Threat Matrix, Prologue: Cover Girl
|"Threat Matrix, Prologue: Cover Girl"|
|First published||July 31, 2013|
|Cover date||July 2013|
|Written by||Fred Van Lente|
|Line-art by||Jamal Igle|
|Inks by||Juan Castro|
|Colors by||Joana Lafuente|
|Letters by||Neil Uyetake|
|Editorial consultant||Carlos Guzman|
While investigating Duke's suspicious actions, Cover Girl is reminded of how she first came to join G.I. Joe.
At 10:45 AM, Duke enters a care home. At 1:12 PM, he leaves... and as Duke drives away, Cover Girl — who has been watching and waiting — moves in. Bringing flowers plucked from a bush outside, Cover Girl makes up a story about having planned to meet Duke there — but is shocked to discover that Aisha, the woman Duke had been visiting, was his wife! Giving the flowers to the unresponsive woman, Cover Girl asks the receptionist for an information pamphlet about the hospice, with the excuse of her mother having been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. As she retrieves it, however, the receptionist recognises her as the famous model Courtney Kreiger, who used to be everywhere — and who even won the military-themed reality show Survival Extreme...
EXTREEEEEME! The odds are a million to one! 15 celebrities have been selected to take each other on for control of a tropical island to defeat Scar and the Iron Claw! That, at least, is the premise of Survival Extreme, a reality TV show hosted by the extreme Lieutenant Stone. The competitors have been whittled down to only two: supermodel Courtney Kreiger and test pilot Richard Ruby; and for their final challenge, the two will have to traverse an extreme field of electronic mines... but after filming an elaborate opening sequence, the film crew's camera cuts out, leading Kreiger to go for a walk rather than keep waiting. Directed to the minefield's location by Stone, Krieger finds that nothing has been set up... and when she turns around, she sees that the crew on the beach below have been captured by pirates!
The pirates' leader interrogates Stone as to what army they work for, but Stone — who's only an actor, rather than the hardened military man he plays — immediately starts crying and begging for his life, promising to hand Courtney over to them to ransom. Moments later, the furious Krieger is found by one of the pirates, who laughs at her when she takes aim with her paintball gun — until she shoots him in the groin, hits him in the head with a rock, and takes his gun herself.
The pirates' leader shoots one of the crewmen in the head as an example to the other prisoners, before sending two of his followers to locate the wayward pirate, Jaruk. The two find Jaruk's unmoving body on the ground, and — spotting a shadow behind a tree — open fire on it; but it's only a prop for the show, with Kreiger hiding in the bushes behind them using the skills she learned in the "extreme camo challenge" and shooting both men in the back! With the pirates threatening Stone into calling "his people" to get them to pay up, Kreiger uses her skills from the "extreme sharpshooter challenge" to shoot the pirate leader's last remaining underling in the neck — and when the leader takes Stone hostage as a human shield, Richard Ruby uses his "extreme judo challenge" skills to disarm the man. The pirate leader runs, but Kreiger takes aim with a "China Lake" grenade launcher, and — with skills honed in yet another of the show's extreme challenge — fires it at the few live mines the crew had brought along, catching the pirate in a truly extreme explosion!
In the aftermath, Ruby guesses that the pirates were from the nearby nation of Nanzhao, and that the film crew accidentally stumbled across their base. Stone tries to make his excuses, but Courtney ignores him; and when Ruby compliments her combat performance, she downplays her talents, insisting that it merely came from paying attention during their training. Still, Ruby insists that she was a natural, and mentions that if she ever wants to switch careers she should talk to a guy named "Hawk"; and though Krieger isn't sure what career he's talking about, she puts it together moments later when he draws a bullet shape in the air: Richard Ruby is Bulletman, the human bullet, of G.I. Joe Colton's Adventure Team!
Having left the stunned receptionist and the hospice, Cover Girl meets up with Roadblock at a New York restaurant, where he provides them both with a gourmet-prepared dish of Escargots a la Bourguignonne. When Cover Girl mentions that she spent her day leave trailing Duke, Roadblock assumes he's being dragged into some romantic drama, but Cover Girl's troubles go deeper than that — in Warrenton, Roadblock had his suspicions that the Joes might have a leak, and the price on the nursing home where Duke is keeping his wife is half a million dollars a year. With no way that Duke could possibly afford that on his own, Cover Girl is forced to consider the possibility that Duke may be the leak... and as soon as she says so, Roadblock flips the table and furiously slams Cover Girl against the wall, unwilling to hear the suggestion that his friend, and a man who saved both his life and Cover Girl's many times, might be a traitor. Cover Girl insists that she wants to investigate Duke to eliminate him as a leak, not incriminate him, and Roadblock apologetically backs down, admitting that a "secret wife" is pretty suspicious and agreeing that he'll have Cover Girl's back — but as they come to terms, the restaurant's owner Marcella walks in on them, wanting to know what the hell they were doing that made the table end up on the floor.
