30th Anniversary ARAH Reading Marathon - Week 6

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30th Anniversary ARAH Reading Marathon - Week 6

Postby shanecdavis » Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:02 pm

In honor of 2012 being the 30th Anniversary of the Marvel G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic that we all know and love, we will be holding a reading marathon. Each week we will read 5 issues and then post our thoughts here. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. Please share any experiences you had when you first read these issues, whether it be as a kid, or picking these up later as a teen or adult. If you missed out on the previous weeks, you can find the URLs at the bottom of this post.

WEEK 6 - Marvel G.I. Joe 26-30

Optional reading - DDP Snake Eyes: Declassified #1-6

COVERS
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Marvel #26 - Snake-Eyes: The Origin

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Marvel #27 - Snake-Eyes: The Origin Part II

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Marvel #28 - Swampfire!

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Marvel #29 - Beached Whale

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Marvel #30 - Darkness

OPTIONAL COVERS
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DDP Snake Eyes: Declassified #1

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DDP Snake Eyes: Declassified #2

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DDP Snake Eyes: Declassified #3

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DDP Snake Eyes: Declassified #4

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DDP Snake Eyes: Declassified #5

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DDP Snake Eyes: Declassified #6

HIGHLIGHTS:
* First appearance of Hard Master, Soft Master, Timber, Crimson Guard, ans Sean Collins
* The origin of Snake Eyes!
* ARAH's first substantial link to the Vietnam War
* Introduction of the Arashikage Clan which both Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow belonged to
* Storm Shadow presented as suspected killer of Hard Master
* Storm Shadow reveals he joined COBRA to find the real killer
* Snake Eyes' disfigurement revealed
* Return of Billy
* Billy plots with Baroness and Major Bludd to assassinate CC
* Fred I and his family move into a house near the entrance of Fort Wadsworth

PREVIOUS WEEKS
Week 5 - http://forum.idwpublishing.com/viewtopic.php?t=11275
Week 4 - http://forum.idwpublishing.com/viewtopi ... 499#271499
Week 3 - http://forum.idwpublishing.com/viewtopic.php?t=11165
Week 2 - http://forum.idwpublishing.com/viewtopi ... sc&start=0
Week 1 - http://forum.idwpublishing.com/viewtopi ... highlight=

Pictures courtesy of Antarctica's website - http://www.yojoe.com/comics/index.shtml#Marvel
Last edited by shanecdavis on Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mamu_Nestor » Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:47 am

Sweet, I had already pulled out SE: Declassified in preparation. The references in the back of the trade is pretty sweet too.

EDIT: What do you think of "The Tiger and the Tea Pot?" Hasbro #10
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Postby shanecdavis » Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:19 am

To be honest, I've never read that one so I didn't even think of including it. Since DDP is optional reading, I guess you can include that one too. The only Hasbro issues I was planning to include were #21B, 32 1/2, and 36 1/2. Those have a definitive place within the Marvel run.
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Postby shanecdavis » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:14 pm

Okay, truth be told I have been impatiently waiting for this week to come. Not because of it being the Snake Eyes origin, but because it was during this collection of issues (#28 in particular) that I was FINALLY able to start collecting on a monthly basis. Two full years wasted. I, for one, have really enjoyed this trip down memory lane, probably sharing more than you all care to know. It also has made me REALLY appreciate the fact that IDW has given us ARAH back! We just finished reading #175!!! Unbelievable.

So, to start things off I decided to read the optional reading of Snake Eyes: Declassified. While this wasn't written by the man himself, it was written by a VERY capable Joe writer in Brandon Jerwa, who in my opinion is the third best Joe writer, behind Mr. Hama and barely behind Mike Costa. While Mr. Hama stated it wasn't what he would have done, it is still a great compliment to #26-27 and so until Mr. Hama writes something to contradict it, I am keeping it - Disavowed or not. What Jerwa lacked in military knowledge he more than made up for in characterization. He is one of few Joe writers with the skill to bring the characters to life. He worked his magic on Chuckles in his Frontline story and then Sean Collins/Kamakura in his M&A story. Now there are a few spoilers here, depending on if you consider this canon, so if you haven't read it and want to be surprised by it when you do, I wouldn't read any further.

