Comic review: Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe #2

Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe #2
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Javier Saltares
Inks: Christopher Ivy
Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letters: Chris Mowry

Cover A: Tom Feister
Cover B: Javier Saltares with colors by Andrew Crossley
Cover RI: Javier Saltares

The second issue of Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe focuses on Storm Shadow’s assault on The Pit, teased at the end of the previous issue, and illustrates some of the misdirection Cobra used to set up the attack. In concert with the attack on The Pit, Gen. Hawk and Dial-Tone are ambushed after a meeting in Washington, D.C.

We learn in this issue why Cobra’s attacking the Pit; Storm Shadow and another unnamed Cobra agent (more on that later) intend to assassinate the Cobra Viper who was captured by the Joes way back in volume 1, #23. The issue ends with Storm Shadow about to make his presence known as the back half of Cobra’s Pit incursion team, and Hawk and Dial-tone on the run.

None of the Cobra Commander candidates are seen in this issue, but we know from earlier in the series that Storm Shadow is aligned with Oda Satori; as the ambushing of Gen. Hawk had to have occurred in concert with the Pit attack, it’s a safe bet that assault is the work of Satori as well. The Pit assault would seem to infer that Satori’s making use of Serpentor’s mole as well; add it up and he’s the first Commander candidate to make a significant move against the Joes. And if he is indeed working with Serpentor, he’s positioning himself to be an early favorite.

There’s solid action here as the unknown Cobra agent makes his way through the Pit hunting for the captive Viper, and we get some rare Hawk brawling which is fun to see; he and Dial-Tone make a good team. Mostly, this issue is setup for the payoff coming in the next issue, when Storm Shadow gets unleashed on the Joes and we see how Hawk and Dial-Tone manage to make their escape from DC.

ROLL CALL
New in this issue is a “Roll Call” on the inside front cover, calling out the main characters who will appear in the issue. This issue’s lineup featured Gen. Hawk, Dial-Tone, Scarlett, Agent Helix and Flint on the Joe side and Storm Shadow as the lone Cobra agent. It’s not everyone who appears in the issue, or even everyone who plays a significant role, but it’s a fun addition to the inside front covers and nice preview of what’s to come.

ART
The shot of “Some Buddy” on Page 9 gives a hint of what I think people might have been expecting out of Javier Saltares upon hearing he was taking over the title.

However, the consistency just isn’t there.

There’s only one Cobra sigil in this book, on Storm Shadow’s chest in the second panel of Page 2, and Saltares still drew it wrong; it’s consistent from how it was misdrawn in Issue #1, so somewhere along the line he must just got ahold of some bad reference material. At some point an editor needs to correct this.

The “National Postal Museum” building used as the location of Hawk’s secret meeting is also notably different between its Page 7 appearance and its Page 18 appearance; the Page 18 building is significantly larger and many of the exterior details are different. The Joe who Zartan hits in the head with a meat cleaver gets blasted squarely in the forehead when he’s attacked on Page 5; when being treated on Page 16, he’s shown with a bloody nose and mouth but no head wound. Helix’s hair in Panel 1 of Page 20 is… who even knows what that is. And in that panel it looks like she’s armed with a hair dryer. There are many little things like this throughout the issue that on their own don’t really matter. But once these things and others like them start popping up again and again and again in a 22-page book, then the art starts becoming a distraction to the story as you start digging for more of them, or backtracking to a previous page when the art makes the reader stop and say “OK, wait a minute…” — and that brings the book to a screeching halt.

There are also two panels – one on Page 14 and one on Page 15 – where colorist Romulo Fajardo, Jr., resorts to using halftone dot-fills for shadows; they only appear in a few other panels in the book, and he didn’t use any in Issue 1 that I could see. It looked like Saltares just didn’t do the kind of linework to define the shadows on those two panels like he did elsewhere in the book, and Fajardo tried to compensate for it with the dot-fills.

Saltares also missed a big opportunity to show Zartan shapeshifting; as it is, Zartan just looks like one guy in one panel and like a similar-looking but different guy in the next panel. Honestly, had Tom Feister not put classic Zartan on the cover, it would’ve been pretty easy to have a “what the hell is going on here?” sense about the Pit attack.

The final-page cliffhanger is a fun image, though, even with the Joe on the far right having an oddly squished-looking head.

With the exception of Chris Mowry on letters, this is the same creative team that was in place for Issue #1; Shawn Lee lettered the previous issue.

COVERS
Tom Feister’s Cover A is ridiculous. His cover work on the G.I. Joe: Origins three-parter covering the Zartan origin was fantastic, and he’s turned in another prize-winner here; there must be something about the Zartan character that brings great work out of him. The little things sell this; the texture on Flint’s gloves and the detail in the woodland-pattern MARPAT camouflage in his pants; the highlights on Zartan’s face and his reddened eyes; Flint holding Zartan’s hand in place with his boot. It’s a great image.

However, after reading the issue there’s a question as to why Zartan’s on the cover. He’s not included in the “roll call” banner for Cobra on the inside front cover, and as mentioned earlier there is never a clear view of him shapeshifting; it almost seems like Chuck Dixon is intentionally avoiding letting on that it’s Zartan, perhaps saving a reveal for later? But again, since there’s absolutely no other explanation for the Cobra agent’s shapeshifting, Feister putting Zartan on the cover is the only way the events inside make any sense. It’s a bizarre situation.

Saltares’ Cover B (and the retailer-incentive uncolored alternate) is OK; it’s basically an alternate-angle shot of a scene that occurs in the back third of the comic.

BODY COUNT
G.I. Joe: 2, possibly, on Page 17; Winchester and one unnamed Joe (Total: 19 if those two died; 17 if not)
Cobra: 1 (Total: 5)

PREVIEW
At press time, there was no preview available for this issue online.

 

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