Comic book review: Cobra Civil War: Snake Eyes #5

Cobra Civil War: Snake Eyes #5
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: Robert Atkins, with colors by Simon Gough
Cover B: Agustin Padilla, with colors by Simon Gough
Cover RI: Danny Cruz, with colors by Esther Sanz

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Alberto Muriel
Inks: Juan Castro
Colors: Esther Sanz
Letters: Neil Uyetake

Rodrigo Vargas observes the results of his retrovirus experiment as we get our first extended look at the character and personality of this Cobra Commander contestant. Like Vikrim Khallikhan, he’s arrogant and a talker. His appearance is limited to four pages, but he monologues almost constantly – explaining the details of the deployment and impact of the virus, and a particularly disturbing two-page spread showing that Vargas has other pet projects — and isn’t afraid to test them.

Chuck Dixon uses an interesting device – literally – to allow Vargas’ ongoing monologue to fill the reader in on the details of the plot; he speaks to a hovering ball, which transmits it as a log entry to Cobra High Command.

The issue is relatively evenly split between two main story lines – the mission in Europe for Snake Eyes and Helix to track down the source of the virus that infected Duke in G.I. Joe #4, and the effects of the virus on the village in Zimbabwe where Vargas has deployed it. Snake Eyes and Helix are able to successfully complete their mission, which leads to a cliffhanger as Snake Eyes and Duke (you’ll see how Dixon pulls this off…) fly off to Africa to seek an antidote.

Vargas’ virus leads to a situation we’ve seen many times as a plot element in other stories — African villagers becoming infected/turned into zombies/etc., and then contained by the military. It makes sense on the surface for Vargas to test his virus in a remote area, but it would’ve been an interesting change of pace for the test to have taken place in South America or Australia. And it would’ve been far more Cobra-like to have tested it against a larger population center instead of a small village that is insignificant on a global scale. Vargas isn’t characterized as a person who would doubt his creations would have the desired result; in fact, he reveals that he himself is impressed at how well it works. He didn’t need a test run in an out-of-the-way location. What Dixon has done makes sense on the surface; it just seemed like the easiest possible way to script a test of the virus, and as a result it isn’t particularly compelling.

Finally, there’s a sidebar story that gives us an interesting revelation of Alpine’s future, as he recovers from his injuries suffered during the Himalayas mission.

This issue is dense, and a throwback to the season one G.I. Joe series, with Dixon weaving multiple plot lines through a 22-page issue; he neatly wraps up Snake-Eyes’ mission to Europe, follows Vargas’ test of the virus and take some time to develop him as a character as well, brings Duke’s recovery from infection into play and also finds time to update the reader on Alpine’s recovery. It’s part of the reason his script for last week’s G.I. Joe #5 felt so fresh – other than the intro showing Zartan’s meeting with the Baroness, that was a one-location, one-event issue. This felt more like Season 1, with a lot of things taking place and not much time to get any of them a significant amount of attention. The next issue should be more focused, with Snake Eyes and Duke fully in pursuit of Vargas.

It has taken awhile to shift the focus to Vargas as a Cobra Commander candidate, but he’s making the most of his opportunity. He shows High Command his ability to deploy civilization-destroying biological weapons cheaply and effectively, and even provides his virus with a suitable Cobra name. While he hasn’t yet been directly responsible for any losses by the Joe team, it’s easy to see that he now has the capability to significantly damage whatever target he chooses. Whether he is able to deploy his weapons against the Joes could play a huge part in the outcome of the Cobra Commander contest.

Over the last two months, the Joes have had it relatively easy – only three Joes, total, were killed in the six issues spanning the No. 4 and No. 5 issues of the three series. With only nine issues remaining in the Cobra Civil War — three issues across each of the three ongoing series — that is sure to change soon. Each of the five candidates remaining in play have revealed their hands as to how they intend to pursue the mantle of Commander; the pressure is now squarely on G.I. Joe to survive the coming onslaught.