So #1 began in a rather interesting way. The first part showed a sprinkler with someone reminiscing about how the sound (presumably from an incoming chopper) sounded like the sprinklers they had back home. Snake Eyes was involved with this conversation as it turned out to be a memory of his past. It showed his parents, his twin sister Terri, and himself having dinner. Snake Eyes actually talks. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this, but I did. I was good to see him interact with others before the accident, and it's a main reason why I want to hang on to this until Mr. Hama does something to contradict it. The dialogue was great as he told his parents he was being sent to the front line in Vietnam and they behaved as you would expect parents to. It was apparent to me that he gets his strong will to do what is right from his father and it was his father that planted the "Snake Eyes" seed in his head, as they discussed how war had a lot to do with luck. He said his goodbyes and Terri gave him the familiar photo that Snake Eyes requested and carried with him as his good luck charm.

The next scene went back to the sprinkler and the whole intro was repeated except the sprinkler turned into rotors and the next scene showed two soldiers that turned out to be Wade Collins and Snake Eyes. In this scene it appeared that Snake Eyes was new to the LRRP unit and everyone except Tommy didn't care for him much. Apparently, Snake Eyes didn't talk much before he became mute so it probably wasn't too big of an adjustment for him. Personally, I thought Jerwa was fantastic here as he set up just who Snake Eyes used to be. I am sure that Mr. Hama already had different ideas about it, but you can't fault Jerwa for doing a damn fine job with filling in the gaps for us. There was also an interesting moment where he and Tommy talked about their previous LRRP and how they were the only survivors and how Snake Eyes had carried that guilt with him and was the reason he refused to get close to the guys in his current team. At the end of the scene Tommy said "...and it's not like lightning's going to strike TWICE, right?", which the next scene was the infamous one where Wade stumbled into a NVA camp and only Stalker, Tommy, and Snake Eyes made it out, followed by them getting lit up at the LZ and Tommy racing back to grab him and get him back to the chopper. The ending was the recreation of Hawk visiting Snake Eyes at the airport and telling him about his family.

While most of #1 was a recreation, using mainly scenes that we already saw during the Marvel run, #2 had a ton of new content. This is also where we got an interesting reveal that I will admit I didn't expect. It started out with Snake Eyes not coping with the death of his family very well, his days apparently filled with drinking and fighting. Tommy showed up and tried to get him to come to Japan, which Snake Eyes refused. Later on there is even a scene where he stood in front of a semi hoping to end his misery, but was saved by some guy and they find out they have a bit in common. His new friend actually took Snake Eyes back to his home town where he found nothing but more anguish over the changes there. Eventually he and his new friend became vigilanties, serving their own kind of justice until his friend upped the ante and tried to get Snake Eyes to shoot a judge. This is where it was revealed that his friend was actually CC himself and the judge was the one that convicted CC's brother Dan of a crime, who in turn got drunk and caused the wreck that killed himself and Snake Eyes' family. CC tried to pressure Snake Eyes into killing the judge, but Snake Eyes turned the gun on CC instead, and actually got to the point where he pulled the trigger. It turned out that CC used it as a test to see how far Snake Eyes would go and he ended up shooting the judge himself, causing the two to part ways. Say what you will about this, but since CC was already tied to Snake Eyes' past, I actually liked this explanation of CC's motivation to have Snake Eyes killed much better than the short and simple reason we got in the Marvel run. Blaming Snake Eyes for the death of his brother was pretty weak to me, and it was good to see more fuel for the fire, so to speak. Snake Eyes actually pulled the trigger on CC. No way CC was going to forget that.

The last scene had him visiting the graves of his family, where it seemed he finally came to terms with things and then it was off to Japan, where he first met young Kimi, who will later become Jinx. Final panel showed Tommy embracing his army buddy and asking him what took so long. The solicit for #3 on the following page read - "When you hit rock bottom, the only place to turn is your brother". I thought this was a strong opening to the mini and while I had concerns over rehashing the origin of the most overused character in the mythos, it actually gave me a better appreciation for him.

