Comic review: “Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow” #14

Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow #14
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: Andrea Di Vito, with colors by Laura Villari
Cover B: Lee Ferguson and Sal Buscema, with colors by Joanna Lafuente
Cover RI: Andrea Di Vito (uncolored Cover A)

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Robert Atkins and Atilio Rojo
Inkers: Juan Castro, Brian Shearer and Atilio Rojo
Colors: Simon Gough, Juan Fernandez and Joana Lafuente
Letters: Neil Uyetake

STORIFY
Supporting content for this review is posted on Storify; this includes IDW’s solicit text, an IDW-provided image of Andrea DiVito’s Cover A, and some preview pages and panels from colorist Simon Gough on DeviantArt. Reviews stay they are written after I have posted them, but Storify supplements are bolstered over time as artists release material they have done for the issue.

I’ve been lax on my reviews of Snake Eyes for the last couple of months; they’ve either been late, or in the case of #13, just not done at all. The last couple of issues haven’t been good; nonsensical stories, Snake Eyes doing things that don’t really make sense, etc. The series was just kindof meandering around a bit. However, things seem to be heading back in a good direction now as Chuck Dixon continues Snake Eyes’ pursuit of Zartan as part of his mission to infiltrate the Arashikage.

Snake Eyes gets a good action scene; we finally get to see some more of Savane; Helix is back. There are a lot of things to like about this issue.

To start — whatever problems anyone may have with IDW’s G.I. Joe universe, the current iteration of Cobra Commander is really, really good. Chuck Dixon scripts a perfect exchange between the Commander and his right hand, Savane, after some discussion about whether Zartan’s value to Cobra outweighs what a pain in the ass he’s becoming for the organization. Savane responds to an off-the-cuff comment from the Commander and asks if that’s a subtle way of giving her an order.

“No one advances solely by taking orders. Take the initiative Savane. Sieze on the moment as you see fit,” he replies.

And off she goes. It was a perfect little scene.

Savane’s actions in her assassination attempt don’t really make a whole lot of sense; she’s gone out on her own to execute a hit, and even if she doesn’t know about her target’s abilities it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for her to have just taken out her target and left his entourage standing. Logically, she’d have killed them all; there’s no reason to leave any of them alive, and there was no reason for her to believe they wouldn’t immediately attempt to kill her after she finished her task. There are other ways for Savane to have handled the hit that would’ve avoided this entirely; using a sniper, a bomb, poison, a suitcase full of venomous cobras, all kinds of things.

There also is another question — why in the heck is this Savane, and not the Baroness? Sure, there’s not a story reason for Baroness to be Cobra Commander’s right hand at this point, but that could’ve been done easily enough over the course of the Cobra Command crossover, and it would’ve allowed for more development of a core character. Right now, Savane is playing a role in Cobra that you’d expect Baroness to fill — Cobra Commander’s right hand — especially since she was filling it during the first volume of this series.

Snake Eyes continues his pursuit of Zartan from the previous issue as well; he gets a pretty fun little action scene, although it’s to the point that it’s tiresome to have Snake Eyes either knock out or kill the people who are along on a mission with him every. single. time. It’s becoming an “oh, my God, they killed Kenny!” situation at this point. He used Alpine as a battering ram. He’s ditched Helix a few times, and knocked her out cold at least once. He ditches his supposed sidekick again here. You question why anybody bothers to go with him at this point. But, still, good action sequence (more on that below in “art”).

More importantly, though, a really nagging plot point gets addressed to some degree — although not entirely in a satisfactory fashion. Snake Eyes communicates back to Fort Baxter with Helix, whom we know has told the Joes that Snake Eyes was dead. At first, this seemed to be an Obi-Wan Kenobi-style “what I told you was true, from a certain point of view” situation, where she was confused about seeing him join up with Storm Shadow and decided he was dead to her, so he might as well be dead to everyone else, too. However, now we know she’s in on it. This also explains how Storm Shadow was able to say to Snake Eyes last month that “the world thinks you’re dead, again,” which at the time didn’t make a shred of sense. Snake Eyes has obviously communicated to Storm Shadow what Helix is doing on his behalf back at Fort Baxter.

Dixon also continues spreading flashback pages showing Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Hard Master during their early Arashikage days throughout the story. It’s a slow burn, but he’s doing a nice job of slowly unfolding a story about Snake Eyes’ origin — even introducing a reference to a person who may be his father. The flashbacks here were handled much better than in the last issue, I thought, as here they seemed to be telling a larger story and last month they seemed more a heavy-handed way to tie an event from Snake Eyes’ past directly to whatever present-day event Dixon wanted to show over the next half-dozen pages.

ART
All you really need to know about the art Robert Atkins turned out for in this issue is in one panel, the bottom half of page 14. It’s a similar continuing-motion shot that he used last month, when three images of Snake Eyes showed how he landed on top of the train carrying Zartan for his hit attempt. This time, he’s got six images of Snake Eyes in a high-angle shot of a tower stairwell, showing how he first tumbles down a half-flight of stairs as a result of a grenade explosion, then regains control of his body, bolts down another half-flight of stairs and then vaults over the handrail onto the landing one floor below. It’s one of those panels that you see and just fall in love with right away and instantly wish it somehow could’ve received an entire page.

Also, there are a couple of panels showing a group of three cosplayers in a car that Snake Eyes commandeers, and for some reason the one with the huge Cloud Strife sword just makes me giggle. Somehow, seeing that ridiculous oversized sword in a Snake Eyes comic seemed like the perfect idea.

There’s a two-page breakaway to Fort Baxter that Atkins doesn’t draw; it’s handled by Atilio Rojo, who did some work on the G.I. Joe Retaliation prequel series. It’s not bad, but it’s somewhat jarringly not Robert Atkins. Fortunately, it’s just those two pages.

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned lettering in one of these reviews, but I will here because there were two things that struck me as odd. During the Fort Baxter sequence, there’s a panel that shows Helix putting Hard Drive in a chokehold and she says “YES, HARD DRIVE?” I wondered why the emphasis was just on “Drive” and not her entire name; I’d be curious to know if that was a mistake or if it was done on purpose; and if it was done on purpose, why. It looked odd to me.

Second, in the scene with the cosplayers, there weren’t the typical comics brackets that indicated someone was speaking in a non-English language; it seemed to me like those three kids would’ve been speaking to Snake Eyes in Japanese.

COVERS
Andrea Di Vito, who hasn’t been on G.I. Joe since providing a few covers during the early days of IDW’s G.I. Joe: Origins series, provides this month’s Cover A. It shows Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, eye to eye with crossed katanas. Storm Shadow has a sword in both hands, and Snake Eyes seems like he’s supposed to be blocking both of them with his single sword held in his right hand and angled across his body. The sword that is supposed to be in Storm Shadow’s left hand doesn’t look right in terms where it’s sitting on Snake Eye’s sword; with the angle his sword would need to be to block the one in Storm Shadow’s right hand, the left-hand sword just seems like it couldn’t be where it’s shown to be. It could just be all of the straight lines of the swords messing with me somehow and affecting how I see the depth of the image, but it to me it doesn’t look right. Otherwise, it’s a pretty decent cover. Di Vito draws a pretty good Snake Eyes.

This month’s Cover B features a very 1980s-feeling image of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow; I actually like it quite a bit. IDW’s Storm Shadow is pretty muscular and ripped, and this cover Storm Shadow seems quite a bit thinner and lithe; somehow it just seems like a better fit for my mental image of what Storm Shadow might look like.

This month’s retailer incentive is an uncolored version of Di Vito’s Cover A.

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