ART
Alberto Muriel has “mission impossible” here – fill in Robert Atkins, who has spent the previous four issues of this series turning in some fantastic work. The creative team was stable for each of the first four issues, and you could get the sense that they were really starting to hit their stride. Muriel does a good job; there are a few panels where a character’s eyes aren’t both looking at the same thing that is a little distracting, but the main characters are drawn consistently enough where they can be recognized just by flipping through the issue. He draws good action sequences; the opening sequence with Snake Eyes extracting a source of information on Vargas’ virus from a building is a fun scene, and the “crazed villagers” scenes in Zimbabwe are well-represented also. Muriel’s also on art duties in next month’s Snake Eyes book.

COVERS
Robert Atkins’ A-cover is an isolation shot of Snake Eyes, striking at an off-screen foe, leading with the Cuma-Tak-Ri fighting knife Atkins has established as one of Snake Eyes’ signature weapons in this series so far. Agustin Padilla captures a different interpretation of Snake-Eyes’ extraction of the pharmaceutical executive from the second page of the story; the biggest difference is the cover is at night, which gives colorist Simon Gough a chance to have some fun with the light source from Snake Eyes’ Uzi.

COVER RI — The last of the three “Days of Future Past” tribute covers done for this month’s No. 5 issues of all three G.I. Joe titles; this time featuring Snake Eyes and Helix, by Danny Cruz, with colors by interior colorist Esther Sanz. The theme cover across all three books is a fun idea for a retailer incentive cover, and one we’ll be seeing more of from IDW in the future.

BODY COUNT
No G.I. Joe agents or Cobras were harmed in the making of this issue. My body count remains G.I. Joe 35; Cobra 78. You can find an issue-by-issue recap of how my body count is calculated right over here.

CONTEST UPDATE
No change; Oda Satori and Baroness tied with 11 kills; Satori’s destruction of the Pit presumably keeps him in the lead, but Baroness could close the gap depending on the outcome of her ongoing mission in Maine. See the body count thread, linked above in “Body Count,” for the scoreboard.

PREVIEW
The Terrordrome has a five-page preview of Snake Eyes #5 here.

The new Facebook as a virtual autobiography

The above-the-fold portion of Facebook's new Timelines profiles.

Yesterday, at its f8 developer conference in San Francisco, Facebook unveiled the future of its platform — an entirely new profile methodology it calls Timelines, allowing your previously-posted information an opportunity to live again rather than be forgotten at the bottom of an impossibly-long “more posts…” window. This new profile is active today, but limited to Facebook developers; however, this is the future of Facebook, and at some point in the near future all 750 million profiles on the network will be converted to this new format.

Today, I took advantage of a tutorial posted at TechCrunch that showed how you could easily be classified by Facebook as a “developer,” and therefore have early access to Timelines. That’s a screenshot of my new profile on the right. The huge masthead photo is a new feature Facebook calls a “Cover Shot,” allowing you to select one of your images to appear in this lead area as the front door to your profile. I suspect people are going to be doing some amazingly clever and creative things with this space once it is live.

Other key elements you’ll see in the new profile are boxes to browse your friends, your photos, a map of places you’ve been tagged using check-ins or other geotagging, an archive of everything you’ve “like”d, links to your notes, a list of people subscribing to your updates, a list of people you’ve subscribed to, and a box to add new apps. Facebook’s new apps are worthy of another post entirely; visit the links I posted in the lede regarding the f8 conference if you want to know more.

The nav bar for my timeline.

The main event for this new profile is the Timeline. It’s exactly what it sounds like; your wall posts are arranged chronologically on a vertical line that extends from “today” at the top all the way down to the date of your birth at the bottom. That birth date, along with other key dates like when you graduated from high school or college, are culled from existing information in your profile. There’s a nav bar to the right of your timeline that allows you to easily navigate back to any point in your past and see what was going on. A grab of my nav bar is to the right. If I want to see everything I posted in July of this year, I just click on July, and the timeline scrolls down to July. If I click on “2010s,” the menu expands to include each year in the decade; as with months, I simply click on a year and the timeline scrolls down to posts from that year. The years and months also contain some boxes with aggregate information – how many pictures you posted that month, how many friends you added, how many videos you posted, etc. I grabbed my “Friends” and “Likes” summary boxes for August of this year; they’re included below.