Next up, #3 and #4.
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Postby Torpedo » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:35 pm

Thanks for the recap, shane. I never read this Declassified, and probably wouldn't, but it sounds pretty good. This'll be a busy week for me so I have no idea when I'll get to review issues #26 through 30 but I'll make the time. I mean, issue #27 is so crucial to G.I. Joe... because it has a reference to Moon Knight!!!
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Postby Mamu_Nestor » Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:10 pm

One of my favorite parts is how they give reference to the marvel run issue I the back of the trade
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Postby ER » Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:12 pm

Read #26 and #27 today! I've read SE's origin so many times but it always just blows me away every time. Out of the first 27 issues I've read for the marathon so far, I think I've enjoyed #26 the most. SS saving SE in Viet Nam, the car accident, the ninja training and assassination of the HM - it's all so powerful.

Sadly, though, I realized that my copies of #26 and #27 are both second printings and they both have #50 listed as the current issue in the Marvel checklist. Probably Marvel reprinted a bunch of previous Joe issues that month to hype the 50th issue. So the copies I have don't have the original adds that were first printed with #26 and #27 - thankfully, though, the correct Postbox the Pits were reprinted with these, covering letters for #23 and #24.

In #26's postbox #23 is highly praised and more than one letter mentions Roadblock's comments on the food! Also a reader writes: "...on page 3, panel 8, Breaker calls Hawk "Hank." There's no explaining that one."

And the editor responds: "...maybe it was just a slip of the tongue on Breaker's part!" Lol!

I love #27 as well, but I think the only part of it that really matches the intensity of #26 is when SE and SS are on the train - the way the panels cut back and forth between SE and the flashback of SS saving his life in "Nam - so great. SE saves SS from the tunnel and then SS reveals that there was another assassin and the epic mystery has been set up. I knew, before reading these the first time, that Zartan had killed the HM - Postbox the Pit letters gave it away in #49, the first Joe issue I ever read. I remember reading the letters and thinking "Who's the Hard Master?" And then when I got the back issue for #26 (one of the first back issues I got once I started collecting) I was so excited to learn who this character was. But I can still appreciate how incredible this story is and it's fun to imagine what an amazing ride this was for those lucky readers who were following the comic every month back then.

In #27's postbox just about every letter praises the Russ Heath's art on #24. Also there's a picture of Transformer silhouettes that says: "THE TRANSFORMERS ARE COMING!"
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Postby Mamu_Nestor » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:20 am

I really cannot adequately express how much I was affected by issues 26 and 27. I could do without the silly story in the swamp, but the Soft Masters form of gun control is the best. So much so that they used it in a Punisher movie too. The military and para military organizations like old school
martial arts, have always facinated me. Honestly I believe that my career path stemmed from this and TMNT. I am a martial arts teacher. I practice both modern and old school Japanese martial arts. For me it is a way of life. I enjoy the esoteric aspects of Japanese martial arts as well as the practical. I find that there is meaning in each little part, even the parts I don't like.

The chase scene down the street and on the train was cool. I love the long pannel where SS and SE are running down the street and all the comments/perceptions of all the people, from the con-man to the mother hiding her chile from "the perverts" and the comment about pajamas.

The background on SS and SE here really intrigued me. I really like SE declassified, but there is just something even more special about these 2 issues.
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Postby shanecdavis » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:44 am

Issue #3 started out with a few familiar panels of Snake Eyes in the Arashikage dojo, where he was meeting Tommy's uncles for the first time and they explained they are a ninja clan. One of the ninjas appeared to attack, which Snake Eyes instinctively fell back into a defensive stance. It seems he already had been trained in Tae-Kwon Do and Jeet-Kun Do, so there was already a good foundation to build from. Hard Master invited Snake Eyes to join their training in the morning and expected Tommy to be there too. Tommy objected, but Hard Master replied "You spent a long time outside these compound walls, Thomas, but if you have retained the teachings of your youth, then you should have no concerns". So right away you could see a rift forming. The next scene had Tommy and Snake Eyes having a discussion outside the dojo. Snake Eyes wondered if he could really do this ninja thing to which Tommy reassured him, saying he was worthy of it, if he chose to be.

The following morning Snake Eyes was introduced to Master Onihashi, whom we all know, and Master Sato, who was the instructor of the way of the warrior. The two began their training, with Sato talking down to Tommy saying he allowed a Westerner to defeat him. It is obvious here that Sato, unlike the others, has not taken kindly to the presence of Snake Eyes. During a meditation session where the two were working on the Arashikage mindset, Snake Eyes couldn't shake thoughts of his past, which earned him a reprieve from the Soft Master. He then introduced the two to the Faceless Master, who in turn talked down to Snake Eyes for not being able to find peace. Snake Eyes then talked to Hard Master about his feelings about Faceless Master, who rebuked him saying he needed to concentrate more on his own state of mind. It turned out it was a test as Tommy shot a practice arrow at Snake Eyes, who was able to catch it. Tommy commended him for not being too distracted at which Hard Master criticized Tommy for pulling too heavy on the bowstring allowing Snake Eyes to hear it coming.

