Comic review: “Cobra Civil War: Cobra” #5

Cobra Civil War: Cobra #5
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011* (Cobra #5 was not on Diamond’s distribution list for this week, and some shops did not receive it)
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: David Williams, with colors by Kelsey Shannon
Cover B: Antonio Fuso, with colors by Arianna Florian
Cover RI: Danny Cruz, with colors by Esther Sanz

Written by: Mike Costa
Art: Werther Dell’edera
Colors: Arianna Florien
Letters: Shawn Lee

ROLL CALL
G.I. Joe: Steeler, Breaker, Firewall, Chameleon
Cobra: Tomax, Blacklight, Major Bludd, Blackout, Headman

A scheduling quirk gives us two consecutive weeks with a new issue of “Cobra.”

The opening panel for Cobra #5 is jarring, as it’s a break from the “I’ll never be Cobra Commander” internal monologue from various Commander candidates that have opened previous issues and provided a nice piece of continuity to the series. This issue flips that completely around, “I’ll never be G.I. Joe,” and sets the stage for the return of a character we haven’t seen for awhile who will likely prove to be an important character over the final four months of the Cobra Civil War.

The use of Chameleon here is very interesting; however, the only place she’s referred to by name is in the Roll Call, so if you haven’t been following Costa’s Cobra series from the beginning, there is plenty of opportunity for confusion. For readers who may have picked this series up at the start of the Civil War, there isn’t even a reference to let them know when Chameleon was captured by G.I. Joe so they can backtrack.

Still, it makes sense that G.I. Joe would put her into the position she is in, and it’s a good parallel to the role she played during Chuckles’ infiltration of Cobra in the first two “Cobra” series.

Major Bludd has been a minor candidate so far, in terms of the things he has achieved. But with Cobra #4 revealing the existence of a spy working for Bludd inside the G.I. Joe team, and a reveal at the end of the issue that builds on some background activity we saw in “Snake Eyes” #4, he now has pieces in place to take a significant step forward.

However, there’s a sense that the Joes will root out Bludd’s infiltrator relatively quickly; they already seem to be looking in his direction

Tomax makes an appearance as well, and he’s fantastic. Share a fun moment with Headman as you also try to figure out what Tomax really means when he tells Headman to “take care of the girl.” He only shows up for two pages, but it’s enough for him to talk an issue’s worth of trash to Bludd.

Blackout gets his obligatory three-page James Bond-esque interlude to further advance his escape from Panama; why this is getting so much play remains a mystery. It’s a sidebar story involving a sidebar character, and so far the only purpose for it is to illustrate how he moves from Point A to Point B. Over the last three issues, there have been nine entire pages dedicated to Blackout moving from being stuck in Panama to hitching a ride with… somebody… somewhere. Whether Blackout turns out to be a more critical character in the Civil War once the spotlight returns to the Baroness remains to be seen; but for now, these drop-ins only seem to be taking away space that could be used to advance the main plot.

ART
Werther Dell’edera starts his stand-in run for Antonio Fuso, as announced by IDW at the San Diego ComiCon. Dell’edera has done G.I. Joe before; he provided pencils for the final three issues of “G.I. Joe: Origins” and also has done some cover work.

A clear stylistic change from Fuso, but in a difference from the second half of last week’s issue, Dell’edera manages to capture the basic feel that has defined “Cobra” so far — sketchy and minimal with heavy shadows. The atmosphere we’re used to in this book is still here.

Arianna Florien is back on colors, and Shawn Lee again handles lettering duties.

COVERS
Good three-pack of covers; David Williams’ Cover A has Chameleon sporting way too much of a Madonna 1990s bullet bra, but a smug, larger-than-life Major Bludd looming in the background is great. Interesting layout choice, to not place Bludd lower so the book’s masthead didn’t cover up part of his eyepatch, though. Antonio Fuso’s Cover B is a solo shot of Chameleon against a cityscape and is probably the best of the three covers this month. Danny Cruz’s retailer-incentive cover featuring Bludd and Baroness is good, and Esther Sanz’s colors are significantly better here than they were in Chee’s back-half pencils in last week’s issue – reinforcing the feeling that the backup art was rushed for some reason.

BODY COUNT
G.I. Joe: 0 (Total: 33)
Cobra: 0 (Total: 53)

CONTEST UPDATE
No change; Oda Satori retains the lead.

PREVIEW
Comics Continuum has a seven-page preview of Cobra #5 here.

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