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  1. #1

    Snake Eyes: Declassified

    I know I'm a little behind the times here, but I just read this and had some questions for Chux and anyone else who has been keeping up with the GI Joe comic over the last 26 years.

    So... SPOILERS follow for those of you who haven't read about Snake Eyes' origin and don't want it ruined. You've been warned.



    So here're my questions:

    1. There seem to be three people involved in the plot to assassinate Snake Eyes while he's training with Clan Arashikage: Faceless Master, Zartan (even though he looks nothing like Zartan from the cartoon) and apparently Cobra Commander. So, who is Faceless Master? They show Firefly piloting Zartan's escape chopper after he assassinates Hard Master by mistake. So is Faceless actually Firefly?

    2. Was that really Cobra Commander who went on the vigilante spree with Snake Eyes in issue #2? If so, that's kind of lame. If Chux hadn't already told me to disregard this issue completely when considering the grand scheme of Joe continuity, then I think the book would have lost me immediately with that revelation. And why is Cobra Commander just a normal guy with a wife and baby?

    3. So Storm Shadow was framed? Since Storm Shadow is a bad guy, I would think the story would make more sense and be less convoluted if they had just had him assassinate Hard Master out of jealousy. Or was this development a retroactive revision to the story after Storm Shadow became a member of GI Joe?

    4. Are the events of issue #1 taking place during Vietnam? Wouldn't it be better to update that to the Gulf War, otherwise all the original Joes would be approaching 60 years old?

    Overall, I liked the story. Some stuff was a little predictable, but it's a pretty clean origin story for a character who was actually tied with Darth Vader as my all-time favorite fictional character when I was a kid. The Star Wars prequels have actually knocked Darth Vader down a few slots into 3rd or 4th place. Snake Eyes was firmly at #1 before I read this book and he's still at the top of that list, so I guess that means I enjoyed it.
    "To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence… When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." - C.S. Lewis

  2. #2
    I started answering this last night, and something screwed up with my connection, so here's attempt #2.

    1) The Faceless Master is indeed Firefly. Long story short, he was orphaned in Vietnam during the 1950s by French soldiers and raised by Koga ninja (though how he wound up being raised by Japanese ninjas in Japan has, so far as I recall, never been answered). He became a mercenary because he thought his beloved sister had also been killed (though this first came up in the recent 2-pack comic), and has always been the nastiest, most bloodthirsty of the major Cobras. (In fact, until the aforementioned 2-pack comic, he had no redeeming qualities whatsoever.)

    He was initially killed by Cobra Commander when he retook control of Cobra around issue #100, at the same time as Dr. Mindbender, Croc Master, Raptor, and a few others. However, Hasbro soon made new figures of Firefly and Mindbender. Mindbender was cloned (somewhat fitting for him), and Firefly was revealed to be a ninja for the first time and his connection with the Arashikage was introduced. (He took the body of Serpentor, which Mindbender had preserved for study and everyone forgot in the panic, put his own uniform on the corpse, and bashed in the head so no one would be any wiser when they found the bodies.) Firefly has possibly the most ridiculous ability of any ninja in the comic: he uses a form of hypnosis so that no one who looks directly at his face can remember it from second to second. The mind, unable to comprehend what's going on, registers his face as a blank.

    Zartan at this point had not become the leader of the Dreadnoks, and was just a normal thug. He probably would've been happy for the rest of his life if he could've stayed in Japan making swords. There's a book called Dreadnoks: Declassified that goes into more about his origin (almost entirely new stuff from Devil's Due), but it really, really, REALLY sucks, and all you need to know is he wasn't a master of disguise leading a biker gang yet.

    2) I said it was lame. Cobra Commander is a normal guy because in the comics, he was never an immortal snake creature. He was a struggling used car salesman who idolized his older brother (Dan--though CC's name has never been revealed) a bit too much, and snapped when Dan killed himself and Snake Eyes' family in a drunk driving crash. He came to the warped conclusion that the US government and specifically Snake Eyes were responsible for Dan's death and all his troubles, left town with his then-toddler son, Billy, and started a string of pyramid schemes that would go on to fund Cobra.

    By the time Snake Eyes is training in Japan, Cobra seems to have just started, since they have custom helicopters and logos, but no troops.

    3) Yup. This came out relatively early on. Basically, all the main Cobras had some "human" trait or redeeming quality, and Storm Shadow got the worst of it. He knew he could only find out who the assassin was by becoming as highly-ranked a Cobra as possible, which would mean absolutely to never break cover, even if it meant his best friends from 'Nam thought he was a remorseless killer for years.

    He finally found out it was Zartan who was responsible, contacted Snake Eyes, and was severely wounded by Baroness just before Serpentor was cloned. (In fact, the Cobras thought he was dead and used him in the creation of Serpentor.)

    Since this time, both he and Snake Eyes have forgiven Zartan, and Storm Shadow recently forgave Firefly. (This is probably because Larry Hama is one of the few writers who has done enough research on real ninja to know that their philosophical beliefs aren't especially conducive to decades-long thirsts for revenge. After recovering from his wounds, Storm Shadow finally realized that.)

    4) Yeah, it was 'Nam. However, Devil's Due (about 1-2 years into their run) suddenly retconned it from being the Vietnam War to being an unspecified, fictional conflict somewhere in an unspecified area of Southeast Asia.

