G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #30
Date: December, 1984
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Series: G.I. Joe A Real American Hero
Writer: Larry Hama
Pencils: Frank Springer
Inks: Andy Mushynsky
Coloring: George Roussos
Letters: Rick Parker
Editor: Denny O'Neil
Editor in Chief: Jim Shooter
Complete Review. Written by Mark Bussler:
G.I. Joe #30 delivers an action-packed cover design that promises loads of violence, stupidity, and devastation wrought by the Dreadnoks! (The Dreadnoks are Cobra’s contract employee biker gang, and it should be noted that because the Dreadnoks are not actual full-time Cobra employees, they are not eligible for Cobra’s IRA program or health insurance.)
I digress. The cover is super fun. Buzzer chops one of the rear wings off a G.I. Joe plane while the other Dreadnoks tear it to bits, surely stopping G.I. Joe dead in their tracks. Nothing deflates the Joe’s morale like the defacement of government property.
The cover is good, but how is the inside? 80s Comics goes in for a deep dive to find out.
When readers open the book, they are greeted with a scene of delicious terror on the inside cover. It’s a deformed blue alien holding several packages of Reese’s Pieces candies! Now, for those old enough to remember, Reese’s Pieces were featured prominently in the movie, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. To be honest, I hate the movie, but I kinda like Reese’s Pieces. They’re a bit sweet but the crunchy shells are pleasing enough. It should be noted that I loathe this advertisement. It’s a terrible ad.
The dumb-ass alien says “Shadamedafas” which roughly translates to “I traveled 369,484,278,025 miles for Reese’s Pieces”. They aren’t that good. And the joke is dumb. It’s not funny! It doesn’t even star E.T. They had to make up some off-brand alien just to capitalize on the movie’s popularity. Did kids in 1984 care? Maybe. I care in 2022. The next time I go to a movie I’m buying M&Ms just to spite them. The ad agency should fire whoever made this ad. Today. 40 years later. Hunt them down and fire them.
The first real page of the comic book opens with a scene of Zartan and the Dreadnoks lurking outside McGuire Air Force Base watching one of the Joe’s Dragonfly helicopters land. They’re searching for the secret location of G.I. Joe’s new base! (the previous one was blown up.)
The Dreadnoks recognize the Dragonfly with bullet holes as the one they shot up in a previous issue. Their leader, Zartan, changes form into Hawk and sneaks onto the base where he briefly converses with the wounded Wild Bill as he’s being loaded into an ambulance. He then reports back to the genius evil mastermind, Cobra Commander. Zartan has discovered the secret base!
The Dreadnoks convert a nearby gas station into a swamp shack hideout complete with a fridge stocked with chocolate-covered donuts by using a holographic projector mounted onto one of their bikes.
Meanwhile, readers are treated to a brief scene of Fred, the Cobra Crimson Guard, and his family closing on a house down the street from Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island. Fred’s wife is rocking the best of 1980s JC Penny's fashion and looks great. They move in and fill their house with machine guns, computers, and surveillance equipment (who doesn’t?) to spy on the do-gooder Joes!
The ambulance with Wild Bill drives by the Staten Island house and enters the base, only to disappear down an elevator shaft which drops it into the New Pit, G.I. Joe’s secret base of operations. We’re blessed with a scene of Rock and Roll in his classic Joe greens giving a “thumbs up” and “fight the power” fist at the same time! No other human being could pull that off with such style.
I love that Clutch shows his compassion by asking Wild Bill not to bleed on the new floor.
Hey, check it out, it’s Scarlet, Snake Eyes, and Hawk!? Wait? How can Hawk be two places at once? Doc and the Joes are suspicious.
Cobra Commander, however, is a complete idiot and plans a raid on McGuire Air Force Base instead based on Zartan’s inane and probably drunk information. It’s a bit confusing, and not one of Hama’s most exciting plots, but we get a great shot of the Baroness holding up Billy (from issue #10) with an automatic weapon as he’s rifling through Cobra’s file cabinet. It’s a lot to take in at once.
Meanwhile back in New Jersey the Dreadnoks are going to ride into battle against the supposed Joe base at McGuire…. Whew, there are a lot of locations to keep track of too.
Yo, check out the sweet computer setup on page 10. It doesn’t last very long, because the Crimson Guard and his wife smash it to bits while throwing a temper tantrum after Cobra Commander fires them voicemail when he believes Zartan’s shitty information about the secret Joe base at the wrong location!
Meanwhile (so many meanwhiles in this issue) the Dreadnoks take matters into their own hands and sneak onto the base to destroy Dragonflies, Vamps, and Sky Strikers! You idiots! Those things cost a fortune at Toys R Us back in the day!
One of the Sky Strikers explodes and sets off fireworks. With their sneak attack completely blown, Cobra Commander and dozens of foot soldiers roll in with Hiss tanks and Venom helicopters. A pleasing battle scene ensues filled with gunfire and explosions. Surely, Cobra will win this time.
But… hold up! Who is that approaching from the other direction? Why, it’s G.I. Joe of course, who deduced that the fake Hawk (played by Zartan) smelled fishy and sent an armored column to investigate. Rock and Roll fearlessly leads the charge.
The Dreadnoks wuss out and flee, while the Cobra tanks and helicopters hit everything except what they’re aiming at. Clutch downs a Venom with a machine gun, and Steeler surgically plants a cannon round into the side of Cobra Commander’s top-heavy Hiss tank, knocking it over but (incredibly) not killing Cobra Commander who wasn’t even wearing a seat belt.
Obviously, Cobra Commander escapes, but on the last page, while watching Ace mourn the loss of a Sky Striker, we learn that Hawk and the Joes don’t need to break a sweat because the American taxpayer will write them a blank check to buy a new one! Yooo Joe!
G.I. Joe #30 is a bit convoluted from the writing and location standpoint, but the battle scene featuring Hiss tanks, Joe tanks, Vamps, Rock and Roll, and more is a lot of fun and reminiscent of the many hours that I crashed my Joe vehicles into each other and crushed Ewoks beneath the wheels of whatever had wheels and weighed more than an Ewok.
Personally, I never really cared for Zartan or the Dreadnoks, but their idiocy is amusing on a surface level. I would have preferred to see Fred and the Crimson Guard step up and kick ass, but Cobra always rewarded the lowest common denominator instead of their best soldiers (Strato-Vipers anyone?)
Frank Springer’s artwork is rock solid like always. His storytelling (even in this confusing story) is easy to follow, and I adore how he draws each of the characters and vehicles. We don’t get enough Snake Eyes or Scarlet. It's good to see Clutch get some screen time, though.
80s Comics totally recommends G.I. Joe #30! It’s cheap, it’s a fun read, and who doesn’t enjoy watching Hiss tanks get blown to bits? And it has Rock and Roll. Rad.