Next scene showed Sato observing Hard Master and Snake Eyes walking together. He was joined by Faceless Master, whom Sato confided in that he had concerns about the weterner learning their methods and then distorting them. He stated he would have to take action tonight and the next page showed him rallying up some of the ninjas by stating they needed to take steps toward redeeming the honor of the clan by taking over the leadership. The group confronted the Hard Master and Soft Master, with Sato accusing them of ruining the clan. Hard Master dismissed his accusations to which Sato then attacked. Tommy and Snake Eyes showed up and helped repel the rogue ninjas, using the flat of their swords. The melee ends by Snake Eyes striking Sato in the back of the head as he struck Tommy.

The following morning, Sato and those that were with him were banished from the clan. It seems to me that this is where the Red Ninjas originate from. Hard Master commended Snake Eyes for his efforts, while saying nothing to Tommy. Snake Eyes tried to talk to Tommy, who just walked away. Faceless Master mentioned to Snake Eyes that "The seeds of dissent are ripe for growth in THIS garden". Snake Eyes turned it around on him saying there wasn't dissent until he showed up and then vowed to him that he would hunt him down if he found out that Faceless Master was a threat to the Arashikage, which is the last panel of the issue.

As I said before, I was worried that having Snake Eyes talk might take away from his character, but after this issue I thought it was a good move on Jerwa's part. Being able to see his interactions with Tommy and the others really helped to humanize his character and is the main reason I am hanging onto this as part of the ARAHverse. I wouldn't mind at all if Mr. Hama wanted to expand on Snake Eyes' past himself though, but for now this works just fine for me.

Issue #4 is where things start to get interesting. The opening recreated the challenge of Snake Eyes trying to catch Tommy's blade before Tommy could snuff out the candle on Snake Eyes' head, after which Hard Master asked Faceless Master who had won. Faceless Master said Snake Eyes because he caught the blade before the flame went out. Hard Master slammed the floor to reveal the candle cut in half, so Faceless Master declared Tommy the victor. Afterward, Hard Master explained to Faceless Master that Snake Eyes allowed Tommy to win to save face in front of his family, and then told him "Things are NEVER as simple as they appear, faceless one...but surely YOU know that as well as I".

That was the point at which Firefly knew he was no match for Snake Eyes and the next scene had him in town on the phone with CC. He stated he wasn't going through with the assassination but offered to bring in someone else that would. The next panel though made me scratch my head. CC hung up the phone and his wife came into the room and she was pregnant. I've gone through the timeline over and over and this just doesn't fit. From what we know about CC leaving her and taking Billy with him and how old he was in Marvel #10 and then Marvel #33, I can't see that much time passing by. This would be one of the few issues I had with an otherwise well written story.

The next page had Snake Eyes admiring Onihashi's work when Kimmi appeared and told Onihashi he had a visitor. It was Zartan, of course. Onihashi spoke in broken english, never revealing who he was, and told Zartan to wait there as long as the professor wanted him to. Snake Eyes questioned him about why he did that. Onihashi explained it was to teach him to overcome patience. At that point the two observed Tommy practicing with his bow. Onihashi asked how Thomas was doing and Snake Eyed responded by saying Tommy had gotten more and more distant.

We were treated with a pretty awesome two-page splash page. The left half was Tommy and the right was Snake Eyes, both performing the Arashikage mindset under a tree, with falling leaves dipicting scenes from both their pasts. Snake Eyes was successful in finally achieving the mindset, but Tommy wasn't. His jealousy over his friend had become too much. Hard Master then told him not to blame his sword brother for his own faults, to which Tommy walked away. We then see Hard Master, Soft Master, Onihashi, and now Blind Master discussing the future of the clan and their worries about the Young Master. Hard Master stated "The FUTURE of the Arashikage Clan may lie in the hands of OUTSIDERS...blown to our doorstep by the WNDS of CHANGE". In this panel it showed Onihashi accepting Zartan in and the next panel showed Snake Eyes and Tommy together with Hard Master narrarating "FATE has not left us wanting. One hope FADES as another shines BRIGHTLY". Next panel focused on Snake Eyes with Hard Master's last words "who are WE to question DESTINY?".