As you scroll backward through the timeline, you’ll discover that you can click at any point in the timeline and add a new event. Facebook gives you some built-in categories for things like work & education; family; where you live; health & wellness; and education and experiences. You can use these, or just add an uncategorized post as a status message, and date it at any point on your timeline.

When this change rolls out to everyone, Facebook will have converted itself from a social networking site to something that can potentially be as complete a record of your life as you wish it to be — from the day you were born to today.

Facebook started as a social network. Google+ jumped into the fray to provide competition for Facebook in the social network arena. Facebook responded by completely reinventing itself and its core purpose — it’s now a virtual home for as complete a copy of your memories and experiences as you wish it to be.

Two of my summary boxes for August 2011.

The timing of Facebook’s announcement could not have been more interesting to me. Not two weeks ago, I read a brilliant article at The Next Web about Evernote, a piece of note-taking software that I’ve been using for a couple of years now and find more to love about every time I use it. In this article, Evernote’s creators and curators talked about their vision for the future of the software – for it to evolve from a note-taking device to a virtual memory of its user. Here’s a quote from the end of the story:

Now, fast forward 100 years. I started using Evernote at age 26. Now, I’m 126 and I’ve been physically dead for 20 years after a bike riding accident in Provence at the age of 106. But for years after my death, for an eternity, my children and their children, could pour through my memories in a multimedia fashion, revisiting my life in a way that the present day diary keeper could only desperately imagine.

Evernote envisions this as its future. Facebook launched this yesterday.

Oh, eWeek, you delightful, delightful morons

So, eWeek is already assembling a list of reasons why the iPad 3 might not be successful. Haven’t heard of the iPad 3? Well, that’s because it hasn’t been announced yet – and may not be announced for a good long time. So, a product that doesn’t even exist yet might not be successful. Here are their reasons why:

1) “The Android Juggernaut.” Really? Every Android tablet that has been released so far has been a dismal failure with consumers. HP barely sold 20,000 Touchpads before they discontinued the product and discounted them to $99 – 80 percent of their original selling price – before consumers even cared they existed.

2) “The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is nice.” eWeek claims “the iPad 3 won’t be all that much difference,” except for, y’know, the fact that it’ll run iOS and have access to the biggest app store in the world.

3) “How Different Can Its Components Be?” This is awesome. The iPad 3 won’t be successful because it looks like the rest of the tablets that will be on sale by then. Well, by that logic, the iPad and iPad 2 should also be struggling, and they’re demolishing the competition right now to the point that there is essentially no legitimate competition.

4) “Do Customers Really Need a New iPad Each Year?” This might be my favorite one. “Please, Apple, stop releasing great products that millions of people are going to buy.”

5) “The iPhone 5 Could Hurt It.” Really? How is that? Because they’re entirely different products, you know…

6) “Consumers are looking for bigger displays.” Because Droid’s 10.1-inch screen is supposedly vastly superior to the iPad’s screen that is… 9.7 inches. So, for four-tenths of an inch, Apple loses. Consumers are looking for better products; and right now, iPad is selling in such vastly superior numbers to Android tablets that any customers buying Droid tablets because of the larger screen are an insignificant fraction of the tablet market.

7) “Apple has made no commitment to 4G.” Because Apple hasn’t announced something, they’ll never support it. Whomever wrote this has paid no attention whatsoever to how Apple operates. They never announce this kind of thing in advance. When/if Apple products support 4G, that fact will be announced at the same time as the 4G-enabled product. Not before.

8) “Price Crunch?” The old “Apple is too expensive” myth; *no* tablet maker is competing with the iPad on price right now; and if they do, they’re selling at a loss.

