Comic Review: Cobra Civil War: Cobra #2

Cobra Civil War: Cobra #2
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: David Williams, with colors by Kelsey Shannon
Cover B: Antonio Fuso
Cover RI: David Williams
Written by: Mike Costa
Pencils: Antonio Fuso
Inks: Arianna Florian
Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.

Letters: Chris Mowry

G.I. Joe: Steeler, Breaker, Firewall, Sawed-Off
Cobra: Baroness, Major Bludd, Serpentor
While The Coil got a five-issue story arc to introduce readers to the concept of Serpentor and Cobra’s religious aspects, the first two Cobra series in IDW’s G.I. Joe universe were focused squarely around Tomax and Xamot. Cobra Civil War: Cobra #2 serves notice that this series will very much be focused on Serpentor.
We get a great recap of IDW’s version of Serpentor with a pair of no-text “day in the life” pages on Page 3 and 4 — we see the charismatic Dr. Menasian, the public face of The Coil who makes television appearances and meets with high-ranking government officials, and Serpentor, holding underground ceremonies and blood rituals as the religious leader of Cobra.
Serpentor isn’t a candidate in the Cobra Commander contest, and this is just the way he likes it. He made it clear in Cobra #1 that the winner of the Cobra Commander contest would likely be the candidate who recruited Serpentor as an ally; this time, his preference to remain in the background working all possible angles is explored through his dealings with the Baroness, Major Bludd, Tomax and Dr. Vargas. Serpentor finds his power in manipulating the players from behind the scenes, building his personal power and influence to the point that, regardless of the outcome of some silly contest, he’s working to secure a place as the reassuring, supportive voice in the back of the head of the winner.
The Joes also seek payback for their losses in Panama at the hands of Blacklight in the previous issue, sending a team down to search for the sniper. As has been the ongoing theme of the Cobra Civil War so far, this doesn’t go well for the Joes. Croc-Master makes a surprise appearance (well, perhaps not much of a surprise, considering he’s on the cover), and deals the Joes yet another group of mostly “never had a toy” casualties.
Croc-Master was last seen in “real time” being shot in the neck and head in Cobra II #3; his appearance in Cobra II #7 was entirely via origin-story flashback. We get no explanation as to how he survived those injuries, which is honestly for the best; his swamp-stalker freakshow persona in this universe is well-served by this dose of Michael Myers-esque invincibility, giving him a slasher movie villain quality that fits perfectly in this book. It serves to reinforce the completely over-the-top villain personalities that make Cobra unique and serves to separate G.I. Joe from being just another boring action story featuring strong guys with guns. The fact that these absurd characters not only fit in this universe, but *work* without seeming out of place, is a testament to the job Mike Costa has been doing as the scribe (along with long-time co-scribe Christos Gage) of this book for the last couple of years.
Croc-Master’s success – acting on intelligence from Serpentor while working for The Baroness – serves to ingratiate Serpentor with the Baroness, a relationship that was anything but pleasant. So, success – Serpentor once again positions himself as a necessary member of the supporting cast for another participant in the Cobra Commander contest, thus securing his place as the behind-the-scenes manipulator of the next iteration of the Cobra organization.
Fuso’s art is steady and up to the standard he’s established for this series – regardless of any opinion on that standard one way or another. Mike Costa gives him a lot of leeway to tell the story in this book, as he gets a significant number of dialogue and text-free panels (including three entire text-free pages) to tell the story on his own. For the most part, he succeeds admirably. The only breakdown comes as Blackout sets up his departure from Panama on Page 8 – there’s no explanation as to why he cut his own arm in Panel 2, and it seems pretty unclear what is happening in Panel 3.
There was a slight changeup to the creative team from Cobra #1; Ariana Florian handles inks this time after getting a color credit in issue #1, and Romulo Fajardo, Jr., handles colors. Shawn Lee lettered the issue. The art style for Cobra has been well-defined for a long time, and the artists working this book have done a great job of keeping the art consistent. Love it or hate it, you know you’re reading “Cobra” when you look at this book.
David Williams provides Cover A, showing Croc-Master and his crazy glowing red eyes straddling a crocodile; very cool image. It’s Williams’ third cover for GI Joe; he last provided covers for issues 13 and 14 in the first season. Antonio Fuso drew Cover B, showing a very up close and personal view of a croc about to attack Steeler; this is a great composition, and a really clever camera placement. The retailer-incentive cover is Williams’ Cover A with no colors.
G.I. Joe: The Joe body count in this issue is difficult to add up; “redshirt” Joes Knuckles, Slammer, Sawed-Off and Leadfoot are part of the team ambushed and killed by Croc-Master and his Lampreys, so that makes four. Breaker and Steeler are also part of this mission; Steeler is mentioned on Page 10, and Breaker calls for evac on Page 19 after things go horribly awry. However, “Breaker” on Page 19 looks like Steeler, a blonde; Breaker is shown on Page 6 as having dark hair and glasses.
Leadfoot is killed on Page 12; Slammer on Page 13; Sawed-Off and Knuckles on Pages 16 and 17. On Page 20, however, Croc-Master tells Baroness “Got five of them.” Steeler is shown on page 22 getting treatment for a leg wound suffered midway through the battle with the Lampreys and Croc-Master, so he’s alive. Breaker was then apparently killed somewhere off-screen, and a mistake was made on Page 19 identifying Steeler as “Breaker.”
So, according to Croc-Master and IDW’s scoreboard, the Joe body count in this issue is: 5 (Knuckles, Slammer, Sawed-Off, Leadfoot, Breaker). (Total: 24)
Cobra: 4 (4 Lampreys) (Total: 11)
The events of this issue give Baroness the lead in the Cobra Commander Contest after seven issues of action. She and her agents are responsible for nine dead Joes, giving her a three-Joe lead over Khallikhan (6) and Krake (6).
The Terrordrome has a five-page preview of Cobra Civil War: Cobra #2 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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