Comic Review: “Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe” #3

Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe #3
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, July 6, 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
Cover RIB: Jonboy Meyers, with colors by Chuck Pires

ROLL CALL
G.I. Joe: General Hawk; Dial-Tone; Scarlett; Brainstorm; Flint
Cobra: Storm Shadow; Zartan; Tomax

G.I. Joe #3 offers a straight continuation of the two parallel storylines from Issue #2 — the Pit incursion by Storm Shadow and Zartan, and Dial-Tone and General Hawk try to work their way home after Cobra’s failed assassination attempt against Hawk in Washington D.C.

There’s an interesting divergence in the two parallel storylines, though; the previous issues had somewhat inferred that the two activities were part of the same plot. Hawk and Dial-Tone were in DC, and Cobra having that knowledge allowed them to have Zartan pose as Hawk to gain access to the Pit — which wouldn’t have been possible had Hawk somehow been at the Pit, as the Joes wouldn’t let Hawk in knowing Hawk was already inside.

However, Tomax makes an exceptionally brief appearance and throws a monkey wrench into this theory.

It’s still not clear what’s transpired, really; Tomax could have simply been a fly-on-the-wall in DC and taken advantage of Hawk and Dial-Tone making their getaway to take a shot at them. We know from the Cobra series that even some within Cobra have told Tomax to pull it together after Xamot’s death and start taking the contest seriously. We won’t know more about what he’s up to until Chuck Dixon decides to tell us; at this point it’s a safe bet that Tomax has moved from the Cobra series to this one, and Cobra will continue to focus on Baroness, Major Bludd, Vargas (eventually, anyway) and Serpentor.

Without spoiling what transpires, the events of this issue build up to an overwhelming Cobra victory over the Joes and Oda Satori taking what surely must be a nearly insurmountable lead in the Cobra Commander contest. Body count wise, he’s only officially one dead Joe ahead of Baroness after Zartan and Storm Shadow are responsible for seven kills in this issue, giving him 10 kills, but in terms of “damage inflicted” it’s difficult to imagine how the other candidates are going to surpass the amount of pain dealt in this issue.

In fact, there now appear to be only two legitimate outcomes for the Oda Satori character – he’s the eventual winner of the contest and is the next Cobra Commander, or he’s killed either by G.I. Joe or by another Cobra agent once we get into the whole Cobra Civil War part of this Cobra Civil War (with the latter being the significantly more interesting option). Having him stay alive and not win the contest doesn’t seem plausible after what happened in this issue.

ART
Javier Saltares’ art provides some of the same difficulties in this issue as it has throughout his run on G.I. Joe so far – inaccuracies and inconsistencies. Storm Shadow shows up on Page 9 wearing body armor that he’s never been seen wearing in the previous two issues (with the Cobra logo still drawn incorrectly…); why is Hawk holding his gun at the ready while he and Dial-Tone are apparently safe in their train-car compartment on Page 10?; the helmet on Brainstorm’s hazard suit isn’t drawn consistently in two panels on the same page on Page 17; etc.

The page 1 splash with Hawk and Dial-Tone decked out in Washington Nationals gear as they try to go low-key to make their escape from DC is good; irradiated Brainstorm on Page 21 is cool; Saltares takes one opportunity to show a Zartan transformation that comes off pretty well; and five consecutive panels of massive explosions on pages 19 and 20 are very well done. The Page 20 explosion is particuarly great, to the point that it would’ve been an excellent full page had the book allowed for that.

Hit and miss, hit and miss, hit and miss… Just like the series has gone so far. It’s especially difficult to get into the art in the G.I. Joe main series after getting into the work Robert Atkins is doing on the Snake Eyes book.

Saltares posted the pencils of a very cool double-getaway scene at the top of Page 16 to his DeviantArt profile back in October of 2010; the panel actually looks much better here than it does colored on the page, and almost looks like it might’ve been originally drawn as a two-page spread. Check it out here:
http://saltares.deviantart.com/art/PEEK-181962722?q=gallery%3Asaltares%2F474044&qo=29

It’s one of only two GI Joe pieces he’s got posted on DeviantArt; the other is a commission he did.

COVERS
Javier Saltares’ cover B doesn’t seem like cover work; it looks like a colored convention sketch. It also doesn’t in any way reflect events occurring inside the comic; not only does Storm Shadow not fight Helix, the two characters never even meet during Cobra’s Pit incursion. As a cover for this particular comic book, it doesn’t seem like a good fit.

Fortunately, Tom Feister provides another typically solid effort with the book’s A cover – an in-your-face 3/4 white Storm Shadow head framed against an Arashikage clan symbol in the background. It’s clean and powerful and it just works.

Jonboy Meyers, who has been providing some of the covers for IDW’s collections of the Marvel-era G.I. Joe comics, makes his debut with the monthly book on the retailer incentive Cover B; he’ll be providing an alternate retailer incentive cover for each of the three G.I. Joe books that come out this month. There are some problems with it — Chuck Pires’ colors don’t do this image any favors (Stalker’s camoflage is a mess, the highlights on Scarlett’s chest seem odd, and the lighting seems like it’s all over the place, some from the left and some from the right), and there is a serious perspective failure — compared to Stalker, Duke is approximately 12 feet tall. But there’s a lot of potential here, and Meyers has a style that works well with G.I. Joe (you can see more of his work at his DeviantArt page here: http://jonboy007007.deviantart.com). It’ll be interesting to see what he provides for the covers of the other two books this month.

BODY COUNT
G.I. Joe: 7 (3 dead bodies shown on Page 4; Lawhound and some other guard killed on pages 8 and 9; 2 no-names on Page 15). TOTAL: 31
Cobra: 0. TOTAL: 18 (IDW’s scoreboard shows 28).

CONTEST UPDATE
Seven Joe kills attributed to Oda Satori; this gives Satori and his agents a total of 10 kills and total destruction of a significant G.I. Joe asset, giving him what must certainly be an overwhelming lead in the Cobra Commander contest at this point. Baroness drops to second place with nine kills and zero nuclear incidents caused. Tomax continues to be basically useless as far as this contest is concerned, and he remains in last place with no kills, three bullets in his back and, we presume, a bench in a holding cell somewhere.

PREVIEW
The Terrordrome has a five-page preview of G.I. Joe #3 here.

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