9) “Who knows what the patent picture will look like?” It takes us all the way until point #9 to get one that’s even remotely legitimate. But this doesn’t only affect iPad; this is a problem for every device in the tech industry right now. Every single device.

10) “The Google-Motorola Threat.” Another “Apple will yield to something that doesn’t even exist yet” argument.

You can see the original eWeek story in all its ridiculous glory here.

Comic review: “Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe” #5

Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe #5
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Javier Saltares (pp 1-14) and Ron Adrian (pp 15-22)
Inks: Christopher Ivy (pp 1-14) and Brian Shearer (pp 15-22)
Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr. (pp 1-14) and Andrew Crossley (pp 15-22)
Letters: Neil Uyetake

Cover A: Tom Feister
Cover B: Will Rosado, with colors by Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Cover RI: Danny Cruz, with colors by Esther Sanz

ROLL CALL
G.I. Joe: Flint
Cobra: Baroness; Zartan

Cobra launches another all-out assault on G.I. Joe, as the Baroness attempts to kick her way back into contention in the Cobra Commander contest.

The Joes are attempting to secure a server farm to bolster their efforts to establish new bases on land and at sea, and find themselves with a minor Cobra infestation to deal with. This is a straight-up action issue, almost from start to finish. In an unusual move for the Cobra Civil War so far, the entire 22-page issue is focused on one storyline at one location; there are no segues out to any of the other story lines taking place in the civil war.

And the action is good. The body count of 23 is the highest of any single issue in the Cobra Civil War so far, and another “I had a toy” Joe will get a secret funeral at an unmarked grave. Plus, Roadblock fires a tactical nuclear weapon off of his shoulder — which, if you can’t guess, is just as awesome as it sounds.

This issue may also lead into IDW’s version of the Flint/Baroness relationship that we’ve seen in other iterations of the G.I. Joe universe; that remains to be seen, but it would be an interesting creative decision to put the characters together the way they have been here and not carry through with that particular storyline.

As many of the individual issues of the Cobra Civil War so far, this one ends with an exciting cliffhanger. A Cobra Commander contestant we haven’t seen much of since the zero issue resurfaces, and we’re left to guess as to his intentions. In fact, his very appearance is a mystery, since Baroness being on location with the Joes was due to intelligence received from Zartan – so we’re left to wonder if perhaps he fed the same intelligence to multiple parties, to see which one might be able to succeed first or be eliminated in the process?

As the contest moves ahead, Zartan’s role in this situation is becoming increasingly less clear. He was one of Oda Satori’s primary agents in Cobra’s destruction of the Pit; we saw at the end of G.I. Joe #4 that Zartan may actually *be* Oda Satori; and now he’s providing significant intelligence to the Baroness. Was his true motive to assist her in advancing her position in the Commander contest, or was it to get her captured and out of the way as a contestant? Or, more interestingly – we saw in Zartan’s “G.I. Joe: Origins” story arc that Zartan is a clone and there are multiple copies of him. So the question then becomes – could more than one of those copies be in play during the contest? Watching Zartan’s true purpose unfold over the next few months as the Commander contest comes to a head will be fascinating.

G.I. Joe #5 continues the trend established throughout the contest so far — Cobra has the Joes on the run, is striking without warning at every opportunity and inflicting heavy losses of both life and resources. The stated intention of the Cobra Commander contest — to deliver as much pain as possible to G.I. Joe — is certainly playing itself out as the Cobra Council envisioned.

ART
Javier Saltares handled art duty for the front half of this issue, with Ron Adrian picking up the back half. Both pencillers have unique finishing teams – Saltares is inked by Christopher Ivy with colors by Romulo Fajardo, Jr., the same trio that has been on this book from the beginning. Adrian’s pencils on pages 15-22 are inked by Brian Shearer with colors by frequent G.I. Joe colorist Andrew Crossley.

Honestly, the front half of this issue is probably the best and most consistent that Saltares has done on this series so far. His Page 1 splash of the Baroness meeting Zartan in Paris is really good; I love the detail he put into the backgrounds. Zartan’s two panels as Humphrey Bogart are fun, also. Saltares’ obligatory “Joe with a huge mustache” makes his first appearance on Page 5 (where there’s also an excellent panel of two helicopter pilots).

