#21 THE LOWER DEPTHS
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Issue Date: May 1989
Series: Special Missions
Issue Number: 21
LOCATION: Beneath the streets of New York City
Alerted to a Cobra presence in the sewers, the Joe team investigates several Cobra gas canisters. After a couple of brief firefights, the gas is released. Instead of it being deadly as expected it is just a terrible stink gas with Cobra completely disappearing it becomes a big mystery to the Joes what they were up to.
Notes of Interest
The individual Special Mission issues influence on the main series fluctuates from being a completely separate story to having a minor influence or is a direct continuation from the regular Marvel series.
First Appearance of Spearhead & Max
Main Mission Joes: Airtight, Charbroil, Spearhead & Max, Tunnel Rat
Dreadnoks: Zarana, Zandar, Buzzer, Roadpig
Special Missions Only Characters: Sgt. Gamble (deceased)
Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Herb Trimpe
Inks: Andy Mushynsky
Lettering: Phil Felix
Coloring: Nel Yomtov
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco
Cover Artist: Ron Wagner and Bob McLeod
Tunnel Rat, Airtight, Charbroil, and Spearhead and his lynx Max are in the New York City sewers following up on a report of Cobra activity. When they come around a corner they encounter Zandar, Buzzer, several Vipers and a Techno-Viper. A firefight opens up with the Cobras, but they quickly retreat as soon as they are finished installing a canister. Zandar calls his sister Zarana to report in about the contact with the Joe team. Airtight inspects the canister that is connected to a telephone line. The canister is labeled as a very dangerous nerve gas with multiple anti-tamper switches. Basically it can't be touched or it will blow.
The Joes decide to leave it and follow the wiring trail. They soon come into contact with a homeless community. A WWII veteran Sgt. Gamble is the main instigator in kicking the Joes out. Tunnel Rat is able to reason with him and asks him to lead them to the Cobra activity. Mumbling and grumbling the entire way, he concedes in order to get them out sooner. Leading the Joe team through a series of up and down tunnels, they come to a large open room that is directly under the central telephone exchange. A large tanker truck is in the room. The Joes are very concerned that this may also be filled with deadly gas.
Different Cobra squads are now reporting to this main area after having finish installing more of the nerve gas canisters. A squad comes up behind the Joes starting a brief firefight. Tunnel Rat saves Sgt. Gamble and Charbroil clears the way with his flamethrower. The Joes now want to get to the surface to call for reinforcements. Sgt Gamble leads them. They make it to an exit point, but Buzzer is waiting on the other side and drops a grenade down at them. As they scrabble to get away, Sgt. Gamble sacrifices himself by jumping on the grenade. But it never goes off, it was a dud, yet Gamble is dead. He died of either a heart attack or stroke saving the Joes lives. All of sudden the tunnel fills with a terrible smelling gas. The Cobras have blown the canisters. Airtight immediately checks his gages evaluating that it is just a stink gas, not the least bit harmful. It doesn't make any sense and the Cobras are nowhere to be seen. So the Joes go home to make their report.
In another part of New York City, Zandar and Zarana meet up. Zarana explains that the terrible smelling gas is a way of keeping the telephone employees out of the tunnels. Cobra has illegally connected to the main telephone exchange. They are able to make thousands of free calls and have set up numerous trailers with numerous operators selling numerous telephone scams all to make Cobra millions of dollars.
Summary by Josh Eggebeen
The Mark Jeweler jewelry insert was released in many Marvel comics throughout the late 1970s til the late 1990s. What is pictured here is the actual insert included in Marvel Special Missions #21. To read about the history of the Mark Jeweler insert follow the link - Marvel Mark Jewelers Inserts Part 4 - Marvel Mark Jewelers Inserts - The Colored End of an Era - October 1986 - July 1991