The House Always Wins - Eye to Eye
"Please allow me to introduce myself; I'm a man of wealth and taste..."
|"The House Always Wins - Eye to Eye"|
|First published||October 2, 2013|
|Cover date||October 2013|
|Written by||Mike Costa|
|Art by||Antonio Fuso|
|Inks by||Emilio Lecce|
|Colors by||Arianna Florean and Azzura M. Florean|
|Letters by||Shawn Lee|
|Editorial consultant||John Barber|
With Flint shutting down the G.I. Joe intelligence unit to stave off further chaos, Tomax makes his play at long last.
The G.I. Joe Intelligence unit is being shut down, and Chameleon isn't happy. There isn't anything that Flint can do about it now that the process has already started, but he's surprised at her reaction; Chameleon is angry that he made the decision without consulting any of them, and though Firewall points out that he has no obligation to consult them as operational commander, Clockspring speaks up in agreement. The IT specialist argues that the rest of the team are perfectly suited to the positions that they're in, but now people like him, Firewall and Chameleon will be pushed into far less meaningful roles; he accuses Flint of "selling them out" because he can't hack it as leader before angrily storming off. Despite the high emotions, Flint's position is unmoving, and the team will have to clear out the facility within three weeks.
Outside, Chameleon accuses Flint of shutting the team down thanks to tension over their relationship, but Flint insists otherwise: the entire unit is a liability, its cloak-and-dagger mission turning them into something he isn't comfortable with. Visiting Firewall's office, Chameleon asks what they are going to do about the decision, but Firewall instantly shuts her down; she accuses the intelligence agent of being unable to "have nice things", ruining opportunities and relationships because she subconsciously doesn't believe that she deserves them. Pointing out that the relationship with Flint was a bad idea from the start and that the entire unit is getting worse by the day, she apologises for how much the Joes have asked of Chameleon, but makes her position very clear: Chameleon will not follow her impulses and make things worse... because she is strong, and Firewall believes in her — and Firewall is never wrong.
Shaken by Firewall's frank assessment, Chameleon is met in the corridor by Clockspring, who offers encouragement, claiming that people like Flint don't consider the people hurt by their actions and praising her "brilliant" work. Tearfully thanking Clockspring for looking out for her, Chameleon kisses him... and immediately recoils, regretting her decision and running off, leaving Clockspring heartbroken. And watching over the facility's surveillance, Tomax Paoli bursts into laughter at the farcical tragedy, before contacting someone and moving up their timetable, ordering them to be there in three hours...
Billy Kessler-Latta walks into the Gemini's gymnasium on crutches, where Ronin is sitting and meditating. He compares her way of dealing with the "bad stuff" to his — giving away lots of money — and when she points out that the money would run out but the "bad stuff" wouldn't, he observes that he should learn to meditate, too.
In the cell of Bet the Night Creeper, Clockspring laments how, for a second, everything was like he dreamed before Chameleon took it all back. Bet claims, to the contrary, that she never gave anything — she only kissed him in order to get back at Flint, because women are weak and manipulated by their emotions. Of course, he insists, rational men like Clockspring can't be manipulated like that... and, praising Clockspring's brilliance, asks a few questions about the Gemini's power system. The two are soon joined by Tomax, and Clockspring is showing them schematics to illustrate his explanations... only for Lady Jaye to walk in on them, outraged at the breaches of basic security protocol and the presence of Tomax, who is barred from the detention level. Jaye intends to lock Tomax up in a separate cell and take Clockspring in, but Tomax simply responds by contacting someone through an earpiece.
Drinking in the bar at the casino floor, a heavily built blind man with a service dog sits down next to him, noting that he has the posture of a fellow military man... and the voice of a man with a lot of drinking to do. The two discuss their army service, with the other man revealing that he lost his sight to fumes from an Al-Quaeda chemical lab in Basra; though he can't play the games, he's in Las Vegas accompanying a blackjack-loving friend. In return, he asks Flint what he's doing down at the bar, as he doesn't seem like the brooding type; Flint admits that he's struggling with knowing what the right thing is, and the other man responds with a story from his Army days, about a fellow soldier being forced to shoot his dog after it attacked a young girl. Flint remarks that his point — that there is no "right thing to do", only decisions and their consequences — is pretty dark, which the man agrees with... before smacking his head on the bar and knocking him out.
As he hauls the unconscious Flint through the corridors of the Gemini, using his palm-print to get through the scanners, the man admits that he was lying to Flint: he isn't actually blind, and he isn't actually army, though he used to be. In truth, he's a member of Cobra, a security specialist named Night Adder... but he was telling the truth about his blackjack-playing friend. And now, alerted by Tomax, that friend — Cobra saboteur Firefly — is about to bring the house down...
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Carrying on with Flint? That was just stupid. How long did you really think that was going to last? The man is more white-bread than the Pillsbury Dough Boy. But you got your fingers right into his cracks and now his head's all spun around because he thinks he did something wrong. I have to verbally fence with a psychopath every day, and the man who fixes my internet is having some kind of slow-motion breakdown and I won't have any more chaos in this unit. I won't have it."
- —Firewall is done with all this nonsense.
"So, this is what you do, huh? Meditate."
"That and kill people with swords. If you'd like a demonstration of that too, I could arrange it."
- —Billy Kessler-Latta and Ronin
"I gotta say... might be the whiskey, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what that story means."
"What it means, is that there is no "right thing to do". Ain't no such thing as "honor". There's only the decisions we make, and then following them through to where they go. That's it, man."
"That's... pretty dark."
"Yeah, man. I'm a pretty dark dude."
- —Flint gets played like a damn fiddle, courtesy of Night Adder.
- Clockspring's snark about where the team will end up mentions Firewall "pushing papers around on Ellis Island to make Duke's team look more diverse" (part of the stated criteria for selecting the members of the public G.I. Joe field team, as mentioned in G.I. Joe vol. 3 #1), and that he'll be relegated to helping test "that invisibility cloak they're never going to figure out", referring to the (faulty) stealth technology in the Joes' air commando gliders, as seen in G.I. Joe vol. 3 #7.
- Firefly is back, baby! Though his last major appearance saw him escaping from an Egyptian hospital in Cobra vol. 2 #16, he made a brief cameo since then in G.I. Joe vol. 3 #2... albeit with a Caucasian skin tone. Whoops.
G.I. Joe references
- In keeping with Mike Costa's love for deep cuts, here's Night Adder, a toy-only Cobra security officer from the 2009 Rise of Cobra line! Though he hasn't got the sci-fi mask of his toy, and his vest is just a regular tank top instead of a flak jacket, he retains the dark skin, tattoos, and canine companion of his source material.
- Cover A: Tomax casts a diabolical figure, by Antonio Fuso.
- Cover RI: Lady Jaye and Ronin vs a giant Cobra cobra, by Riley Rossmo.