The transition to Adrian on Page 15 is handled well; it’s nothing like the jarring and distracting artist change in Cobra #4, when Chee handled art in the back half of that book. Adrian’s aesthetic is similar to Saltares, enough to maintain the look and feel of the book. The only real inconsistency is in the Baroness’ outfit, and that’s mostly a coloring issue; Fajardo added red piping while Crossley colored her all-black, and Adrian didn’t draw the Cobra logo on her chest.

All in all, though, the art in this issue was solid.

COVERS
Tom Feister’s Cover A is fantastic, showing a plagued Duke holding a canister of the virus that sickened him in the previous issue. However, it’s a fantastic cover that doesn’t belong on this comic book – the interior contains zero references to Duke or the plague event in Africa beyond a one-sentence reminder that he’s sick on the inside-front-cover “our story so far” paragraph.

Will Rosado’s Cover B features Baroness standing in front of a RHINO; it’s alright, but is the weakest of the three covers this month by a relatively significant margin.

Continuing the theme from Cobra #5, Danny Cruz provides a retailer-incentive cover that is an homage to the X-Men “Days of Future Past” cover from Uncanny X-Men #141. It’s an identical template to the Cobra #5 cover; the characters represented on the backdrop have changed, as have the featured characters, but the background and skull-pile foreground are identical. This cover isn’t connected at all to the issue, as it features Duke and Scarlett — neither of whom appear in this issue. It’s a decent-enough cover; Duke looks mean, Shipwreck’s got a suitable smirk on his face. Scarlett cowering behind Duke doesn’t seem to fit, though.

BODY COUNT
G.I. Joe: 2 (Mooch, Sneak Peek) (Total: 35)
Cobra: 23 (23 Vipers) (Total: 76)

CONTEST UPDATE
Vipers in the Baroness’ strike team rack up at least one, and probably two kills – Sneak Peek is seen being killed, and we are meant to believe Mooch is killed rather than being taken prisoner. This brings her body count to 11, which pulls her even with Oda Satori in terms of body count. Oda Satori’s still got that whole “I blew up the Pit” thing going for him, though.

PREVIEW
The Terrordrome has a six-page preview of G.I. Joe #5 here.

“Morning Glories” volumes 1-2 on sale at Thwipster

Image Comics’ “Morning Glories” is awesome; you can find out how awesome yourself by visiting Thwipster via that fun link over there to the right. Thwipster has the first and second collections of “Morning Glories” on sale for the next couple of days for ridiculously cheap ($19, including shipping, for the pair). “Morning Glories” is about a bunch of high school-aged kids who go to a private school called Morning Glory Academy; once on campus, they discover that everyone in their class was born on the exact same day. From there, things get really weird. It’s a great series; definitely worth checking out, especially for that crazy price.

“Star Wars: The Complete Saga” BluRays

Melissa bought me the complete Star Wars boxed set on Blu-Ray yesterday as a belated anniversary gift. I’m really happy to have it, as it’s something I probably never would have bought on my own.

We’re starting from the beginning with “The Phantom Menace.” As much as there is that’s wrong with this movie, the Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon/Darth Maul lightsaber fight at the end is still incredibly awesome, and it looks fantastic in HD. Maul was a fantastic villain; the next two prequels could have been improved greatly by keeping Maul as the apprentice and ditching Count Dooku. But, what can you do.

Mel and I are going to go through the six in order… I started Star Wars right after getting the set opened at home yesterday, but only got through it to the point where Luke and Ben find the destroyed Sandcrawler. Some of the changes from the 1997 special edition I’d have never noticed; R2’s changed hiding place from the Tusken Raiders when Luke is attacked, etc. But Ben’s new Krayt Dragon howl just seems… wrong. That sound was one of the signature things about that movie, and to have it different now just seems pointless. Add to the it that the new one sounds like a spit-take from an episode of “Family Guy”… It would just be very interesting to know what was going on in the room when George Lucas was watching Star Wars for the 12 millionth time and decided “y’know what, I know it’s been this way for 30 years now, and it’s one of the most-identifiable pieces of audio in this movie, but let’s just change it. Whatever.”

