, Night, Aero-Vipers, etc all remain un-characterized.
  • Tomax, Xamot and CC allude to a master plan involving Trucial Abysmia and the neighborining Emirate of Benzheen (the "friendly" nation).
  • The cover date on this issue is February 1991...meaning it hit the racks around December 1990, when "Operation: Desert Shield" was making headlines. You don't need to run this through Ft. Leonard Wood to see the similarities between Trucial Abysmia and Iraq.
  • A dossier of Storm Shadow is included. It incorrectly cites his first appearance as being issue #23.
  • The letters page leads off with a rant from a fan about the usual ack of "realism". Hama responds with stories of survivors from WWII who would dodge bullets and other stuff.
  • The letters page also explains the Arashikage I-Ching hexagram. Its meaning: fire over water, which indicates the need for perserverance and caution. Or: "thus, the superior man takes thought of misfortune and arms himself against it in advance". Damn, that's ...100% relevant to the series!
  • They also mention that Prof. Onihashi's hexagram was different.
  • The "Bullpen Bulletins" features an enthusiastic promo piece from Stan Lee about Marvel's "Night Cat". Probably worth its own article, but Night Cat was supposed to be a "real life superhero". She kinda' looked like a female Prince (the guy from Minneapolis)
Appearances:
Characters (figures): Hawk, Lt. Falcon, Duke, Crankcase (croaks), Cross Country, Breaker (croaks), Doc (croaks), Quick Kick (croaks), Crazylegs (croaks), Thunder (croaks), Heavy Metal (croaks), Rock n' Roll, Clutch, Wild Card, Lady Jaye, Dial-tone, Countdown, Payload, Hardtop, Cobra Commander, Tomax, Xamot, SAW-Viper

Characters ("comic-only"): none

Vehicles and stuff (toys): Defiant Space Shuttle Complex, Mobile Battle Bunker, Cobra HISS II, Cobra FANG II, Cobra Maggot, Cobra Rage
Vehicles and stuff (not toys): none

Firsties:
Characters: Countdown, SAW-Viper
Vehicles and stuff: Mobile Battle Bunker

Rating: 3 Flag Points

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