Comic review: IDW’s “Cobra” #13

Cobra #13
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: Antonio Fuso, with colors by Arianna Florien
Cover B: Antonio Fuso, with colors by Arianna Florien
Cover RI: David Williams, with colors by Joana Lafuente
Cover RI: David Williams

Written by: Mike Costa
Art: Antonio Fuso
Colors: Arianna Florian
Letters: Neil Uyetake

It’s hard to know where to focus when considering a review for Cobra #13; Mike Costa introduces two legitimate “holy crap” moments in this issue, the first midway through as a mysterious new financial benefactor for the recently defunded G.I. Joe team is revealed, and the second as a brilliant and thrilling page 22 cliffhanger that will immediately hook fans of IDW’s universe who also were invested in the 1980s Marvel series.

The Joes’ new benefactor makes sense on every level; you’ll just have to read the issue for yourself to find out what that twist is. That new benefactor also plays a role in the issue-closing cliffhanger, as he delivers to the Joes a piece of intelligence that could provide to be a game-changer in G.I. Joe’s efforts to get back into the fight against Cobra.

Beyond the two incredible twists Costa introduces to the post-Cobra Command story arc, this issue highlights what has been the strength of the series from the very beginning — its ability to focus on what could be considered sidebar characters in the wider G.I. Joe mythology and make them the centerpieces of an enthralling storyline. While the main characters here are A-listers Flint and Tomax, with an emphasis on Tomax, Ronin gets a starring role in a brilliantly-staged action sequence to kick off the issue, and the main narrative is driven by the Chameleon/Firewall/Lady Jaye trio that we’ve seen together throughout much of this last six months or so of this series.

Snake-Eyes and G.I. Joe stumbled a little bit out of the blocks as IDW attempted to follow up on the Cobra Command story arc, but Cobra has never faltered. Cobra #13 is a fantastic example of what readers have come to expect from IDW’s best G.I. Joe series.

Cobra #13 allows Antonio Fuso to showcase basically everything he does well — his five-page action sequence featuring Ronin to kick off the issue is simply beautiful. There’s a fluidity to the way he shows Ronin moving on the page, and the use of tiny inset panels to focus on some tiny element from the scene, or adding an internal panel border to highlight a particular section of an image all serve to pull the reader into the page and, as a result, completely into the scene. Across the entire sequence, there are only three instances where Ronin’s entire body is in the shot, and she is twisted into a radical positions — usually hovering at an impossible height — which does a great deal to emphasize the physical and athletic advantage she has over the quite-grounded Vipers.

You just never know what you’re going to get when you turn the page of an issue of Cobra; pages 11 and 12 are a perfect example of this. Page 11 is an example of what Fuso does so well in this book, with a radical and unique panel layout — what is essentially a full-page Panel 3, with Panel 2 inset over the top of it, and Panel 1 floating over both of those; panel 4, the same dimensions as panel 1, anchors the bottom of the page overlapping only the third panel. But inside the third panel are three tiny square panels, which show only one eye of each of three characters as they’re getting retina-scanned, and those tiny insets are where speech bubbles get attached to advance the story. It’s a fantastic page.

But, turn to Page 12, and you get three horizontal panels stacked on top of each other; a shallow panel at the top that sets a scene by showing only the tops of three characters’ heads, a second panel that’s twice the height of the first panel, zooming out to reveal more of the scene, and a third panel that’s four times the height of panel 1, zooming out again to establish a first glimpse of G.I. Joe’s new headquarters. As Page 11 is complex, Page 12 is simplicity. Fuso does these things constantly, and it’s tremendously fun to experience.

The A and B covers are both done by Antonio Fuso, with colors from his usual interiors running mate Arianna Florien, and continue a six-cover series running across all three IDW G.I. Joe titles in May. Fuso’s duo feature the main players from this issue, Flint on Cover A and Tomax on Cover B. The Tomax cover is fantastic, mostly due to the way Fuso has him posed in the frame — hands behind his back, holding an umbrella. He’s just calm and chill, always in control of the room, as he has been throughout most of the series.

David Williams’ retailer incentive cover features Flint unloading on something off-camera with a shotgun while standing on a craps table; colors by Joana Lafuente. The second retailer incentive cover is an uncolored version. They’re a mixed bag; the colored version makes Flint look like he has a mustache, and the uncolored version has him looking a little wide in the hips.

The Terrordrome has a preview of Cobra #13 here.

Andy Bartlett

By day, I am the executive director of communications and marketing at Bemidji State University. The rest of the time, I'm a husband, father of three, and proponent of super heroes, lasers, space ships and explosions.

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