    I'd recommend next reading "Operation: Lady Doomsday" (GIJoe #1, available with the Hawk/Scarlett pack or online at Hasbro's site), then following it up with GIJoe: Declassified (an all new story by Hama about how all the other members joined the team, which takes place just before and just after GIJoe #1), and, especially "Panic at the North Pole" (GIJoe #2, also at Hasbro's site).
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  3. #3
    I'm, like, WAY out of the loop on GIJ (stuck in the '80s stories), but I'll ask these questions to help others, as well as myself. Is there more than one "G.I.Joe" series, other than the one begun around 1982? I stopped collecting that one around #80, and later sold off the whole lot that I had (1-80, Yearbooks [3?], Special Missions, Digest sizes, maybe others).

    All your "spoilers," Chux are great and terrible all at once; great in their completeness, terrible in the fact that these were actual storylines?!?
    'It is always nice to see you, says the Besalisk at the counter... And instead I pour blue milk...' From "Dex's Diner" by Su-San Vega

  4. #4
    Thanks for all the info. That's actually quite a lot to take in and completely different from the cartoon.

    I remember a line in the cartoon where Cobra Commander makes the comment that it takes a strong stomach to watch him eat when he isn't wearing his mask. So, that clearly doesn't apply to the comic at all since he looked like he didn't have so much as a canker sore on his face, much less any serious deformities.

    It seems that Serpentor threw the comic book storyline into chaos as well as the cartoon. His appearance in 1986 signaled the beginning of the end of my interest in GI Joe. You can say it was when the GI Joe cartoon "jumped the shark," at least for me anyway.

    My next question about Storm Shadow would have been why would he join Cobra if he knew they were responsible for framing him? But you answered that one already.

    Where exactly do I go on Hasbro's site to read these comic issues? I already have GI Joe #1 from the comic 2-pack, but I can't find anything on Hasbro's website that suggests where I can find #2.
    "To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence… When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." - C.S. Lewis

  5. #5
    didn't devil's due do declassified duty on storm shadow also? sorry i ran out of d's.

  6. #6
    This is from memory, so it may be slightly incomplete, and it doesn't include reprint series:

    MARVEL:
    GIJoe: A Real American Hero
    GIJoe Yearbook (the annuals)
    GIJoe Special Missions
    GIJoe Order of Battle (a Who's Who/GIJoe Universe thing)
    GIJoe European Missions (reprinted some British issues of Action Force, with touched-up dialogue since Action Force had the same characters, only they were Brits)
    GIJoe and the Transformers (no repercussions in the Joe-verse, but had some serious fallout in the Transformers series)

    Devil's Due:
    GIJoe: A Real American Hero (was intended to be a mini-series, but continued for about 30-odd issues... this was good at first, but jumped the shark hard around issue 25)
    GIJoe: America's Elite (continued where RAH left off, but never really "saved" the series)
    GIJoe: Frontline (kinda like Special Missions from Marvel--some were great, some blew hard)
    GIJoe: Battle Files (updated file info)
    Snake Eyes: Declassified
    GIJoe: Declassified
    Scarlett: Declassified
    Dreadnoks: Declassified
    Several one-shots published as "Special Missions"
    Storm Shadow

    Devil's Due and Dreamwave published several "GIJoe vs the Transformers" miniseries that were self-contained and not set in either universe.

    CC in the comics looks totally normal. Although he was never seen fully unmasked, bits of his face were exposed at various times, so one can figure out he's a normal-looking fellow with brown hair. He may have had a handlebar moustache during most of the "classic" era, but this could easily have been a false 'stache.

    I don't think there was ever a Storm Shadow Declassified, but he had a solo series that ran seven issues and is quite good. (A lot of folks don't seem to like it, since it's ninja action and very little tie-in with the greater universe, aside from a cameo by Zartan in one issue.)

    Oh, and http://hasbro.com/monkeybartv/defaul...rand=520&cat=8
    (Warning: The page can be slow as hayle.)
    Last edited by El Chuxter; 08-04-2008 at 10:17 PM.
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  7. #7
    http://comicnewsi.com/article.php?ca...8&itemid=11939

    Writeup of the Transformers comic panel (which I missed in favor of Clone Wars--big mistake). It includes some info on the new GIJoe comic, as well as images of the updated looks for Baroness, Destro, Snake Eyes, and Scarlet (all pretty faithful to the originals), along with a painting (cover?) of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, and what looks like an unfinished two-page sequence of some Joes in a "demolition derby" styled battle with the Baroness.
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  8. #8
    There will be not one, but THREE books based on the "updated classic" GIJoe starting in January.

    One is by Larry Hama and will be the origins of the team, set a few years in the past. It's supposed to stay true to the characters, but play loose with the situations they're put in (much like the IDW Transformers comic). It will have a limited cast, as neither Joe nor Cobra will be at their full size yet.

    Another is by Chuck Dixon, set in the present day, and with the full team (minus anyone who gets killed).

    The third will be about an as-yet unnamed Joe (supposedly someone who's been previously introduced; I'm guessing Chuckles, Mercer, or maybe Faces) going deep undercover in Cobra. It's by Christos Gage.

    I'm not familiar with Gage, but I'd follow a book about My Little Pony vs Strawberry Shortcake if both Hama and Dixon were involved. This looks like a dream come true. Combined with Resolute, the neo-classic Joes will more than overshadow anything the movie does wrong.
    Tommy, close your eyes.

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