Snake Eyes and Alpine’s infiltration of Khalikhan’s base in Rajahistan continues, and a series of flashbacks to events prior serve to further flesh out the complicated relationship between GI Joe’s silent assassin and Scarlett. We really see two sides of the Snake Eyes character played out in this story – the warrior, who’s amazingly impressive, and the man, who upon deeper examination really isn’t.
Snake Eyes, the warrior, is the force of destruction fans of G.I. Joe expect. He charges into combat situations in which he is gravely outnumbered and outgunned without a second’s hesitation, dispatches Vipers with ease, and in one particularly amazing panel flies through the air with the greatest of ease — while on fire. He’s a one-man army, and goes out of his way to let the rest of the Joes know that he neither wants nor needs their help when it all hits the fan. He’s got it covered — or so he thinks.
Snake Eyes, the man, seems deeply flawed. He fights with no regard for the safety of his teammates, first leaving Iceberg and Jinx behind so he could use Alpine as bait to infiltrate Khalikhan’s base, then leaving Alpine alone on a couple of different occasions once inside the base so he can charge headfirst into superior numbers of Cobras. This recklessness eventually leads to Alpine suffering life-threatening injuries, and to Snake Eyes himself being badly injured and, ultimately, captured by Khalikhan. His selfish pursuit of Khalikhan, for reasons not yet revealed, very nearly got he and Alpine killed.
His relationship with Scarlett is also a train wreck. She approaches him and basically begs him for some sign that he returns the feelings she has for him, sadly telling him at one point “God, I wish you could answer me.” Well, he could if he wanted to. He can’t speak, but he could easily pick up a pen and a piece of paper and write an answer. He simply chooses not to answer, using his inability to speak as a crutch, an all-too-convenient stiff-arm to deflect Scarlett’s efforts to have an emotional relationship with him. It’s a moment of intense emotional weakness from a character readers typically view as the ultimate embodiment of strength. He later hugs her, giving some indication that he “gets it,” the concept of needing someone to come home to that she tries to hammer home to him early in the issue. Yet, by the time the hug is shown, he’s spent the entire book acting in such a way that you can’t help but think that no, he certainly doesn’t get it.
It makes you wonder why Scarlett obviously pours so much emotional capital into Snake Eyes when nothing is being returned. He can’t speak, chooses not to otherwise communicate with her, and his incredibly scarred physical appearance clearly reflects his similarly-scarred psyche. What is it she sees in him that she’s trying to keep ahold of? Was the hug a ruse to get Scarlett off his back, or did it serve to illustrate a clear line between two separate and distinct Snake Eyes — the warrior and the man, with neither able to influence the other? His motivations for behaving in this manner toward someone who obviously cares for and loves him remains unexplained, but it’s clear this will not be the last we see of Dixon’s exploration of this complex relationship.
We also get our first extended look at Khalikhan (he seems to have settled in at one-L Khalikhan after being two-L Khallikhan in GI Joe #0; this is why books have editors…), who actually turns out to be a pretty interesting character. He’s suave and charismatic, he wears a pimped-out gold-trimmed smoking jacket and there’s something inherently cool about seeing Vipers refer to him as “Raja Khalikhan.” He also doesn’t like to sweat. He seems like “the most interesting man in the world” from the Dos Equis commercials brought to life as a member of Cobra, which is all kinds of awesome. So far, the main G.I. Joe series has been about Krake; the Cobra series about Serpentor’s behind-the-scenes manipulations of Baroness, Major Bludd, Tomax and Vargas; but Khalikhan firmly owns the Snake Eyes series. This could end up being the most interesting of the three series to watch. The relationship between Snake Eyes and Khalikhan certainly extends beyond the confines of the contest, and the affiliated characters in this book certainly seem to have more at stake than the outcome of the contest.
In Daniel Long Miller’s 1898 book “Girdling the Globe: From the Land of the Midnight Sun to the Golden Gate. A Record of a Tour Around the World,” he speaks of meeting a conjurer named Khali Khan in India. This conjurer is said to perform many wonderful feats, causing balls and coins to disappear and reappear in strange places, magically filling empty baskets with singing birds, and causing small mango trees to grow and bear fruit in a manner of minutes. It is a similar Khalikhan that readers seem to be receiving in this series; a man drawing power from beyond a normal realm of understanding to perform feats average people are unable to comprehend - such as capturing and imprisoning a warrior like Snake Eyes.
It’s still early, but through seven issues of the Cobra Civil War, Khalikhan is the first contestant we’ve seen in Cobra’s contest who actually feels like Cobra Commander.
Robert Atkins-drawn issues were the highlights of the 27-issue Season 1 run of IDW’s core G.I. Joe series, and his efforts on the Snake Eyes book continue to be stellar. Through his social media outlets on Twitter, or at his blog or on DeviantArt, he’s never shy about admitting Snake Eyes as his favorite character, and he’s clearly putting all of his talent to work on this book. Very subtle things sell this book — Snake Eyes’ limp wrist as he collapses to the floor in a lifeless heap on page 19; the feet dragging behind his unconscious body and Khalikhan using a single finger to flick sweat from his forehead on page 15. They’re very small details, but they serve to completely sell the panel.
The second panel on Page 3 may well be the most bad-ass picture of Snake Eyes in action to ever show up in a Joe comic. To recap what happens in this panel: A HISS Tank explodes. The explosion propels Snake Eyes into the air. It sets his jacket on fire. But he still maintains control of his body and his sword, flying through the air, on fire, with his katana in both hands above his head. So, just to repeat: Snake Eyes. Flying. On fire. With a sword.
Robert Atkins provides Cover A and, in an uncolored version, the retailer incentive cover, while Agustin Padilla provides Cover B. Padilla’s cover is a pretty straightforward representation of Snake Eyes – sword in left hand, Uzi in the right, surrounded by a cloud of recently-spent 9mm shells. It’s a nice image. Atkins’ Cover A has the more dynamic pose, showing him equipped with his katana and short fighting knife that he uses throughout most of the issue against a variety of Vipers. However, the black-and-white background makes this cover a lot more interesting, particularly if you buy into the warrior/man conflict aspect of the Snake Eyes character that unfolds inside the book. It’s also interesting that the black and white segments of this cover aren’t divided equally; black only gets about a third of the page. Which, then, is black and which is white? Warrior or man?
On page 16, there’s an reference to “six dead Joes,” deaths attributed to Khalikhan, which makes it safe to assume that Bushido is confirmed as killed in action in G.I. Joe #0, even though he’s referenced as gravely injured yet “still alive!” in that issue.
As an aside, IDW’s scoreboard bug for Cobra doesn’t seem remotely accurate right now. I’ll go back through everything again and see if I can figure out where the discrepancies may be. IDW may have retroactively fixed some things that probably shouldn’t be in the body count, like the Viper Baroness executed in Cobra #1.
No Joes were killed in this issue. If you got this issue on time last week, Khalikhan and Krake were in the lead with six kills each after reading this book. If you got this issue today along with Cobra #2, Baroness remains in the lead with nine kills.
The Terrordrome has a five-page preview of Snake Eyes #2 here.