The House Always Wins - Hand to Hand

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G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files #8
CobraFiles8 cvrA.jpg
"Yeeeeah, I was right all along!"
"The House Always Wins - Hand to Hand"
Publisher IDW Publishing
First published November 6, 2013
Cover date November 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
Editor Carlos Guzman
Editorial consultant John Barber

The Gemini casino falls into chaos as Tomax's plans come together.


Holding Tomax Paoli at gunpoint, Lady Jaye orders him to take out his earpiece and explain what is going on, but the evil mastermind instead tells the person on the other end of his connection to "do it now". In an instant, the lights shut off and the cell doors open, and captive Night Creeper Bet barrels into Lady Jaye; though the G.I. Joe master-at-arms manages to clock her foe on the head with her pistol, she drops the weapon, and it is picked up by Tomax when the lights come back on. Rounding up Jaye and Clockspring, the villains lock the Joes up in the same cell that Bet had been held in; though Tomax assures the timid Clockspring that he doesn't plan to kill him, it isn't because they're "friends", but because he wants the IT specialist to see everything that happens next — which is all his fault. As Tomax and Bet leave, however, they leave Clockspring's tablet computer on the floor near the cell. Stretching out, the two Joes are together able to reach the tablet and pull it back in to the cell, though Jaye is still furious that Clockspring has essentially handed Tomax the keys to the building and let them escape... but Clockspring admits that the situation is much worse than that. With the information they have access to, the Cobra forces could kill everyone in the building, which is laced with octanitrocubane!

As the saboteur Firefly calmly cuts wires in one of the Gemini's power units, he is approached from behind by a guard, who wasn't fooled by the fake alert that the Cobra saboteur sent out. Before the guard can do anything, his neck is broken by security specialist Night Adder, who is irritated by the presence of guards that he was assured wouldn't be there. The two procede through the building's corridors, using the unconscious Flint to get through the base's palm-print and retinal scans; though Firefly isn't happy that they can't kill Flint, he has Night Adder hunt down his target while he does his own job.

In the Gemini's gymnasium, Billy Kessler-Latta is incredulous to learn that Ronin uses such primitive weapons as chain sickles against men armed with machine guns. Ronin insists that the weapons are superior to machine guns in every respect... and seconds later, gets the chance to prove it when Night Adder enters, looking to kill the son of Cobra Commander! The two face off, but Ronin throws the Cobra agent off-balance by kicking a brazier of hot coals at him; before he can recover, she dives through the window, holding on to Billy and using her chain sickle as a grappling hook to avoid falling. Night Adder is unconcerned, intending to simply lean out of the window and shoot them... only for the now-conscious Flint to grapple him from behind, knocking the machine gun out of his hands. Night Adder manages to throw Flint off, but the warrant officer — sick of getting beaten up all the time — squares up to fight him.

Firewall's attempt at coordinating a lockdown is interrupted when Tomax enters her office. Realising that Paoli is making his coup d'état, the administrator calmly faces him down; the businessman had originally intended to break out some time ago with the help of the Night Creepers, and believed his plan ruined when G.I. Joe were set on their trail by Billy... until they brought one of their number back under the Gemini's roof. Though Clockspring was manipulated into helping him by Tomax, all the Joes had their parts to play in his plan... and Firewall's part is to die, because that will hurt Chameleon the most. As quickly as she can, Firewall draws her pistol and shoots, but her she only grazes him on the cheek... and Tomax returns fire, hitting her thrice in the chest, killing her.

Flint and Night Adder fight brutally, with the Joe leader grabbing shuriken off the wall to stab his opponent. Night Adder gets the upper hand, but when Flint manages to grab him by the leg during an attempted kick to the head, he is able to hurl the security breaker out of the window to his death. Though a weary Flint has no desire to fight Night Adder's dog when he enters the room after his master, the animal turns out to be friendly; and when Ronin and Billy clamber back into the room, Flint lays out a plan of action: Ronin will get Billy out of the Gemini however she can, as he is a priority target who needs to be kept safe. And Flint is going to find and stop Tomax... because even now, he is closing in on his true target: Chameleon.

Featured characters[edit]

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

G.I. Joe Cobra Others


"Kill him at least?"
"Nah, man. These plates are sensitive to circulation. Also, you bash a dude on the head too hard, eyeball gets a hemorrhage — screws up the retinal scans."

Firefly gets some trade secrets from Night Adder.

"Careful! Don't break it!"
"I should break your face. What the hell were you doing down here?"
"It's hard to... I just don't have anyone to talk to."
"Are you kidding me? So join a chatroom. Do you have any idea what you've done here?"

Clockspring and Lady Jaye

"Haw! You're one tough sonofagun, I'll give you that. But you've got a concussion, and nobody fights all that great six whiskeys deep."
"You didn't know my dad. He was a mean drunk."

Night Adder and Flint trade banter.

"See? That guy had a machine gun."
"Oh god."

Ronin and Billy Kessler-Latta, after Night Adder goes flying out a window.


Continuity notes[edit]

  • Tomax comments on the irony of his injury. The bullet grazed his cheek, and scarred him, on the opposite side to where his brother was scarred before his death.

Covers (2)[edit]

  • Cover A: Firefly lets the clock tick down, by Antonio Fuso.
  • Cover RI: Flint lets the chips fall where they may, by Riley Rossmo.