Evil Geek Book Report – G.I. Joe: Cobra Vol. 1
My G.I. Joe knowledge and appreciation comes squarely from the 1980’s cartoon and its toy line. They were both a pivotal part of growing up for me. Once I got back into comics and found that new G.I Joe comics existed I felt I owed it to myself to check it out. I haven’t read the original Marvel stuff but I know it’s heralded as one of the best, but I wanted something current and something fresh. Watching the old cartoon now is a bit of a letdown, I wanted G.I. Joe for adults. I looked at what current publisher IDW had to offer and was confused by what seemed like endless crossovers between their 3 main books. I was just about give up when someone recommended starting with Cobra Vol. 1 by Mike Costa. They told me it was self-contained so that’s a good start. Plus, I don’t really care about G.I. Joe, I’m a Cobra man through and through.
This collection contains 2009’s Cobra Vol. 1 issues #1-4. It’s a story about one man working for the Joe’s team. Not what I expected for a book boasting their rival’s title. The opening pages tell us he is a mercenary of sorts for hire falling in with the Taliban, the Mafia, Colombian drug lords etc. Assuming different identities and doing whatever it takes to infiltrate these groups from the inside. We find out that the man in question is Chuckles, a highly capable undercover G.I. Joe field agent with almost chameleon like tendencies. However, his mouthy demeanor keeps him scarcely in the office because no one wants to deal with him. Through a flashback we see surgery being performed on him to install a skeletal resonance receiver where he can have messages sent to him via morris code. The genius with this device is that x-rays will only determine it as piece of shrapnel. He’s also provided with a female counter part named Jinx that will help set the groundwork for him.
Chuckles deadly skills are eventually courted by a man who wants him to work as a body guard for the Cobra Organization. Chuckles is in at the ground floor and in the process we learn much about the inner workings of Cobra which serves the story as an excellent plot device. He has to prove his honor and loyalty by committing awful atrocities and many other reprehensible things. That doesn’t stop him from going deeper to find out who the man giving orders behind the “curtain” is which opens up a tense maze of deceit, alliances and totalitarian power. This is an absolute can’t spoil since there are a few twist and turns with shocking reveals and it would be a shame to ruin them for you.
I went into this hoping to see Storm Shadow or Cobra Commander what I found was not a single person I recognized, yet I was captivated from beginning to end. Part of what makes this work is that Cobra organization is absolutely terrifying because it’s real. It’s not over the top cartoon villainy that I had come to expect, its business men in suits making arms trades and committing horrible unspeakable acts of treason. The first person narrative really helps to make you feel like you’re there and sense the isolation and fear Chuckles has. The art by Antonio Fuso also works well. It’s muted, dark and grim which is a perfect match for the story.
Cobra Vol. 1 is a dark tale of espionage that fuses James Bond and Hitchcockesque suspense within the backdrop of modern day terrorism. It ends on a chilling cliff hanger that makes it necessary to seek out volume 2 immediately.
Until next time…remember we are The Brotherhood Of Evil Geeks: The Real American Heroes
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