Further revelations about the past of Snake-Eyes and the death of the Hard Master.
In the Florida Everglades Cobra Commander, Destro, the Baroness and Zartan struggle in quicksand and fire at Junkyard for leading them there in the first place. Nearby Tripwire, Torpedo and Mutt hear the shots but remain determined to recapture Firefly and Wild Weasel. Half a mile up the trail their prey have set up a Malayan Tiger Gate trap designed to spike the Joes when they come down the path. Back in the quicksand, Destro tells the others that shooting the dog won't get them out but firing a wrist rocket to down a tree will. Junkyard charges down the trail, running straight past the three Joes and then the noise of the trap springing is heard.
At the Pit Scarlett, Hawk and Stalker continue to discuss Snake-Eyes's past. Stalker and Hawk were putting together G.I. Joe and Stalker convinced Hawk to try and recruit Snake-Eyes.
- They eventually tracked his army disability checks to a rural delivery box in the High Sierras. There, a postman told them that Snake-Eyes collected his check each month but never came into town. He lived in a cabin up on the ridge. Local rumors said he was a werewolf. Hours later Stalker and Hawk reached the cabin. Stalker dismissed the werewolf talk as local superstition but inside the cabin was a wolf which he addressed as "Snake-Eyes". Stalker pointed to a man returning - it was Snake-Eyes who had been rabbit hunting without a gun. They convinced him to come with them, leaving the wolf at the cabin.
Scarlett now picks up the story, telling how she first met Snake-Eyes:
- Scarlett was putting cadets through hand-to-hand refresher training. The men didn't take her seriously even after she rapidly overpowered Steeler. Snake-Eyes was next and she soon realized he was letting her win to save her pride. She was intrigued by him and went with him off-post one evening. He admitted he'd studied martial arts in Japan but little more. She realized that the mysterious aura "was a small-town boy who missed his home and was very, very lonely". They became friends though she wanted more even when he said she reminded him of his sister. He told her about carrying the photo of his sister through Vietnam, believing that as long as nothing happened to the picture, nothing could happen to him. Then something did happen to the picture and his sister & parents were killed in a car crash the day he came home. He felt it should have been a talisman for her safety.
- Months later Snake-Eyes, Scarlett, Rock 'n Roll and Grunt were on a hostage rescue mission above a desert when their helicopter engine stalled and the pilots ordered a bail out. Rock 'n Roll and Grunt got out when the helicopter started spinning, throwing one of the doors shut on Scarlett's web-gear, trapping her. The helicopter was heading towards its fellow and Scarlett told Snake-Eyes to get out but he instead tried to free her when the two helicopters collided. The aviation fuel ignited and a jet of flaming vapor tore through the window, hitting Snake-Eyes in the face. Scarlett was knocked out in the crash but Rock 'n Roll told her later how Snake-Eyes carried her clear of the wreckage with his face still on fire and his voice gone.
- Snake-Eyes spent six months in hospital but no plastic surgeon could restore his face. He could have retired with a full disability pension but had nothing to do. He had nobody left... but Scarlett.
Scarlett tells the others she doesn't think Snake-Eyes blames her but wishes she knew what goes on in his head.
In Florida Wild Weasel and Firefly rush to the trap to find that Junkyard has set it off without being harmed. Suddenly Mutt, Tripwire and Torpedo emerge with their guns raised, only to be attacked by the remaining Cobras.
In Spanish Harlem the Soft Master explains he took an undercover role as the owner of a Cuban-Chinese restaurant to give him time to think and work out how to bring the killer of his brother, the Hard Master, to justice. He picks up the arrow that killed his brother - an arrow with Storm Shadow's personal sigils and shot only moments after the Hard Master discussed Storm Shadow's pending disinheritance. He asks how many archers can hit and kill a ninja master behind a solid wall. He knows of only one - who is watching through the window! The Soft Master ducks as Snake-Eyes fires through the window. Whilst he reloads Storm Shadow jumps through the broken glass and grabs the arrow, dodging Snake-Eyes's bullets and disappearing down into the cellar. Snake-Eyes follows. Police arrive and realizing the shooters have escaped they call for a SWAT team. Outside Storm Shadow runs through the crowds, pursued by Snake-Eyes who catches his prey by a fruit stall.
At the Pit Scarlett picks up the police transmission about the fight and realizes who it involves. In Harlem a road sweeper truck knocks the two ninjas apart and sucks up Snake-Eyes's machine gun. Storm Shadow runs and reaches a railway line. Meanwhile the Dragonfly, piloted by Wild Bill and Scarlett, carries the V.A.M.P. into town and lowers it, before performing an aerial recon. Storm Shadow leaps onto the roof of a passing train, followed by Snake-Eyes. The two fight on the roof but the train starts to enter a tunnel. Storm Shadow doesn't realize this as he is facing backwards. He tells Snake-Eyes he bears no grudge but can't let him stop him from doing what he has to do. Hearing the nearby Dragonfly he is reminded of when he saved Snake-Eyes's life in Vietnam when they were attacked boarding a helicopter. The carriage starts to enter the tunnel and Snake-Eyes throws aside his knife, encouraging Storm Shadow to leap forward and attack. As the two drop down the side onto the joining platform Storm Shadow realizes his life has been saved. He throws his own knife aside and declares they are even now. The two stand up and Storm Shadow tells what happened the day the Hard Master died:
- Storm Shadow didn't kill him. The arrow was his but it had been taken from a squirrel he shot in practice that day. He saw a masked bowman fleeing onto a Cobra helicopter. Since then Storm Shadow has since spent years working his way up in Cobra waiting until the day he will rank highly enough to learn the identity of the killer.
After that he will have his revenge and then hopes that he and Snake-Eyes can once more be as brothers. The train reaches a station and Scarlett and Wild Bill hold the crowds back as they locate Snake-Eyes who refuses to say where Storm Shadow went.
Meanwhile in the swamp the Cobras discover the Joes have disappeared again and so Zartan decides to call out the Dreadnoks.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Featured Vehicles & Equipment
(Locations from flashbacks in italics)
"Hawk, that 'poor animal' is a wolf. He don't need no walkies and he thinks Alpo's for sissies!"
- --Timber is introduced by Stalker.
- More of a later retcon than an error, but the letter column specifically denies that Firefly is a ninja.
Items of note
- First appearance: Timber.
- In the United Kingdom the story was reprinted in Action Force #13 & #14.
- 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.
- Scarlett's description of the mission that led to Snake-Eyes' disfigurement sounds somewhat reminiscent of Operation Eagle Claw, a failed attempt to rescue the hostages of the Iran Embassy Crisis which ended badly when a helicopter's engine failed, causing it to crash into another aircraft.
- More information about the mission which resulted in Snake-Eyes' disfigurement would eventually be revealed in G.I. Joe #144.
- A child on the street thinks Storm Shadow is Moon Knight.
- This issue was reprinted in the G.I. Joe vol. 3 and G.I. Joe: The Best of Snake Eyes trade paperbacks.
Footnotes and References