Both sides have suffered great losses, and the casualties are sure only to mount. Flint, is a prisoner of Cobra and a "guest" of the Baroness, while Beach Head fights for his life against Frenzy. In the air Lady Jaye battles the deadly Cobra ace, Wild Weasel, but it is on the ground that the true cost of war is made plain to see as Optimus finally realises the extent of the horrors of Cobra. With this knowledge in hand the Autobots officially give their full support to the Gi-Joe commandos and begin preparations for the final invasion of the Terrordrome. However, just when things are looking up, Shockwave transforms and starts firing on the Autobots...
Snake Eyes rises from the water off the coast of the Fera Islands carrying the nearly dead body of Storm Shadow. Snake Eyes lays the Cobra ninja on the beach, and Storm Shadow concedes that Snake Eyes is the better, truer warrior, and then dies. Snake Eyes then travels up the cliff-face, grabs his sword, only to be pounced upon by a damaged Ravage! However, the Gi-Joe ninja is one step ahead of the mechanical beast, and manages to jump over Ravage, while impaling his sword into the exposed innards of the Decepticon, killing him instantly.
Deep inside the Terrordrome, Dr Mindbender and the Baroness start their interrogation of Flint, who was captured by Zartan and Soundwave last issue. Although Flint lies to his captors, and refuses to break down, the Baroness continues her torture of the Joe commander.
Meanwhile, at the Cobra airbase, Beach Head and Frenzy continue their battle! Beach Head manages to jump out a window and run towards parked Cobra Bombers. While doing so, he tells his fellow Joes, who are hidden by the Anti-Air Artillery, to keep their heads down until he gives them the signal. Frenzy follows Beach Head into the bombers but doesn’t notice that Beach Head has climbed aboard one bomber and is sprinkling gunpowder from TNT onto the unsuspecting Decepticon. Beach Head then jumps and runs towards the Joes, while telling them to open fire on Frenzy. The resulting explosion of the dynamite and the fully fuelled plane severely damages, but doesn’t kill Frenzy. The Joes then continue to rake the Decepticon with AAA fire until he drops, utterly perforated by bullets.
Lady Jaye is fighting for her life in the skies above the Fera Islands against Cobra Ace Wild Weasel. Although Wild Weasel is flying a ME 262 jet fighter, Jaye is able to use her craft’s superior manoeuverability to pull an 'Immelman' and shoot down the Cobra fighter pilot.
In Torhaven, the main civilian city on the Fera Islands, right next to the Terrordrome, Cobra Commander orders Major Bludd to take all the civilians out to the shoreline and keep them there using Cobra machine gunners. Cobra Commander intends to use them as human shields to prevent the Joes from attacking the Terrordrome. However, Megatron calmly informs Cobra Commander that in doing so he has guaranteed the Autobots assistance to the Joe strike force.
Snake Eyes finally manages to reunite with the rest of the Joes and although Scarlett shows immense concern for the wounded ninja, Snake Eyes does not wish that she see the damage done to his face.
Meanwhile, Duke is attempting to cement the alliance between the Joes and the Autobots, but Optimus Prime has his reservations, as this isn’t their war. However, Hound feels that he would rather stay with the Joes, than flee to safety. Fortunately for the Joes, Prime then notices the civilians along the shoreline and asks Duke who they are. Duke calmly responds that they are Cobra slaves and that this has been done to millions in Europe already. Duke then adds: “We hope they have”. Optimus, clearly shocked at why Duke would want such a thing to happen, asks Duke to explain, and Duke somberly responds: “Optimus, if they aren’t slaves, they’re dead”. Prime, shocked into silence, then orders his Autobots to “Roll out!” in aid of the Joes!
Back at the Terrordrome Cobra Commander orders Shockwave to transform into his rail gun mode and prepare to fire.
The Autobots and Joes then start their travel across the strait into the Terrordrome discussing their strategy. They plan to have Snake Eyes and Stalker clear the Cobra machine gun nests, have Superion rescue the slaves, thus allowing the overwhelming firepower of the Autobots and the Allied fleet to be brought to bear on the Terrordrome. However, before their plan can be implemented, Shockwave opens fire, tearing apart Superion in a brilliant explosion…
With only one more issue to go, issue 5 does an excellent job of tying together all the loose ends so far and setting up the final confrontation between the good guys and the bad. Let’s begin with the plot elements.
Firstly, after a somewhat bizarre ending to the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow conflict last issue, Rieber gives us a satisfactory conclusion here that gives some dignity to Storm Shadow before he dies. However, their appearance is still slightly jarring as one gets the feeling that perhaps this fight has gone on too long. Fortunately, such feelings are extinguised once Storm Shadow dies.
