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The initial four issue limited series for G.I. Joe: Cobra was a critical and fan raving success.  Praise was heaped upon the book for its dark undertones, the “film noir” art and the dark and gritty realism injected into every single panel and every single page.  I was one of those who was a devout fan.
The single issue special featuring the Twins only helped build up the mystique…an amazingly well crafted exodus telling the story of Tomax and Xamot, totally able to separate them from their somewhat goofy Sunbow personalities into mysterious, dangerous, deadly foes for the G.I. Joe team.
When IDW announced that Cobra was going to shift to an ongoing series, I was excited…but also a bit trepidacious.  After all, this was a very unique feel…could they actually keep this up, month to month?
Well, Issue #5 hits shelves today…the first step towards the ongoing series.  Introducing Serpentor, how did Cobra fare in it’s first foray into a regular rotation?  Click the “read the rest of this story below” to find out for yourself.

Promising to introduce Serpentor, one has to wonder just where the genetically engineered clone of the world’s top historical leaders fits into this new “real world” scenario.  Well, at first glance it doesn’t.  Serpentor is introduced as the leader of “The Coil”, an apparent cultish sect that manages to rake in billions of dollars per year.  The change of direction for Serpentor’s history is a bit jarring, but not necessarily surprising…what is more surprising is the main character on the other side of the fight.
There are no soldiers with machine guns in this particular issue.  The weapon of choice is a camera, and the wielder of that weapon is Leonard Michaels…code named Scoop.  And just like that, Mike Costa and Christos Gage manage to follow up helping turn Chuckles into more of a household name by pulling a very obscure character from 1988 and starting to add some meat to his bones as well.
In this series, Scoop is a civilian contractor and private investigator who works with Hawk on a regular basis.  As one might guess, Hawk isn’t wild about “The Coil” and wants Scoop to look into their leader and find some dirt.  Michaels agrees, and soon finds himself neck deep in The Coil’s headquarters and face to face with some very interesting (and somewhat familiar) wall decorations.
So, how does this issue work?  It’s okay.  By G.I. Joe: Cobra standards, I really don’t think it lives up to the first nine issues we’ve been treated to in this universe to date.  The art certainly does not.  Antonio Fuso had a very particular style about him, and Sergio Carerra seems to try and emulate that style, but  doesn’t do it nearly as well.  The characters are muddy and blocky, the action doesn’t really flow (what little action there is) and I didn’t find much in the way of striking imagery all throughout the book.
The dialog and pacing are fairly crisp, even though nothing really happens per se.  There are lots of head shots of Serpentor, panels filled with dialog between Scoop and Hawk, and a pretty clunky infiltration scene on the part of Scoop near the end.  The surprising revelation on the last page is certainly interesting, and I look forward to seeing how it’s written into the series, but ultimately, this issue didn’t leave me with a “wow” like previous issues.  I also wasn’t wild about the fact that we were kind of left hanging after issue #4.
IDW had been talking up the first appearance of Cobra Commander over and over again, and we finally see him for a panel in Cobra #4, only for the issue to end, and when Issue #5 takes over, he’s nowhere to be found.
Perhaps it’s just because of their own high standard that they’ve set, but I didn’t find the fifth issue of G.I. Joe: Cobra quite as captivating as issues past.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still giving it a more than fair shake, they’ve earned that much, and I’m interested to see where they go from here, but for the first step into the month-by-month realm, I feel just a bit underwhelmed.  I’m still very much optimistic for the future, based on the track record, but I was hoping, at least a bit, for a  little more bang right out of the gate.

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