Next page recreated the scene where Storm Shadow shoots the squirrel behind the wall. Faceless Master was there and Tommy explained how he did it. It seems that Faceless Master has been the main cause of feeding Tommy's jealousy, of course, and he provided the final straw by telling Tommy that Onihashi was making a sword for Snake Eyes. The following page depicted Zartan assisting Onihashi in creating the sword. Good stuff.

This is where Jerwa made things interesting. First, Snake Eyes confronted Tommy about what was going on. The argument gets heated. Snake Eyes even said he would leave the clan if that is what Tommy wanted. Soft Master then interrupted and chastised them both. First Snake Eyes for being so willing to leave everything he had put so much into and then Tommy for creating such a situation. His final statement was sobering - "The two of you MUST bridge the chasm that is between you...or risk falling INTO it as ENEMIES". Quite prophetic.

The last scene was equally gripping. Apparently CC showed up in Japan, at Zartan's request. Zartan told him he cannot continue, to which CC threatened to expose who he really was to Onihashi if he didn't finish the job he was paid to do. He wanted Snake Eyes to pay for his betrayal and gave Zartan a choice, Snake Eyes' life or his own.

This was the highlight issue for me. Watching the events unfold in this issue was much better than putting together bits and pieces that we got over multiple issues. Jerwa did a fine job of pacing things out and providing us with insights that really helped round out the entire story.
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Postby Mamu_Nestor » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:00 am

Snake eyes: Declassified references
Issue 1: 1, 26, 43, 21, 94, 96, 108, 103, 10,

Issue 2: 103, 1, 10, 84, 59, 62

Issue 3: 26, 21, 84, 62, 126, 24

Issue 4: 126, 84, 83, 45, 24, 25, 62, 26

Issue 5: 62, 126, 26, 27, 43, 45, 84, 91, 10, 33

Issue 6: 1, 4, 10, 9, 27, 144, 106, 21, 155

they broke it down almost scene by scene telling what part came form what issue.

then they did a where are they now, with all of the characters that were in the Declassified series. they put them in relation to the DDP Issues up to WWIII.
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Postby shanecdavis » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:42 pm

I was able to finish up Snake Eyes: Declassified and it really is a great read. Jerwa took all the bits and pieces and while there is no way to really replace the magic we got from #26-27 from Mr. Hama, being able to read a full story that spans six issues is really special. It was one of the few decisions that DDP got right and they really got the right person for the job too. Well, the right person that isn't named Larry anyways.

As you might have guessed, the meat of #5 covered the murder of the Hard Master and all of the fallout because of it. I was impressed by the pacing and how Jerwa wove all the aspects together. The beginning depicted the, ummm, graduation of Snake Eyes. This is where the infamous photo was taken and we actually got a panel of seeing the group through the camera lens and then the next panel of the actual photo with the Faceless Master's face blurred. Everyone congratulated Snake Eyes, except Tommy, and you could see and feel the jealousy and rage building inside him.

Later that night, Faceless Master and Zartan took the compound bow and then used it to lock on to Snake Eyes heartbeat and breathing pattern, as he was sparring with Soft Master. The next night Hard Master covered the Darkened Room techniques with Snake Eyes and then surprised him by declaring him the rightful heir to the clan. Snake Eyes refused saying he wouldn't step in front of Tommy. That is when Hard Master jumped behind the blind and then used the "Chameleon's Mantle", stating that due to Thomas' anger and jealousy his "Ear That Sees" could be tricked into thinking he was someone else. We all know what happened next, with Zartan's bow zeroing in on Hard Master instead of the true target.

The next few scenes really depicted the aftermath of Hard Master's death. Onihashi consoled Soft Master as the two went to check on Snake Eyes, only to find him gone. Zartan returned to Onihashi's room in time for Onihashi to reveal he knew it was Zartan who killed Hard Master, but also knew who the real target was right before he took his own life to remove the shame from his house.