Secondly, Rieber gets some incredible brownie points for understanding the nature of World War II air combat. For instance, fighter planes were either designed around 'Zoom and Boom' (a very fast plane with poor turning or low speed combat ability) or 'Turn based' (planes with a low top speed, but that turn and manoeuver fantastically). For reference, a U.S. Navy F4U-Corsair was Zoom and Boom, while the Japanese Zero was turn based. In any case, while Lady Jaye fought off an ME-262 with her aircraft, Rieber correctly and legitimately showed how Jaye could have defeated a 'superior' jet fighter with her simple prop plane, namely, by outmanoeuvering it. (On a side note, Chuck Yeager, in his P-51 Mustang, shot down ME-262s over Germany in World War II, so this by no means a stretch of the imagination to think that a jet craft can’t be shot down.)
In addition, the bit where Snake Eyes moves Scarlett's hand away from him is a touching moment, one of the more resounding ones of the series.
Finally, the writing of Duke and Prime's conversations about the slaves near the Terrordrome is especially well written and manages to convey just how evil Cobra is. Those slaves and victims in Europe could very well be an allusion to the Jews of the holocaust. It is unclear whether Cobra is following the Nazi final solution against a specific group of people, or just everyone in general.
The only two plot niggles revolve around Optimus’ initial resistance to open warfare with Cobra and the ease with which the Transformers die by the hands of the humans. For the last 4 issues, the Autobots have already been attacking Cobra forces and the Decepticons. It’s hard to believe that 'this war' was not their war while the Decepticons were running around with Cobra. Is it conceivable that the Autobots would simply leave Earth with the Decepticons there? Furthermore it is bothersome just how wimpish some of the Transformers are (Frenzy, Ravage) as they get killed by Joes. But I have to say, its done so well that it works with the story. However, by the sixth issue this delicate balance will be upset and quickly grow ridiculous.
Artwise, Jae Lee again does fantastically well. Of particular note is the opening panel of page 1, showing Snake Eyes rising from the water, while carrying Storm Shadow. Furthermore, page 7 panel 6, showing a defeated Frenzy slowly dying is particularly well done, and does evoke feelings of sympathy and pity for the Decepticon. The next standout bit is on page 17 panels 4 and 6 - the look on Prime’s face as he comes to grips with the crimes of Cobra is excellently illustrated, and panel 6’s use of shadow on Prime’s face as he orders the Autobots to war is fantastic. The splash pages of Superion either towering high or emerging from the fog are also extremely well done. Finally the last page showing Cobra Commander is amazingly detailed and serves to show just how insane the Cobra leader is.
For Storm Shadow, finally a sense of honour creeps in. He tells Snake Eyes: "You should have let the shark tear my heart out," and shows his brother respect by telling him he has become "a true warrior." He asks for no forgiveness, only to die with honour.
The Baroness is an evil sadist and her guards are afraid of her and her "tools." She tortures Flint. He calls her Countess Dracula.
Megatron is following Cobra Commander's orders still, leading the Cobra leader to say: "One might almost believe you've learned your place." Megatron must have have his own agenda at this point, but continues to advise the Cobra leader.
When Shockwave is told to transform by Cobra Commander, he turns to Megatron and awaits his command instead. This leads Megatron to commend him for his loyalty, though he does chastise him for challenging Cobra Commander's orders too.
Cobra Commander is not afraid to use the innocent to serve as human shields in the upcoming conflict, despite warnings from Megatron to the contrary.
Optimus Prime wants to avoid war at any cost, but once civilians and the innocent are harmed he will be the first one in combat to save them.
We know Snake Eyes loves Scarlett, even if he can't speak, even when he turns his back on her. But at this point he clearly feels he's lost too much.
Lady Jaye is calm under pressure and an excellent fighter pilot to boot.
Prowl is cynical, disbelieving, and a bit of a pain in the rear. Despite the Cobra/Decepticon alliance, he still has his doubts about the Joes.
Beach Head is a brilliant soldier able to turn the odds and use his environment against his enemies. Manages to take down Frenzy, which is highly impressive.
Hound is the opposite of Prowl. Where Prowl doesn’t trust the Joes, Hound wants nothing more than to join the Joes in their fight against Cobra.
Despite fear of torture, Flint is faithful to the Allied cause to the bitter end.
Bumblebee is clearly concerned for Scarlett, and yet a little insecure when asking her questions. He uses Ironhide to speak on his behalf which is fairly amusing.
Cobra has B-17 bombers stationed at its airbase. In addition Wild Weasel uses a ME-262 jet fighter to combat Lady Jaye.
Hound has thermal sensors.
Millions have died or have been enslaved across Europe.
Shockwave’s weaponry is powerful enough to destroy Superion with a few shots.
“Once they called me a madman -- because I saw this -- my destiny. Because I have always known what this pitiful world is beginning to learn. I am a god. And all who rise against me shall fall.” Cobra Commander.
Optimus Prime – “You hope this has happened? To millions of your people? But –“ Duke - “Optimus – if they aren’t slaves, they’re dead”.
“Hold it right there Prowl! You may be hardwired to be cynical and suspicious, but these are great guys! And I’d rather take a few dents with them than skulk around someplace safe with you.” Hound.
“That’s the sad thing Ironhide, I don’t know who he is. I’ll never know.” Scarlett.