Comic review: “Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe” #5

Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe #5
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Javier Saltares (pp 1-14) and Ron Adrian (pp 15-22)
Inks: Christopher Ivy (pp 1-14) and Brian Shearer (pp 15-22)
Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr. (pp 1-14) and Andrew Crossley (pp 15-22)
Letters: Neil Uyetake

Cover A: Tom Feister
Cover B: Will Rosado, with colors by Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Cover RI: Danny Cruz, with colors by Esther Sanz

ROLL CALL
G.I. Joe: Flint
Cobra: Baroness; Zartan

Cobra launches another all-out assault on G.I. Joe, as the Baroness attempts to kick her way back into contention in the Cobra Commander contest.

The Joes are attempting to secure a server farm to bolster their efforts to establish new bases on land and at sea, and find themselves with a minor Cobra infestation to deal with. This is a straight-up action issue, almost from start to finish. In an unusual move for the Cobra Civil War so far, the entire 22-page issue is focused on one storyline at one location; there are no segues out to any of the other story lines taking place in the civil war.

And the action is good. The body count of 23 is the highest of any single issue in the Cobra Civil War so far, and another “I had a toy” Joe will get a secret funeral at an unmarked grave. Plus, Roadblock fires a tactical nuclear weapon off of his shoulder — which, if you can’t guess, is just as awesome as it sounds.

This issue may also lead into IDW’s version of the Flint/Baroness relationship that we’ve seen in other iterations of the G.I. Joe universe; that remains to be seen, but it would be an interesting creative decision to put the characters together the way they have been here and not carry through with that particular storyline.

As many of the individual issues of the Cobra Civil War so far, this one ends with an exciting cliffhanger. A Cobra Commander contestant we haven’t seen much of since the zero issue resurfaces, and we’re left to guess as to his intentions. In fact, his very appearance is a mystery, since Baroness being on location with the Joes was due to intelligence received from Zartan – so we’re left to wonder if perhaps he fed the same intelligence to multiple parties, to see which one might be able to succeed first or be eliminated in the process?

As the contest moves ahead, Zartan’s role in this situation is becoming increasingly less clear. He was one of Oda Satori’s primary agents in Cobra’s destruction of the Pit; we saw at the end of G.I. Joe #4 that Zartan may actually *be* Oda Satori; and now he’s providing significant intelligence to the Baroness. Was his true motive to assist her in advancing her position in the Commander contest, or was it to get her captured and out of the way as a contestant? Or, more interestingly – we saw in Zartan’s “G.I. Joe: Origins” story arc that Zartan is a clone and there are multiple copies of him. So the question then becomes – could more than one of those copies be in play during the contest? Watching Zartan’s true purpose unfold over the next few months as the Commander contest comes to a head will be fascinating.

G.I. Joe #5 continues the trend established throughout the contest so far — Cobra has the Joes on the run, is striking without warning at every opportunity and inflicting heavy losses of both life and resources. The stated intention of the Cobra Commander contest — to deliver as much pain as possible to G.I. Joe — is certainly playing itself out as the Cobra Council envisioned.

ART
Javier Saltares handled art duty for the front half of this issue, with Ron Adrian picking up the back half. Both pencillers have unique finishing teams – Saltares is inked by Christopher Ivy with colors by Romulo Fajardo, Jr., the same trio that has been on this book from the beginning. Adrian’s pencils on pages 15-22 are inked by Brian Shearer with colors by frequent G.I. Joe colorist Andrew Crossley.

Honestly, the front half of this issue is probably the best and most consistent that Saltares has done on this series so far. His Page 1 splash of the Baroness meeting Zartan in Paris is really good; I love the detail he put into the backgrounds. Zartan’s two panels as Humphrey Bogart are fun, also. Saltares’ obligatory “Joe with a huge mustache” makes his first appearance on Page 5 (where there’s also an excellent panel of two helicopter pilots).

The transition to Adrian on Page 15 is handled well; it’s nothing like the jarring and distracting artist change in Cobra #4, when Chee handled art in the back half of that book. Adrian’s aesthetic is similar to Saltares, enough to maintain the look and feel of the book. The only real inconsistency is in the Baroness’ outfit, and that’s mostly a coloring issue; Fajardo added red piping while Crossley colored her all-black, and Adrian didn’t draw the Cobra logo on her chest.

All in all, though, the art in this issue was solid.

COVERS
Tom Feister’s Cover A is fantastic, showing a plagued Duke holding a canister of the virus that sickened him in the previous issue. However, it’s a fantastic cover that doesn’t belong on this comic book – the interior contains zero references to Duke or the plague event in Africa beyond a one-sentence reminder that he’s sick on the inside-front-cover “our story so far” paragraph.

Will Rosado’s Cover B features Baroness standing in front of a RHINO; it’s alright, but is the weakest of the three covers this month by a relatively significant margin.

Continuing the theme from Cobra #5, Danny Cruz provides a retailer-incentive cover that is an homage to the X-Men “Days of Future Past” cover from Uncanny X-Men #141. It’s an identical template to the Cobra #5 cover; the characters represented on the backdrop have changed, as have the featured characters, but the background and skull-pile foreground are identical. This cover isn’t connected at all to the issue, as it features Duke and Scarlett — neither of whom appear in this issue. It’s a decent-enough cover; Duke looks mean, Shipwreck’s got a suitable smirk on his face. Scarlett cowering behind Duke doesn’t seem to fit, though.

BODY COUNT
G.I. Joe: 2 (Mooch, Sneak Peek) (Total: 35)
Cobra: 23 (23 Vipers) (Total: 76)

CONTEST UPDATE
Vipers in the Baroness’ strike team rack up at least one, and probably two kills – Sneak Peek is seen being killed, and we are meant to believe Mooch is killed rather than being taken prisoner. This brings her body count to 11, which pulls her even with Oda Satori in terms of body count. Oda Satori’s still got that whole “I blew up the Pit” thing going for him, though.

PREVIEW
The Terrordrome has a six-page preview of G.I. Joe #5 here.

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