The following page was of CC who was driving with a young Billy. He mentioned starting over as they pass a sign saying "Welcome to Springfield". This is where I take issue. In #38, it is apparent that Billy is in his late teens, 17 or 18 years old. The date then could be somewhere between 1984-85, making his birth year 1966-67. That would be well before the Tet Offensive, let alone when CC would hire Firefly to assassinate Snake Eyes. I would assume that Snake Eyes moved to Japan in 1972, with training taking about 4 years, culminating with Hard Master's murder around 1976. That would make Billy around 10 years old and give CC six years to build up COBRA to the point where they were a viable enough threat in 1982. Just my two cents.

Anyway, back to the issue. It was at this point that Jerwa changed gears and all of the dialogue was from Snake Eyes' journal. He lamented the fact he was a curse to all that he loved and decided to spend the rest of his life in seclusion. We got scenes of him saving Timber from a bear trap and befriending it. Then we got the final pages, with some panels taken directly from #27, where Hawk and Stalker show up to recruit him to the Joes. Jerwa provided more dialogue from Stalker here as he pretty much guilt-ed Snake Eyes into joining by relying heavily on Snake Eyes' strong nature to help others. Not anything too melodramatic, but like I said it was enjoyable to watch it all unfold as it happened instead of flashbacks here and there.

The last issue covered the formation of the Joe team, which somehow I had totally forgotten. Generals Austin and Flagg showed up at Fort Wadsworth and were greeted by Hawk. He led them into the PIT through a secret panel in the head (latrine in Army talk). I had to chuckle about that. "Pardon the unorthodox entry method. We're not quite finished with the above-ground amenities yet". He then introduced the 12-man team. Austin gave the team a nice pep talk, ending with "YOU are the FUTURE of American defense...families all across the nation will sleep soundly every night...because we keep them from knowing of the monsters who would do them harm".

That transitioned to the next panel of CC staring out the window, stating "They're going to think we're monsters". The following panel showed him speaking with Baroness. Apparently the creation of COBRA was a joint venture of her own agents and CC's militia that he had slowly been grooming. They walked through a hidden compartment down some stairs into a room with a table in the middle. Seated at the table were four gentlemen. Dr. Venom is the only one I can say for certain. I think the others are Sutherland and Brian Hassell (both seen in #9), and I believe Dr. Mindbender, but that just doesn't fit. It must be someone else, since Mindbender wouldn't show up until #44. Could he have been behind the scenes?

The next page went over the time where Scarlett was providing hand-to-hand combat training and she sparred with Snake Eyes, getting upset with him for going easy on her. She caught up with him afterwards and sparked up a conversation and basically asked him to go out with her on the Staten Island ferry, a place where the two would frequent often. He was resistant to let her in, despite her best efforts. Then the scene changed to the rescue operation in the Middle East. Apparently he ended up letting her in because they are seen holding hands on the Huey right before the turbine blows on the other Huey.

The story then proceeded to recap the events of #144, although it was nice that Jerwa corrected the uniforms of the COBRAs. In #144 they are Vipers, which never existed back then. Here, they were changed to standard COBRA troopers. Personally I never liked that story. Continuing the mission after burning your face off is quite a stretch. That said, it does demonstrate the commitment level of Snake Eyes and explains why he is so damn good. He constantly works at it and never ever gives up.

The next scene is the second head scratcher. It is cool to see Tommy accepted by CC after he displayed exceptional skills in the standard ranks. What bugs me is that the last panel of the page seemed to suggest that this is where CC first coined his organization as COBRA. That muddles things for me as I would imagine COBRA would have already had to have been established in order for Tommy to find them and join their ranks in the first place, matching their insignia with what he saw from the FANG. I wouldn't mind this scene if it were Tommy showing up and wanting to join, rather than what unfolded here. Like CC's wife being pregnant, it just doesn't fit within the loose timeline.

Final few pages were dedicated to Scarlett and Stalker trying to convince Snake Eyes to stay with the Joes. Hawk sent along a box containing Snake Eyes' new uniform, which is so freaking cool it must have been the deciding factor in Snake Eyes' decision to stay. Seriously, how do you pass up an opportunity to wear such a badass uniform? Ummmmm, NEVER!

Despite a couple inconsistencies I thought this 6-issue mini was terrific and can still be a great compliment to the ARAHverse, if you so incline. On the other hand, you really aren't missing out on much if you choose not to either.

Next up is #26-27.
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Postby Mamu_Nestor » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:20 pm

Snake Eyes Declassified.