There are purists online who are complaining about every single change in the movies – there are people who are mad that there are now more TIE Interceptors in the Death Star II battle in Return of the Jedi. I’m sorry, but more TIE Interceptors are never a mistake. But in this case, I’m just not sure how changing the Krayt Dragon howl could be remotely considered to be making Star Wars better.

External factors influencing Klout scores

I’ve been fascinated by the Klout score for weeks; I don’t put too terribly much stock in it as a valid measuring tool at this point, but it’s becoming the Next Big Thing in social media and, as such, it warrants some attention. I’m more fascinated at this point by how the score is calculated — what formula Klout is using behind the scenes to come up with the actual number, and what sort of factors influence changes in the score.

My own score has fluctuated wildly. One week ago today, on Sept. 7, I hit an all-time high of 59 (58.96, rounded up), and today, I have hit what I think is an all-time low at 54.79 (although I’ve been at the rounded-to score of 55 on several previous occasions – the 54.79 raw score I think is a low since I started keeping track) . That’s a swing of seven and a half percent in one week, and my activities aren’t appreciably different. So I wondered what led to the changes.

Here’s my graph from klout.com, showing changes in my score from Aug. 17 (on the far left) to today, that 54.79 on the far right:

Klout.com score graph

My Klout score graph for Sept. 15, 2011

I identified what I think were the two leading factors to the big changes at points A and B.

For the huge spike upward at Point A, leading to my all-time high score of 59, in the previous day I had picked up around 25 new followers in one day – an enormous number for me. As of this posting I have 225 total followers, so that was a one-day boost of more than 10 percent in my follower count. What Klout didn’t pick up on, and couldn’t *possibly* pick up on, since it’s an automated process, is that 23 of those “new followers” were different specialized accounts from MinnesotaJobs.com — accounts listing admin jobs, engineering jobs, manufacturing jobs, etc. All splinter accounts from essentially one new follower, and therefore basically useless as a measure of “influence.” Still, the follower increase led to a huge spike. And then, since that wasn’t sustainable given my previous history, since I didn’t have a similar boost the next day my score plummeted three points, back to 56 (which is where I seem to be leveling out)

For today’s drop at Point B, where I lost almost an entire point in one day, two of my three metrics are up – “Network Influence” has climbed from 54 to 55 (rounded values) and my “Amplification Probability” is up about a quarter of a point, although the displayed value is still 30. However, for some reason my “True Reach” score took a four-point nosedive, my biggest single-day drop recorded on the graph (so, dating back about a month), falling from 216 to 212. So it seems like a safe bet that the four-point drop in reach led to today’s drop.

Again, it’s hard to know how much stock to put in these Klout scores. But I sure am fascinated by trying to figure out how the formula works.

Comic review: “Cobra Civil War: Cobra” #5

Cobra Civil War: Cobra #5
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011* (Cobra #5 was not on Diamond’s distribution list for this week, and some shops did not receive it)
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: David Williams, with colors by Kelsey Shannon
Cover B: Antonio Fuso, with colors by Arianna Florian
Cover RI: Danny Cruz, with colors by Esther Sanz

Written by: Mike Costa
Art: Werther Dell’edera
Colors: Arianna Florien
Letters: Shawn Lee

ROLL CALL
G.I. Joe: Steeler, Breaker, Firewall, Chameleon
Cobra: Tomax, Blacklight, Major Bludd, Blackout, Headman

A scheduling quirk gives us two consecutive weeks with a new issue of “Cobra.”

The opening panel for Cobra #5 is jarring, as it’s a break from the “I’ll never be Cobra Commander” internal monologue from various Commander candidates that have opened previous issues and provided a nice piece of continuity to the series. This issue flips that completely around, “I’ll never be G.I. Joe,” and sets the stage for the return of a character we haven’t seen for awhile who will likely prove to be an important character over the final four months of the Cobra Civil War.

