Comic book review: G.I. Joe #10 (Cobra Command, Part 4)

G.I. Joe #10 (Cobra Command, Part 4)
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Cover price: $3.99

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art: Alex Cal
Colors: J. Brown
Letters: Shawn Lee

Cover A: Dave Wilkins
Cover B: Wil Rosado, with colors by Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Cover RI: Tom Whalen

REVIEW
Cobra continues to move its forces into place as its master plan in Nanzhao slowly unfolds around the Joes, who spend the majority of this issue just trying to keep their heads above the water.

The flow of this issue is relatively similar to what has been seen so far in the Cobra Command series — two primary action sequences, a look at the Joes on the ground in Nanzhao, a look at the Joes back at Fort Baxter, and a one-page epilogue-type closer on page 22 that leads into the next chapter of the story.

Storm Shadow’s confrontation with Snake Eyes seems to be getting closer; with the next chapter in Cobra Command coming next week in Snake Eyes #10, Chuck Dixon might finally be ready to reveal the history between them in IDW’s universe.

Cobra gets an opportunity to flex its might in a lot of ways in this issue; after the previous three chapters in this story helped establish the political maneuverings Cobra Commander needed to set up and execute the invasion, here it’s pure ruthless military might. If the Joes’ theory about Cobra’s ultimate goal being the complete destruction of Nanzhao proves to be true, this will be the first indication that they were correct.

Mainframe’s crush on Scarlett that Chuck Dixon has been toying around with for awhile now takes a step… it’s not really a step forward, but for the first time we get to see some acknowledgement on both sides that there’s something there to be explored further. In Scarlett’s relationship with Snake Eyes so far, she’s been pining from the sidelines and not really having her feelings reciprocated; not much has been done to explore whatever exists between she and Duke. This thing with Mainframe gives her character an opportunity to be the dominant one in a relationship, which could be interesting to watch.

There are a decent number of female Joes in IDW’s G.I. Joe universe though (notably, Helix, Cover Girl, Lady Jaye, Chameleon, Dial Tone), and so far Scarlett is the only one who’s getting relationships; hopefully Dixon keeps this limited and doesn’t end up turning Scarlett into the one female Joe the male teammates will go after.

So far, Cobra Command has arguably been the best four-issue run of IDW’s G.I. Joe series so far; there’s been plenty of action; Cobra’s finally out in the open as an overwhelming military force that will require a specialized force like G.I. Joe to counter it; and we’re getting as much attention paid to the vehicles as at any other point in the series. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been really close. And more importantly, it’s just flat-out fun. Whatever changed at IDW between Cobra Civil War and Cobra Command that allowed this series to develop into what we’re getting right now, here’s hoping things stay as they are now for a good long time.

ART
Alex Cal says on his blog that he’s enjoying his current run on G.I. Joe, and this continues to be apparent in the pages that are showing up in Cobra Command. He’s drawing fantastic-looking vehicles and weapons, his facial expressions are getting better, and he’s getting closer to having figures that look like they fit with the photo-trace backgrounds he’s using for some shots (although there’s still a bit of a disconnect there). After spending the first three parts of the Cobra Command storyline getting to pick the parade of Cobra vehicles out of Cal’s work, we finally get a couple of Joe vehicles – Cal introduces the Rolling Operations Command Center (ROCC) and the Mean Dog. Cobra gets to roll out a bunch of Rattlers and, awesomely, many, many, many Buzz Boars. This is G.I. Joe as it should be.

Finally, I think Cal just has fun drawing Scarlett’s hair. He put a lot of work into the four panels she got on Page 18.

As has been done with other work on Cobra Command, there are a few uncolored inked pages up on Cal’s blog.

COVERS
Dave Wilkins provides the A cover has he has for each of the Cobra Command storyline so far; here, he features a very Terry Crews-looking Roadblock. This would make a great poster.

Wil Rosado’s Cover B is a pretty straight-forward Joe team photo featuring Scarlett and Snake Eyes.

Tom Whalen is going to provide the retailer incentives on this month’s No. 10 issues of all three series; this cover is a highly stylized, almost animated-series style, Flint with Skystrikers in the background. I’m looking forward to his other two covers this month; this is a really neat cover.

PREVIEW
Check out a preview of G.I. Joe #10 here.

3 Thoughts on “Comic book review: G.I. Joe #10 (Cobra Command, Part 4)

  1. Pingback: G.I. Joe Wednesday

  2. I agree with your assessment, though the art isn’t in my favorite style – it’s good, definitely, with a few small exceptions (Scarlett’s smile in the last frame of her chat with Mains seemed a bit… off… somehow; Helix’s face in the battle scenes; the Baroness’s shriek-face at Bludd). I just lean towards more illustrative comic work, rather than the photo-ref (of which this is a fine example, and works thematically for the battle scenes conveying the terse, dark mood).

    That said, Tomax was done particularly well, I think – I’d call this the definitive look for him. Duke seemed… off. He just didn’t look like himself. And yes, definitely, someone is having lots of fun with Scarlett’s hair. Though I wonder, military protocol-wise, if she’d be wearing it loose; I have no hard facts on this, but for some reason, it’s ringing a subconscious bell that on-duty, her hair would need to be bound if it’s that long. I could be wrong… I’ll look it up for kicks.

  3. The photo backgrounds bother me too; they create two very obvious layers in the panels that use them – the background layer and the characters on top, and the two don’t mesh well together at all.

    With the facial expressions, there’s something that’s off with the eyes when the characters are supposed to be doing anything but looking stern. It’s like he draws the bottom of the face correctly, but the top of the face doesn’t quite mesh up. Like, I should be able to gauge the facial expression just by eyes and eyebrows; covering up the mouth should still tell you the majority of what you need to know about the character, and with Cal I’m not sure you can do that. Now I want to go home and try it a whole bunch of times and see if that’s true. 🙂

    He draws the hell out of guns and equipment, though (granted, for things like the ROCC he’s “cheating” and using traces of 3D models he’s built of those vehicles) — and after Joes running around with what looked like hair dryers made of Silly Putty when Javier Saltares was on art duties, that’s an exceptionally welcome change.

    I agree on Tomax; he looked good in this issue.

    It’s always so hard to tell where things go south with the art; Cal didn’t do his own finishes in this issue, so that might’ve had something to do with the things you noticed, and a colorist can make a huge impact on a page (positively and negatively — Hello to Simon if you’re reading this 🙂 ).

    I’ve really liked Cal’s work on this storyline so far though; I think it’s obvious that he’s trying to push his abilities (there’s a big difference — for the better — between the work he’s doing here and what he did in Season One) and he’s consistent.

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