Issue 1 loved it. It is a great beginning to the story.

Issue 2, took a lot of liberty with Cobra Commander and Snake Eyes. I do appreciate how SE reacted to his situation. I think this is what Hama meant by this is not how I would have done it, but it does make sense.

Issue 3, again loved it. "woe to any who would tread this path lightly. Once the choice has been made, anything less than absolute dedication will destroy everything you have worked to accomish in this life." Still a lot of liberty was taken with the workings of the Arashikage.

It's strange but rereading the Marvel run and throwing this into the mix has allowed me to see more of the criticism of it, especially with the DDP run now. Being "Disavowed" Don't get me wrong I still like it a lot, but there a few things that just don't line up IMO.

Sleep now more tomorrow.
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Postby CrazyK » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:16 pm

Just a real quick note:

I think the covers for #'s 27-29 may represent the three strongest covers in a row in the entire series... #28 was my favorite for a loooooooooooooooong time, and the covers that bookend it are just as impressive. Amazing stuff.
"I... I don't believe it..."
"That. Is why you fail..."
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Postby Mamu_Nestor » Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:10 am

I do like Tiger and the Teapot, because Hama wrote it and it goes through the test that Snake eyes took to be able to bear the mark of the Arashikage. It is a simple and short story. by the end he passes and learns to deal with his past demons/PTSD. It is a little different from the SE: Declassified version.

the entire issue is pretty much a dialog between the Hard and Soft Masters with some side comment by the Young Master. I'll come back this afternoon and write a full review for those that have not read it.
Author: Karate is Self-Defense Available at Amazon.com. Kindle version available.
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Postby shanecdavis » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:40 am

As much as I gushed over and praised Snake Eyes: Declassified, it just cannot replace the magic of #26-27. While #21 is the greatest single issue in Joe history (I used to believe #155 was, but with ARAH back I will admit it's lost a bit of its allure), #26-27 is the best two-issue story in Joe history, even when you include the mediocre Everglades story. Love or hate Snake Eyes, these two issues are the keystone of the entire mythos. Not only because of the flashbacks that fleshed out this mysterious silent man in black, but also because we got our first glimpse of how the team came together.

Probably the most ingenious thing Mr. Hama did though was after #27, for the next year and a half both Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow would take a back seat, allowing the other characters time in the spotlight. Only in #31 would one of them be featured prominently. Coincidentally, this period of time is what I consider the high point of the mythos. The size of the team hadn't gotten unmanageable yet and the stupid ideas from Hasbro were yet to come. We just had high quality stories and incredible art to go along with it.

These two issues would be the last two (until I dropped the title outright years later) I would miss out on. Could I have been more unlucky??? Thankfully, about six months later I would get a back issue order that would include #27, but that would only frustrate me as I would have to wait until the digest comics came out much later before I could enjoy reading all the pages of #26. I was able to get a few panels from the recap in Yearbook #2, but that didn't help all that much considering all that I did miss.

In #26, I didn't particularly care for the Everglades story. I didn't like the fact that Junkyard was running loose the entire time and the things he did were pretty ridiculous. First off, how would a dog be able to differentiate between Joes and COBRAs, especially after how nicely Destro treated it? More importantly, how would a dog know how to find quicksand and lead the COBRAs into it? While we are on the subject, why on earth would an elite counter-terrorist team even have a need for a dog handler in the first place, especially one who couldn't even control the dog he had???? It seemed to me that these scenes, and especially Mutt & Junkyard and Tripwire, served no other purpose than to provide a few moments of comedy relief, at the expense of a better story. Sure Mr. Hama was showcasing new figures, but Torpedo would have benefitted much more if he was teamed up with Gung-Ho and either Grunt or Rock 'N Roll.

The scenes I couldn't get enough of were those that had Soft Master in them. Especially the very first scene with the punk kid trying to rob him. It was great political commentary on Mr. Hama's part about the REAL issues with gun control. It is something that really made an impression on me back then and has stuck with me ever since. Actually, most of the teachings we got from Soft Master I really took to heart. I was pretty impressionable back then and outside of my family I would say Mr. Hama played a pretty big part in molding me as a youth to become the man I am today.