The use of Chameleon here is very interesting; however, the only place she’s referred to by name is in the Roll Call, so if you haven’t been following Costa’s Cobra series from the beginning, there is plenty of opportunity for confusion. For readers who may have picked this series up at the start of the Civil War, there isn’t even a reference to let them know when Chameleon was captured by G.I. Joe so they can backtrack.

Still, it makes sense that G.I. Joe would put her into the position she is in, and it’s a good parallel to the role she played during Chuckles’ infiltration of Cobra in the first two “Cobra” series.

Major Bludd has been a minor candidate so far, in terms of the things he has achieved. But with Cobra #4 revealing the existence of a spy working for Bludd inside the G.I. Joe team, and a reveal at the end of the issue that builds on some background activity we saw in “Snake Eyes” #4, he now has pieces in place to take a significant step forward.

However, there’s a sense that the Joes will root out Bludd’s infiltrator relatively quickly; they already seem to be looking in his direction

Tomax makes an appearance as well, and he’s fantastic. Share a fun moment with Headman as you also try to figure out what Tomax really means when he tells Headman to “take care of the girl.” He only shows up for two pages, but it’s enough for him to talk an issue’s worth of trash to Bludd.

Blackout gets his obligatory three-page James Bond-esque interlude to further advance his escape from Panama; why this is getting so much play remains a mystery. It’s a sidebar story involving a sidebar character, and so far the only purpose for it is to illustrate how he moves from Point A to Point B. Over the last three issues, there have been nine entire pages dedicated to Blackout moving from being stuck in Panama to hitching a ride with… somebody… somewhere. Whether Blackout turns out to be a more critical character in the Civil War once the spotlight returns to the Baroness remains to be seen; but for now, these drop-ins only seem to be taking away space that could be used to advance the main plot.

ART
Werther Dell’edera starts his stand-in run for Antonio Fuso, as announced by IDW at the San Diego ComiCon. Dell’edera has done G.I. Joe before; he provided pencils for the final three issues of “G.I. Joe: Origins” and also has done some cover work.

A clear stylistic change from Fuso, but in a difference from the second half of last week’s issue, Dell’edera manages to capture the basic feel that has defined “Cobra” so far — sketchy and minimal with heavy shadows. The atmosphere we’re used to in this book is still here.

Arianna Florien is back on colors, and Shawn Lee again handles lettering duties.

COVERS
Good three-pack of covers; David Williams’ Cover A has Chameleon sporting way too much of a Madonna 1990s bullet bra, but a smug, larger-than-life Major Bludd looming in the background is great. Interesting layout choice, to not place Bludd lower so the book’s masthead didn’t cover up part of his eyepatch, though. Antonio Fuso’s Cover B is a solo shot of Chameleon against a cityscape and is probably the best of the three covers this month. Danny Cruz’s retailer-incentive cover featuring Bludd and Baroness is good, and Esther Sanz’s colors are significantly better here than they were in Chee’s back-half pencils in last week’s issue – reinforcing the feeling that the backup art was rushed for some reason.

BODY COUNT
G.I. Joe: 0 (Total: 33)
Cobra: 0 (Total: 53)

CONTEST UPDATE
No change; Oda Satori retains the lead.

PREVIEW
Comics Continuum has a seven-page preview of Cobra #5 here.

Grrr

Middle Child came home from school with a wrist so sore that she’s been crying. Now, Middle Child isn’t MMA Fighter-tough by any stretch of the imagination, but if she is crying, then her wrist really hurts. She said she told her teacher she had hurt her wrist and wanted to go to the office, and she was told “just rub it.”

Hulk. Smash.

UPDATE – Helen has a broken wrist. Clean break of her right ulna. She got a splint tonight, and goes back on Friday for her cast.

So, she sat in school all afternoon with a broken wrist.

So, I say again. Hulk. Smash.