OK, let’s just ignore that last post and move on shall we?
Dave over at Dave’s Longbox does a great job of reviewing his comic book collection and since on the Internet, plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery,* I wanted to pay a little tribute to one from my collection. G.I. Joe #21.
Written and breakdowns by Larry Hama and finishes by Steve Leialona, this is the famous silent issue that polarized the fans. Many of the readers (like me), thought it was an innovative and well-done story, while others thought that there was nothing to actually read and so it went too quickly. Those poor suckers are missing the point.
Silent Interlude features Snake-Eyes, the (mostly) mute, commando ninja from the Joe team. Snake-Eyes was one of Hama’s favorite characters and he got a lot of action in the previous 20 issues. He was in a helicopter crash, he was strapped to Dr. Venom’s Brainwave Scanner, he was tied up in a shack that was set on fire, and he was in a bunker that sunk to the bottom of a river when the Baroness dropped a bomb on it. Snake-Eyes took a lot of abuse in the comics, but in 21 he gets his moment to really shine.
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The story opens with a mysterious figure with a mysterious flying wing delivering a mysterious human-shaped package to Cobra Commander in a castle in the mountains. The package turns out to be a captured Scarlett and the Cobra leader is pleased.
Snake-Eyes comes tearing in after her, kicking the crap out of everyone in his way. Scarlett is no slouch, either. At her first opportunity she gets the drop on her captors and gets away into the castle.
Sorry the scans don't look that great, I can't afford
a new MFP on an Intergalactic Gladiator's salary
Our favorite Man In Black has already worked his way through some Cobra cannon fodder and a couple rent-a-ninjas when we get a sweet sequence between him and another red ninja. The evil assassin has his sais out and is ready to fight, but what does our hero do? Chucks a US M1A fragmentation grenade and blows him up real good.
"Snake-Eyes is a guy who’s going to beat his opponent because he’s better and more determined."
There’s a final showdown where the white ninja throws his sword at our heroes, Snake-Eyes grabs the sword between the palms of his hand, and the two blast away leaving their enemy standing there clenching his fist and gritting his teeth.
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This issue really works for me for two reasons. First, there are no introductions beyond what you see. Who’s the white ninja (he’s Storm Shadow) and what’s that flying wing (the Cobra CLAW)? It doesn’t matter, you know who the good guy is and who the bad guy is and all that stuff is set up to be explained later.
Second, Snake-Eyes is the “silent warrior.” There’s a lot of him in the comics but we don’t get his voice. This issue is his voice. He’s determined to get his girl back and it shows. His ninja training becomes more prominent here, but it’s not overdone (that comes later. If you have the opportunity to see Firefly and his unbeatable Scorpion Formation, you might laugh until you crap your pants). Right here right now, Snake-Eyes is a guy who’s going to beat his opponent because he’s better and more determined.
Then of course at the end, we see that Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes have something in common in their tattoos. It is later revealed that they’re long lost friends and clan brothers. A lot of development is introduced later about that and of course, Storm Shadow starts switching sides back and forth between the Joes and Cobra. In fact he does more switching sides than Anne Heche.*
Silent Interlude is the Snake-Eyes story and it finally gives his fans something to really salivate over. Silent issue stories were tried again, but they never worked as well as this one. Snake-Eyes kicks some proper ass in this and there isn’t a bunch of Eastern Asian magical mystery ninja hooey that will make you snort derisively.
Yeah, I know Snake-Eyes was kicking butt, taking names, and leaving a lemon fresh scent long before “pwned” became a non-word, now it’s overused to the point of becoming cliché. I still think it fits.
* Yeah, I know I used that line before, so sue me.