Comic book review: Cobra Command: Cobra #9 (IDW)

Cobra Command: Cobra #9
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012
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: Alex Cal
Colors: J. Brown
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Light on action in comparison to the previous few issues in the Cobra Command storyline, Cobra #9 serves as a breather to get a look at some intriguing behind-the-scenes action as Cobra moves into the next phase of its invasion of the Asian nation of Nanzhao.
The political machinations supporting Cobra’s invasion continues to play out in this issue; it allows writer Mike Costa to show the duplicitous nature of the new Commander, as he tells ambassadors what they need to hear during his in-person meetings while continuing his operations as planned in the field.
Tomax continues to hang out on the fringes of the action and somehow still be one of the smartest men in the room; he’s quite enjoying that he seems to see the Commander’s broader agenda, and it is fun to watch him smirk at those who just don’t get it. Major Bludd has been overdue for an attitude adjustment, as well, and he gets is here — still perhaps holding onto some resentment from the Cobra Council’s last-minute reversal that stripped him of the Commander mantle, Bludd had thought he understood the “business end” of Cobra’s invasion. However, he soon learns that he’s not as smart as he thought he was. The Baroness seems to be moving back into the forefront of Cobra again, which is a welcome move as well.
Tomax is somehow in on the Commander’s overarcing agenda; it’s him that calls for Cobra’s move to complete its total occupation of Nanzhao. Having him in a prominent role will be great for this storyline, as he remains one of the best characters in Cobra. Also, he’s a character that Mike Costa genuinely seems to enjoy writing. Tomax needs to be back in the forefront of a book that has basically been defined by his story since day one.
With the new Commander’s plans for Nanzhao slowly unfolding, and the Joes at this point only having a guess as to what he and Cobra are actually up to, this issue serves as the tipping point for what should be a downhill race through the rest of the Cobra Command storyline.
IDW is only a couple of issues into Cobra Command, but it’s obvious that it is pursuing a different direction for its G.I. Joe universe. There were numerous things about the Season 1 MASS Device storyline that could’ve been handled better, and the Cobra Civil War didn’t at all play out in a way that lived up to its name. But so far, the Cobra Command storyline has been fantastic. A ruthless Cobra Commander overseeing a vast, nation-conquering army, and only a small band of well-trained, well-equipped soliders stand in his way. This is the G.I. Joe we’ve been waiting for.
ART
Alex Cal continues on art duties, as he has in the previous issues of the Cobra Command storyline so far. As it has been so far, Cal’s art is solid. He draws Destro with a fluid mask — basically a silver-painted head — which allows for facial expressions and gives him some more personality. It’s a good decision. Some of the Photoshop-filtered mountains, rocks and buildings are a little distracting, mostly because style-wise they just don’t fit with the rest of the page, but it’s a minor gripe. Cal’s on a roll; he was doing strong work toward the end of his Season 1 run, but he’s stepped up his game for Cobra Command.
Cal has seven pages of his inked, uncolored work from Cobra #9 posted on his blog. It’s always interesting to see what these pages look like before they’re colored.
COVERS
Cobra #9 has the same theme for its three-pack of covers that the No. 9 issues for G.I. Joe and Snake Eyes had before it. Dave Wilkins’ Cover A features the major Cobra players for this issue — Destro, Baroness, Major Bludd and the new Commander (in the helmet he wore when he was still just plain ol’ Krake). It’s too bad the Cobra logo covers up so much of Krake’s head; I would’ve liked to have seen that image unobstructed.
Regular Cobra artist Antonio Fuso provides Cover B, with colors by Arianna Florean (who also has done interior work for this series). Not much to write home about here; it’s a solid cover of Snake Eyes flipping through the air, but it feels like it should be a cover for Snake Eyes, and not Cobra. It just doesn’t seem to fit, especially when viewed side-by-side with this issue’s other two covers.
Nick Runge again provides the Retailer Incentive cover, as he has for the other two No. 9 issues this month. Baroness, Bludd, Krake (who I honestly didn’t even notice the first few times I looked at this cover) and, strangely, Serpentor are the featured Cobras here, again in a 1980s movie poster style illustration. All three of the covers he’s done this month have been quite good. Oddly, Destro’s head is floating up in the upper left-hand corner; in the other two covers he did, all of the main figures were posed together. Destro could’ve been eliminated entirely and not have the image change; it’d be curious to know why he was included. Like with Krake on Cover A, portions of Destro’s head are masked by the IDW logo and issue credits and by the “Cobra” logo. This cover probably looked much better as a standalone piece, but once you add the embellishments that make it a comic cover, Destro probably should’ve been cut. Baroness makes this cover; she looks like she’s whistling or blowing a kiss to someone; in either circumstance, the mind races in an attempt to figure out what’s going through her head.
PREVIEW
The Terrordrome has a preview of “Cobra #9” here.

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