Arashikage Clan

Base of operations:
Japan; New York; Tibet

First Appearance:
G.I. JOE #21 (1984) - clan tattoo;
G.I. JOE #26 (1984) clan

"He who dons the ninja's mask is forever apart. He leads a life of rigorous training, intense concentration...and danger."
— The Soft Master

   Centuries ago in Japan, the Arashikage clan was a renowned family of ninjas. The clan was famous for their techniques, including the "Arashikage Mind-Set," the "Sleeping Phoenix," the "Ear That Sees," and the "Cloak of the Chameleon."

    By the time of the Vietnam War, the size of the clan had dwindled, but still remained powerful in Japan. The head of the clan at that time was known as the Hard Master. He and his brother, the Soft Master, gave their nephew, Thomas Arashikage, an important role in the clan, calling him the Young Master. Near the completion of his training, Tommy was sent to fight in the Vietnam conflict. For him, it was a rite of passage; only in war could he become a true warrior. While in Vietnam, Tommy served in Long Range Recon Patrol (LRRP). There he met Snake-Eyes. The two soldiers became close friends. Tommy was so impressed by Snake-Eyes' fighting skills, he offered him a place in his "family business" when the war was over. For Snake-Eyes, it was not long before he returned home. Their LRRP unit was attacked by North Vietnamese soldiers, and a patrol of six became a patrol of three. Tommy, Snake-Eyes and Stalker were the only members of the team to escape. During the escape, Snake-Eyes was wounded and was sent back to America. On arrival, Snake-Eyes discovered that his parents and twin sister had been killed in an automobile accident. After wandering for a time, Snake-Eyes decided to travel to Japan and join the clan as Tommy had asked him to. He was welcomed into the Arashikage household and became as skilled as any other ninja.

    Snake-Eyes became the Hard Master's star pupil. In some ways, his skills surpassed Tommy's. While Tommy and Snake-Eyes trained,  the clan was infiltrated by the man known as Firefly. He had been hired by Cobra Commander to kill Snake-Eyes. The Commander's brother had died in the accident that killed Snake-Eyes' family, and he blamed the family's surviving son. Firefly was a master of the Koga clan, and was given access to the Arashikage household. When he saw how skilled Snake-Eyes was, he knew he could not kill him. He then referred Cobra Commander to Zartan. Zartan became the apprentice of Onihashi, the Arashikage swordsmith. One night, he stole one of Tommy's arrows and using a compound bow with enhanced sensors, he killed the man behind a screen in the clan's household, believing him to be Snake-Eyes. It actually turned out to be the Hard Master, teaching Snake-Eyes the "Cloak of the Chameleon." The technique allowed someone to take on the mannerisms and motions of another person. The Hard Master had pretended to be Snake-Eyes. Tommy was blamed for the assassination of the Hard Master and fled. He joined Cobra, vowing to rise through the ranks of the organization and discover who had killed the Hard Master.He called himself "Storm Shadow," arough translation of "Arashikage." With the death of the Hard Master and the departure of Storm Shadow, the clan was in ruins.Most of the ninjas scattered and the clan was no more.

    Years later, Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes discovered that Zartan had killed the Hard Master. Storm Shadow vowed to avenge his uncle's death, but Zartan escaped him. Shortly afterward, Zartan contacted many of the scattered Arashikage ninjas. He hired them to protect him against Storm Shadow's threat. These "Red Ninjas" blamed Storm Shadow  for destroying the clan by inviting an outsider, Snake-Eyes, to join. They began to work for Zartan and Cobra, and fought Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow and their allies on many occasions. The Red Ninjas were later summoned by Firefly, who posed as an Arashikage master. When they found out Firefly had lied to them, they abandoned him. The Red Ninjas' current whereabouts are unknown.

    Some of the Arashikage clan still survives today. The G.I. Joe Ninja Force was comprised of Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow and other students of the Hard Master, Soft Master and Blind Master. Some former members of the Ninja Force have recently opened a martial arts school in New York City. Undoubtedly, some of their students will choose to follow the path of the ninja, and the Arashikage clan may one day rise again.

Artwork: G.I. JOE #47(interior) by Rod Whigham and Andy Mushynsky; G.I. JOE #34 (interior) by Rod Whigham and Andy Mushynsky.

Known members of the Arashikage Clan
  • Hard Master
  • Soft Master
  • Obake-Obaason
  • Thomas Arashikage (Storm Shadow)
  • Kimi Arashikage (Jinx)