Even though I just spent the past few days reading through a comprehensive story of Snake Eyes' origin, it still wasn't as good as the flashbacks Mr. Hama provided us in #26. From the Joes detailing his time in Vietnam to Soft Master recapping his time in Japan, it was all woven so masterfully and still moves you today as it did back then.

The first thing I noticed about #27 was a change in the art. I do enjoy Springer's style overall, and he had some panels in #27 that were eye-popping good, but to me it suffered in comparison. That said, the art in #27 was very good and better than anything we got prior to #24, with the exception of #21 of course.

The Everglades story continued on its mediocre way, with more silliness like Tripwire doing a header, and ridiculousness like Junkyard being able to recognize a trap and spring it itself. I will admit this storyline would at least become a little more interesting in #28, but to this point the entire plot seemed to do nothing but take away from the brilliance of the flashbacks into Snake Eyes' past.

Reading the first of the flashbacks I noticed I may be off on the time line between when Snake Eyes came home from Vietnam and when he joined the unit. Hawk confirmed that it was six years from the time he met Snake Eyes at the airport until he and Stalker recruited him for the team, including only three years in Japan. I had erroneously figured 4 years. That's quite a crunch though for Snake Eyes to become the level of a ninja master, but we know his dedication is unparalelled and he had prior training too so it's not that much of a stretch I guess. This also caused me to rethink Billy's age. Putting him at 15 or 16 in #38 could work. Still, even if we push #38 out to 1985, that means he was born in 1970, still before Snake Eyes came home. I looked at Jim's site (http://www.myuselessknowledge.com/joe/i ... e&Itemid=1) and reviewed his Chronology of events prior to #1 (http://www.myuselessknowledge.com/joe/i ... &Itemid=59) and he is under the assumption that Billy is born in 1974 since it is assumed Billy is in his late-teens around #84. Not sure I can agree with that since if you apply real time to the comic, it would have been early 1989 at #84, making Billy only 15 at the time. I don't like the thought of real time being applied to comics as it ages the characters far too quickly. I can agree with Billy being 14 or 15 around #33-38, which actually fits better than my original thought of 17-18, but I don't think I can go any younger than that. I would think he would need to at least be growing physically in order to be able to handle Tommy's training that would start shortly after #38. What do you guys think?

There is a continuity issue between #27 and #144/Snake Eyes: Declassified. In #27, Scarlett recalled that the Huey they were in was the one with the mechanical issue, while in #144/SE:D it was the other one. Personally, I went with #27 since Scarlett's memory was a lot sooner then Hawk's and it also has such an emotional connection to her she would remember a lot more accurately than Hawk, who wasn't even there. Plus, #144 has other problems with it like Doc being there, COBRAs in Viper uniforms, COBRA HISS tanks, Snake Eyes wearing a white shirt, and Hawk meeting Snake Eyes while there were still others there. Seriously, did the aviation fumes affect Hawk's brain or what?

Best part of the issue though were the panels with Soft Master, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow. The chase down the street in Spanish Harlem was epic! "Aw, mom. I never get to see anything!" Then the comments from Sid and his buddy. Now THAT is how you interject comedy into a comic without hurting the story, unlike the use of Junkyard and Tripwire. There is one thing about the exchange between Tommy and Snake Eyes that I found odd. Once they were both on the train, it felt as if Tommy was accusing Snake Eyes as being the one who killed the Hard Master. If Tommy was spying on the two at the diner long enough for him to hear Soft Master refer to Snake Eyes by name, surely he would have heard the part where Soft Master speculated about Tommy being the killer. Of course seeing Snake Eyes yielding his Uzi he might have figured he stumbled on Snake Eyes trying to take out Soft Master as well, so nevermind. Just needed to think through that a little. One thing I am still left wondering though is at what point does Tommy learn of Snake Eyes' accident and the fact he cannot speak. I don't think there was enough time there for any kind of explanation, unless Tommy is well versed in sign language. I am trying to remember off the top of my head as to their next meeting, which I believe is #45. It will be interesting to see if that is covered at all within the pages, or we just assume at some point it is covered off panel.

All in all, despite the Everglade story silliness, these two issues are simply superb! Makes me wonder how much of this Mr. Hama already had put together and what parts just happened to flow with the natural progression of the storyline. If he had this gem from the beginning, I am impressed with the intestinal fortitude it took to hang on to it for two years! Knowing me, I probably would have revealed it after issue #3.
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