“The Panic at the North Pole!”
A note from glancing at the beginning of this issue: 15 out of the 22 sentences in the opening 2 pages end with an exclamation point. Hopefully that drives home to you how hard they were trying (very hard) in these precious first issues of GI JOE to deliver groin-grabbing excitement. I think they’re trying a little too hard.
The issue opens on a decimated American winter base in the middle of the Arctic. To set the stage of what’s going on in the world at the time that this series was started, the Americans immediately suspect “Ivan”—The Russians. If you’re looking for real Cold War nostalgia, look no further. And there will be more. Much more.
Anyway, the JOEs visit a nearby “Ivan” base to see if the Russians are indeed behind the attack on US property. As they arrive, an Eskimo goes inside the “base” (aka TUFF SHED) and leaves shortly thereafter. When he’s gone, the JOEs search the base to find the Russians dead and some equipment missing. Snake Eyes finds an armed bomb and the group escapes just before the base explodes. Speaking of Snake Eyes, we also learn in this issue (at the beginning) that Snake Eyes has a massively deformed face. We don’t get to see this, of course. We find out in classic comic fashion– by some guy remarking on it (“My God! Your face!”) from an angle where we can’t see.
The Eskimo turns out to be Kwinn; in this issue he’s a total weirdo but he eventually becomes important. The US army brass sends a communique on Breaker’s teleprinter:
Boy, the US military sure has some high-tech dossiers on rival assassins don’t they? Check out the personality profile: “Subject never lies (BULLSHIT), always fulfills contractual obligations to the letter..” Believe me, the writers follow this dossier to the letter, too. Annoyingly so. Apparently, these writers’ idea of a “personality” is a set of rigid moral and personal principles that a character follows regardless of any consequences in every situation. As opposed to..you know…how they act and stuff.
The JOEs follow Kwinn only to be found out. He leaves them without supplies or weapons in the middle of the Arctic, presumably for dead. They scavenge a nearby plane to make a sled (of course they do) and catch up to him. Scarlett uses some bizarre forms of martial arts to try to bring him down. Exhibit A:
I honestly don’t even know what to say. Just ridiculous. But I want to learn to fight like that. These comics are literally full of moments like this. Anyway, a bunch more boring crap happens in the middle of the blandly-illustrated tundra and eventually, the JOEs convince Kwinn that the job he’s doing is for the wrong people. But…he has a problem! He’s contractually obligated to deliver these goods to the Russians! Gasp!! What’s a man to do? You’ll never see this coming– Kwinn delivers the equipment to the Russians (fulfilling his contract!) and is henceforth free to immediately attack them and give the equipment back to the JOEs. Pretty stupid. As dumb and ridiculous as Kwinn is in the episode, I happen to know they were building to something, but still…..just ugh.
Frame of the Day:
Why is it frame of the day?
Snake Eyes spots an armed bomb. Rather than risk speaking out loud to warn his comrades (he wouldn’t!), he shoots a machine gun in an enclosed space with metal walls to get their attention. Good God, Snake. I know you’re a badass, but c’mon.
Camp: 8 The Cold War nostalgia is extremely strong and fun to get back into.
Dossiers: 1 Who’s a guy gotta blow to get a decent dossier around here? Oh, right. Breaker.
Teleprinters: 10, Gotta love a $100,000, 200-pound backpack being carried around by a tech-savy and professionally trained specialist (he can send pictures!…through the radio!) who could be replaced today by a 9 year-old with a Droid Razr.
Gun safety: 1
Overall: 3. Not my favorite. Very bland landscape for a story (WHITE SNOW!!) and a pretty poor plot.