Did Cobra Civil War end just for another one to begin? This issue seems to be setting up another internal conflict inside Cobra, but some really good character writing from Mike Costa makes that more than forgivable.
A new Cobra Commander has been appointed, and he is leading Cobra in a dramatic new direction that leaves some of Cobra’s top lieutenants less than pleased. Being bad guys, their solution is to conspire against the new Commander to install a leader they are more comfortable with. Now, this is why I forgive the comic for seemingly setting up another civil war inside of Cobra. It just makes sense. It is being driven by the characters, and with the excellent way these characters have been developed, it’s hard to imagine them doing anything else.
Major Bludd has become my favorite Cobra of IDW’s continuity, and that is because he has been developed into such a three-dimensional character. It’s so easy to understand where he’s coming from. He’s very dangerous and capable at what he does, but he’s not the most revolutionary thinker. He’s a “business as usual” kind of guy. That’s what led to him falling short of becoming the new Cobra Commander, and it turns out that is also his problem with the new Commander. What’s happening with Cobra in Nanzhao is not business as usual. We all know the type who violently hate change, especially here in the comic community. Bludd is that kind of guy.
Given how thoroughly Krake won the competition to become the new Cobra Commander, it should be difficult to believably set up a threat to his rule coming from the same people he had just totally owned. Costa gets around this issue by introducing a new element that doesn’t get revealed in this issue, but it is a secret that leaves Bludd and the others believing they have an edge against the new Commander, which by proxy gets the readers believing it too. It’s a smart move on Costa’s part. This story really wouldn’t have worked without giving us some kind of reason why these guys could take on the Commander this time when they just failed a minute ago.
But then, Costa ramps up the tension of this situation even more by revealing what it is the Commander has the Baroness doing. I won’t spoil it, but it turns the conspiracy onto its head. It also makes perfect sense, given what we know of how this Cobra Commander operates. Of course he would be doing this. It’s just like how Bludd and the others would obviously be conspiring against him. This is the mark of a well written book. It feels like the characters are doing things rather than the writer making characters do things.
The art on this issue doesn’t appeal much to me, and it mostly has to do with the facial expressions. By no means is this art bad or poor, but there is just something that feels awkwardly artificial about characters’ faces. It may be that they are being photo-referenced just a little too much. It’s hard for me to say. But I know, for me, it makes some of the talking head scenes a weaker read. Also, I swear Tomax’s hair suddenly changes color in the middle of a scene, and I’m fairly sure that it’s not part of the story.
One thing really needs to be understood about this issue of Cobra. It’s part six of the Cobra Command story arc. Part five and part seven are not issues of Cobra. That’s right. This is the middle of a crossover. IDW’s G.I. Joe franchise is an all-or-nothing prospect at the moment. You would have a hard time reading only one of the three titles in this continuity at the moment. I have to question IDW’s logic here, because they’re doing this right after Cobra Civil War, which was another and quite long G.I. Joe crossover. Eventually, we have to be able to read these titles individually, right? Don’t get me wrong. I love interconnectivity in a franchise. But I enjoy it more when each title can stand on its own at the same time. Hopefully, the G.I. Joe franchise will return to that after Cobra Command.
While Cobra is getting into some familiar territory with another internal conflict within the organization, it does so in a way that makes so much story sense that it is hard to argue with. The characters feel real, and that makes their actions believable and compelling. Somehow, it even bypasses the usual problems with reading a series starring the villains. While I don’t really sympathize with any of the characters, I do feel like I understand them. That’s enough to keep me more than interested. IDW continues to handle this franchise in a way that’s intelligent and entertaining. I just don’t suggest jumping right into any one series just yet. Either go back to the beginning of Cobra Command or wait until it’s over.