Oktober Guard, Part 1
|"Oktober Guard, Part 1"|
|First published||October 24, 2012|
|Cover date||October 2012|
|Written by||Mike Costa|
|Art by||Antonio Fuso|
|Colors by||Arianna Florean|
|Letters by||Neil Uyetake|
|Editor||John Barber and Carlos Guzman|
The Oktober Guard strike back at Cobra forces within Russia, forcing the G.I. Joe intelligence unit to respond.
In a Cobra camp in the Primorsky Krai region of Russia, a Viper moans at his fellows about how he's been stationed there for six months without seeing any action, wishing that he had been present for the fighting in Nanzhao. His teammate doubts he would have wanted to be there, noting how Cobra forces got massacred whenever they engaged American forces, the presence of "religious wackos", and even reports of ninjas cutting people's heads off. The bored Viper scoffs at his talk of ninjas, not seeing how anyone could face the powerful high-tech rifles and grenade launchers in Cobra's arsenal with just a blade... but when he turns to face the other Viper, he sees that the man has been impaled on a vicious knife held by a moustached Russian man, who decapitates the first Viper before he can react! As if on cue, the base comes under heavy assault, with a sniper taking out the base's commanding officers from afar while a towering, masked soldier moves in with a huge chaingun and a flamethrower. The last of the camp's defenders are blown away by a missile fired from a helicopter, whose pilot gets out to join his fellows on the ground; as they discuss their next move, the lone surviving Viper calls them insane for "daring" to attack Cobra. The pilot, Shturmovik, is enraged by his words, branding them a rabble of cowardly mercenaries who are not welcome in the great nation that is Russia. He gives the soldier a message to send to his Cobra masters: his execution, at the end of Shturmovik's pistol.
Growing up in Honolulu, the girl who will come to be known as Ronin wants to be able to fight — to push back against the bullies that pick on her for her weakness. Her sensei refuses to teach her the art of fighting, insisting that she try to find peace within herself instead, as resorting to violence would mean that she had already lost, but she would not come to understand that until much later. Instead, she starts training herself to become stronger — from gymnastics, to aikido, to kendo, at which she excells, even being invited to compete in Japan; and there, she is approached by clandestine groups, seeking to recruit her. As part of them, she learns darker skills: how to enter a room without being noticed, how to clear her mind of all distraction, how to wield a dozen weapons expertly... and how to kill. After seven years of not seeing her family, she returns to the United States, where she enlists in the army, to her parents' dismay; but though she now knows how to fight back, she doesn't realise that her path is leading her nowhere happy.
Flint calls Ronin in to the G.I. Joe intelligence unit's briefing room for an emergent situation. He reveals that the Russian military has engaged with Cobra, and that the first he heard about it was from the news — a massive intelligence failure for the unit, who should have known more about it. As it turns out, though, one man in the room does know more: Tomax Paoli, who calmly explains that the "military forces" in question were a single force — a Russian equivalent to the G.I. Joe team intended to combat threats like Cobra on Russian soil, organized under the nationalistic Colonel Shtern. He knows this, as it turns out, because he was talking to Shtern on the phone the previous night — and the Joes failed to pick up on it, as nobody with high-level clearance was monitoring his calls, something an angry Firewall orders Clockspring to change. Flint is shocked when Tomax reveals that he also learned that Flint was visiting Major Bludd in a UN prison, and sends him away in the custody of Lady Jaye; putting Chameleon and Firewall to the task of analysing the phone call and Clockspring to screen it for hidden signals, he gets to his main agent: Ronin. As a skilled infiltrator and extractor, she can operate invisibly from the shadows, and that is exactly what they need in the field right now: briefed by Chameleon on the Cobra presence in Primorsky Krai, Ronin is going to Russia to investigate, stay hidden, and — if possible — capture one of the Guard, and bring them back to the Joes!
Characters in italics are shown only in flashback. (Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
|G.I. Joe||Cobra||Oktober Guard||Others|
"We must be insane to attack you? Who are you but a rabble of orphan butchers and mercenaries of uncertain loyalty? Half your camp threw down their weapons and ran when Horrorshow opened with his incinerator. And you come here, to Russia, and raise a flag like you are a military power? Russia, who threw back the greatest army ever fielded? Who has starved, suffered, but never knelt in one thousand years of noble history?"
"Movies are wrong, little turtle. They teach you that heroes fight, but this is not so. There are no heroes, and all fighters have lost. One day, you will understand this."
- —Ronin's sensei
"I thought you already knew all this. I assumed you'd have put it together after they attacked the prison you were visiting and kidnapped Bludd. I'd think it would be obvious."
"How did you know about that?"
"I'm sorry, I thought I just told you I'd spoken to Colonel Shtern. Really, I think I'm beginning to see where these "intelligence failures" are coming from."
- —Tomax Paoli and Flint
- The Vipers refer to the war in Nanzhao, where there were religious wackos and ninjas involved in the fighting.
- It turns out that the Primorksy Krai region is where the events of G.I. Joe: Cobra II took place, having been Ronin's first G.I. Joe mission and the point at which Chameleon defected.
G.I. Joe references
- Following the teaser at the end of the last issue, the Oktober Guard make their first proper appearance! Their members — Daina, Horrorshow, and Shturmovik, Gorky — all hail from the team's original appearances in Marvel G.I. Joe, though with significant changes:
- The team's outfits have been redesigned to be more uniform, all sporting a grey-and-red color scheme.
- Shturmovik has been renamed from his Marvel counterpart "Stormavik".
- Horrorshow — originally just a portly, moustachioed heavy weapons specialist — has been reimagined as a terrifying mute, masked giant.
- Gorky, who originally was a fairly average soldier, here is a bald, scarred knife-nut with a moustache.
- In Marvel, the team was led by Colonel Brekhov, but here they seem to work only under Colonel Shtern.
Real life references
- News reporter Christina Gage is named after Mike Costa's co-writer on the first two Cobra series, Christos Gage.
- Young Ronin is drawn to look like the "phase two" version of the Gorillaz character Noodle. Her shirt even reads "HEW LETT", after Gorillaz artist Jamie Hewlett.
- The name of the Mosin–Nagant rifle is misspelled "Mossan Nagant".
- Regular cover: Major Bludd and the Oktober Guard, by Antonio Fuso.
- Cover RI: Daina and Gorky with a captive Major Bludd, by Joe Eisma, Juan Castro and Simon Gough.