While I don’t really have any plans or desire to write about much G.I. Joe media, there’s going to be the occasional piece on it. I figured the first thing I’d look at, is the secondary story from Marvel G.I. Joe #1, “Hot Potato”. This is a story that’s been fairly hard to come by, over the years. It was omitted from the #1-10 Trade Paperback, as well as both Comic Pack releases. I’ve always assumed it was because Lady Doomsday was a long enough story. Though reading through it again, there might’ve been some legitimate concerns with the content of Hot Potato.
The basic overview of the story is that in a cafe “Somewhere in the Middle East”, Hawk, Stalker and Clutch are awaiting the arrival of Snake Eyes, Scarlett and Rock ‘N’ Roll, who’ve been tasked with retrieving a tape which has information that could defuse regional tensions brought upon by Col. Sharif and his “Guardians of Paradise”, which is apparently bankrolled by COBRA. The trio of Joes tasked with bringing back the tape have been embroiled in a firefight with the Guardians, and have some decisions to make. Scarlett (Who is apparently the senior member), forces Rock ‘N Roll to disarm, and leave with the tape. Snake Eyes was sent to ensure RNR, doesn’t come back to be a hero, and in the process of running across the desert, is bawled out by Rock ‘N Roll. One comment seems to cause Snake Eyes to return to Scarlett. The tape makes it way through a window, to Clutch, Stalker and Hawk, and the motorcycle hidden outside the cafe is taken.
As Col. Sharif is making a speech imploring his men to “Overwhelm the Infidels with the power of our spirit”, Scarlett suggests to Snake Eyes that they kill themselves, rather than be taken prisoner. Luckily Rock ‘N Roll appears and gattling cannon’s the Guardians. As the Joes flee on the RAM, Col. Sharif orders an airstrike, luckily the VAMP comes to rescue the Joes, and they learn Stalker is on a plane with the tape.
As a story, it’s quick and exciting enough, though I thought the three examples of “knick of time rescuing” was a little lazy. Overall I liked it, as there’s some interesting cynicism towards the Military, which is amusing considering the “ULTIMATE WEAPON OF DEMOCRACY” starburst on the cover of the comic book, and there’s some fairly ominous ideas put forth. It’s also fairly well drawn, the characters are recognizable, some of the small details from figures are apparent, and the backgrounds are detailed. Only art-issue I have is that none of the guns are drawn all that well, and apparently Rock ‘N Roll’s machine gun isn’t belt fed, but rather fires from Clips.
The Middle Eastern backdrop is a good choice, though I feel the logic of COBRA bankrolling Col. Sharif to be somewhat backwards. Though it was a nice way to tie COBRA into the story, without them being in it, and much less ridiculous than the time they provided Strike First a nuclear weapon. However, the Mid-East backdrop also allows for some super clichéd dialogue, though I guess, it would seem worldly to a kid reading it.
I assume the dialogue cribbed from an old Ayatollah Khomeni speech, and the fact Scarlett suggests she and Snake Eyes shoot themselves in the head, might partially be why this back-up story didn’t make it into the Comic Pack releases of Issue #1. Both aspects were fairly real-world concepts, that Hasbro was definitely moving away from in the early 2000s, especially considering that COBRA was no longer a Terrorist Organization, and Headman wasn’t pushing drugs anymore. Honestly I’d rather they just omit a story like this, rather than censor it, so I’m not really complaining. I think it might have been reprinted in some hardcover collection, but honestly the best bet to get this story is to find a cheap copy of “TALES OF G.I. JOE #1”, as it’s an Issue #1 reprint without any ads, and the highest quality paper you’d find on a comic book from the 1980s.
This story wound up with a little follow-up in an Order Of Battle, of all places. In Rock ‘N Roll’s profile in #2, there’s a “psychological profile” that indicates, ol’ RNR might be too committed to his teammates to be effective. There’s a peer evaluation from “John Doe E-5”, who is obviously inferred to be Snake Eyes, that is an endorsement of Rock ‘N Roll, with a refusal to state his “shortcomings” with the knowledge Rock ‘N Roll wouldn’t mention his. Considering the two rarely interacted, and the “Hot Potato” story shows Rock ‘N Roll being unwilling to leave his teammates, but at the end of the day follows through with his orders, where as Snake Eyes doesn’t even follow his one order, based on his commitment to Scarlett. Overall, a neat reference to a story that was almost 5 years old at that point.