Comic review: Cobra Civil War: Cobra #7

Cobra Civil War: Cobra #7
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: David Williams, with colors by Kelsey Shannon
Cover B: Antonio Fuso, with colors by Arianna Florian
Cover RI: Trevor Hutchinson

Written by: Mike Costa
Art: Antonio Fuso
Colors: Arianna Florien
Letters: Neil Uyetake

ROLL CALL
G.I. Joe: Steeler, Firewall, Chameleon, Lady Jaye
Cobra: Blacklight, Blackout

Well, this is it – the final issue of the Cobra Civil War before the new Cobra Commander is revealed in G.I. Joe #8 next week.

So where do things stand? Is there a clear winner, or even a clear leader, based on how this so-called civil war has played out over the last seven months and 22 issues of comics over three series?

Not even close.

Still, this issue approaches “Cobra” perfection. Mike Costa opens with the “I will never…” line that has defined the majority of this series, diving into Firewall’s background. What Costa has done so well in this series is to carefully expose the flaws of each of its main players and show how those flaws have been responsible for developing them into what they have become in the present. In this case, Firewall’s back story illustrates her as a soldier who has been wildly successful, but not in the way she had dreamed. Her limitations, and the limitations others placed on her, shaped her to the point that she was perfectly suited to be the G.I. Joe agent to root out Cobra’s mole. In some ways, she understands him because, in some ways, she has been him. The backgrounds Costa lays out for Steeler and Firewall are remarkably similar; the only appreciable difference is how they chose to deal with the limitations placed upon them by others.

Through Blacklight, whose long journey through this series as scattered two- to three-page cameos was never clear until Costa turned him loose in this issue, those similar stories have likely come to an end. With one shot, we find there’s much more to Blacklight’s role in the Civil War than could have been imagined, even considering his role in the death of multiple Joes during their failed mission to Panama. How his actions affect Tomax’s candidacy for Commander and what his support for Tomax means for his relationship with the Baroness will have to play out as Cobra adjusts to its new commander.

While this issue in and of itself is fantastic, its position as the final chapter of a storyline called “Cobra Civil War” is a disappointment — not due to any failures of this story, but a failure of the overall story arc. It is basically impossible to claim that this story has been anything approaching a Cobra Civil War; one agent was killed in this issue, and a couple of months back Krake shot up some of the Baroness’ Vipers for no apparent reason whatsoever. It has hardly been a civil war in the manner that was expected when the basic structure of the Cobra Commander contest was introduced. The Cobra series has been strong as always, and the Snake Eyes issues dealing with the Vikrim Khallikhan story arc was fantastic. Across the entire Cobra Civil War crossover, however, IDW seems to have missed an opportunity to do something fantastic with its version of the G.I. Joe universe. Cobra #7 shows a glimpse of what could have been, but ultimately never materialized.

ART
Series regular Antonio Fuso is back after a two-issue hiatus, and turns in what’s probably one of the best-looking issues in this series so far. For a series that has been relatively light on action so far, the back half of this book is basically one extended fight scene around some tanks in a motor pool. Simply put, Fuso nails it. There have been instances earlier in this series, particularly in the storyline surrounding Blackout’s escape from Panama, where it’s been difficult to tell what was supposed to be happening in a particular panel. Not here. The action is perfectly clear, and there’s a sense of motion and flow to the fight that is easy to follow even though it’s shown through mostly closeup panels. This is a fantastic comic-book fight scene, and Fuso takes full advantage of the fact that he was given the bulk of the back half of this issue to show it. It’s hard to pick highlights; but Page 16 showing an exchange between Steeler and Lady Jaye is brilliant, and the final page showing the aftermath of the brawl, and Chameleon’s reaction to what she’s just experienced, is intense.

COVERS
David Williams’ Cover A continues IDW’s tradition of very cool covers that don’t have the slightest thing to do with the story inside. It’s related in that a Cobra kills a Cobra with a rifle, but neither Storm Shadow nor Baroness are anywhere near this issue. Still, cool cover.

Antonio Fuso’s Cover B is a closeup of Steeler/Blackout, and Trevor Hutchinson’s Major Bludd for the retailer incentive wraps up a pretty interesting run of covers for this month’s No. 7 issues of the three Joe series. The style has been so radically different from anything else that’s been done in the series so far.

CONTEST UPDATE
Tomax and his new agent, Blacklight, have dealt a serious blow to Major Bludd’s efforts in the contest, with this being the closest thing that this series has had to being an actual “Cobra Civil War.” Who’s in the lead now? Honestly, who knows. Next week’s announcement of the winner of the contest could go to any of the remaining competitors — or none of them. There’s never been a clear picture of who might be leading the contest and, now that the contest is presumably over, that hasn’t changed.

PREVIEW
Comic Book Resources has a seven-page preview of Cobra #7 here.

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