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Publisher: IDW Publishing
Issue Date: December 2011
Series: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
Issue Number: 173

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The Joes and the Russians are in a tank battle that turns out to be a competition to sell tanks to the Emir of Benzheen. They soon find themselves in a sticky situation and a moral dilemma that leads to them facing hundreds of Cobra tanks. Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow deliver the body of Billy to Cobra Commander and seek his aid in finding the Blue Ninjas. Flint and Lady Jaye's tender moment aboard the USS Flagg is interrupted by Darklon. Sensei Moskvina, a Blue Ninja who has defected, is giving important information to the Arashikage ninjas.

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Notes of Interest

Photo cover was a theme in December for all IDW books, including all 4 GI Joe series.

The Russian Master's name is revealed to be Boris. And Sensei Moskvina a former Blue Ninja is introduced.

New Russian "October Guard" characters Molyenkiy and Colonel Chikatilo are introduced.

Colonel Chikatilo mentions they are "no longer the October Guard"

Major Players

GI Joe: Cross Country, Cover Girl, Dusty, Flint, Lady Jaye, Law and Order, Snake Eyes, Sneak Peek, Storm Shadow, Steeler, Wildcard,

Cobra: Cobra Commander

Additional Characters: Boris (Russian Master), Emir of Benzheen, Sensei Moskvina, Darklon

Former October Guard: Molyenkiy, Colonel Chikatilo, Daina

Creative Team

Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: Ron Wagner, Will Rosado, S.L. Gallant
Inker: Brian Shearer
Colors: Priscilla Tramontano
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Carlos Guzman

Cover Credits
Cover Artist: Photo by John Haynes
Cover Company: IDW

Cover B: Artist: Herb Trimpe, Colors by J. Brown
Cover Company: IDW

Cover C (Retail Incentive): Artist: Larry Hama
Cover Company: IDW

Full Details

Wildcard, Cross Country, Steeler and Cover Girl are driving an Abrams tank in a deserted city in the country of Benzheen. Cross Country questions the nature of their mission and is curious why the town is deserted. Steeler focuses his efforts on strategies and tactics. They see a dog running in the streets with a Russian C ration can in its mouth.

Three streets away Daina, Molyenkiy, and Colonel Chikatilo are driving over a car as Chikatilo admonishes Molyenkiy for tossing a can of C rations to a dog. The Russians too are wondering why the town is deserted. Chikatilo and Daina discuss the matter Chikatilo siding with the Emir and his stance while Daina sympathizes with the protestors. Daina suggests killing the engine so they might be able to hear the Americans approach, it is not necessary, as the shadow of a turret is directly in front of them in the intersection.

In Broca Beach, Cobra Commander is awakened by noises in the night, He speaks aloud chastising Dr. Mindbender who he thinks is in the room only to find himself facing Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes who is carrying a body draped with a sheet.

The pair of ninjas tell Cobra Commander they try to avoid revenge as a rule and are now asking for his help in seeking out the Blue Ninjas. They leave him the head of a Blue Ninja and their signature weapon and disappear. Cobra Commander lifts the sheet covering the body on his bedroom floor, when he sees who is underneath he falls to his knee with his head in his hands.

In Benzheen, Colonel Chikatilo orders Daina not to shoot, he has figured out the Joes have perpetrated a ruse. They have placed a pole on an overturned car mimicking the profile of a tank but it has failed. The Russians traverse their turret to take a shot at the Abrams. Steeler shifts the tank into reverse and backs it into a building. This makes the tanks parallel to each other. Before the Joes can traverse the turret to fire, Colonel Chikatilo drives forward, Daina traverses the turret 180 degrees. The Joes drive out the other side of the building and the two tanks are now turret to turret. They fire simultaneously.

At Saint Ignatius Managed Home Care Sneak Peek visits his elderly mother. She was previously told that her son was dead. Sneak Peek tries to make amends but it is too late, her only response is "Do I know you?" A nurse leads Mrs. King away; Sneak Peek says goodbye and Dusty meets Sneak Peek outside. Sneak Peek takes the blame for what just happened even though Dusty says it wasn't his fault.

In Benzheen, the Emir drives up to the two paint splattered tanks. He deems the contest a tie and tells them that there are protestors in the capital city that he must go take care of. He also tells them of an approaching column of tanks from the nearby country of Abysmia sent to help the protestors. The tanks will be in the deserted city in an hour.

He tells the two tank crews that whichever group stays and holds off the tanks or delays them will gain points in his decision for the contract.

The Russians begin to plan an attack while the Americans seriously question the worth of staying. They decide that if the Russians do stay they will be obligated to stay also. While they argue a group of vehicles approach.

In New Jersey, Boris (The Russian Master), Storm Shadow, and Snake Eyes are meeting with Sensei Moskvina, a defector from the Blue Ninjas. She was in a dojo in Finland when she was recruited. Impressed by the skills of the demonstration and eager to learn more martial arts; she signed up with the stipulation that she must go through certain procedures. She lifts a rubber mask to reveal a metal skull. She describes the hierarchy of the Blue Ninjas. The lower levels consist of enhanced humans, the middle levels are true cyborgs, but the upper echelons are no longer human.

On the U.S.S. Flagg, Flint and Lady Jaye deal with the decision he made to put her first above the mission parameters to keep Darklon alive. She refused to deviate from the mission stopping him (See Issue 172). Lady Jaye is in the midst of thanking Flint for doing that when Darklon, in the next bunk over, being guarded by Law and Order, snidely and smugly chides the Joes because he knows due to their system of ethics and values they won't torture him. Flint snaps back at him telling him he is to be tried at the Hague for War Crimes as an arms dealer.

In Benzheen the vehicles that Cross Country saw coming at them turn out to be fleeing refugees from the last city. Tanks from Abysmia have devastated the city killing all but these few that are left. The cars leave quickly in a cloud of dust.

Now faced with the prospect of facing hundreds of tanks Daina agrees with the Joes that the best option is to leave. Out of nowhere a group of civilians too large to evacuate with just two tanks changes the morass of the situation. The two groups of tankers have to stay now. They load live ammunition and prepare for an attack. Cross Country spots the mish mash of Cobra tanks coming full bore through this field glasses.

Summary by Ted Jacobson