The search for Candy and the revelation of the Hard Master's killer brings several intruders to Cobra Island!
The Skystriker flies over Cobra Island with Ace and Ripcord on board conducting a surveillance mission. Ripcord is in a bad mood following his girlfriend Candy being kidnapped by a Dreadnok, Candy's father being revealed as the Crimson Guard who devised the creation of the island and Candy herself may be a Cobra agent. On the island in the Terror Drome Candy's father Appel tells Zartan about the Skystriker violating their airspace and suggests shooting it down. But Zartan worries it might be a civilian airliner and doesn't want to jeopardize the island's newly established sovereignty.
In Washington D.C. Hawk visits General Austin in hospital and reports their long range surveillance of Cobra Island. Austin wishes a man could be put on the island but Hawk reminds him that the island's sovereign nation status is enough of a problem for the government without military action, making even deep cover operations out of the question.
At Fort Wadsworth Flint introduces Snake-Eyes and Spirit to two new Joes - Quick Kick and Alpine. However neither established Joe is the most friendly. Snake-Eyes suddenly overhears a chaplain's assistant talking about a telegram received from a county sheriff who picked up a transmission on the police net to pass onto them. He says it begins with three "U"s in Morse Code and reads "The killer of the Hard Master is..." and Snake-Eyes snatches it, has a fit and runs off.
That night the Skystriker is still circling Cobra Island when Ripcord suddenly ejects himself. Ace radios Hawk that Ripcord is taking things into his own hands. At the hospital Hawk tells Austin who points out that Hawk deliberately put a hot head in the Skystriker, counting on him to make the jump. Hawk agrees that they are forced to send a covert rescue team who can take photographs while they're there. Ripcord lands on the island by the beech. Prof. Appel tells Zartan that it seems the Skystriker ejected something.
In New York Storm Shadow is meditating in his lair when Snake-Eyes bursts in and hands him the message. The three U's in Morse Code match their ninja clan symbol and the message is from the Soft Master naming the Hard Master's killer. On Cobra Island Ripcord buries his parachute and sets off. In the Terror Drome Cobra Commander has been woken but he doubts the Joes would break the rules to send a spy and refuses to send out troops. Meanwhile Zartan steps outside for a stroll. Meanwhile Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes blast off from New York aboard captured C.L.A.W.s. Storm Shadow comments that it should have been obvious. The Hard Master's killer had to enter a ninja compound and steal a weapon then have enough force and accuracy to shoot a ninja master in his own home, then be strongly connected to Cobra to have a helicopter for his getaway.
On Cobra Island Ripcord confronts a Cobra Trooper and demands to know where Appel is. The Trooper feigns ignorance while Zartan watches from the rocks. He produces his bow and arrow and comments that he doesn't know if he's "still as good with this thing as I used to be..." In New York Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes have reached the Cobra hangar and take the Baroness's personal Rattler to fly to Cobra Island. Meanwhile at McGuire Air Force Base a C130 takes off, flown by Wild Bill and carrying Flint, Quick Kick, Alpine and Spirit. They were supposed to have Snake-Eyes with them but he dashed off.
On Cobra Island an arrow flies through the Trooper, killing him, and strikes Ripcord in the left arm. He bandages himself whilst Zartan comments that he wishes he hadn't ditched the sound amplification gear on his bow that allowed him to hear where his target was and shoot through obstacles. In Washington D.C. Austin contacts the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and tells them that due to medical reasons he is stepping down as commander in chief of G.I. Joe and proposes the "Alpha" plan. All agree and the call ends. Austin tells Hawk he is promoted to Brigadier General and is now commander in chief of G.I. Joe.
On board the Rattler Storm Shadow comments that everyone thought the Hard Master was killed by a ninja because the killer was able to hear through a wall, pull a very powerful bow to fire an arrow through a wall the Hard Master and the practice pole in one shot. But all this could have been done with technology - "with a compound bow fitted with sound amplification-directional-ranging equipment" - and by someone who could change his appearance to walk onto the grounds unnoticed. All this matches Zartan and Storm Shadow swears revenge.
On Cobra Island Ripcord and Zartan exchange bullets and arrows. Ripcord is bruised on the head but manages to shoot and break Zartan's bow, Zartan produces a pistol and fades eye before Ripcord's scope. Ripcord fires but Zartan is invisible. Zartan walks over to Ripcord's position, only to find the Joe missing. Suddenly Ripcord's hand emerges from a puddle and the two fight.
In the morning Prof. Appel tells Cobra Commander that an unscheduled Rattler is approaching but knows all the codes and procedures. Cobra Commander orders firepower on standby but suggests it is probably a schedule error. The Rattler lands and the two ninjas prepare to slip out. Out in the gulf Wild Bill and Airborne drop the other Joes aboard a dinghy and they direct it to the island. On Cobra Island, it seems as though Ripcord has won the fight. The man stands over his unconscious enemy and comments how his strength beat his foe. Now he can take the other's identity and infiltrate his headquarters. "They'll never know that I'm not one of them!"
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Featured Vehicles & Equipment
- None yet.
- For some reason, Storm Shadow's speech balloons turn yellow when he sees Snake-Eyes' telegram.
Items of note
- First Appearances: Alpine, Quick Kick, Terror Drome
- Hard Master's killer revealed.
- Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow fight together for the first time.
- Hawk gets promoted to Brigadier General and wears his 1986 battle togs for the first time.
- In the "Postbox: The Pit!" letters page, the editor responds to one letter by saying "A well-known filmmaker has the option on the live action rights to G.I. Joe." That movie obviously never got made, and it would be 2009 before any such project came together. The letters page also announces that, rather than a third animated miniseries, G.I. Joe will become an ongoing syndicated show.
- This issue was reprinted in the G.I. Joe vol. 5 and G.I. Joe: The Best of Hawk trade paperbacks.
- In the United Kingdom the story was reprinted in Action Force #44 & #45.
- When General Austin is on the conference call with "the C in C himself," the president's face is obscured on the small monitor. However, his hairstyle distinctly matches that of Ronald Reagan.
Footnotes and References
- Commander in Chief, the official military rank of the U.S. President.