Comic review: “Cobra Civil War: Snake Eyes #4”
Cobra Civil War: Snake Eyes #4
Street Date: Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011
Cover price: $3.99
Cover A: Robert Atkins, with colors by Simon Gough
Cover B: Agustin Padilla, with colors by Simon Gough
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Robert Atkins
Inks: Juan Castro
Colors: Simon Gough
Letters: Shawn Lee
Snake Eyes’ incursion into Vikrim Khallikhan’s mountain base comes to a bloody conclusion, the Cobra Commander contest loses its first candidate, and the Joes must quickly regroup and change their focus to the mysterious virus that felled Duke in G.I. Joe #4.
This issue dives right in to the battle between Snake Eyes and Khallikhan’s agents, Slice and Dice, previewed in the previous issue, and that fight rages on for fully half of the book. It’s a quality fight, with Khallikhan watching from afar via his base’s security cameras, talking trash over the intercom the entire time. It’s a strong conclusion to what has been an outstanding first story arc in Snake Eyes’ standalone book; there has been plenty of action, and plenty of opportunity to learn more — and question more — about Snake Eyes’ nature and his relationship to his teammates and enemies alike.
Since this is Snake Eyes’ book and we know the book continues, the outcome of his battle with Slice and Dice isn’t necessarily a surprise. The fact that Vikrim Khallikhan is shot down in the blink of an eye, however, was.
Khallikhan’s death is a serious letdown. It goes down like this — Helix basically appears out of nowhere and guns him down; there’s no buildup or suspense involved in the killing whatsoever. In one panel, he’s talking trash on Snake Eyes as he has been for the bulk of four issues, promising his death and the death of Scarlett, and in the next panel Helix shows up with guns-a-blazin’ and apparently shoots him in the back (more on this in a minute…). It was an all-too-abrupt end to a non-toy Commander contestant who had been fabulously developed over the course of this title.
Still, there’s plenty to love about what’s going on in this issue. Chuck Dixon elevates the relationship between Snake Eyes and Scarlett to a whole new level, and through the comforts of modern technology we’re treated to what may well be the first-ever actual conversation we’ve seen between the two. It’s a fantastic scene (which could have been improved only had Atkins drawn Snake Eyes with an iPad instead of some generic tablet :), and does much to solidify the special relationship between the characters. The questions about their relationship from earlier in the series are all answered here; Snake Eyes clearly cares deeply for Scarlett, to the point that knowing he has her support provided him extra motivation to win his battle in Khallikhan’s fortress. In fact, the talk between them essentially swings the pendulum back in the polar opposite direction; after reading the exchange between the two, it seems legitimate to wonder why Scarlett had concerns about their relationship. Perhaps Snake Eyes just needs to spend more time on Yahoo Messenger to reassure her.
Iceberg’s successful escape with the injured Alpine is almost relegated to sidebar status; it’s a solid action scene, but is overshadowed because its bookended by the Snake Eyes fight and the strong relationship-developing scene between he and Scarlett.
The ending of this comic is pure G.I. Joe cartoon throwback craziness. Somebody we thought was dead is actually not dead, finds something completely ridiculous and gives us a hint that we’re in for what could be a pretty entertaining revenge tale coming in the future. This ending is the kind of thing that makes G.I. Joe fun, and keeps it from being just a straight military comic.
The creative team for Snake Eyes #4 remains basically the same as it has been for the entire series so far; Robert Atkins provides pencils for the entire issue after Agustin Padilla provided some backup last time out. With this group having been together for awhile, it’s becoming apparent that they’re hitting their stride with this book. Robert Atkins’ work on the fight scene between Snake Eyes and Slice and Dice can only be summed up as “fun” – starting from Slice’s improbable airborne attack on the opening splash page and running all the way through a fantastic off-screen kill shot delivered by Snake Eyes to end the battle. Then, Snake Eyes gets a completely over-the-top six-kills-in-a-single-panel shot during his escape from the mountain that’s just enjoyable to look at to pick out the different details in each part of the shot.
Khallikhan’s corpse shot is odd, though; he’s standing when Helix enters the room, hunched over the monitor where he’s watching the fight, and turns to look over his right shoulder to see Helix coming before she guns him down. But his body’s slumped over the table like he was sitting and shot in the back. It’s an exceptionally minor nitpick, but the sequence seems a bit off.
Atkins also provides some nice background details to give us a hint at what may be coming in the future; there seems to be a lot of construction on the G.I. Joe ship Stennis, and a “99” in the background of one panel indicates that it may not be called the Stennis for long.
Simon Gough’s colors are great, especially during the ninja battle. He uses a lot of red and orange to highlight weapon strikes, and it helps provide focus to the action. There are a lot of other little details that Gough helps sell; spittle flying from Khallikhan’s mouth, flecks of blood around tears in Helix’s uniform, etc.
Only two covers this month – Atkins’ Cover A and Padilla’s Cover B. There is no retailer incentive.
Atkin’s Cover A is solid; a spent clip falls away from Snake Eyes’ Uzi, still smoking, giving an indication that somebody was just on the wrong end of a firefight.
Padilla’s Cover B is awesome; it’s a moment-in-time captured from Snake Eyes’ fight with Slice and Dice. Lots of nice detail here; ink spatters to provide grit, some tears in Snake Eyes’ uniform, the dragon detail on Slice’s sword. Padilla has been doing strong cover work on the B covers for this series so far, and this is no exception.
G.I. Joe: 0 (Total: 32)
Cobra: 14 (Slice; 6x Snow Serpent; 6x Viper; Vikrim Khallikhan) (Total: 53)
No Joes were harmed in the making of this issue; Oda Satori presumably retains his lead in the Cobra Commander contest with 11 kills and destruction of The Pit. Vikrim Khallikhan has been whammied and is the first candidate eliminated from the contest.
Newsarama has a lengthy preview of Snake Eyes #4 at http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=44000.