Special Missions #4 (the January 1987 issue)
Officially the Jan '87 SM issue, though I happen to know that this was out a little early - I got it for Christmas along with quite a few Joe figures. At this time the only other Joe issue I had was #49, having gotten that for my birthday earlier that year.
When I read SM#4 that Christmas day I was totally BLOWN AWAY. I had liked #49 but this was even better - unlike when I read #49, this time I absolutely had to have more. The thought didn't occur to me at this point that I would want to collect the series full time or try to collect all the back issues - I just wanted to have some more.(And fortunately I had some Christmas money to spend
) A day or two later I bought Yearbook 3. I enjoyed Hush Job but didn't really get what was going on. I had thought Storm Shadow was dead (from reading #49) and how was it possible that Cobra had this huge building right in the middle of the city? But I did enjoy the ninja action. But then when I got to the recap of issues #45-56 - this was really the moment when I knew I was on board for the long haul - that this was something I wanted to collect. I suddenly saw how #49 and "Hush Job" fit in with the bigger story, and what an amazing story this was! A day or so after this I bought #57 at my mall comic shop and also found a comic three-pack at a toy store - (#51, 53, and 55 in a bag - these are all second printings that came out when #56 did) Along with this 3-pack I also bought Leatherneck and the Tele-Viper figures - what a great day!
By the time Christmas vacation came to an end I was totally obsessed with the series even though at that point I only had 7 issues. One of my friends learned about my new hobby and he said that he had a few issues and that I could have them - I got #50, 52 and 56 from him. From this point on it gets foggy as to which back-issues I got next, but I was snatching them up as quickly as my budget and the selection at the local shops would allow.
Anyway, SM#4 is an extremely important issue to me because if I had never gotten it as a present, I never would have bought YB #3, and if I had never read YB #3 I don't think I would have ever collected the series (what a dreadful thought!)
So does SM#4 stand the test of time, reading it years later for our marathon? Absolutely!
The opening action with both crafts being blown out of the sky is beyond awesome! I love the little moments like burning the leeches and Life-Line convincing the others not to shoot the tiger. The Joes getting ambushed by the OG on the smuggler trail - wow, a pretty brutal moment. And then the twis with both parties being captured by river pirates and forced to fight for the entertainment of the crew - fantastic story-telling! And I love the twist of Life-Line being able to outfight Horror-Show!
The script is perfect. My only complaint with the issue is the way Sarawak Sally is drawn. She looks more like an 80's pop star than a river pirate
But oh well. This does nothing to stop me from loving this one!