G.I. JOE #9
The Diplomat
Cover Date: March, 1983

Writer: Steven Grant
Penciller: Mike Vosburg
Inker: Chic Stone

Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Andy Yanchus
Editor: Dennis O'Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

"Hawk? Do I have to team up with Clutch? Isn't there anyone else?"
"You have your orders, soldier."
— Scarlett and Hawk

  Somewhere in Nebraska, a Cobra base hidden in a farmhouse is attacked by a force of Joes led by Stalker. Breaker attempts to get information from the computer when Cobra Commander's face appears on the monitor warning that they have remote control of the installation. Breaker realizes the house is about to explode and gets the Joes out. He manages to get some information from the computer's "portapack."

At G.I. Joe headquarters, Hawk briefs Stalker, Snake-Eyes, Scarlett and Clutch about the information obtained from the portapack. It's "spotty" but mentions an assassination attempt and the state department's diplomat involved in talks with the Persian Gulf nation of Al-Alawi. Clutch and Scarlett are to escort the diplomat, Brian Hassell, to the peace talks in Montreaux at a chateau at the base of the Alps. Stalker and Snake-Eyes are to find any information about Cobra's plans. Scarlett tries to team up with someone else; anyone else. Hawk answers, "You have your orders, soldier." At Cobra-Central, a nervous courier tells Cobra Commander that the Joes know of their plans for Hassell. The commander seems pleased that the Joes are escorting Hassell and orders the attacks to begin immediately. "This will make a most amusing game."

On the French Riviera, Scarlett and Clutch (buried in the sand) meet Hassell on his vacation. He insists he doesn't need protection, and even questions Cobra's existance. Suddenly, Cobra frogmen appear and attack the group. Clutch pulls a machine gun out of the sand and fires on the Cobras sending them back into the ocean. Hassell and the Joes rush to Hassell's hotel. Scarlett is inside with Hassell while Clutch waits below in Hassell's convertible. Scarlett notices the door won't open in the hotel. She hears "ticking" and realizes there is a bomb in the room. Scarlett fires a crossbow arrow that sends a rope out the window and attaches to a telephone pole outside. She and Hassell slide down the rope just as the room explodes. They drive off toward their next destination in Hassell's car.

In London, weapons supplier Derek Sutherland returns to his office and finds Stalker and Snake-Eyes already there. They question him about Cobra at gunpoint. He tells them he knows nothing about Cobra, but takes out a piece of paper and writes that the room is bugged, and writes down an address in Amsterdam. The Joes leave, but seconds later Sutherland contacts Cobra Commander that the Joes have been given his message. The commander thanks him, but Sutherland is suddenly electrocuted by his computer console. Cobra Commander says that things must be kept looking "authentic." In France, Clutch, Scarlett and Hassell are driving toward an airport when they are chased by men with machine guns in another car. Scarlett throws a grenade and destroys the other car. Clutch drives up the plane's ramp just as it starts to taxi down the runway. After they take off, Scarlett notices that they're going the wrong way. The pilot pulls out a pistol, but Scarlett knocks him out, sending a bullet into the plane's radio. The plane is out of control, but Clutch manages to land it in the mountains, leaving the plane perched on the edge of a cliff. As they drive the car out of the plane, the aircraft falls off the edge of the cliff.

At a rundown hotel in Amsterdam, Stalker and Snake-Eyes arrive. Snake-Eyes guards the lobby while Stalker goes up to the room address given by Sutherland. Once in the room, the door closes behind him and a hologram of Cobra Commander appears. As gas fills the room, the commander tells Stalker that the assassin is Hassell, assuming he cannot escape from the room. Stalker calls for Snake-Eyes on the radio and Snake-Eyes blows the door off its hinges and helps Stalker escape. Now they need to stop Scarlett and Clutch.