That evening, Cover Girl meets up with Shipwreck on the ferry Lt. Samuel S. Coursen, taking them back to Governors Island. Ship, who has had a much better day than Cover Girl has, notes that dating Duke isn't a good idea; and though Cover Girl thinks it's none of his business, she appreciates Shipwreck being forthright with her.
Back at the North Shore Hospice, Michael Monk introduces himself to Aisha...
Characters in italics appear only in flashback. (Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Both survivors have won eight challenges each! But only one can defeat the might of Scar and the Iron Claw! Will beauty overcome the beast?"
"Not on my watch!"
"In the extreme! WEE-NOW-WEEEEEEEEE"
- —Lieutenant Stone and Richard Ruby, on-camera
"Ugh. These shoots are even more boring than modeling. Gonna take a walk. You wanna come with, Richard?"
"Nah. Into this chapter."
- —Courtney Kreiger and Richard Ruby, off-camera
"That was above and beyond. You're a natural."
"You ever had to deal with photographers with eight hands? Bookers with sticky couches? Recruiters who hang out outside eating disorder clinics? When it comes to ruthlessness, these guys are amateurs.
- —Richard Ruby and Courtney Kreiger
"I bet he's like dating Mount Rushmore. Big, strong, handsome. But hard. And cold. And nausea-inducingly patriotic."
- —Shipwreck's assessment of Duke
- Ruby observes that the pirates likely hail from Nanzhao, the setting of the "Cobra Command" story arc.
- Ruby knowing about Hawk seems a bit odd given the secrecy of the G.I. Joe program, but as later stories would establish that Joe Colton was involved with the early Joes, one could easily extrapolate that to the other Adventure Team members.
- Cover Girl's romance with Duke has been going on since issue 1 of this series, though Duke has been reluctant to put a label on it.
G.I. Joe references
- Survival Extreme is an affectionate(?) parody of the very '90s G.I. Joe Extreme cartoon. Multiple elements of the cartoon show up as part of the reality show:
- Much of the show's opening ("The odds are a million to one! And that's the way we like 'em!", "With the imminent collapse of the superpowers...", "Not on my watch!", et al) is drawn from the extreme opening of the cartoon.
- Lieutenant Stone was the leader of the G.I. Joe Extreme team and resident Duke expy, though he was significantly more extreme than the IDW version.
- The two named teams, "Team Mayday" and "Team Ballistic", both draw their names from Extreme characters; the name "Mayday" would later be used as the codename for Ayana Jones when she was brought into the IDW Joe team.
- "Scar" and the "Iron Claw" are named after the villains of Extreme, S.K.A.R. and the Iron Klaw. Given that IDW would later establish that an actual villain named Iron Klaw exists in this universe, you have to wonder who thought naming their reality show baddie after a real terrorist was a good idea...
- Richard Ruby is based on Bulletman, a toy from the latter days of the Adventure Team toyline who was in turn based on the Fawcett Comics character of the same name; appropriately, Ruby sports the Adventure Team's logo on his shirt. He previously showed up in a cameo in issue #3 of this series.
- Roadblock being a chef is a big part of his classic character and what makes him memorable, but it's never really come up in IDW before. It's worth noting that Roadblock was originally supposed to be a renamed version of Heavy Duty, and a letters page in the back of G.I. Joe vol. 1 #3 suggested that Heavy Duty was a terrible cook...
Real life references
- As well as G.I. Joe Extreme, Survival Extreme is also a parody of the Survivor reality TV show.
- The Lt. Samuel S. Coursen is a real ferry, that in real life takes tourists to Fort Jay.
- Shipwreck's day leave involved visiting the Museum of Modern Art, seeing Kyle Eastwood perform at the Village Vanguard, and going dancing at Webster Hall.
- When Ruby notes the pirates' origins, "Nanzhao" is misspelled "Nanzhou".
- When Courtney shoots the grenade launcher at the pile of mines, the resulting explosion makes an "EXTREME!" sound effect. That is awesome.
- Cover A: Cover Girl poses on a tank, by Jamal Igle.
- Cover B: Cover Girl takes aim from a bush, by Steve Kurth.
- Cover RI: Extra, extra, read all about it, Cover Girl's origin story!, by Tim Seeley.