Threat Matrix, Part 1 of 4
You can't sell G.I. Joe comics without Snake Eyes, so better trick people into thinking he's back!
|"Threat Matrix, Part 1 of 4"|
|First published||August 28, 2013|
|Cover date||August 2013|
|Written by||Fred Van Lente|
|Line-art by||Steve Kurth|
|Inks by||Allen Martinez|
|Colors by||Joana Lafuente|
|Letters by||Neil Uyetake|
|Editorial consultant||Carlos Guzman|
Cover Girl and Roadblock's suspicions of Duke grow as Mad Monk draws the G.I. Joe field leader into his twisted scheme.
Back during World War II, Robert Stevens Savage and his Screaming Eagles had limited manpower in their war on the Iron Army; and so, they concocted an operation called "the Notional Mole": parachuting spy gear into enemy territory, before allowing wireless messages implying that the Iron Army's high command had been infiltrated to be intercepted. General Blitz's paranoia over the apparent spy led to him executing a third of his high command, without Savage having to fire a shot. The significance of all this is lost on Roadblock, who simply feels that G.I. Joe should review their operational security in the wake of the Warrenton mission, but Joe Colton believes otherwise: to start a witch hunt on the basis of vague suspicions could do more damage to the Joes than any real Cobra leak could.
Snake Eyes flies over Fort Jay, wearing a glider pack and high-tech invisibility cloak. As soon as he hits the ground, the invisibility shorts out, leaving him visible to everyone around — including the G.I. Joe field team! The team leaps into battle with the ninja, who skillfully duels his opponents; he almost impales Roadblock with his sword, but instead turns his blade at the last second to stab the ground. The fight ends when Doc confronts the ninja, and... he plays "got yer nose" on her. "Fake Eyes" was actually Quick Kick, testing the Joes' Air Commando glider; however, the quantum stealth technology is faulty, its pixels scrambling on the impact of landing. Duke's frustration is interrupted by Hashtag, who has been monitoring Mainframe's Threat Matrix for probable Cobra activity — and within the last 10 minutes, three major hot spots have erupted onto their overlay of New York City!
While Duke thinks on their next move, he receives a call to his personal phone from an unknown caller, and leaves the room to take it — but though Duke doesn't recognize the voice, the man on the line is Mad Monk, who has taken his wife Aisha hostage! Threatening to harm her if Duke reveals the conversation to anyone else or traces the call, Monk lays out the rules of the "game" they are playing: only one of the three potential attacks on the Threat Matrix is serious, but Monk will not inform him which, and the sole genuine attack will lead Duke to Aisha. Asked why he's doing what he is, Monk claims that he wants to "rip the veil of illusion" from Duke's eyes, forcing him to tell between the truth and what he wants to be true. If he can, she lives... if he can't, they both die.
Up in the Scottish Highlands, the Baroness takes dinner at Castle Destro. Having clarified that she has nothing but loyalty to Cobra and its Commander, her host, Laird Destro, explains why he invited her: he is disturbed by the Commander's appointment of Michael Monk to head the Manhattan station. Monk was recruited by Dr. Lester Horvath via the Lome test, which measures an individual's ability to shape the world to their vision; while Cobra Commander is an eight, the highest possible rating, Monk is a one, the lowest — and rarest — rating. Unable to lead thanks to his inability to inspire, Monk is running the entire New York outpost by himself; Horvath believed that he had a death wish matched only by his survival instincts. The Baroness observes that Destro almost sounds afraid of Monk, and the laird readily admits that he is; despite Clan Destro's long and proud history, Destro fears that Monk may bring an end to it all if the Commander places his faith in him — not just the end of Cobra, but the end of the world!
Duke shows Shipwreck the coordinates that Monk texted him as an area of elevated threat, though Roadblock and Cover Girl's suspicions are piqued when Duke refuses to explain where he got them from. Shipwreck doesn't need to look them up, though, as they point to the New York Harbor — and at that moment, a trio of Sea Rays burst from the water around the Statue of Liberty! The Joes immediately head off towards the threat in the Killer W.H.A.L.E., leaving Hashtag behind to coordinate and Cover Girl as potential reinforcements... but as soon as they're gone, Cover Girl initiates her backup plan for investigating Duke. With Cover Girl unable to press the matter herself, she needs help — so Scarlett and the Special Missions team will have to see what they can do...
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"I appreciate your concern, sergeant. I truly do. But you'll learn: in the fog of war, nothing is more important... than separating signal from noise."
- —Joe Colton
"I told the kitchen not to disappoint me tonight. And when I say that... they never do."
"Just a... I have to take this..."
"No worries. I'm sure the terrorists will totally wait for you to come back."
- —Duke and Hashtag, who's taken a level in the snark department
"Roadblock and I can't do this ourselves. We're too close to the target, so there's too great a risk of exposure. Besides, General Joe already said no, and we don't want to be seen as going against orders."
Oh, but a courts-martial's just fine for me, huh?"
"Look, you didn't see Windmill dangling from a lamppost in Warrenton."
- —Cover Girl and Scarlett. A cross-over with Special Missions already? It's more likely than you think!
