Comic review: G.I. Joe, volume 2 #11 (Cobra Command Part 7)

G.I. Joe #11 (Cobra Command, Part 7)
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Cover price: $3.99

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art: Alex Cal
Colors: J. Brown
Letters: Robbie Robbins

Cover A: Dave Wilkins
Cover B: Wil Rosado, with colors by Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Cover RI: David Williams, with colors by Kelsey Shannon

As Cobra’s Nanzhao campaign begins moving toward its conclusion, G.I. Joe #11 features a healthy dose of Joes vs BATs — Cobra deploys Battle Android Troopers en masse, and with the Joes’ difficulty in dealing with only one BAT back in G.I. Joe #7, their chances against multiple copies are less than good.

The majority of this issue deals with Flint’s Team Alpha attempting to fend off nearly a half-dozen of Cobra’s android troopers. Recalling that it required an air strike to defeat even one of them, the Joes have to get creative and use everything at their disposal to stop them — heavy weapons, the terrain around them, anything.

We are also shown how Cobra is using UAV drones as part of the final step of its Nanzhao campaign, which seems fitting; we’ve seen the Joes use UAVs in IDW’s universe, but typically in surveillance roles. Here, Cobra is using them to deploy the nuclear weapons we’ve seen Destro preparing in previous issues of Cobra Command. Use of UAVs for offensive purposes just feels like more appropriate to Cobra for some reason than to the Joes.

The issue also closes with a teaser as to what Cobra’s ultimate goal in Nanzhao has been all along. Their use of nuclear weapons seems to be part of what the Joes have already surmised is a mission to completely obliterate the country. Cobra Commander seems to indicate that the goal in destroying the entire country is nothing more than a way for Cobra to flex its military muscle in the most overt way possible and deliver a clear message that it is not to be bothered with.

Writer Chuck Dixon delivers a three-page interlude featuring Snake Eyes and Helix as Snake Eyes continues his hunt for Storm Shadow that has been unfolding in excruciatingly slow fashion over the last two months’ worth of books in this series. Dixon started us on the path to this faceoff on the final page of G.I. Joe #9 back in early January, and while we’re still not quite there yet the events in this issue don’t really leave much opportunity for further delay. Expect this conflict to finally take center stage in Snake Eyes #11.

Again, though, we’re treated to a scenario in which we’re left to question what’s going on in Snake Eyes’ head. Helix has taken great effort to join Snake Eyes in his incursion into the Nanzhao jungle in pursuit of Storm Shadow, and here, Snake Eyes takes equally great effort to remove her from action. Helix has clearly proven her worth in combat many, many times over, dating back to their mission together that saw them essentially end Cobra’s MASS Device program on their own. But here, he’s back to the Snake Eyes we saw during the infiltration of Khallikhan’s mountain base during the first story arc of this series; there, he used a teammate as bait to draw fire away from himself. Previously in this jungle mission, he did the same to Helix. Here, he knocks her out and abandons her in the jungle to prevent her from proceeding further with him. It’s curious to know what his motivations are — does he fear Storm Shadow that much, knowing that regardless of the abilities Helix has shown in combat she’d be no match for what was to come? Or is he simply so desperate to face Storm Shadow on his own that he’s willing to continually put his teammates in harms’ way in order to guarantee that solo confrontation? At this point it honestly could go either way, but “desperate for a solo confrontation” almost seems like the more likely choice at this point.

As much as we are being teased with epic battle to come between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, we’re equally awaiting some explanations for Snake Eyes’ behavior during the buildup.

There’s not much to say about Alex Cal’s work in G.I. Joe #11 that hasn’t been said over the previous six issues of his work on Cobra Command. He’s shown steady, consistent improvement, even issue-over-issue.

The group of Storm Shadow’s Red Ninjas with bows drawn on page 9 may be his best single page so far; it’s just gorgeous. The inset panel of Storm Shadow giving the order to fire could have been eliminated, making this a full-page splash. J. Brown’s colors really help this page; his variations in the red tones of the Red Ninjas creates a great deal of depth in the image, when it would have been easy to have the reds blend together into one mass. Everything about this page just flat-out works.

It’s too bad, though, that Cal’s designs for the nuclear weapon-deploying Cobra UAV drone doesn’t match the one on Wil Rosado’s cover; the cover drone is much cooler and more “Cobra.”

This issue gets a pair of solid, if not spectacular, covers for its A and B versions. Dave Wilkins’ Cover A shows General Hawk overlooking Flint and Roadblock battling BATs, and Wil Rosado’s Cover B is a simple depiction of a Joe jet chasing down the Cobra UAV as seen in this month’s story. Both are solid but neither really has a wow factor.

The retailer incentive by David Williams is the far right panel in this tryptich that will span over the retailer incentives for all three of this months’ issues. Such a great idea by IDW, providing a real incentive for collectors to pursue all three covers and complete the image.

The Terrordrome has a preview of G.I. Joe #11 here.

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