Having so much fun reading these!
#61 (April 1987)
This issue punched my guts out the first time I read it! Between CC getting "killed" and the Joe mission going terribly wrong, wow, this one really shook me up as a kid. Reading it today, yeah it's pretty corny that they had their action-figure outfits on underneath their black commando outfits, but despite this, the story still hits hard, easily standing the test of time. I'm not sure that there's another cliffhanger in the entire run that is as dire and dramatic as this one - the three wounded Joes cornered in the dead end ally with Outback down in the sewer with Stalker's blood dripping on him from above, and then the reveal on the next page that they are being written off with no rescue mission. This is one of my all-time favorites, no doubt.
Special Missions #6 (May 1987 - released a little early on April 28
Also one of my all-time favorites! A fugitive Joe with no support, on the run from a corrupt government behind the iron curtain - one of the absolute BEST Joe plots in history, proving that you don't need Snake-Eyes or Cobra to deliver a top-class Joe story. (Of course this wasn't the first time Special Missions proved this, nor would it be the last.) The chase and Outback's victory at the end is still just as thrilling as ever after all the years. (It's impossible for me to read Outback's escape from the sewer with the fire bursting right behind him, without hearing John William's Indiana Jones theme in my mind - lol) And Shane, I agree that this issue was the reason Larry chose Outback for the #61 mission. And if anyone at Hasbro is reading, can we please get a Colonel Ratnikov figure? Pleeeeease?
#62 (May 1987)
Another excellent issue, though I don't revere it quite as much as #61 and SM#6. We get our introduction to Pit III, I love the Leatherneck/Outback conflict, love all the stuff with Stalker, SJ and QK arriving at the Gulag, and it's also very cool that in Postbox the Pit we get a sneak preview of the #63 cover - I think this was a first for the series - seeing the next issue's cover a month in advance - and what an awesome cover it is! I remember being in suspense about SE and Scarlett walking into a mine field for an entire month!
REPORTER: "If this is a spontaneous demonstration as you claim, why are all the placards obviously mass-manufactured?"
MINISTER GRODSKY: "How dare you question the moral outrage of the people!"
Looking forward to #63-66