- Most of Destro's exposition about Mad Monk, including the nature of the Lome system and how Monk was recruited by Dr. Horvath, is drawn from the "Sedition by Numbers" story arc of G.I. Joe: Origins in which Monk was introduced. Much of the language Destro uses to describe the Lome System and Monk ("ability to imagine an alternative worldview and the ability to shape that reality", "a death wish matched only by his survival instincts") was originally used by Horvath in that arc.
- Hashtag mentions working under Dee-Jay, which is what Duke assigned her to do in issue #5 of this series.
- The Threat Matrix is evidently a successor to the Snakehunter program, which Mainframe also developed. While the Threat Matrix is not specifically mentioned as being such, the first issue of G.I. Joe: Special Missions mentions that Cobra may have found a way to trip up the Snakehunter program and, as such, a successor program was being developed.
- The Special Missions team, obviously, hail from the concurrently-running G.I. Joe: Special Missions; though that title features a rotating cast, the characters shown here are all regulars in the team.
G.I. Joe references
- Following last issue's introduction of elements of G.I. Joe Extreme into the IDW universe in the form of Survival Extreme, this issue introduces bits from the other '90s G.I. Joe relaunch, Sgt. Savage and his Screaming Eagles. While the original show was about World War II soldier Sgt. Savage being cryogenically frozen and joining up with the Screaming Eagles when he awoke in the present-day '90s, this issue simplifies things by making the Screaming Eagles the name of Savage's World War II unit. General Blitz was the main baddie of Sgt. Savage, while the "Iron Army" is based on his Cobra
knockoffequivalent, I.R.O.N.; the Iron Army soldiers shown have designs based on the I.R.O.N. stormtroopers that were I.R.O.N.'s mechanical mooks.
- The metal masks on Destro's wall, which also appeared back during the first arc of G.I. Joe vol. 1, are a nod to the classic A Real American Hero Destro; rather than being sealed into a metal life support suit like IDW Destro, the classic one wore a metal mask as part of a Clan Destro family tradition.
- The Killer W.H.A.L.E. hails from the 1984 G.I. Joe toy lineup; the Sea Ray, meanwhile, is from the 1987 assortment.
- Piloting the Sea Rays are B.A.T.s, Cobra's resident android troopers. While their previous appearances in IDW continuity used a more "realistic" design modelled on the G.I. Joe: Sigma Six B.A.T.s, these ones are thoroughly based on the mirror-faced '80s incarnation.
Real life references
- Appropriately for a character whose original backstory was pretty much that of Captain America, making the Screaming Eagles into Savage's WWII unit seems to deliberately evoke the Howling Commandos as they appeared in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger.
- At the time of this issue's release, Castle Destro being in the Scottish Highlands seemed like a big, glaring error, since G.I. Joe vol. 1 #5 established that Destro had it moved to Patagonia years before. A few months later, Chuck Dixon would write a story arc in Special Missions seemingly aiming to rectify the error by establishing that Destro had since moved his castle to Russia, which ended with Cobra being kicked out of the country, presumably resulting in Destro moving back to Scotland. However, that arc only introduced another continuity error: the last issue of the arc ended with Beachhead captured by Cobra and spirited off to lands unknown, and yet here he is, perfectly well! Apparently, they just rescued him offscreen.
- "Different writer syndrome" is hardly something new to comics, or even specifically to IDW G.I. Joe, but in the case of Mad Monk it feels... notable. Though this story leans heavily on the "Sedition by Numbers" story arc, his characterization is very much off — while in Origins Monk was a stoic, emotionally-stunted goon with no imagination motivated only by a desire to provide for his family, here he is portrayed as a sneering, Machiavellian sadist who wants to mess with Duke out of revenge. Additionally, he was previously portrayed as a neglectful husband, but here he seems downright abusive; and while Origins #23 implied he would be working against Krake, here he seems nothing but loyal.
- Monk's wife Tara and his daughter Sarah left him in Origins #22 thanks to the machinations of Dr. Horvath, before being sent to Section Ten on Krake's orders to keep Monk in line. Apparently they were released before it was shut down and returned to him, but no acknowledgement that it happened at all appears in this issue.
- Monk is revealed to have had a history with Duke... but they already met each other in Duke's G.I. Joe days, in Origins #22-23. Why didn't they recognize each other then?
- On page 18, in the Baroness's speech bubble, "laird" is misspelled "larid".
- Among the holograms Destro projects that show Cobra Commander's Lome rating to be eight, other characters shown include Major Bludd, a five; Croc Master, a two; and Serpentor, who is, surprisingly, a three. Apparently everyone else in the Coil is a two?
- Cover A:
Snake Eyes Fake EyesQuick Kick vs the Joes, by Steve Kurth and Allen Martinez.
- Cover B: Cobra Commander is the master of all he surveys, by Jamal Igle.
- Cover RI: Human resources manager Mary Malone is recruited into Cobra by Fred Forty-Three, by Ryan Dunlavey; part 1 in a series of Marcy Malone, Intern of Cobra covers.