Comic book review: Snake Eyes #11 (IDW)

Cobra Civil War: Snake Eyes #11
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2012
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: David Wilkins
Cover B: Robert Atkins, with colors by Simon Gough
Cover RI: David Williams, with colors by Kelsey Shannon

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Artists: Alex Cal and Beni Lobel
Colors: J. Brown
Letters: Robbie Robbins

REVIEW
Cobra Command, Part 8
The Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow confrontation comes to a head in the most unexpected way possible (unless you’ve been reading the solicits), while elsewhere in Nanzhao the Joes in Flint’s Team Alpha manage to successfully deal with their BAT issue.

Storm Shadow gets what amounts to a four-page monologue as his Red Ninja forces engage Snake Eyes in the Nanzhao jungle temple. It’s actually a functionally similar monologue to the one Khallikahn delivered earlier in this series while Snake Eyes was infiltrating his mountain fortress — how great it is to see Snake Eyes in action, how useless normal soldiers are against him, etc. The temple culminates in a completely unexpected fashion – without giving it away, Storm Shadow offers Snake Eyes a deal, which Snake Eyes accepts, and the two of them never lay a finger on each other. Given the effort Storm Shadow has taken to lure Snake Eyes to him and ambush him with the Red Ninjas, the deal seems strange as you realize Storm Shadow was completely serious when he told Snake Eyes that the ninjas were basically sacrificed to him in an effort by Storm Shadow to make sure they were even on some scoreboard.

Helix, of course, shows up but not in position to do anything to assist. Her use in this sequence has been interesting; Snake Eyes has tried at every opportunity to ditch her and leave her out of the fight, but she keeps finding ways to get back into the fight. But, she never gets into the fight. Even here, with Snake Eyes squaring off directly against the Red Ninjas, she arrives only in time to witness the deal Storm Shadow offers to Snake Eyes. This seems to be the entire purpose for having her in position to witness the deal, which could have been accomplished with her as a combatant.

Nine pages from this issue are dedicated to the Joes’ efforts to eliminate the final few BATs that showed up in GI Joe #11, which seemed like a lot of attention to pay to a sidebar plot. It made the exchange between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow feel rushed, as it really only got 12 pages once you account for the page 22 cliffhanger, and drug out blowing up three BATs longer than seemed necessary. But, a longer scene would likely have meant more monologuing by Storm Shadow, and that certainly wouldn’t have made the issue better.

Still, the evolution of the relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow shown here should serve to make this a really entertaining series moving forward, particularly once the Cobra Command storyline wraps up. Now that the two of them are no longer stalking each other, the series can focus on good old fashioned ninja fights — which, really, is what everyone is paying their four bucks to see.

ART
One of the more enjoyable things about the Cobra Command storyline and the way IDW has handled the creative team has been to watch the evolution of Alex Cal’s art. Compare what is on display in this issue with G.I. Joe #9, the first chapter of Cobra Civil War. What he and Beni Lobel have put on display this time out is really, really fun to look at. He even drew a kid picking his nose on the last page. For some reason, that makes me laugh every time I look at that page.

As he has been doing, Cal posted some finished uncolored inks from this issue on his blog. You can check them out here.

The more I see of what Cal posts at his blog, the more I am convinced I would read this series in black-and-white and enjoy it just as much.

COVERS
Following the lead of G.I. Joe #11 a couple of weeks back, this book gets a really strong three-pack of covers. David Wilkins’ Cover A, featuring a dueling Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, is very strong, and Robert Atkins and Simon Gough turn in another fantastic effort with Cover B — an alternate view of Storm Shadow and his Red Ninjas springing their ambush on Snake Eyes in the temple.

The retailer incentive by David Williams is the center panel in this tryptich that will span over the retailer incentives for all three of this months’ issues. Such a great idea by IDW, providing a real incentive for collectors to pursue all three covers and complete the image.

PREVIEW
The Terrordrome has a preview of Snake Eyes #11 here.

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