In the Alps, Scarlett, Clutch and Hassell's car is attacked by helicopters equipped with machine guns. Scarlett fires on them, but up ahead on the road Clutch spots two cars trying to squeeze them off the road. Remembering growing up in New Jersey, Clutch plays "chicken" until the other cars swerve to miss him and careen off the road. The helicopters start dropping canisters of poison gas and Scarlett detonates one just before it hits the car, but Hassell "notices" a canister at his feet. They fall off the bridge into the water. The copters come closer to make sure they're dead when Scarlett pops out of the water and grabs the pilot. She rescues Clutch and Hassell. Onboard, the Joes wonder why Cobra was unsuccessful, since they've "never been inept before." Hassell pulls out a gun, confessing that he's the assassin, and is surprised that the Joes figured it out. The copter land high in the mountains at a cabin where Cobra soldiers tie up the Joes. Hassell goes down the mountain to meet the Al-Alawi ambassador. Clutch and Scarlett escape their ropes and overpower the guards. As Hassell arrives at the chateau and meets the ambassador, Scarlett and Clutch ski down the mountain to try and stop Hassell. He is about to shoot when Scarlett skis right through the glass window, but she's too late; he shoots the ambassador. Clutch, Stalker and Snake-Eyes arrive and arrest Hassell, but the ambassador gets up, slaps Hassell across the face telling him, "Take this message to your Cobra masters, pig! In my land, assassinations are a fact of life! So are bulletproof vests!" Hassell is taken away, yelling that Cobra will never be stopped.

Back at Cobra headquarters, a courier tells Cobra Commander that Hassell was captured. The Cobra trooper expects he'll be angry, but he simply answers, "It was only a game. And there will always be...another game."

Commentary: ""The Diplomat" is the second issue of G.I. Joe that wasn't written by Larry Hama, and it marks the beginning of Mike Vosburg's stint as artist, replacing Herb Trimpe (Trimpe will return and become the regualr artist for G.I. Joe Special Missions). The story is a fairly simple spy story, complete with international locales, including the French Riviera. The Cobra base in a peaceful farmhouse continues the "Cobra is everywhere" idea. We find out that they have even infiltrated the state department. While it's not obvious that Hassell is the assassin, it isn't really surprising. The best part of the story is that twist at the end of the issue when Hassell actually shoots the ambassador. The Al-Alawi ambassador is an unimportant but memorable minor character, when he gest up and hits the man who just shot him in the chest. Interestingly, Cobra didn't win, but G.I. Joe had nothing to do with their failure.

This is pretty much the last we see of Scarlett and Clutch's antagonistic relationship, especially when she actually requests to be teamed with someone else. It's played mostly for humor, and we see that Scarlett at least respects Clutch's abilities. Stalker and Snake-Eyes work well together, as they do later on, especially after we find out they served together in Vietnam. Cobra Commander is at the height of his calm, collected persona. Here, he doesn't care at all when Hassell is captured, since it's "only a game." This is much different than his later tantrum-throwing self.

There isn't anything in this issue that is important in other issues. Actually, this is the last of the "stand alone" stories for a while. An interesting note is the death of Sutherland, Cobra's weapons supplier. It's possible he is one of many, but if he is their major supplier, his death may explain the reason Cobra Commander will bring Destro into his organization two issues later in #11.

Mike Vosburg's pencils are very different than Herb Trimpe's. Vosburg's art is more dynamic than Trimpe's. He follows a more familiar comic-book style that contrasts with Trimpe's very static, military style. Vosburg will continue as artist for a while. Larry Hama will return to writing the series in the next issue. While the story isn't too deep, it's still a fun action story, with Scarlett and Clutch moving from one explosive scene to the next.

Reprinted in:
  • G.I. JOE Comics Magazine #4 (June 1987). Digest format from Marvel Comics. Includes issues #10 and #11.
  • Tales of G.I. Joe #9 (September 1988). Reprint series from Marvel.
  • G.I. JOE: Volume 1 (May 2002). A trade paperback collection from Marvel. Includes issues #1-10.
  • A version of the issue was released by Hasbro in 2005, packaged with comic-based action figures of Scarlett, Breaker, and a holographic Cobra Commander as seen in the issue.
  • Classic G.I. JOE: Volume 1 (January 2009). A trade paperback collection from IDW Publishing. Aside from some slight changes made to the cover, this is a reprint of the earlier Marvel collection. Includes issues #1-10